Welcome to our Forest School Nursery and Pre-school! For children aged 2 -5 years.
Based at the Stunning Site at Wood Lane Countryside Centre, we provide an incredible setting for deep, natural learning to take place, using the natural environment as the first tool.
Forest Schools is a unique way of promoting learning in children. It focuses on the child's needs rather than the child's ability, which makes it accessible to any child of any ability, language, race or ethnicity.
The beauty of nature is that it is a universal language and it can speak out to everybody and touch everyone in a unique way.
Forest Schools provides access to the outdoors, giving the opportunity to explore risks, challenge emotions and push personal boundaries. Forest School does this by providing unique experiences that children may not usually have access to.
Examples of Key Benefits of Learning Outdoors:
- Being fully immersed in nature
- Observing wildlife, mini beasts and living creatures in their natural habitat
- Observing changes and rhythms in nature, for example seasons, weather and sounds
- Enhancing physical ability through challenging surroundings, for example climbing over obstructions, uneven terrain, tree climbing etc.
- Being exposed to natural elements, promoting resilience, stamina and understanding of own personal needs.
- Getting close to nature, gaining understanding of life cycles, habitats, species of animals, plants and trees.
- Providing space to explore and encourage imaginative play, enhancing language and social skills. - Developing a community of respect, for the environment, the world and each other.
- Providing opportunities to practice new skills, such as using tools, manipulating natural materials, and developing ‘life skills’ that they continue to grow and enhance throughout childhood. - Providing ‘risk’ play, giving children the opportunity to assess their own learning and experiences.
Our 20 placed nursery offers places to children aged 2-5 years. Set on the beautiful grounds of Wood Lane Countryside Centre, with fantastic facilities such as Pond, beehives, fire circle and much more. Our site is located in walking distance from Loxley Valley and Rivelin Valley, meaning we can visit the woodland areas each day with our children.
Our Nursery is based mainly outdoors, with access to our 5m Bell tents with log burning stoves, and also access to the main building at Wood Lane. We currently have plans to expand our indoor space, with a Log cabin eco hub, which will be complete with Solar Panels and Composting Toilet. This will act as our base for our nursery children, especially during the tough winter months.
Using the Forest School Approach as our preferred learning approach, we aim to provide a high-quality learning experience, using the natural environment and the world around us to guide, aid and spark learning.
All of our staff are trained to Level 3 in Childcare or higher and hold or undergoing a Forest School Leader Qualification. We are proud to support our staff with their careers in early years, providing opportunities for further development through training days, and contributing to their learning through relevant courses. It is important that staff are not only paediatric first aid trained, but also Forest School First Aid Trained.
Our Nursery runs its main session from 9am-4pm, however there is the option to extend these hours. We are open Monday - Friday 50 weeks of the year. Our sessions are listed below.
Full Day Session - 9am-4pm
Extended Day Session - 8am-5pm
Morning session - 9am-12pm
Afternoon Session 1pm-4pm
Breakfast Club - 8am-9am
Afternoon Tea Club - 4pm-5pm
Please email our team for a price list.
We understand that the separation between parent and child can be quite stressful. With over 20 years’ experience combined, our staff team will work with you to ensure this process is as smooth as possible.
Our settling in sessions have no limits and can be organised between yourselves and your key person.
We also understand that this experience is just as hard for parents and carers as it is for children. We aim to support you as much as possible and give you the fullest confidence that your child is in the right hands. Please speak to a member of staff to see how we can cater to your child’s needs.
Below are a list of our sessions available:
We encourage parents and carers to visit our fantastic site to get a feel of what we can provide and to meet with our team. Visits can be booked via telephone call or through our website.
PLEASE NOTE: We are currently operating a waiting list. Please contact our staff team about availability.
Confirming a place…
Once you have fell in love with our beautiful setting, it is time to confirm a place for your child with us. In order to this, a registration form will be sent out for you to complete. Once we have all the relevant information a member of our management team will confirm your place. Please be aware that we are only a small setting, so availability maybe limited. Our team will do their very best to ensure we can accommodate your needs.
Prices and Payments...
Payments are invoiced Monthly. We make sure to send all invoices out to families by the second week of the month prior. This is to give enough time for families. We expect payments to be made by the 1st of every month. Payments can be made via Bank transfer. We are also registered with most childcare vouchers and the Government tax free childcare scheme. If you wish to make payments this way please inform a member of the management team.
What will my child need to bring?
