All posts by Old School House Nursery

Old School House Update- September 2015


Dear Parents/ Carers,

I hope that everyone has had a great summer despite the rather changeable weather. It was mixed emotions as we said a sad goodbye to many of our school room children but on a positive note so wonderful to see how they have grown and flourished, and are ready for the next step into big school. DSC09467

I wanted to take the opportunity to give you a quick update and also to let you know about our most recent Health and wellbeing achievement!

Investors in People Health and Wellbeing Award 

We are very proud to have become one of only four organisations nationally to achieve the IIP Health and Wellbeing at Work Award for the second time!


As an Investor in People The Old School House is already recognised as an industry leader in supporting and getting the best out of people. Now as a pioneer of the new Health and Wellbeing award we have demonstrated an even stronger commitment to our team that goes above and beyond the existing Standard. After a rigorous 1-day assessment that involved 1:1 interviews with the staff team, observations and viewing key documents, our IIP assessor Viv awarded the OSH with ADVANCED level accreditation.11113231_947501611957680_7110042299096355637_o

I was then invited to attend a celebratory dinner and award ceremony at the Churchill War Rooms, in Westminster London on September 8th, which was followed up by a mini presentation here at nursery.


Key areas of strengths highlighted included:

  • Creating transparency and trust and motivating and inspiring people to achieve above and beyond the norm
  • Making use of external best practice and developing this to be effective within the Nursery including much good work based on the previous IIP assessment reports
  • Supporting people to understand their strengths and use their initiative to lead and work with others to improve the Nursery’s performance
  • Creating a culture of health and wellbeing which supports people both within and outside the Nursery and includes all 3 key areas of physical, psychological and social health and wellbeing.

A huge well done to an amazing team!


Rebranding and New Website

You will probably remember that we were developing our new website which I am pleased to say is finally completed, albeit a little later than scheduled. When we began redeveloping the site almost a year ago we decided after much discussion and debate with the team to also go through a rebranding process.

The key reasons where quite simple:

  • Moving with the times – we needed an updated and responsive site that was able to serve the needs of everyone involved with Nursery.
  • Consolidate and simplify – we needed continuity between nursery and the training center that reflects our aspirations

It will remain work in progress but please take a look and let us know what you think

Connect Childcare

The iconnect software is now fully implemented and operational. Over the next few weeks Lisa and the team will be sending out information to you all and providing updates via Facebook


Updated Terms and Conditions

We have updated and amended the OSHN terms and conditions. This will be handed out over the next couple of weeks. We would be grateful if you could please read, sign the attached slip and return it to Lisa and Gemma.

Sensory Room


We are really excited that development of the new sensory room is now underway. DSC_0354This is a specifically designed environment that will enable each child to enjoy a very wide range of sensory experiences for learning, stimulation, therapy, relaxation and fun. Please feel free to have a look at the plans and details on the landing area notice board. We hope to be using the room from the beginning of October.


Our Allotment

In July we acquired an allotment across the road from nursery and with lots of help and hard work from our neighbours Tony and Flo Garrod and the school room team it has gone from strength to strength. All the staff and children are involved with weeding, digging, sowing, planting, and watering. Its wonderful to see that gardening can be enjoyed whatever your age and can always teach us new lessons about the world around us that most of us never consider or take any notice of. We look forward to nurturing the children’s interest today in the hope that they will be the allotment plot holders of the future!





Reap the benefit from putting staff wellbeing on your agenda, too.

The EY sector is appreciating the importance of child wellbeing as an integral part of the curriculum, but we need to ensure that our staff are on board to allow both the nursery and themselves to truly flourish. IMG_3529

Nurseries throughout the country are now actively promoting health and wellbeing to the children and families in their care, and we know the benefits that this provides them with, both immediate and as they develop throughout their lives. There are some really good examples of best practice which professionals in our sector can be proud of. In writing our CACHE Level 4 accredited Physical and Nutritional Coordinator (PANCo) training programme, we have seen the brilliant effect that structured health and wellbeing education has on our children. Active Movement, the organisation headed up by Dr Loosemore, Consultant in Sport & Exercise Medicine at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health at University College London and his business partner Peter Savage, came to the Old School House to undertake a programme to support the ingraining of children’s understanding and appreciation for health and wellbeing. The results of combining the work of our PANCos and Active Movement’s project were amazing.  The children’s initial responses are starting to fall in line with wellbeing-centric activities, and ‘Stand-Up Stan’, our fictitious poster-boy for the campaign, has helped to promote a subconscious affinity to the project. We’re currently rolling out our PANCo education programme to our partner nurseries, local authorities, and the individual PANCos we’re coaching are all benefiting, but it is the children who are the real winners.

