The Willow Nursery, London is sister school to The Willow On The Farm Nursery, Oxfordshire. Both have been owned and run by Alice Clark for over 25 years and both offer a wonderfully traditional and all-encompassing start to children’s learning.
Alice believes strongly that these are the most formative years of a child’s life and form the basis for much that goes after. Therefore there is a strong focus on outdoor learning, Forest School, STEM and building emotional intelligence through the RULER programme.
This short time at nursery is vital preparation for their move on to school and their life thereafter and the foundations for this journey are built here.
‘We wish our children to be imaginative and creative through curiosity, awe and wonder; developing confidence, independence, resilience and a caring nature.
We will use your child’s two-year journey with us to build a strong foundation, preparing them for their transition to school and their lives thereafter’.
Sarah joined The Willow in 2014 as a teacher and has subsequently trained as our SENDCo. Prior to The Willow Sarah worked in the Wandsworth Youth Offending Team as well as a Childminder. She has two teenage children. Since September 2021 Sarah has become our Manager.
Caroline trained as a Montessori teacher and taught at Hill House School in Knightsbridge prior to joining The Willow. She has three grown-up children and has recently celebrated 20 years at The Willow! Caroline is our Head Teacher.
Teresa has had over 19 years experience working with young children. She has an NNEB (nursery nurse diploma), Montessori Diploma- Nursery Foundation teaching and a Batchelor of Education degree. She has worked in a variety of different schools and worked overseas for a few years as an English governess. She also taught in Early Years learning in Dubai, UAE and Oman gaining valuable experience. She has been at The Willow since January 2019 and is loving being part of the team here!
Eglantine started as a Nursery Assistant in 2017 and she has now successfully completed her Level 3 Childcare Training. Previously she studied at the Fine Art School of Paris where she completed her Master’s degree. She has run many workshops for children in art centres and museums in France.
Tess graduated from her PGCE in 2008 and began working as a reception teacher at Eridge House (now Parsons Green Prep) in 2009 before moving to Sydney where she taught at an independent boys school in the Eastern Suburbs. On her return from Australia she worked as a private chef and PA for a family in London before joining The Willow in 2015.
Malou has worked at The Willow since 2015. Before this she worked as a full time live-in nanny for a Willow family for 10 years. She has two children of her own. Malou is one of our nursery assistants and a vital part of The Willow team.
Sophia is originally from China and tutors local children in Mandarin. She joined us in 2020 as a Nursery Assistant helping with the younger children.
Amanda joined us in 2011, just after her son had left The Willow. She is now responsible for all Registrations, Admissions and Show rounds.
Kirsty joined us in 2020 having been with The Willow as a parent since 2013 as her three children all attended. Previously she worked in television and lived in Australia for a number of years.
Pianist & Nursery Assistant
Jennie plays the piano for the children during Singing on a Tuesday morning, as well as working as one of our nursery assistants on a Tuesday & Wednesday. Jennie is a trained teacher and has previously taught at a nursery school in Balham.
Claire is a Montessori-trained nursery teacher and will be working as a teacher in the afternoons. She is also a trained chef, so will be sharing her knowledge and skills with all the children.
‘Children Must be taught HOW to think, not WHAT to think’
We want The Willow children to learn at their own pace; to learn through play and curiosity and to learn through shared experiences.
We have a strong focus on outdoor learning and Forest School activities as this has increasingly been proven to enhance children’s learning ability and build confidence.
We use a combination of traditional teaching and aspects of Montessori teaching and we follow the EYFS Curriculum (see below) throughout.
Outdoor Learning and Forest School
‘There is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing’!
We are very lucky to be able to use the countryside experiences and knowledge of our sister school, The Willow On The Farm Nursery, in our teaching and to have our own large outdoor area that enables us to offer a Forest School experience.
By learning outside the classroom, we support the development of healthy and active lifestyles by offering opportunities for physical activity, freedom and movement, and promoting their sense of well-being. We will give them ‘hands-on’ contact with the natural world, enabling them to see, hear, taste, touch and smell the world around them.
We use our RULER technique throughout the outdoor learning as it offers great opportunities for the children to talk about how things make them feel such as brave, proud, anxious or cooperative. As they encounter new experiences and by ‘giving things a go’ taking risks, not giving up and being proud of their achievements the children build enormous resilience and self-confidence.
Part of the outdoor learning ensures that we instil a sense of responsibility in the children for their environment and sustainability, discussing how we look after the natural world around us and discussing aspects like recycling, use of plastics, saving energy, collecting water, etc
We have a regular Forest School sessions every Wednesday afternoon run by The Willow Forest School Leader, Harriet. Either based in our own Forest School learning area or on nature rambles to Clapham Common the children will follow a curriculum that involves exploring nature, learning about trees, following the seasons, understanding about plant growth and exploring our minibeasts.
We have a new mud kitchen for getting hands dirty and playing investigative games, a fabulous ‘boat sand-pit’, new Bug Hotel, flower beds for planting and an undercover area with mirrors and multi-surface boards for understanding about materials.
EYFS Seven Areas of Learning
We follow the EYFS 7 areas of learning which you can find here, and all our activities throughout the day will be linked to these.
Communication and Language
The way your child listens and understands what is being said is key to developing vocabulary and speech. Children do this by listening, watching and imitating, joining in with rhymes, stories and games using sounds and words.
Personal and Social Development
Developing a wide range of social skills will give your child the confidence to manage their feelings and behaviour, make friends, share and take turns. We create a fun, vibrant environment where their personal, social and emotional development thrives.
Developing gross motor skills through activities that improve coordination, control and movement and fine motor skills such as holding a pencil or scissors, using tweezers or moulding clay.
Introducing letters through repetitive activities and phonetic schemes as early as possible, your child learns to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write.
Learning mathematics through fun by understanding shape, space, measures, numbers and problem and puzzle solving. Learning at their own pace through one-to-one teaching and group projects and regularly assessed.
Expressive Art and Design
Creativity in art, craft, singing, dancing, making music, cooking and imaginative play is hugely important to the children’s day whether it is structured activity or messy play.
Understanding the World
Visiting our local community – the park, the fire station, museums, the dry cleaners – is how your children begin to understand the world around them. We also invite friends and family in to share their stories whether they are florists, bee keepers, soldiers, designers or scuba divers!
Cultural capital is an integral aspect of the EYFS and is the essential knowledge that children need to be educated citizens.
We believe at The Willow that cultural capital is about giving children the best possible start to their early education and future success, enhancing the experience and opportunities we make available to children, particularly the most disadvantaged. We help children to experience their curiosity, awe and wonder of the world in which they live, through the seven areas of learning, preparing children with the knowledge and skills for what comes next.
Examples of The Willow immersing ourselves in Cultural Capital is gained through: Forest School, RULER emotional intelligence programme; Learning about different communities and cultures from around the world – food, music, dress; Festivals; Outings; Visitors in.
Our fundamental belief and aspiration is that what the children learn and experience at The Willow will stay with them forever.