Our sessions are completely outdoors, so please equip your child with the appropriate clothing such as warm clothing, waterproof suits, wellies, sun hat, sun cream. Feel free to bring a small bag with spare clothing, extra drinks, or anything else your child may need. Please be aware your child may be asked to carry their own bag for a short while.
If your child needs any kind of medication such as an inhaler, please bring this along and hand to a member of staff. Please provide your child with a healthy packed lunch and a water bottle for the day. The Nature Box uses dermatologically tested and eco- friendly hand soaps and hand sanitisers. If your child has sensitive skin and you require them to use other skin soaps or creams, please provide this in your child’s bag and inform a member of staff.
Here are a list of important policies and procedures for parents to look through. A full list can be requested at our Nursery site.
What if I need to add, change or decrease my sessions?
The Nature Box forest school will endeavour to accommodate children at short notice for additional sessions, however for long term changes to sessions we require 4 weeks’ notice, this includes adding on sessions or cancelation of sessions.
Cancellation of sessions or reducing length of sessions will be required to be paid for during the 4 weeks’ notice period.
I use Free Early Years Funding. Can I make changes to funded hours?
If you decide to make a change to your sessions that is funded by either universal or extended hours, we require 4 weeks’ notice. The funding date will be ceased 4 weeks after the date we have been informed of the changes. Please consider this if you are splitting funding with another setting.
What will the sessions look like?
All our sessions seek to provide children with highly stimulating experiences, providing opportunities for independence, risk taking and reflection. Please note that all staff are highly trained in the promotion of these elements. If you have any concerns about your child participating in the above experiences, please talk to a member of staff.
Sessions will take place within public woodlands/parks, and at our base site Wood Lane Countryside Centre, Stannington, Sheffield S6 5HE.
What is your setting's ethos?
Our ethos at The Nature Box is To love ourselves, To love each other and To love our world. We aim to instil these values in our children and team through engaging with the natural world around us. The Nature Box is invested in creating a community of learners who feel respected and are respectful of others and the world around them. We develop our programme with the 6 Forest School Principles of best practice in mind, ensuring we offer long-term, woodland-based sessions that are learner-centred and take a holistic approach to development.
Our staff team are all trained or training to be qualified Forest School Leaders. We come from a range of backgrounds within the field of education, but all have a passion for the Forest Schools approach. Our team engages in reflective practice to ensure each session provides experiences based on learners’ interests and developmental needs.
We strive to continue to build the Nursery community, fostering a relationship with each family attending our session.
We ask parents to support and work together with us in the same ethos, valuing each other, themselves, and the world, and role modelling this with their children.
Provide experiences that are open ended, stimulating and nature-based, providing an opportunity for children to spark their imagination, generate interests and form a connection with nature. Each child will have a designated key person who will observe and extend children’s curiosity and learning, creating a bond and a trust that will become the foundations of key learning experiences. Experiences such as risky play, tool work and fire lighting will be introduced in safe and stimulating way.
Learners will have an opportunity to further explore working with tools and building and maintaining fires, while being encouraged to manage their own risk under supervision. An extension of interests, connection with nature and imagination will take place through child-led play and learning. Staff plan and extend in the moment, carefully observing and choosing the right time to facilitate learning in a way that is stimulating and based on the child’s interests.
Learning will shift at this stage from being facilitator guided to independent. Leaders will still be there to support learners with their play and explorations, encouraging them to trust in their own abilities to find the resources they need. Our main aim for our explorers is to leave our care as confident, independent and curious individuals ready to take on the world. We aim to achieve this by giving children autonomy over their own learning, supporting and guiding them with the aid of the natural world.
Our aim is to guide and facilitate a love of learning, sparking imagination, and deepening the knowledge that the explorers already have through interaction with nature!
Research shows that early exposure to nature and developing a connection at a young age encourages empathy and care for the world into adulthood. If we can encourage the next generation to care and maintain our planet and equip them with the tools to do so, we are contributing to a better world.
Research also shows the benefits to mental health and wellbeing that nature immersion brings. It is our priority at The Nature Box Forest School to put the children’s personal, social and emotional needs at the forefront of everything that we do. By following children’s interests within nature, facilitating language and encouraging confidence and self-esteem, we are equipping children with the core foundations of success for their future.
How do you track my child's learning?
Your child’s key person will be responsible for assessing and recording your child’s development process. They will also form a bond and relationship with your child that supports their learning journey as their confidence grows.