Going one step further to ensure genuine success

DSC_0172 These developments are so exciting to see, and the prospect of children being more au fait with positive lifestyle choices is something which we should continue to insatiably promote, and be immensely proud of as a sector. However, we owe it to our staff, and to the children who will ultimately benefit even more, to go one step further.

The old adage: ‘happy staff, happy children’. We all take this as a given, and I don’t suppose that anyone disagrees with it. But as EY leaders, the term is banded around far too easily. We are responsible for ensuring that we have imbedded a working culture that enables our staff to be happy, using it as the carrot to better life at work and beyond, rather than the proverbial stick to beat them with. Therefore, we need to ensure that enough strategic focus is placed on dissecting what exactly ‘happy’ is. Only once this has been achieved and made part of the everyday culture amongst staff will our children see the maximised benefit.







Positive psychologist Martin Seligman’s ‘PERMA Model’ provides the basis of our wellbeing model in our PANCo course:

P: Positive Emotions; feeling good

E: Engagement; feeling absorbed by activities

R: Relationships; feeling connected to others

M: Purposeful Existence; feeling that one’s existence is purposeful

A: Achievement; feeling a sense of accomplishment and success

 Using this framework, we can start to think about goals and essential elements that enable our staff to feel happy, and promote genuine wellbeing at work in the same manner that we are asking them to promote to our children. Only once we have had this discussion with our staff can we unlock this. As such, pivotal to the PANCo role is the ability to look at the needs of both our children and our staff. Only once our journey with Active Movement progressed did we truly start to appreciate this. We have now combined a mixture of targeted personal learning and development, alongside visual aids and reminders to make gradual behavioural changes that allow for a culture of wellbeing, rather than a drastic, intensive short-term initiative that fails to deliver longevity.

The results speak for themselves

Simple things have made such a difference. Our staff, who before the programme would largely flit between hardcore bootcamps and comfort eating in a vein attempt to achieve a healthy lifestyle, were coached through the full spectrum of wellbeing. Small changes, such as standing to rock babies in the baby room, making gentle lifestyle changes built around their practices at nursery and better defined development plans in line with our PERMA framework have had untold benefits. Our staff have given feedback to the Active Movement independent research team about the benefits they feel. Greater engagement and achievement plans give them the sense of progression that has intern increased their positive emotions so that they want to put the effort in to being more healthy. Consistency is the key, and removing the peaks and troughs approach to wellbeing is central to this new mindset. The gradual, all-encompassing nature of the programmes our PANCos have put together has provided a broader focus to their wellbeing, something that fad diets and uninspiring directives from leadership teams cannot achieve.

Having begun the process last year, our staff are beginning to make concerted changes which steadily become the norm, and our children are encouraged to a greater extent to absorb and replicate the health and wellbeing values that we are trying to impart. The programmes will continue throughout this year, and as we build our database of quantitative results we will be able to put numbers, track patterns and even monetize the value. Of course, the end result is worth far more than money, but there are tangible benefits in staffing, such as retention and greater motivation that nurseries will benefit from.

Creativity, innovation, commitment

The work we have done to develop our training programme has pulled on many sources of knowledge: Active Movement, The All Parliamentary Group on Fit and Healthy Childhood, positive psychology, and some brilliant best-practice sharing with colleagues.  It has taken a great deal of dedication, starting with working internally at the Old School House to change our culture, and now helping and imploring others in our sector to look at both children and staff. The criteria for ‘Health Promoting Nursery’ status, ‘Health at Work Awards’ and Children Food Trust Awards’ will help direct your time and resourcing in the right direction, and you will start to see the commercial benefits to attaining that recognition. However, having gained these awards at the Old School House, we had to be creative and innovative with how we looked to better our provision in these areas, and are delighted with the results it is having both in our partners’ nurseries and our own.



Linda Baston-Pitt is Managing Director of the Old School House Nursery,

Director of EduVivre Training for EY professionals, and is a voluntary campaigner contributing to projects on education, research and health and wellbeing. @LindaEarlyYears

Peter savage

APPG report





News and Updates- May 2015

LindaAs we are well into 2015 our 21st year and spring is now upon us I thought it might be an idea to give you a brief update of what’s been happening at nursery and what plans we have for the future. Life at nursery remains busy, as we are involved in various action research projects and staff training initiatives. Developments are also underway to upgrade the nursery garden and to create a sensory room. We have also been in the process of reviewing our communication systems and exploring how we can use technology more effectively. Don’t hesitate to ask if you want further information or to discuss any thoughts or ideas, your feedback is always welcome – Linda

