Blackpool woman's award-winning business teaches back to nature

Blackpool-born Julie White with children in her award-winning outdoor school Nature to Nurture
Blackpool-born Julie White with children in her award-winning outdoor school Nature to Nurture

Teachers say there is no one size fits all approach to learning – children learn in different ways.

And living proof is former Marton businesswomen Julie White who runs an award-winning early years education business which has had national attention over its Forest Schools approach to learning.

Nature to Nurture where children learn in an outdoor classroom in the local park

Nature to Nurture where children learn in an outdoor classroom in the local park

Her organisation, Nature to Nurture, won Pre-School of the Year 2017 and was rated outstanding in all areas for our OfSTED inspection 2016.

Yet Julie left St George’s High school in Blackpool with no qualifications.

She said: “The school environment did not really suit me. I am one of those people who is very much hands on and visualise everything in pictures.

“At 18 I moved away from home and spent a year in the US and worked as a nanny in Monte Carlo.”

She came back to the UK and lived in Liverpool studied early years education and managed a nursery where she became interested in the adverse effects of living in a “concrete jungle” on the children and started to look at the Scandinavian Forest School model.

She said: “We started taking a small group of children every other week to Croxteth Country Park so to do a comparative study. At the end, the findings were exciting. We had more than halved the sickness levels of the children and their well-being had improved.”

Julie, 41, suffered with degenerative osteoarthritis and it was while recovering from a hip replacement operation she launched her toddler group business in 2012 encouraging the children to get mucky and learn for themselves about nature and risk.

She said: “We noticed higher levels of engagement, increased imagination and their language was a lot richer.”

In 2014 the group became an Outdoor Nursery in Croxteth Country Park and last year was chosen by Liverpool Hope University to take part in a study into children at Forest Schools.

She said: “Our study began in December 2017 and initial findings highlighted that children educated in nature-based settings exceed the national recommended minimum for physical activity – currently three hours per day. Only 10 per cent of children in the UK achieve this.

“As children and young people suffer increasingly from obesity and mental health problems, we need, I believe to get our early years provision right. And that means claiming the benefits of learning and playing outdoors as a birthright of every child.”