Dovedale Nursery

Our Nursery

Dovedale Nursery | Children


Trained, dedicated and qualified professionals run the day-to-day operations of the Nursery and the Nursery is officially owned by Chelmsford College, with our Director of Finance as the named person responsible.

Dovedale Nursery is registered with Ofsted and therefore inspected regularly. Details of reports can be accessed on the Ofsted website and the copy of the most recent inspection report is displayed on our Nursery noticeboard.

Dovedale Nursery Ofsted Report

We're also accredited through the Early Years Alliance and proudly display our certificate in our Nursery.

We look after children up to school age. We welcome children of the staff and students of Chelmsford College as well as from the wider local community.

Our Nursery is staffed by qualified and experienced Nursery Practitioners and Nursery Assistants. We provide quality care and appropriate education for your child in accordance with the standards and guidance of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Calendar 2023/2024

The nursery is open 50 weeks of the year. The closure weeks are as follows;

  • 20th December 2023 to 03rd January 2024
  • Free entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds is only applicable to the term dates below giving a total of 38 weeks a year of funding (funding follows a financial year April to March not the academic year September to August).
  • You may book additional sessions in school holidays but these will be charged at full cost.
Term Dates
Autumn Term
  05th September – 15th December 2023
  22nd September 2023 - Nursery and Out of school closed for staff training
  Half Term: 23rd October – 27th October 2023
  14 weeks funding
Spring Term
  04th January – 28th March 2024
  Half Term: 19th – 23rd February 2024
  11 weeks funding plus 2 days
Summer Term  
  16th April – 19th July 2024
  26th April 2024 - Nursery and Out of school closed for staff training
  May Bank Holiday 6th May 2024
  Half Term: 27th May – 31st May 2024
  13 weeks funding

Opening Hours

The Nursery is open to children from 8 am to 6 pm daily, through out the year.

Children of staff and students may be left at 8.45 am to enable them to arrive at classes on time.

Session Times
Breakfast Club 8am to 9am (7.00 am start available)
Morning 9am to 12 noon
Lunch 12 noon to 1pm
Afternoon 1pm to 4pm
Tea Time 4pm to 5pm
Extended Tea Time 5pm to 6pm

We ask parents to be prompt when collecting their child as children do become distressed. A ten minute grace period does exist for the collection of your child, because we do understand that sometimes situations can arise which are beyond your control.

Our Team

Coming Soon


We're really lucky to have four rooms called Nest, Chicks, Fledglings and Eagles which cater for our children aged from ten months to eight years. Our rooms help children transition smoothly throughout their time in the Nursery.


We welcome children from ten months to two years. Our Nest Room has it's own outdoor garden. We understand that leaving your child initially in those very first few days can feel extremely worrying so we have a team of dedicated key practitioners who will be there to support you and your child during the first few sessions and throughout your journey with us. We offer "settling in" sessions to gradually get to know you and your child and learn more about your child's home routine and current interests. We believe reflecting the familiarity of your normal routine at home coupled with support from your key person, enables your child to feel safe and secure.

When you feel your child is ready to start with us fully we ensure you're kept informed of activities and experiences through each day with communication sheets. Our Team are also available to greet you and say goodbye so you get valuable time to discuss how your child's morning or day has been.

All meals, snacks, nappies and wipes are included in the fees, although we are unable to provide powdered milk. However, we can make arrangements to store powdered or breast milk brought from home if needed.

Our Team will provide exciting and stimulating activities to reflect your child's interests both indoors and outdoors. The Nest Room has a carpeted area and reflects the seven areas of the EYFS such as a calm sleep area, messy area, musical area, book corner, construction area, snack area, water and sand area. Here are some examples of the fun activities we provide indoors and outdoors:

  • Lots of garden time
  • Water play
  • Sand play
  • Song and Music time
  • Treasure Baskets
  • Cooking
  • Wheeled toys and walkers

Sometimes we'll use the Nursery buggies to take children on small outings to our local parks and Oaklands Museum. We're also very lucky to have our very own "Secret Garden" where the children love to visit our allotment within College grounds. This extra outdoor provision means children can experience nature and local wildlife in a safe setting.