Active Movement Programme

The second phase of the Active Movement 12 month programme is now coming to an end and you will all have hopefully received the April newsletter from the Active Movement team. Emily and TobyThe third phase has been planned to start in June and will include the Stan and Sid sports day! Feedback from parents, staff and children continues to be very positive and the evaluation of the effects on children and staff has been encouraging. The children have become aware that activity is an important part of their lives and recognise its benefits. The team have also been involved with their own Active Movement™ programme and are beginning to feel the positive effects, so much so we have entered an OSH team into the race for life 5k pretty muddy run in Peterborough on June 21st. team run






Swedish education exchange

Last year we hosted a visit with early years teachers from Sweden to share good practice and in a few weeks Lisa and I will be involved in a return visit to Sweden with a group of early years colleagues. We will be part of a new initiative supporting partnership development between schools and practitioners. The groups we visit are in Stockholm: Ängbybarnens pre-schools and are well known for their involvement in a European project concerning peace education. They offer Reggio Emilia education a sociocratic leadership structure and empathic model of communication, known as NVC. We are both looking forward to exploring new ideas and methods of early education and how it can benefit, support and inform our thinking and practice within nursery.

Paediatric First Aid

Our first aid practice in nursery has been recognised as exemplary so much so that we were recently asked to partner with the NDNA and the Department for Education (DfE) to help them develop best practice models in early years settings for Paediatric First Aid to share with the sector nationally. We were highlighted for ensuring that not only are all our staff team trained in Paediatric First Aid to deal with minor accidents but more importantly that they are empowered to respond with confidence in an emergency. Take a look at out case study and video.

CONNECT…ing more effectively

Although feedback about communication between nursery and parents has always been very positive we continue to explore ways of improving how we share information with you on a daily basis. Annabel hudlAs the nursery has grown over the years our existing admin systems have struggled to cope with the increased business demands and have now become time consuming and inflexible.  Through extensive research we have decided to invest in the state of the art iConnect software from Connect Childcare that has been designed specifically for the early years sector. The new system will not only enable us to become more efficient in the way we process information i.e. invoicing, funding etc. but will also revoluntionise the way the staff team make EYFS observations moving from a manual system to using the latest touchscreen technology, giving parents access ‘real time’ to their children’s daily progress at nursery. The system is currently being pilot tested within nursery with staff and parents and will be launched in June. Sam computer







New Website

We have also invested in creating a new nursery website that will be launched in June. This will tie in with the iConnect system that will be accessed from the new parent portal on the site.

The Great Outdoors  – development of the Nursery Garden


We place a high priority on the value and benefits of out door play and the NR team have all been involved reviewing and developing plans to upgrade the nursery garden. To ensure that the outdoor environment offers a variety of rich learning experiences we have observed carefully how the children use the area and reflected on what needs to be added and where. Building work has already begun and is due to be completed by the end of June.  Watch this space!



Team Learning & Development

Creating a culture of supporting people is at the heart of all we do in ensuring a skilled and flexible workforce and we are passionate about and work hard to continually develop an effective learning culture in which all staff are involved. We have a strong commitment to staff development and all staff are encouraged to take qualifications and also participate actively in ongoing professional development. Here’s just a flavor of what the team have been up too recently!

A huge well done to Annabel Smith (Baby Nest) and Jade Wright (Nursery Room) have recently completed their Level 3 in Children and Young Peoples Workforce.

Gemma and Alice Garside (Baby Room) are both currently studying for their Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for the Children and Young Peoples Workforce. Gemma through the ‘Management’ route and Alice for ‘Advanced Practitioner’.

Eileen, our full time chef is working through her ‘Allergen Awareness’ course to support our stringent practices on providing meals and snacks to children with allergies, intolerances or alternative meals. It will also ensure that we meet the revised current guidance for the Food Information for Consumers Regulation Law 2014.

Jade Liles (Baby Nest) is studying for her Level 2 Basic Food Hygiene Certificate to support safe practices when handling, providing and preparing food.

Janet Williams (Nursery Room Team Leader) is studying on a  ‘Managing Effectively’ course to support her within her current role.

Ella Oakley (School Room Team Leader) will be beginning her  A1 Assessors award and will be supporting Gemma and Lisa to deliver level 2 and 3 Early Years Educator qualifications to our students and staff team.






Old School House Day Nursery- Maths Champion Project

Over the past 6 months we have been taking part in the NDNA’s ( National Day Nurseries Association) ‘Maths Champions’ project. The aim of the project is to support practitioners to be confident and to have the skills and resources to have the best opportunities for children and to support improved outcomes. It aims to provide the mechanism to raise staff competence levels and the skills needed to support maths in the early years.

Key staff at nursery have taken part in online training courses, webinars and online discussions- networking with other champion settings to share ideas and good practice.

