Chelsea Open Air Nursery – 90th Anniversary Celebrations

Chelsea Open Air Nursery – 90th Anniversary Celebrations


Outdoor learning is at the heart of the core values of the desirably positioned Chelsea Open Air Nursery, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this July.

One of only two state funded Early Years schools in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, it really is a hidden gem. Nestled in the corner of a quiet residential street, it boasts its own private garden allowing children access to outdoor learning all year round.

Founded in 1928 by Dr Susan Isaacs and Natalie Davis, the ‘Open Air’ philosophy it was built upon is still very much alive today. Nursery Officer and Forest School Leader Felicity Masters explains, “Being outdoors among the trees and plants increases their sense of wellbeing, and having the opportunity to see the effects of the changing seasons helps to develop a sense of awe and wonder in the natural world.”

“A wonderful example of this occurred just a few days ago when one of the boys ran up to me saying, ‘Felicity, it’s like being in an adventure with the trees and the bees buzzing round!’”

In the early twentieth century it was recognised that many city children did not have enough access to fresh air, sunlight and exercise for healthy development, and this has never been more important today with ever increasing research on the benefits of outdoor learning.

Forest School is based on a Scandinavian approach to teaching that highlights the importance of children having contact with nature from an early age, the school’s mission statement “Open Hearts Open Minds, A Healthy Start to Education” certainly endorses this belief.

Senior teacher Alex Kelly says, “The majority of the time children are outside engaging in child initiated play, but there are also plenty of opportunities for adult led activities.”

It’s no wonder that the nursery has received an OFSTED ‘Outstanding’ rating for four consecutive occasions, reporting that, “The outdoor learning area is a labyrinth of exciting places for children to learn and play, whatever the weather.”

In 2006 it became one of the first children’s centres in the Borough, providing a ‘one stop shop’ facility, which offers free services to families with children under the age of five.

A commemorative mosaic will be unveiled which is a joint collaboration of past, present and future pupils, highlighting the strong community feel that flourishes within the school, as well poetry workshops, dancing and a mobile zoo. Children come from a wide range of social, cultural, economic and racial backgrounds, reflecting the multiculturalism of London today.

The school prides itself on being exceptionally inclusive, “We have a diverse cohort of children including those with complex learning needs,” says Head Teacher Talia Robinson who is also a Special Educational Needs and Disabilities specialist.

The longstanding staff team are testament to the fact that there is a strong parent-teacher relationship, creating a consistent and secure environment for pupils.

“Having a great ethos is one thing but putting it so successfully into practice is quite another; the outdoor setting coupled with a highly organised, enthusiastic and caring management creates the perfect platform for children to learn in a relaxed, healthy, yet structured environment”, explain current parents Simon and Chloe Tindall.

“Always fun with each day being carefully planned in a wonderful friendly atmosphere, and at the same time giving children the mental and physical space they need to develop at their own pace, Chelsea Open Air, in our opinion offers an outstanding nursery.”

Next month children, parents, staff and local residents will join together to celebrate ninety years of exceptional learning, but undoubtedly, come rain or shine, the school’s garden will be at the heart of the festivities.

Chelsea Open Air Nursery School

51 Glebe Place



Tel: 020 7352 8374

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