Our Nursery staff ratios are one member of staff to three children.

Chicks Room

Children aged between 18 months and two years old are welcomed. We base each activity on your child's interests, routine, age and stages. Our team are mindful when planning experiences to meet the individual needs of each child and they'll provide varied support and challenging activities appropriately. We continue to follow your child's routine with sleeping, toileting and include the cost of snacks, meals and nappies.

We use play to encourage children to explore activities inside and outdoors. Our indoor and outdoor environments are presented to reflect the different areas of the EYFS. Our team also offer a wide range of stimulating activities such as:

  • Music and Movement
  • Singing
  • Storytime
  • Messy activities (such as Paint, Gloop, Playdough)
  • Sand play
  • Visits to our "Secret Garden"
  • Mud Kitchen
  • Mathematical experiences
  • Painting
  • Small World Activities
  • Water play
  • Gardening Activities
  • Bikes and Tricycles

We use daily record sheets, which are pinned to our Parents' Information Board as well as having direct conversations with you to let you know how your child's day has gone. We'll also be there to greet you at the beginning of your sessions to find out how the beginning of your child's day has been. Your child's learning and development is recorded through our online record keeping system "Tapestry". We provide opportunities to discuss your child's progress throughout the year with regular parent consultations and we always make time to address any concerns you may have or if you'd like to discuss your child's development in-between our scheduled meetings.

Staff-wise, we have a ratio of 1:3 for all our children aged under two years and 1:4 for all our children aged two years.

Fledglings Room

This is the room for children between the ages of two to three. Our Team listen to the children and observe their body language in order to gauge your child's interests, likes and dislikes. We'll use this information to plan age and stage appropriate activities. All our learning is play centred and all seven areas of the EYFS are reflected both indoors and outdoors in safe spaces. Our Fledglings are very lucky to have the choice and share both the Chicks' and Eagles' garden too. We regularly visit our "Secret Garden" and sometimes visit our local parks and Oaklands Museum.

The range of exciting experiences and activities include:

  • Water play
  • Sand play
  • Painting activities
  • Malleable activities such as Playdough, Gloop, small and large construction
  • Visits to our Secret Garden, local parks and Museum
  • Jolly Phonics
  • Song and rhyme times
  • Mathematical activities
  • Role play / Puppet Theatres
  • Circle Times
  • Small world play
  • Storytimes
  • Mud Kitchen

Activities and experiences are tailored to be more challenging or supportive depending on your child's ability. This support means your child is encouraged to engage in their environment and progress and develop their skills. We use an online record-keeping tool called "Tapestry" to keep observations and videos safe alongside your feedback from home. This way we can shape your child's learning experiences and help provide ongoing assessment opportunities which can be shared throughout the year.

Children start to become more independent during their time in this room and our staff are sensitive to support them throughout this process. Your child's home routine will still be reflected through our daily routine, so if they need a sleep or are still in nappies, pull-ups or are potty training our team will be mindful to ensure your child feels safe and secure.

Our staff ratios are 1:4 for our children aged two and 1:8 for our children aged three years old.

Eagles Room

Children aged three and over are welcome in this room. We understand that children in this room are in their last year before they transition to schools so our Team are mindful of the activities they focus on. Learning still takes place through a play-based approach, with the seven areas of the EYFS reflected indoors and outside, but children are encouraged to develop their confidence, social skills and independence further. Some examples of this are by providing your child with the opportunity to make more choices, from pouring their own drinks, taking part in a rolling snack and choosing which activities and experiences they'd like to take part in. The children are also given a voice and are listened to through activities such as circle times. Our Team are provided with a wealth of information from these activities which allow us to tailor further activities and learning experiences to complement your child's interests and meet their needs.

The children love to play in the Eagles garden and really enjoy visiting our "Secret Garden", local parks and the Museum where they can explore their environments and also let off steam.