As part of sharing good practice and monitoring progress through the project the NDNA observed two key practitioners at Old School House to produce the case studies below and show how the training has supported staff skills, knowledge and strategies in enabling children to learn about maths in a fun enjoyable way..

Old School House Day Nursery case studies: Sorting activities

The Old School House Day Nurseryengaged in the Maths Champions Project to develop and deepen practitioners’ understanding of mathematics for young children.


Although the nursery previously engaged in sorting activities for children of all ages, the project has helped practitioners consider different ways of sorting and the language they might use when helping children. Initially an activity was set up with coloured dishes and small coloured animals. Four children aged two joined the practitioner and began to sort the animals by colour into the pots. Some were able to count the numbers in each pot and several counted to 10 by rote. Large plastic numbers were used to help children link numerals to the number they counted.



I have 8 purple ones

Some children began to make ‘families’ of animals and the practitioner showed skill in helping children understand that sorting can  take different forms. Soon the play developed into sorting animals by family – this is a mummy, daddy and baby duck – or by animal type or size – my horse is big, it’s galloping to the other horses.

The activity ended with using the duck ’family’ to sing 5 little ducks using the ducks as visual aids to help the children understand one less.

The practitioner had made a previous note of language she wanted to introduce to the children including in front, behind, next to as well as checking the children’s understanding of colour and size. Prior to the project the practitioner thought the activity would have only covered colour and counting, the focus on maths had helped everyone consider how to extend mathematical language beyond counting.

Pre-school children

Increased practitioner skills were particularly evident in an adult-led activity for eight children of mixed ability aged three and four. This activity was based on the children’s interest in animals and enabled children to use and build on their previous knowledge and understanding, including the sorting activities they had carried out in the younger rooms.

The practitioner had carefully prepared a quiet area with a range of zoo animals in different quantities, construction bricks of different sizes, a number line written on a white board, clipboards and pencils for recording and a letter of ‘instructions’ in the centre of the room.

Children sat in a circle knowing they had to make the circle bigger to allow everyone a place. They listened carefully to the letter from the zookeeper who had gone on holiday asking the children to look after the animals and keep them safe. The problem was all the animals had escaped. There followed a discussion about how to keep the animals safe and why some animals might be dangerous. The children were introduced to the word ‘enclosure’ and asked if they could remember what it meant. Words such as square, oblong and rectangle were used to explain some enclosure shapes. The zookeeper, Mrs Bumbleton, had also left a tally chart showing how many animals the zoo had, using animal pictures, numerals and tally marks.










Some children understood immediately what the chart showed and stared to collect the animal groups – I need to find 13 lions, I can only find 10 – whereas others needed more time and prompting – how many crocodiles do you think there are?







I have counted 13, that is right

All children built enclosures of different sizes and shapes and were invited to think about how to fit animals in, how to join to enclosures together to minimise the number of bricks needed when numbers of bricks ran low.







I need to close the gate to stop the rhinos escaping

Some of the animals were ‘hiding’ and so counting the numbers of animals was important to make sure the right number were in each enclosure. Children were then asked if they wanted to record their work for the zookeeper to show they had the right number of animals. Some children made marks, some copied the numerals and some more able children were able to make a tally mark for each animal in each enclosure.








I have drawn two crocodiles










I put one mark too many for my lions, I need to take one away

This activity covered many mathematical concepts including counting, sorting, number recognition, making sets and shapes of different sizes, simple addition and subtraction as well as mark making. Careful preparation meant that children could access the activity at their own level and followed their own interests within it. For example, the use of numbers between 2 and 15 allowed children with different levels of number understanding to enjoy the activity. Some enjoyed the ‘search’ for missing animals, others spent more time building enclosures that were square or rectangular, making sure the sides were straight and there were no gaps for animals to escape, others simply made sure the blocks fit around their chosen animals. Some had to be helped to consider how to fit all their animals in as they had built the enclosure first.






My elephants won’t fit I haven’t enough bricks


Some enjoyed the mark making, concentrating hard on making meaningful marks by each animal. More able children counted and could write numbers beyond 10 with ease, they could understand how to tally in groups of five and what that meant. I have done 11111 and 1 to make six. Some children also thought about different ways to group animals – these can go in an enclosure together because they are friends – and others made bigger enclosures ‘so the animals had room to run’.

The activity encouraged all the children to think mathematically and work out solutions. It engaged their interest for a sustained period of time as well as enabling the practitioner to check out children’s prior learning and build on it as the activity progressed.

Childcare hits the news again…….

I’m sure you will have seen or heard one of the many discussions and debates on TV and radio last week about child care costs and the plans for the Liberal Democrats to extend the number of hours of free funding available to parents.

