Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Derby Road Trip - day 2 - Lord Street N.S

As part of a 3 day visit to Derby we were also lucky enough to visit the incredible Lord Street Nursery School & meet up with Christine the Head Teacher. This nursery is in the city & caters for up to 150 preschool children.

Lord Street is a well established nursery school - being over 70 years old & originally set up to provide preschool education for the children of women who were employed by some of the many engineering factories during the war.
I always love visiting older settings as they have always gathered up years of resources & the outdoor space at Lord Street was incredible too. They have ancient trees surrounding the play areas & in the middle of them - providing a lovely cool shady area for the children to enjoy playing in. As Christine explained, these can have a downside too, as everything has to be covered up at night so that in the morning the bird poo splattered covers can be removed before play begins!

I loved that the playground had mature enough trees for there to be swings & ropes attached. We visited on a hot, sunny day & yet it was lovely & cool under the trees. The nursery has 2 distinct classes for the younger 2 year olds & then the preschool aged 3-5 year olds. Each age group has its own play area & classroom meaning that resources are able to be aimed for a particular age group. Lord Street piloted the idea of having 2 year olds in a nursery setting & listening to Christine speak so passionately about this, would hearten anyone to go down this path.

We arrived at the end of a morning session, so we got to see the children playing outdoors in the play area & then how they transitioned to home time - seamlessly. It was great to see children & adults helping to tidy all the resources away before moving indoors for a short story/singing time before they were collected to go home, or some moved on to the lunch room for dinner.

This nursery school has a big covered verandah area round one side, used for storage of all the wet weather gear & wellies, I loved the way all the old plastic & metal chairs had been lined up to provide adequate seating for those getting changed before heading back inside. It was also very obvious that the wet weather gear is well used & there was also enough coats etc. for all the adults to get involved in outdoor play no matter the weather. In the play area the Community Playthings Hollow Blocks were set up as a pirate ship, flag & all & I loved seeing how the patina of these blocks was so dark after years of play.

One area of the playground has been fenced off to create a forest school area with a pond & tree stumps to form a seated area around a fire circle. As Christine pointed out, this area is a big enough 'trip' for the 2 year olds to feel they are getting the whole forest school experience without having to leave the school grounds - it also cuts down on transport costs. Most of the staff have some level of Forest School training & this ensures the ethos is fully embedded into the school. If I took one thing away from my trip to Derby, it is that schools need to develop areas on site to offer a forest school or wild experience instead of always looking off site for it.

Inside the beautiful Garden Room.
There was an amazing community spirit in Lord Street, the parents were comfortable enough to wait about outside chatting to each other with younger siblings while they waited for the session to end & there is an amazing parent room on the school grounds that recently opened. The Garden Room, is a gorgeous wooden room with glass along one whole wall, a kitchen area & toilets/changing area, where the school offers the PEEP programme for the parents of those younger children in the nursery. Most nursery settings have a unique relationship with parents compared to other school settings but I got the impression that Christine & Lord Street goes the extra mile for every family involved in their school.

If/when I get the chance to return to Derby, I would like to spend a whole morning at Lord Street to see the session unfold & spend some time indoors, as we were mostly focused on the outdoor space. The school has a strong Reggio influence, with staff having had the opprtunity to spend time in Italy.

A big thanks to Pete again for facilitating & for Christine for making us so welcome.


  1. Such a gorgeous outdoor nursery space. I think it's fantastic how nurseries have changed so much over the last 10 years, and frankly, been allowed to change.

    1. Hi & thanks for taking time to leave a comment. Nurseries have probably been fortunate to have been allowed to evolve more freely in the past, here's hoping this continues.


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