Industry Awards

Melville Street Nursery – NDNA UK Nursery of the Year 2013
When we first bought what was to become Melville Street Nursery in 2011, little did we know what a journey it would be to success at the NDNA awards in 2013.

This was our first endeavour to create a brand new nursery and we wanted to do our very best to make it as child-centric and family friendly as we possibly could. The townhouse property was a fantastic setting, with its array of indoor and outdoor space, original features and local facilities. We added new talent to our experienced team and worked closely with our children, parents and external partners to bring out the best ideas.

The way the Melville Street team brought the nursery to life was inspirational. Their hard work, innovation and attention to detail with what they thought the children would like really paid off. When we opened in 2012, all the team’s efforts were rewarded with overwhelming feedback on how well our children thrived at the nursery and how pleased the parents were with the activities organised by the staff. External commentary was also very positive and Melville Street’s popularity was growing fast. It seemed our blend of activities had become a real hit so we thought it would be fun to enter for NDNA’s National Nursery of the Year award in 2013. And it was!

When we were short listed for Scottish Nursery of the Year, Melville Street was visited by NDNA’s judge, Fiona Bland, who was shown around the nursery as if she was a prospective parent. We also submitted photo books showing all the extra activities we do which enhance our curriculum: Festivals, dance, music, football, swimming, modern languages, outdoor learning trips linked to topics, preparing and presenting own shows, etc. These factors were added to parent feedback to vote Melville Street ‘Scottish Nursery of the Year’ in May 2013. This was our first national award and it was made particularly special as the NDNA awards are the only nursery awards that include parents’ votes. This also took us to the NDNA National Awards Ceremony in Peterborough, where we had reached the final of the UK Nursery of the Year category. Although we were confident in our efforts at Melville Street, recognition like this was beyond our wildest dreams.

And low and behold… We won!!!!! The first ever Scottish nursery to win the UK award!
The judges described Melville Street Nursery as one of the most child-centred settings they had visited. They were impressed by the highly-qualified team, specialist teachers and strong partnership with parents. They also commended the exceptional way the nursery makes use of the resources of its city location to support children to learn and develop. Children lead their learning and are given the opportunity to take part in swimming, dance, music, drama and modern language lessons. Playing outside and going on outings to the local community and further afield is part of everyday life at the nursery. Children’s trips are driven by their learning and include The Science Festival, Edinburgh Festival, The Zoo and train journeys to places such as North Berwick.

We would like to extend our warmest thanks to everyone who contributed towards Melville Street Nursery winning NDNA’s UK Nursery of the Year in 2013. Winning the award has been an amazing inspiration to continue to improve as we grow, with our children’s fun and development at the heart of everything we do.

If you would like to find out more about Melville Street Nursery, please get in touch and we would be delighted to arrange a viewing.

Walker Street Nursery won UK NDNA Scottish Nursery of the Year 2014.

During the various stages of Melville Street Nursery winning NDNA’s UK Nursery of the Year 2013 award, we had a very unique opportunity to evaluate the childcare and early learning we offer across our group of nurseries.  It is rare to receive such a detailed insight from NDNA, one of the sector’s leading organisations.  This, combined with the very honest parent feedback, offered reassurance that the group ethos is a successful formula, encouraging excellence and innovation across all our nurseries.  This highlighted what we thought was a particular strength in Walker Street Nursery’s emphasis on teaching and life skill awareness through interactive play.

Walker Street Nursery is a small setting in the West End of Edinburgh.  The children come from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities but they have one thing in common; they have an intrinsic love of learning, inspired by passionate teachers, and this is reflected in their levels of achievement and attainment.  Children at Walker Street Nursery learn in an environment that is rich in experiential play and all activities are child centred and initiated.  By giving children responsibility for their environment, learning is brought to life and becomes more exotic and meaningful than simply learning by a b c’s or 1 2 3’s.  Such a scenario is a teacher’s dream!

Children are taught through a wide range of activities at Walker Street Nursery.  We ensure fun and interactive learning is embedded in our daily routine, including outdoor activities, music, drama, ICT, art, role play, book festivals and so much more…

Numeracy is embedded in the daily curriculum and we teach this using real life contexts.  For example, we begin financial education by teaching children how to use real money in live situations like shopping locally or on-line.  We show our children the value of money and, most importantly, how not to waste it!

Literacy learning is also integrated into sensory play and one of the children’s favourite games is to from letters in porridge oats.  This was inspired by Goldilocks and the Three Bears and allows children draw or practice letters in the oats with their fingers.  They often practice writing their name or simply drawing pictures and all of this aids the development of their fine motor skills.

Children are shown life skills like responsibility and awareness in Walker Street Nursery, for example for looking after their own property and naming art work they produce by ensuring their name is either glued or written on each piece of their work.  We also teach social awareness by encouraging the children to be mindful of and respect each other.

We are very fortunate to have a range of technology for the children to work with, including lap-tops, a smart board, digital cameras, talking books and recordable buttons.  ICT is used to teach children specific life skills to equip them for the future (eg planning activities according to on-line weather forecasts) and is also used to plan and evaluate work.  We constantly try new ideas to ensure we are at the forefront of ICT learning and were grateful to be commended for our innovation.

