The Willow On The Farm Nursery School is the sister school to well-known Clapham-based nursery The Willow Nursery, run by Alice and her family for over 25 years.

“Having been involved in early years schooling for a long time, I believe strongly that these formative years of a child’s life are absolutely fundamental to their development and success throughout life. This is the time to sow the seeds, to stimulate their desire to learn and to open their eyes to the world around them – which is why I opened The Willow On The Farm Nursery School here on my farm in Oxfordshire, offering your children the chance to learn both inside and outside the classroom!”

 

At The Willow on the Farm Nursery School projects and topics will be transported outside to the magical setting of the farm and Forest School where the children will be able to connect with nature, be exposed to farm animals and farm life and will explore the ever changing and seasonal countryside around them! We want the children’s learning to be a journey of imagination, adventure, curiosity, awe and wonder, with opportunities to actively learn, play and explore and to think creatively and critically –  to ‘have a go’, to ‘keep trying’ and to enjoy a sense of achievement.

Learning

‘Children Must be taught HOW to think, not WHAT to think’  Margaret Mead

We follow the EYFS 7 areas of learning which you can find below, and all our activities throughout the day will be linked to these.

The Characteristics of Effective Learning and the EYFS 7 Areas of Learning

“Research is also demonstrating that these characteristics can be strengthened or hampered by the experiences children meet. When they are encouraged and supported to follow their curiosity, to feel the satisfaction of meeting their own challenges, to think for themselves, and to plan and monitor how they will go about their activities, they become self-regulated learners who later outstrip children who may have developed more early subject-based knowledge but are more passive in their learning.”
‘Understanding the Revised EYFS’ by Helen Moylett and Nancy Stewart

  • The Willow Nursery encourages children to explore their learning environment on their own or with a skilful teacher who is trained to give guidance or intervene.
  • The children are encouraged to use their imagination to play, investigate and explore surroundings using a vast range of open-ended resources and environments.
  • Seeing the children as active learners we stimulate their learning by tuning into their interests and planning round them which then helps map out ‘next steps’.
  • Guided with open-ended questions where necessary, the children should think and create critically – asking questions and developing their problem-solving skills.

EYFS Seven Areas of Learning

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 and using our RULER program, 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.

Physical Development

Developing gross motor skills through activities such as Forest School, Gym and Dance, helps to improve coordination, control and movement and fine motor skills such as holding a pencil or scissors, using tweezers or moulding mud and clay.

Literacy

Introducing letters through numerous activities and reinforcing the phonetic alphabet through letter of the week and group/individual phonic sessions, your child learns to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write.

Mathematics

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 activities.

Expressive Art and Design

Creativity in art, craft, drama and performing, singing, dancing, making music, cooking and imaginative play can be structured activities or child led.

Understanding the World

We invite friends, family and professionals in to share their stories whether they are florists, bee keepers, soldiers, nurses, doctors, owl tamers, vicars or from another country or culture. Our termly topics include themes which encourage understanding of the world around them eg Around the World on our Magic Carpet, The Environment Around Us, Minibeasts and People who Help us. Our daily lives co-exist with the farm, and all that is done to nurture its livestock and crops.

Cultural Capital

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 on the Farm 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 on the Farm immersing ourselves in Cultural Capital is gained through:
Forest School, life on the farm, Tractor and Trailer Adventures; 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 on the Farm will stay with them forever.

The Team

We have a wonderful team of teachers and assistants and pride ourselves on the low staff turnover we have.

Alice Clark
Nursery Manager 

Alice is Creative and Expressive Arts Co-ordinator, Designated Lead for Safeguarding and responsible for SENCO (Special Educational Needs).

She is also the driving force behind The Willow On The Farm Nursery School.  She has owned and run The Willow Nursery in London’s Clapham for over 20 years, creating one of the most popular and successful nursery schools in the area.  With a move to her farm in Oxfordshire came the passion to open a sister nursery that offered the children outdoor learning, Forest School experiences and exposure to nature and adventure.

A mother of three young girls, Alice trained with a Bachelor of Education Degree and gained her teaching experience at top London schools, Hill House and Garden House Boys School.  She has recently been running her own Art Shed from home, offering art days for children aged 4 – 11years old as well as running a Mini Shed for nursery school children.

Alice’s family have lived on the farm for over 40 years so it is hardly surprising she feels so passionately about what it can offer the children.  She has grown up surrounded by dogs of all shapes and sizes, horses, geese, ducks, cows and probably many others but her favourite farm animal are the ducks!

 

Dawn Wilson-Fry
Deputy Manager

As well as being Deputy Manager, Dawn is Designated Lead for Safeguarding at The Willow On The Farm.