As the election campaign heads into the final stages two key areas all parties are targeting are working parents and childcare costs.

The Old School House welcomes this commitment to provide more free childcare to families; however there is a chronic underfunding issue and many providers are seriously concerned about sustainability. In my role as NDNA trustee I am involved in lobbying government to raise the bar through its Childcare Challenge to address the affordability, quality and choice of childcare and really make a difference for the sector, children and families.

National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) released an excellent response yesterday, which I include below and would like to share with you.

NDNA calls for any increase in free nursery hours to be thoroughly costed in response to Nick Clegg’s childcare speech

National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) is calling for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s proposed extension to free childcare to be fairly funded so that nurseries can deliver it sustainably.

DSC02453At present, parents of three and four-year-olds, and some two-year-olds, are offered 15 free hours’ childcare per week in termtime.

Nick Clegg pledged today to extend this to all children of working parents aged between nine months and two years and universally for all two year olds. He also said Liberal Democrats aimed to increase free provision to 20 hours in the longer term.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “We welcome this commitment to provide more free childcare to families but there is a chronic underfunding issue with this provision so any extension must be thoroughly costed so that it can be delivered without making provision unsustainable.

“The money that childcare providers currently receive to deliver free hours falls short by an average of £800 per child per year for each funded three to four-year-old place and £700 for each two-year-old place.

“This is the biggest single reason that nursery fees are rising for some paying parents who end up subsidising the free places.”

NDNA’s recent Annual Nursery Survey called for a long-term review of the complex early education and childcare funding system. At present, funding for free places varies between local authority areas but averages at £3.80 per child per hour.

Ms Tanuku said: “Nurseries are being forced to increase their fees to parents who pay for additional hours, or for younger children not eligible for funded places, to make up the funding shortfall.

“For most nurseries, the average sum received of £3.80 per hour does not cover the cost of high-quality childcare, let alone make a surplus.”

Ms Tanuku also welcomed Mr Clegg’s commitment to increase the Early Years Pupil Premium  to £1,000 per child and to work towards having a member of staff with Qualified Teacher Status in every childcare setting by 2020.

She said: “NDNA fully supports moves to increase the skills and qualifications of people who work in early years settings but for this to be achievable there needs to be more government investment into training and development for early years workforces, particularly in the nursery sector.”


NDNA is calling on the next government to raise the bar through its Childcare Challenge to address the affordability, quality and choice of childcare and really make a difference for the sector, children and families. Among the solutions that NDNA is recommending are to:

– Protect early education funding so it can only be spent on under-fives

  • Work with the early years sector to ensure any commitments to expand free hours are thoroughly costed so they can be delivered without making provision unsustainable and reducing choice for parents
  • Commit to a long-term review of the overly complex early education and childcare funding system.

Read NDNA’s Annual Nursery Surveys for England, Scotland and Wales here:










Active Movement – An Update Feb 2015

Second MovementDSC05983

You will recall from our December newsletter that Active Movement is to complete a second term at the Old School House Day Nursery. Continuity is important when trying to affect behaviour and attitude changes in the long-term so we welcome the chance to carry on the exciting work we have started. In addition, we have now been able to complete some important evaluation of the children, staff members and, thanks to several of you who agreed to telephone interviews, views from parents about the work completed so far. In this month’s newsletter, we have detailed some of the encouraging findings and feedback that have led to developments in the Active Movement programme that you will see as of February 4th. As always, if you have any concerns or comments about Active Movement, you can contact Dr Mike Loosemore ( or Peter Savage (

First Movement

The 8 week trial of Active Movement at the nursery was the first time that it had been trialled amongst this age group. A previous programme to 5-11 year olds in a school in the West Country had supplied important learning and excellent results, but there were clear challenges when communicating and evaluating children of such a young age. There were three important elements to delivering the programme. Communication had to be empathetic to the youngsters as their mobility and understanding increased. Role-models play a vital part in setting children’s behaviours so it was important to involve all within the children’s community such as parents and practitioners. Finally, we wanted to ensure we created as much learning as we could to not only test the concept, but shape its future.

