Facing closure, Executive Headteacher Sarah Godbold made it her mission to keep the nursery running and Mundford Church of England Primary Academy took it on.
Sarah said: “With the prospect of closure this would have meant that there would be no early years provision within the village. I was keen to have a school-based nursery for children aged three to four years. Mundford Church Of England Primary Academy had been saving up with a view to add a nursery over time, we knew we would have to build something as our school was packed and we had no space at all. I worked closely with Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust and with the Trust’s help and added investment to make my vision for The Orchard to become a reality.”
She added: “The Orchard Nursery is vital and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) unit that houses both Reception and Nursery, will give us the vital space in the school and now allow us to also open a before and after school club. This facility is much needed as there is nothing in the surrounding area to provide care for children and our working parents were struggling.”
The early years nursery called Acorns can accommodate 24 children per session and children can attend mornings, afternoons or all day.
The Orchard takes children the day they turn three years old and is open to new starters throughout the year.
Sarah said: “The Orchard Nursery and outside area for the children is amazing, they have a wonderful learning environment to develop in. The staff have worked hard to furnish it in keeping with the Hygge approach and both rooms are filled with a sense of calm and purpose.
“We are thrilled to have Bishop Graham come and open our new building. The Orchard has been a labour of love and we are so pleased to see it being a success and flourishing in the local community. Our youngest children have a wonderful learning environment to develop in, giving them the best start to their learning journey.”
The Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich blessed the new nursery. Bishop Graham said:
“I was delighted to open the new Orchard for nursery and reception age children at Mundford Church of England Primary Academy. It is a fabulous facility and I hope it will set up this next generation to find life in all its fulness. An Orchard by name, and, I pray, an orchard where young lives can blossom so as to lead to much fruitfulness.”
Oliver Burwood is the CEO for DNEAT, the Diocese of Norwich Education and Academies Trust.
At the opening day, Oliver said: “It’s fantastic to be here today for the opening of the Orchard Nursery and Reception at Mundford. As a Trust we have a strong track record of supporting our schools to open pre-school provision. We know that this is often the key request that communities make when they talk to our schools about what they need. This is what the community told Mrs Godbold that they needed which is where she began talking to us a Trust to see what could be done.
As a parent with a child at pre-school myself, I understand the importance of having good quality nursery provision near to where you live. You won’t be surprised when I tell you that, from an educational point of view, children who have experienced this high-quality provision start school better ready to learn and over time are likely to make more progress.
Well done to the Churchside team and thank you to everyone involved in getting this project off the ground and working so hard to complete it.”