Six years ago, The Nursery at New Manor opened its doors, becoming one of the few in the immediate area of Bishop Sutton. Since then, it has grown in population, starting with fifteen children and now having eighty on roll. Recently, the nursery was awarded an Eco-Schools Green Flag at a distinction level for the second consecutive year, emphasising the importance of nurturing not only the children but also the world around them.

Manager Beth and owner Rosie take pride in the nursery’s approach, aiming to teach children not just to play with plastic toys, instead supporting them to realise their full potential beyond playtime. They want the children to leave the nursery with skills and responsibilities that will prepare them for school and life thereafter.

To instil a sense of responsibility from a young age, the staff at the nursery teach the children the reasons behind their tasks. For instance, the children take pride in growing and sustaining their own fruits and vegetables, and are aware that playing means tidying up afterwards.

The nursery’s sustainability efforts have made a significant impact on the children. They enthusiastically embrace eco-friendly practices and come up with their own sustainability ideas. Parents are equally enthusiastic and supportive of these initiatives at home.

Forest school plays a crucial role in the nursery’s learning by teaching children to respect the environment around them, encouraging a deeper understanding of nature and the importance of insects, such as butterflies and bees, within our ecosystem.

Over the past two and a half years, the nursery’s environmental efforts have expanded from animal care to include litter picking and recycling unconventional items like batteries and crisp packets. Children and parents participate in fundraising activities, enabling the nursery to invest in sustainable measures, such as installing water butts to conserve rainwater for playtime.

Pioneering the Green Flag initiative, Beth is thrilled with the children’s response. They have become proactive in conserving energy, ensuring lights are turned off in unoccupied rooms.

Beth’s passion for sustainability stems from her love for green landscapes and biodiversity. By involving children in growing fruits and vegetables, she witnesses their joy and sense of responsibility, making the learning experience even more rewarding. She said, “It’s a common trait that children don’t like to eat fruits and vegetables, but it really makes a difference when they’ve had to grow it themselves. When they’ve picked and cut it up, you can see the joy on their faces and the responsibility they’ve had. It’s so much more rewarding when you can see them actually understanding what they’ve done.”

The Nursery at Manor Farm has achieved the highest level of the Green Flag award, but its commitment to sustainability doesn’t end there. Beth expressed their desire to collaborate with other nurseries in the area, inspiring and supporting their sustainability endeavours.

“I think, not only is it a really good selling point for nurseries, but it also benefits the children and their parents as well. We’d love to work with a local nursery on a project together next year,” Beth explained.

Adding to this, Rosie emphasised how sustainability keeps children curious and engaged in the learning process. She said, “Curious learners are interested and engaged in the world around them. Sustainable actions encourage children to widen their view and ask thought provoking questions.”

Beth, reflecting on their remarkable achievement of retaining the award for the second year, shared her thoughtful insights, “Successfully teaching our children and getting them on board with the Eco-Schools has come from us letting them think about their answers when they’re asked a question. Children have unique viewpoints which we as adults must always listen to. We are saving the planet for them.”