OSHDN – a place of learning

The Active Movement TM programme comprised 3 areas of approach. Firstly, a programme aimed to educate and inspire the children that ‘standing up’ is good for you. Through posters, games, language and efforts by the staff to engage the children, our two characters Stan (who stands) and Sid (who sits) and their respective roles were explained. Secondly, the staff was given their own Active Movement programme to undertake, encouraging them to be less sedentary and add a little extra activity to their daily routines. Finally, we looked to engage the parents through presentations, newsletters and homework created for the children. We looked at various aspects in our review. Through a specially-designed questionnaire for staff, we wanted to see if there were definitive shifts in well-being behaviour across a number of different markers from self-esteem to illness prevention. Focus groups helped us understand the staff’s views of the programme, its enjoyability and their affinity with the concept. Special Movements such as pedometer challenges helped us measure commitment to tasks. And we commissioned a Mosaic approach, a specially designed research protocol to evaluate children’s response. DSC05965

Active Movement is different from other health interventions. As much as we are happy with anyone going to the gym or taking long walks, we know that the majority of people reject this sort of physical activity. The startpoint is not free gym memberships or other fast-tracks to health, but a realisation that we need to change people’s attitude to well-being so they might consider some activity at all. This needs therefore not a new fitness regime but a change in behaviour. Of course, the more we can ingrain these behaviour traits the better. Helping our children see that even simple activity can make a difference is intended to ensure that even those who do not like sport, competition or any physical activity can still protect their bodies and health. But behaviour changes take a long time, requiring constant support and engagement. In the second term, both the staff and the children will see further developments in the Active Movement programme to maintain their enthusiasm and commitment. On the display boards in the entranceway, you will see some of the ways that we have revised the programme to both respond to research findings and to intensify the experience. That leaves the parents. Our research has clearly indicated that we did not involve or inform as many of you as we should nor as often as you would have liked. This will change with a series of newsletters, emails, facebook entries and homework assignments.

Lessons Lessons from our evaluation

Below is a snap shot of some of the outtakes from detailed reports about Active Movement’s effect on OSHDN, its children, staff and parents. More information can be supplied.

Learnings – focus groups

Staff reactions

DSC05969”It’s been a good experience, in fact you sort of stop noticing because after a while it’s not a big deal anymore: it becomes integrated in what you’re doing anyway .”

”It made me realise that there were things I hadn’t thought about – like how when I go to the gym I was parking as close as possible to the door! It just makes you start thinking that way about everything, about not being lazy.”

“It gets into your brain – you start even mentioning it to friends because you are thinking about it out of the nursery .”

“It made me realise that it takes less time than you think to do these good things: walking to a further loo doesn’t take much longer .”

Children’s reported reactions

“Before AM a lot of children would ask for a chair if there wasn’t one by the table where they wanted to do something, but now the ones who have most taken to S&S are likely not to ask because they are happy standing to do it – “I’m Stan”, they say .”

“Amazingly the children see a wider connection with health. When asked “how should we celebrate Stan’s birthday”, one child said “go running” while another said “we should eat fruit and veg” – even though we never told them those connections.”


Parents’ reactions

“He soon started to tell us about when we should be standing or walking! “

“I went to the evening briefing so got quite excited about a pioneering approach that could only do the kids good. My one worry was whether I’d have loads of extra stuff to do at home to support it, but I didn’t.”

“I was neutral at first but now I’m for it – it’s important that they get a good start in life and while it’s too early for them to worry themselves about what they eat or how much exercise they get – because they never stop – this is a good thing to begin with.”

Learnings – Special Movements

As an example of the staff’s commitment to Active Movement, in one week’s pedometer challenge, the staff completed over 450000 steps!

Learnings – behavioural questionnaire

The questionnaire comprises 100 questions that are distilled down to 20 key pointers about behaviour change. They are conducted at the beginning of a programme and at its end, though usually over a 12 month time scale. However, even in this short period of time, we saw significant changes such as reduced anxiety about health but greater interest in well-being, greater assertiveness about personal health, improved health status, greater optimism about health and more effort in preventing illness.

A further questionnaire will be conducted after the next phase of Active Movement activity.

Learnings – Mosaic approach

This intensive week-long study at the nursery was intended to evaluate children’s reaction to Stan and Sid stimuli throughout the nursery as well as evidence from the children through drawings, photographs and observations. There was clear evidence that children not only identified the characters, but their roles in comparing ‘standing’ and ‘sitting’. It was interesting that Sid was not seen as a negative, merely as time when sitting was good. Statements such as “We can only be like Sid at the snack table”, “we need to be like Stan and Sid in the number area” indicate their joint popularity. Children were equally adept at identifying areas one should stand and sit. Reassuringly, children of all ages found some point of contact. One of the older babies said the characters names when they were pointed out; another child kissed the poster of Sid and said “I like him”; whilst another child pointed out that “Stan is best”. The older children viewed the characters as peers, though the younger were less connected. There was also evidence that the children were able to communicate health benefits for themselves. A video was shot of a 3 year old clearly articulating the power of standing up on health.

