Giving a small village school a future by building a new nursery room
We’ve designed and built a new nursery room for Green Lea First School in Staffordshire, helping to keep this small village school open and improving learning for all its pupils.
Head teacher Katy Wilson and the governors of Green Lea First School in Staffordshire faced a major dilemma: their little nursery was a vital source of income and helped to boost pupil numbers but it was sharing space with the reception class and causing a lot of disruption for staff and pupils.
It’s very important for small village schools like Green Lea to offer a nursery as a way to attract local families, boosting intake at reception age and also providing a valuable income stream to supplement government funding and ensure viability.
The restricted space in this small building was affecting teaching and learning across all age groups as nursery children competed with older pupils for use of the hall, external play space and facilities and access to age-appropriate toilets, and the nursery’s equipment had to be set up and dismantle each day. Demands on the staffroom and other non-teaching space also affected staff wellbeing and performance due to disrupted downtime and planning, preparation and assessment.
Governors spent several years fundraising for a new nursery space to be built next to the reception class with combined outdoor play facilities, and they asked Entrust to deliver the project.
Using our expertise in school building and maintenance, we designed a room that met the challenges of the tiny amount of space that was available and that complied with Department for Education (DfE) guidance on early years accommodation and best practice. The build was completed on time and on budget, which was very important to the cash-constrained village school.
Entrust successfully bid for £25,000 to supplement the school’s own funds to reflect the benefits that all years would experience because of the reduced pressure on their existing accommodation. We also helped Green Lea with regulatory issues: the Secretary of State for Education must approve any plans to build on public land and this can be quite a minefield because of public sensitivities about such developments.
Entrust was able to help Green Lea’s governors through this process: we submitted a proposal to the DfE that kept the project on track. We also kept the design, footprint and other aspects of the build within Permitted Development criteria, avoiding the cost and delay of seeking planning approval.
Now that the project is complete, Green Lea has a dedicated nursery room that can engage with the school (particularly the reception class) when necessary but also be independent, avoiding disruption to the main school. Parents can deliver and collect their children at any time of the day without disturbing others, and the school’s teaching staff can break for lunch and hold meetings in private.
The school has very quickly adapted and is enjoying having the extra space. The disturbance, time lost and logistical implications of shared spaces had been a constant cause of concern for all involved, and this design has meant that the school as a whole, not just the early years unit, is reaping the benefits.
Most importantly, Green Lea has a sustainable source of funding and can market its nursery knowing that children who join at the age of three are likely to seek a reception place, which will help to ensure the small village school’s future.
We continue to enjoy a very good relationship with Green Lea’s governors, and will continue to provide it with maintenance and energy services.
To find out how we can help you to make the most of your school space, contact us