With a varied career across a number of sectors, Dawn has spent the last 7 years as a Pre-School Administrator for a very popular and successful local Primary School. As Deputy Manager of The Willow On The Farm she too has been instrumental in supporting Alice bring the school to life.

Her past experiences and organizational skills will ensure she manages the governance, administration and management side of the nursery with huge success.

Dawn has lived locally for 10 years and is mother of two daughters which ensures her spare time is always busy supporting them in their activities. She is a lover of the countryside and the animals in it and is the proud owner of a West Highland Terrier and 4 guinea pigs. Her favourite farm animal is a pig!

Harriet Baring
Forest School Leader 

As well as being the Forest School Leader Harriet is also the ‘Understanding the World’ and Science Coordinator.

Harriet has been a teacher for over 20 years. She gained her teaching experience at Hill House School where she worked in the Prep School for over 5 years.  She also gained valuable teaching experience at an independent school in the mountains of Pakistan.   Most recently she managed and ran The Willow Nursery in London before moving to the countryside where she has taught an art class at The Carrdus School as well as running her own holiday art workshops.

She is trained as a Forest School Leader having completed her training last year.  She will be responsible for transporting learning topics to the outdoors and leading the children on adventures that will open their minds to nature and all that is has to offer. She will follow Forest School guidelines and objectives to ensure that the children gain extraordinary extra-curricular learning.

Harriet has grown up in Oxfordshire – she has two children of her own and manages her own small holding with a wonderful vegetable garden and various animals.  Her favourite farm animals are her geese!

Sophie Murray
Key Worker

Sophie has worked with children for 14 years firstly as a nanny and subsequently  supporting pre-school children for 10 years, preparing them for their transition to school.

She holds a CACHE level 3 in Early Years and has lots of experience in coaching young gymnastics.

She lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and young daughter and loves being outdoors and enjoying adventures with her family.  She also enjoys running and taking part in local park runs and charity runs, sometimes even with her daughter. She is also a keen baker and attends baking and cake decorating classes whenever she can.

Her favourite farm animal is a cow!

Sharron Sheppard
Key Worker

Sharron teaches in the Swallows Room and is the Mathematics Coordinator and also a Designated Lead for Safeguarding.

Sharron trained through The London Montessori Centre and worked as a Montessori Directress and Supervisor within a successful nursery for 9 years before deciding to further her Montessori career by completing a Diploma in the Theory and Practise of the Montessori Method of Education for children of 6-9 years. She then worked as a Lower Elementary teacher for 4 years and also taught swimming part time.

Sharron has worked as a professional Nanny for the past 14 years and has gained a valuable insight into the needs of children and their families and she strongly believes in encouraging each child to reach their full potential by meeting the individual needs of children and nurturing a love for learning.

Sharron has lived in Oxfordshire all of her life and lives locally with her husband, enjoying country walks, running and swimming.  Sharron says she loves all animals but that her favourite would have to be a horse!

Xenia Huntley
Key Worker

Xenia teaches in the Gosling Room with the youngest children and is Outside Learning Coordinator and SENCO.

She is number 8 of a large theatrical family with three sets of twins! The worked as a travel presenter for the BBC for over ten years and having become a mother herself and out of interest she researched the Montessori Method. Recognising a genuine passion for teaching and caring for children she retrained as a Montessori Directress with the Montessori Centre International.

She works part time for the BBC and her interests are in the arts and nature. She also enjoys running and writing and her favourite animal is a horse as she likes riding!

Petra Norman 
Classroom Support

Petra comes from the Czech Republic and has been living in the UK for the last 16 years. In the past she worked as a tour guide travelling across Europe, Australia and the USA. Petra has spent many years working with children as a nanny with families across the Cotswolds. She attained her NVQ Level 2 in Children’s Care, Learning & Development whilst working in a nursery in Oxford.
Petra is delighted to be a part of the team here at Willow on the Farm. She supports teaching staff and children with day to day teaching situations and routines involved in promoting children’s development.
Petra lives locally with her husband, daughter and their Wheaten Terrier. Petra enjoys dog walking, travelling and relaxing with family.
Her favourite farm animal is a sheep.

Emma Brown 
School Secretary

Emma is a proud Lake District native and a History of Art graduate of the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. Emma has been a professional PA for the past 19 years. For 8 years she worked as PA to a West End Theatre impresario (and Chairman of a Premier League Football club). For 7 subsequent years she greatly enjoyed the role as Executive Assistant to two successive Directors of the Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology, University of Oxford.
Emma lives very close to the school with her husband, young daughter and much loved Burmese cat.
Emma enjoys supporting the Headmistress and her team greatly and seeks to serve as an approachable and trusted conduit between parents and staff.
Emma’s favourite farm animal is definitely a pig!