Coming in the next 8 weeks

A range of new Active Movement components are coming to the nursery from w/c February 9th. • New drawings of Stan and Sid for 0 –2 year olds • Introduction of ‘Max the Dog’ and ‘Tiggy the Cat’ • Special voiceovers of Stan and Sid speaking to the children • Dolls of Stan and Sid • Book of Stan and Sid nursery rhymes • Book of Stan and Sid stories • Book of Stan and Sid songs • Stan and Sid games and puzzles • Upgraded activity programme for staff • New creative material focussing on achievement (distance and calories) • More newsletters and parent communication For more information or if you have any comments, talk to Lisa Weston or contact Peter Savage on 01189 442924 or at


Parent Survey Results


Attached to this post you will see the results and key themes form our Parent Survey, conducted at the back end of last year. We’re delighted with the responses. We dedicate so much time to making the Old School House the environment that it is, and you’re overwhelming approval is brilliant.

At the same time, it is important that we use your constructive feedback to direct our development, and we have begun work to ensure that it doesn’t fall on deaf ears. Take a minute to flick through to find out what’s coming in the very near future.

Thank you for your ongoing support!










OSHDN Parent Survey Communication FINAL


Active Movement News from Dr Loosemore – An introduction to our Active Movement Programme..

Thank you to all parents that managed to attend the Active Movement Parents Evening with Dr Mike Loosemore and Peter Savage. It was a great opportunity to introduce the 8 week Active Movement Project and also to get your feedback. You will probably already had a chance to read through the newsletter below & the information board in the reception area. We will be giving regular updates over the coming weeks. Your involvement in the programme is crucial to help maintain the momentum between nursery and home. The part of the evaluation process is to conduct focus groups between parents and staff on 10th December 2014. We would love as many of you to get involved as possible and we will provide further details soon.


As someone who has promoted for many years the power of Exercise Medicine and its  effects on well-being and recuperation, I have studied in great detail the dangers of our sedentary lifestyle on our long-term health.


Quite simply, sitting down is killing us. The effects of spending hours in front of a screen are more dangerous than smoking, diabetes and drinking combined! Active Movement was designed to combat this 21st century crisis. Its focus is on the cumulative effects ofsmall steps over a long period, encouraged through communication, local support and simple activity.


So everyone can participate and enjoy the benefits individually or collectively. If you want to know more about Active Movement, email me at

Joining the Active Movement


There has been much press coverage recently about the low fitness and high obesity prevalent in children as they leave primary school. Governments and local authorities are looking at many options that will involve a combination of increased sports and exercise in the school and nutritional advice. The difficulty is that this will exclude many children who are neither sporty nor competitive; will put schools under increased cost and time pressures; and will require quick-fix changes that are impractical and unlikely to succeed. Active Movement is different. It recognises the huge health benefits of making small changes to our lives through the reduction of sedentary behaviour and the increase of low-level activity over time. It is a programme that benefits people of all ages. Most importantly, it is not about fitness regimes or dietary fads. For the first time there is a programme that focusses on changing our behaviour. Active Movement looks to reshape our lives not our bodies.

Stan and Sid come to OSHDN

You will have seen around the nursery lots of references to these two characters. They are the children’s guides to the world of non-sedentary and low activity behaviour.


Their names help children understand their roles (Stan = Stand; Sid = Sit) in creating awareness of the benefits of movement and encouraging their participation. By integrating the characters into everyday language, play areas, nursery rhymes, games, role-playing and stories, children move from simple recognition to belief in the characters and their message The 8-week test programme at the OSHDN is part of an ongoing action research project that will look to integrate Active Movement into nursery life and beyond – so setting a behaviour change that will last children forever.

Nursery nurses

Nursery nurses play a vital role in the concept. They are able to take the Active Movement programme to enhance and innovate wherever they wish during the nursery day. Already they have added great new ideas to the programme’s integration and effect. DSC02524At the same time, Active Movement can benefit the health of the whole team. Active Movement has therefore created a special programme that adds movement and low-level activity to everyone’s daily The programme is tailored to the OSHDN, involves little or no extra time away from the children and combines everyday activity with special tasks and team events.

Mums and dads

You have an important role to play in Active Movement, too. You can encourage your child to avoid sedentary behaviour. You can teach them about the benefits of activity on their minds and bodies. And you can undertake your own programme at home, too. Contact for more information or if you have questions you want answering.

The power of Active Movement


How many stairs do you have in your house? 15 perhaps. Suppose you decided to walk up and down them twice more each day just because you were passing. In one year you would have added 21900 steps! And if one stair uses about 0.7 calories, you would have spent over 15000 calories – or about 5 marathons!

Dr Mike Loosemore


Outdoor Fun for a Healthy Summer

DSC02287Time outdoors can work wonders for the health wellbeing and happiness of our children.

