Enchanted Wood Preschool opened in 2011 and was created from a vision of giving children the best possible start in Early Years Education. I have always been passionate about early years and studied a BTec National Diploma straight after leaving school, I then went on to become a nanny and worked in a Montessori Nursery and an independent Boys Prep School. It was when I had my first child I had to make the decision to return to work or be a stay at home mum. It was a very difficult decision for me and found the balance hard, so decided to become a child minder enabling me to enjoy both roles.
I now have four young children and whilst looking for preschool places for them I visited many settings that had lots of strengths and good practice, but something was missing? I wanted to be a fly on the wall, I wanted to be involved in my children’s learning and really struggled with the formal learning the school’s offer in the UK. I decided to go back to University to study BA (Hons) in Early Years with Early Years Professional Status and became a Forest School leader with the Forest School learning Initiative. This was when Enchanted Wood Preschool was born…
Our preschool is an extension of your home, our warm cosy setting helps children to feel safe and secure, and the area is natural to reflect the world around them. We believe in the environment as a third teacher and carefully choose wooden toys and activities to encourage children to explore, investigate and discover…. Encouraging them to think, imagine and wonder! We have an open-door policy for families and welcome them to share special moments with us throughout the year. The learning journeys and Facebook pages involve you as a parent and we are always there to discuss your child’s needs and support families in the journey through their early years.
We started with one site at Bean Road, six staff and twenty children… The outdoor space here is magical and fulfilled so many dreams. The families liked what we did and our ethos, and quickly the waiting list grew. We were fortunate enough to acquire another site around the corner at Mount Road, which had the same amazing space to expand. The subsequent years saw the demand for longer hours and full-time care for working families so Standard Road and VCD sites opened. We now have two further sites at Broadway and Bexley Park offering spaces for 500 early years children across Bexley.
I enjoy working over all sites on a weekly basis and get to know every child and family. I try to ensure the strong vision for the preschool is delivered and maintains the highest standards we expect by supporting the staff. We are thrilled to have been awarded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and will continue to invest time, training, money and resources into making Enchanted Wood Preschool an inspirational place for under-fives.
I started at Enchanted Wood with Abie in 2011 as a keyworker and Abie’s Deputy Manager at Bean Road, (which is still my favourite site for the sheer magic of the outside area for Forest School).
My two sons attended the same primary school as Abie’s, (which is where we first met), and having enjoyed a former career in newspaper advertising, I had chosen not to return to full time work in the city but retrain as a Teaching Assistant so that I could be a hands on mum and work more locally once they started to attend school full time.
Like Abie, I felt slightly disconnected from the preschools that both of my son’s attended and I completely bought in to Abie’s vision for Enchanted Wood – particularly the Forest School side which at the time was not available anywhere in the borough, so I jumped at the chance of being part of her team when she first launched.
Over the years, as Enchanted Wood has expanded, I became a Forest School Leader and then Manager at Bean Road before moving away from being hands on in the settings and taking on the role of Deputy Manager and Office Manager across all sites.
Alongside the Site Managers I help to ensure that all sites run smoothly and deal with all day-to-day tasks such as the waiting list, funding, invoicing, staff training and general enquiries, (and I am usually the first point of contact for all new families).
Working for Enchanted Wood has been an exciting journey and as it has continued to expand we are constantly looking to improve and extend what we offer for children who attend the settings.
As well as venturing into year-round day care, Enchanted Wood also offers holiday clubs, a party venue, a baby-sitting service and one of the best support teams for children with additional needs in Early Years across the borough.
We are still welcoming siblings of children who were amongst the first to attend Enchanted Wood and continue to receive huge amounts of support from families past and present who are very much part of the continued success of Enchanted Wood.
Our very first intake are now attending secondary school and it is an absolute pleasure to be a part of such an innovative and passionate approach to Early Years and I look forward to welcoming many more children who will benefit from such a great start to their development.