All our activities are based on the children's interests and next steps and our Team are sensitive in making sure they continually assess each child's stage of development. We share reports with you and hold parent consultations throughout the year. Our Nursery holds an open door policy. We always have time to discuss any concerns or catch up, whether that's daily or for a general update regarding your child's progress.

Children take part in a wide range of activities such as:

  • Turn taking games
  • Role Play
  • Dressing up
  • Malleable activities
  • Mathematical activities
  • Large gross motor activities in the garden such as climbing, riding bikes, obstacle courses etc
  • Circle times
  • Song and rhyme times
  • Jolly Phonics
  • Sticking, cutting and gluing
  • Writing and mark-making activities
  • Making mud pies in the Mud Kitchen
  • Large and small construction
  • Messy activities
  • Stories
  • Small world activities

The children also enjoy sharing their room with the school children in the mornings and evenings before and after school and in the holidays. We've found this to be really beneficial, helping children become more aware of when they will eventually transition to school. We're also mindful if a child feels overwhelmed by the difference in ages so can separate them if needed.

Transition to School

We appreciate the move from Nursery to School can feel an anxious time for parents and their children. We aim to make this process as smooth as possible. We regularly liaise with our local feeder schools who advise us on how best we can prepare the children for their transition.

During our last term we have a series of "Rising 5" activities where we cover each of the seven areas of development each week. Children are encouraged to join in these slightly more structured activities. The children really enjoy taking a story and communication book home to tell their parents what they've learnt. The children then love to bring this back each week and choose another book to take home.

Alongside these activities we liaise and share end of year progress reports with teachers. We always strive to share progress with all the children's new schools. Your child will be given lots of opportunities to discuss any concerns or fears about going to school. They're also given photo books and they practice dressing our school persona doll to become familiar with wearing a uniform.

We end our year with a graduation event which parents are invited to, so we can celebrate your child's journey with us. This is a very proud moment for all involved.

Learning Themes

We approach each new term with a new theme, chosen by the Team and children in each playroom which reflects their current interests. Ideas are based on the early learning goals from EYFS and children's next steps. We value both indoor and outdoor experiences equally and plan for both. Your child chooses which area they would like to play in and we make copies of our plans available on each room's planning boards for you to see. We encourage you to read these and discuss them with us.

We use "Tapestry" our online record-keeping tool to keep track of your child's development and really appreciate your feedback and input.

We always welcome offers of help in any capacity. We value your ideas and support and would be delighted if you would like to share any skill or creative ability you may have with the children. We have a Parent Helper Rota pinned to our Noticeboard in our lobby if you'd like to add your name.

We encourage children to appreciate the wonders of the natural world and have developed a stimulating outdoor area which can be freely accessed throughout the day. We also have Nursery pets to foster so children can understand how to care for living things.

Out of School Provision

Our out-of-school provisions (for Oaklands Infant School that is based on the nursery site, Moulsham's infant site and Moulsham Junior site) mean you know you can leave your children in safe hands before and after work.

All sites offer sessions from 7.00 am to 9 am and 3 pm until 6 pm. Breakfast, snacks and tea are included. Children are personally walked over in a walking bus to their classrooms at the start of the day. At pick up time the children are personally collected from their classrooms.

We want your children to feel at home in their free time, especially because we believe they work hard during their school day, so we provide a professionally supervised, well equipped and fun environment for them to relax in. Children can choose how they'd like to spend their free time, as they would at home. Activities to choose from include play, quiet time or catching up on homework.

Dovedale Nursery Ofsted Report | Moulsham Infant School Provision

Holiday Club

Holiday sessions are offered to our nearest local schools. Thanks to a rise in demand were excited to share that from September 2019 our new Out of School Holiday Club room will open - to provide a variety of fun and exciting activities for school children aged 4 to 11. If you would like your child to join us and be part of the fun please contact us ASAP to secure your place.

Secret Garden

Dovedale Nursery children have access to the Secret Garden on site, which includes the newly built Willow Room. Designed as an outdoor classroom, children can benefit from exploring nature, learning about wildlife, planting, digging and building dens in a safe enclosed environment.

Exploring the Secret Garden