Small, nurturing, child centred

The nursery group, part of our pre-school provision, is set within the school and caters for a small group of around eight children, aged 3–4 years. This group is known as squirrels.

It provides a caring, warm and friendly environment in which the children feel safe, secure, confident and happy. This encourages all-round development at each child’s own pace.

Children learn through carefully structured play, covering a wide variety of experiences in line with national guidelines for learning in the Early Years. They make their own choices and decisions through the provision of free playtimes, and we also encourage children to work in small-group and whole-group activities, promoting language development and interaction with others.

Whilst our squirrels group is for children from the age of 3 until when they might usually start school, our pre-school provision at Dame Catherine’s doesn’t have to end there. Children are welcome to continue their pre-school experience in our next group (rabbits) until they are of compulsory school age ( the term after they are 5 years old.) We class this option as extended pre-school, which can provide real choice – especially for summer born children. To support transition, summer born children are welcome to remain in squirrels for an additional term.

Our pre-school children have access to the same opportunities as our school children : PE at the village hall, outdoor learning with forest school approaches in our amazing garden, and even learning a language.

This all supports a smooth transition into school, for those children remaining with us. Some families remain with us full time, but we also have a flexi-school option. Families who choose to home-school will also be able to continue with us at Dame Catherine’s for 2 days a week.

Pre-school sessions are £15 each (the morning session is 9am – 12pm and the afternoon session is 1pm- 4pm.) A full day, including lunchtime provision is £36 (9am – 4pm.) Wrap-around care from 8am and until 5pm is available.

Parents can use childcare vouchers to cover pre-school fees. Government childcare vouchers are also accepted until the end of the academic school year when a child reaches the age of 4. These can be used for up to  15 hours (or 5 sessions) of childcare. Additional sessions and lunchtime sessions are £6 per hour. For those eligible, we are now able to offer up to 30 hours of funded childcare (10 sessions) which can be used flexibly to cover pre-school sessions and wrap around sessions.

In extended pre-school ( in the year when a child turns 5 years old) we can accept 15 hours funding until the end of the term when a child is 5 years old (compulsory school age.) Lunchtime provision is £10 for the hour. As a general rule we do not accept 30 hours provision in our extended pre-school, but we are happy to discuss options with families and explore whether we have capacity if the family is eligible. Please talk to Jane Dawn for further details.

In extended pre-school additional charges may be applicable for co-curricular activities such as sport opportunities where we hire the village hall, for school visits and for activities such as music and languages. We offer all of these to our children at this age.

For more information and to book a visit please e-mail Jane on or phone 01332862792.