The children at Walker Street thrive on being an integral part of the running of the nursery and relish the opportunities they are given to teach and inform others about nursery life and what they have learned.  Therefore, when Walker Street Nursery was nominated for Nursery of the Year 2014, we thought the best way to illustrate our ethos was to describe how learning is embedded in a typical day at Walker Street.

The feedback we received from NDNA and parents in winning NDNA Scottish Nursery of the Year 2014 placed phenomenal emphasis on our proactivity, creativity and effectiveness in teaching the children.  Our enriched activities and environments were applauded for their encouragement of life skill and curriculum learning.  In particular, the outcomes enjoyed by the children were commended by NDNA and parents.

The staff and children at Walker Street Nursery are extremely proud to win the NDNA’s Nursery of the Year 2014 award by (modestly quoting) ‘simply enthusing about what we do and how we do it on a daily basis.’

Walker Street Nursery won UK NDNA Healthy Nursery of the Year 2015.

At Walker Street Nursery, our privilege is enabling every child in our care to shine with health and happiness.  Please read on to find out more about the ethos and activities that contributed towards Walker Street Nursery winning NDNA’s UK Healthy Nursery of the Year in 2015.

To ensure the nursery continues to develop knowledge and positive attitudes towards healthy lifestyles, we ensure that health and wellbeing is embedded in all aspects of early learning and childcare.  Regular circle time allows our children to engage emotionally, for example we use puppets to explore their feelings.  Walker Street Nursery has very strong links with the local community, parents and the City of Edinburgh Council, which helps to ensure consistent and positive communication with the children.  The children have helped to run Nutrition Workshops for their parents after which, the feedback was excellent and the demand for future similar workshops is high.

A Typical Routine to Support Physical Development

Keeping our children healthy encompasses physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Highly qualified professionals, who lead weekly inclusive activities like yoga and swimming, encourage confidence in each child and help them to make safe and healthy choices regarding their own bodies.  Our very active weekly timetable also includes ‘Tutti-Footy’ and ‘Forest Schools’, music lessons and food preparation. Much of our schedule involves children leaving the nursery and learning how to assess risks, particularly Forest Schools, which is a superb initiative for children who struggle to shine in the confines of a classroom. The calming influence of being at one with nature through Forest Schools benefits everyone’s health and well-being (including staff!).  Our full time nutritionist carefully plans the weekly menu ensuring that the children are thoroughly involved at every stage.  She is at the forefront of up-to-date nutritional advice for children and continues to study to ensure best practice at all times.

How we identify good practice for healthy lifestyles

Our management team and nutritionist keep up to date with national guidelines, news coverage, local initiatives, visits to other nurseries and consultations with children, parents, staff and other specialists. Food tasting sessions, involving several different foods, offer opportunities for interdisciplinary learning. The children learn how to describe tastes and textures (literacy), record and compare their preferences (numeracy) and discuss their findings, including the similarities and differences of each person’s taste (inter-personal skills). On a constant daily basis, our own garden provides a perfect space for promoting well-being: balance beams, a climbing wall, herb garden and vegetable patches are all prized by the children, who carry out their own risk assessments before exploring the garden.

Working with parents and carers in extending good practice

Regular parents’ nights, workshops, informal meetings and social events allow us to maintain a strong relationship with parents.   This collaborative approach enables us to ensure a consistent approach for children and is idea sharing at its best. In consultation with children, parents, staff and colleagues within Edinburgh’s Children and Families Department, daily puddings were withdrawn. A pudding after every lunch sets children to expect a sweet taste regularly after eating a main meal and puddings can be seen as a ‘reward’ for eating lunch.  This encourages the view that sweet foods are more desirable than savoury and can set some children and young people on the road to a negative relationship with food. Our chef also likes to involve the children at each stage of the provision of their food.  A visit to Craigie Farm to pick fruit enabled children to see the process from field to plate – not only this but they seized the opportunity for an enterprise project by selling little pots of jam!

Meeting legislative requirements

Our strong relationships with local and national agencies such as the Care Inspectorate and NDNA keep us informed of any relevant legislative requirements.  Our nutrition advisor processes and cascades information to the appropriate staff members and is also proactive in ensuring that not only is legislation met but that we are often trail blazers in regard to new initiatives.

Supporting health, wellbeing and physical activity (e.g. religion and disability)

We celebrate cultural events with food tasting sessions which run alongside curricular outcomes and experiences. ‘Getting it Right for Every Child’ provides a framework which ensures that every child is treated with equal respect and that neither religion or disability will hinder their educational experience.

In recognising our contributions towards the health and well-being of the children, and the outcomes that children demonstrated, parents and NDNA were overwhelmingly complimentary about the embeddedness of our ethos in daily routine.  We would like to extend a very special thank you to the children at Walker Street Nursery, who bring our childcare and early learning to life and are well deserved winners!

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