Observations and assessments
Staff will observe your child during play for tracking development purposes and to establish children’s interests and learning focus. These observations will be used to enhance children’s learning through open ended resources to adult-led interactions. We use the seven core principles of the Forest School approach to guide our practice. We track children on a termly basis, to ensure that they are heading in the right direction. This is not an assessment, just a guide for our staff team.
Our learning journeys are a fantastic way of displaying all of your child’s achievements while they have been with us. These belong to you, and you will receive it to keep once your child leaves for their next learning adventure. This is a working document that staff will continue to add to throughout your child’s time with us. You will have the opportunity to see these during parents’ evenings, however, you can request to look at these any time.
At the end of each term your child’s key person will write a report which displays your child’s growth and achievements.
Transitions to school
We work in line with Sheffield City Council’s framework for school transitions to provide and overview of your child’s time with us. This will also involve your input, which we can support you with. We will work closely with you and your child to make this process as comfortable as possible, please see our Transition policy for more information.
Dropping off and Collecting my Child...
Children must arrive on time and in the appropriate clothing for the day. It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure their child is fully equipped ready to start the session on arrival. Staff may not be able to dress and prepare children as they are attending to the group.
The gate opening times are:
8am (Breakfast Club children only)
12pm (morning session leavers only)
1pm (afternoon session starters only)
5pm (Tea Club children only)
Please note, these are the only times staff will be opening the gate. Late arrivals may not be accepted. If you know you will be late, please let us know as soon as possible.
A prompt arrival time is imperative to ensure the safeguarding of all children on site, as well as preparing the experiences for the day.
Before entering, please wait for a member of staff to greet you. Staff are the only people authorised to open the gate. Please DO NOT jump over the gate or enter unauthorised. It is very important that we are aware of every person that is on site, for safeguarding and fire safety reasons.
Please be patient when waiting to hand over or collect your child. This is the time when staff get the opportunity to discuss important information with parents and it is our priority to ensure that every parent and child has the space and time to share information with the team.
Please notify staff if you are going to be late collecting your child. After fifteen minutes a £5 late collection fee will be added to your bill every additional five minutes.
If you are unable to collect your child and require another adult to collect them, please inform staff at drop-off as well as emailing management team. We will ask for the collection password, so please ensure that this has been passed on. The collection password is whatever you have provided on this form.
Am I able to defer my child's school place?
The Nature Box Forest school will assume unless informed otherwise that children will be leaving us for a school place in the September after their 4th birthday. We are happy to accommodate children who have deferred their school place to the time it becomes mandatory for them to attend mainstream education or alternative provision however we need to be informed of your intentions of this with at least two terms notice in order for a place to made for the sessions required. Please speak to the admin team if you are considering deferring a school place.
How do I Pay?
We have a range of options for families to access our services. This is to ensure that our services can meet the needs of our families to the best of our ability.
Sessions are invoiced monthly, and payments are due on the 28th of each month. Invoices are sent in advance of the month. For example, for sessions in attendance in February this invoice will be sent on 21st January ready for payment on 28th January. Late payments will incur a late payment charge. Please speak to a member of our team if you have any issues with payment.
The Nature Box is registered with the Government Tax Free Childcare Scheme, and most Childcare voucher schemes. If you are paying with childcare vouchers, please be mindful that the payment can take a up to 5 days to reach us so please make payment promptly upon receiving the invoice.
Payment for ad-hoc sessions will be done on the invoice for the following month.
There will be times when our fees will need to increase due to increase in our expenses or changes in inflation. At The Nature Box we will ensure that these are carefully considered and will give parents 1 terms notice of any changes to our fees.
The Nature Box is registered with the Government Tax Free Childcare Scheme, and most Childcare voucher schemes.
How much notice period must I give?
Parents are asked to provide 4 weeks’ notice period when terminating a place at the Nature Box Forest School. This needs to be written or email notice to the nursery management team.
What happens if my child is Ill?
If your child is ill and unable to attend, please let a member of the management team know as soon as possible. Please let us know via Famly app, email or by calling us at the earliest opportunity. Unfortunately, families are still required to pay for sessions that children are unable to attend due to illness. Staff will contact parents if their child becomes unwell during a session. This session will also require full payment.
Please keep your children at home if they have or have had, in the previous 48 hours, any infection or sickness, temperature of 38 degrees or higher, or have had diarrhoea even in the absence of sickness. If this is the case, please call us and inform us your child will not be attending the session. We are unable to offer a refund or credit for missed sessions due to sickness.