It’s well documented that gardening is good for you. A recent Swedish study of 4,000 60yr-olds found that gardening significantly reduced the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It also found that gardeners experienced less depression. As a survey by the National Garden Scheme highlights that in Britain adults associate their gardens with relaxation, being in touch with nature and being active.

It will come as no surprise that time outdoors for our children can work wonders for their health and happiness. I was lucky enough to grow up in rural area with a large garden and spent most days playing outdoors with my brother and sisters. We spent hours playing in nearby woods making dens, playing in mud, making perfume! Recent research highlights we have more memories of outdoor experiences than anything else in our childhood.

Woods and forests provide a magical and adventurous place for children to explore and to use their imagination. Ofsted’s 2008 learning outside the classroom report revealed that woodland environments can boost Childrens self-confidence and self-esteem. Although recent surveys suggest that only 10% of children have played in woodland compared with 40% of their parents’ generation.

Nursery fun inside out

We are so fortunate to live and work within such beautiful country side and have a wealth of space both indoors and out that we can access freely throughout the day.DSC01104 Outdoor play provides children with hours of fun and stimulation. Young children have an insatiable drive to find out about and make sense of the world around them. We work hard to plan and provide a positive outdoor environment that stimulates each child’s curiosity enabling them to explore and investigate through first hand experiences. Physical activity and play for children (download)








Outdoor developments 

Plans are afoot to redevelop the Nursery room garden as its now looking a little tired and in need of updating. Over the last few months through observing how children use the outdoor area the staff team have been exploring new ideas and are in the process of putting together a project plan – details will follow soon of how you can get involved! We would love to hear from you if you can lend your expertise in gardening, would like to get involved in Forest Schools or outdoor fun!

Go for a bonding walk

It’s important that we don’t take for granted what we have on our door step. There’s nothing like a good walk to make you feel good. `Walking side by side with your child is a lovely time to connect` says Dr Rebecca Chicot, founder of the Essential Parent Company `The conversations we have with our children on walks are often the most free and deep we will ever experience  as there are no distractions….just being together, on a path, going in the same direction.`

The Ellesmere Centre in the village have excellent walking route maps of the surrounding area – have you walked through Bluebell wood and along Devils Dyke or the Three Parishes yet!                    

Other beautiful walks within 30 minutes – Hatfield forest and Ickworth House.

Maybe you could share with us any of your own exciting outdoor walks and adventures!


Old School House Celebrates its 20th Year! 1994-2014

May 1994  Nursery opening Cambridge News20 YEAR ANNIVERSARY

From the beginning we have always had a clear idea about the environment we wanted to create for our customers, (parents, children) staff and students and as an organisation we have always believed that we all deserve to have the best environment in which to work and play. Over the last 20 years I have been fortunate to work with people that I respect and admire and who have the same drive and commitment to “making a difference” and who genuinely want to be a part of something bigger.

Over the next few months we have planned a series of events to celebrate all that we have achieved. Initial plans include:

  • 1994-2014Staff team celebration on the 5th July
  • Nursery family day at the Ellesmere on Saturday 13th September ( look out for your invite soon!)
  • Creating a permanent canvas in words and pictures of our 20 year journey from 1994-2014

We will keep you posted about all events!


We place great importance on action research in nursery, since that has the most immediate and direct benefit to the children and parents we support. We are excited to be involved in two partner projects; Maths and English Champions Project with the Department of Education and National Day Nurseries Association and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood.

Maths and English Champions Project – As the Early Years Teacher Lisa will be leading the project with staff team. DSC04433The aim of the project is to work with early years practitioners to raise their confidence levels in mathematics and English, enabling them to improve their skills and better support maths and literacy through play with children in the early years. Lisa will be supporting staff to raise their confidence levels, knowledge and understanding of maths and English in the early years and help them to further plan and provide an enabling environment for maths and literacy in nursery.


The project is supported by the DfE, who see the importance of maths and literacy in early years and supporting practitioners to be confident and have the skills and resources to be able to provide the best opportunities for the children in their care, supporting improved outcomes across the board.


The All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy C

I was invited to join the group along with colleagues and experts in the sector to develop practical policies to reduce the scale of childhood obesity. The purpose of the Working Group is to produce a report designed to influence decision-makers in this crucial policy field. It will address questions such as:

How can the changing family unit in the 21st century evolve patterns and mutually supportive behaviours to promote the health of the growing child?


Surrounded by the trappings of modern-day life, how can the individual family clear the hurdles and equip its youngest members with healthy guidelines for life?

What can Government at national and local level do to enable a family unit to work as a healthy collective and to provide a touchstone for parents in supporting the individual needs of children?

How can we influence messaging from the media, advertising and commercial enterprise to achieve these goals?

Its official details are recorded on the Parliamentary website at:

Look out for regular updates posted on our Facebook page