Fylde coast’s first forest nursery is inspected by Ofsted

Emma Rathbone from Little Explorers
Emma Rathbone from Little Explorers
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A Thornton nursery which strongly focuses on outdoor learning has been labelled ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted following its first inspection.

Little Explorers, run by teacher sisters Emma Rathbone (above) and Amy Crook in West Drive, was the first dedicated forestry school on the Fylde coast when it opened in early 2016.

And, after being given the education watchdog’s top score, the pair were praised as being ‘incredibly knowledgeable, highly skilled and qualified’.

Inspector Katie Sparrow said: “The nursery has rapidly become extremely well established and is making an extraordinary impact on outcomes for children.

“The learning environment is inspirational. Staff create a vibrant and innovative setting, filled with a wealth of exciting and engaging resources and learning opportunities. Children are entirely absorbed in their play, and show extremely high levels of motivation to learn and take part. Children make outstanding progress.”

Teaching was found to be ‘dynamic and insightful’, while parents work with staff in ‘complete collaboration’, Ofsted said.

“Children relish time spent outdoors,” it added. “They attend ‘forest school’ sessions where they use peelers to strip sticks, in excellent support of their small-muscle movements and safety awareness. Staff sensitively approach children’s play, extending learning in keeping with children’s ideas.

“As children play in the mud kitchen, staff suggest they write a recipe and then explore the sounds that letters represent in words, greatly promoting their early literacy skills.”

To further improve, the nursery should ‘continue to embed the current highly effective methods of planning for children’s next steps’, Ms Sparrow said in her report.