As an education setting, we will follow the most up to date guidance on Covid-19 and self-isolation. We expect full transparency from parents when disclosing to us cases of self-isolation or positive Covid tests.
If we have to close our sessions due to covid-19 self-isolation, we will notify parents immediately, and provide a refund for the sessions missed.
If a child has been told to isolate and misses a session, we will do our best to find an alternative session for this to be credited to.
What will my child eat at nursery?
Families are asked to provide children with a healthy packed lunch and water bottle for their day at nursery. The Nature Box provides Breakfast for children attending from 8am, Morning and afternoon snacks, and a small tea snack for children attending 4pm-5pm. The food provided by The Nature Box is included in the fees.
Examples of healthy and practical lunches for the seasons are:
Ice pack and cool lunch box
Veggie sticks and dips
Flask that holds hot food and/or drink
Hot honey and lemon
Please note: It is preferred that hot lunches are served in a flask or thermos.
My child has an allergy, how can you support this?
We have a strict NO NUTS policy at The Nature Box. Please be aware of what you are providing in your child’s lunch box.
We take dietary requirements and allergies very seriously, and it is of great importance to let us know of your child’s requirements and speak through this with a leader as soon as possible.
What should my child bring?
We do not have a set kit list because we want to make Forest School as inclusive to everyone as possible. We do however require that your children wear suitable clothing for the weather, a water bottle, a packed lunch, and closed-toed shoes. In the summer we require you to bring sunscreen and a sun hat.
Other recommended items to help optimise comfort:
- Snow boots during winter to stay warm
- Waterproof shoes/boots for all seasons
- A change of clothing
- Waterproof trousers with elasticated straps (fishing waders)
- Waterproof jacket with a hood
- Layers (long sleeve and short sleeve tops, fleeces, thermals, etc.)
- Winter hat, gloves, but not scarves
- Thick socks
- Suitable backpack that your child can comfortably carry
- Ice pack in lunch bags
Are you closed on Bank Holidays?
Nursery is closed on Bank Holidays. Sessions that are due to be attended on bank holiday will still be included in monthly invoices.
I am planning a holiday, how does this work?
If you are planning a holiday, please inform the management team as soon as possible. Families are still required to pay fees for this time. This is due to the difficulty of filling spaces at short notice.
In the event of a natural disaster, or circumstances out of The Nature Box’s control that forces us to close, communication with parents will be our highest priority. Each unique circumstance will be analysed and assessed, and notice of decisions around fees and payments will be given in good time. The best interests of our families and staff will always be at the forefront of our decisions regarding this.
The Nature Box takes pride in ensuring their staff are supported, inspired, and motivated to continue their own learning journey and progress in their career. We will carry out 3 training days a year where staff will work together to help to continuously improve our practice. Parents are required to still pay for these days. The training days for the next academic year are:
Thursday 23rd September 2021
Friday 1st April 2022
Friday 2nd September 2022
My child has a favourite toy, can this be brought to Forest School?
We understand that some children may need to bring an item that they are close to in order to feel secure, especially during the beginning of joining us. We are happy for children to bring this, as long as the children are aware that this will not be the responsibility of the leader to take care of. Please be aware of the risk of damage and loss during the session.
How do you protect my data?
Your data is stored on a lockable computer, and a lockable filing cabinet. We are registered with ICO.
Communications with you as a parent/carer
We currently use an app called Famly, which is password protected and allows the staff team to share photos, videos, and any messages about your child’s daily experience. We also conduct verbal debriefs of the day at pickup time.
We ask permission on this form to take photographs of your child during the session. This is done on password protected work only devices.
Photos will be used for:
- Observation and Assessment
- Sent on our Famly app to you to notify of activities throughout the day
- Social Media
Please inform us on this form if you do not wish for your child to have photos on any of the above. This can be changed at any time.
Our sessions are running mainly outdoors, in most weathers. The only time we are not able to run outdoors is:
- High Winds
- Thunder and Lightning storms
- Heavy snow or flooding
Use of tools and risky play
This agreement highlights you are aware of and give permission for children to use tools, climb trees, build fires and other elements of risky play during our sessions. These activities are supervised by qualified FS leaders, who also have paediatric and FS First Aid. Such activities will be slowly introduced, managing and monitoring children’s competency throughout.
We love our families, so feel free to book a visit to see us!