'We're over the moon' - Bristol's Archfield House crowned Nursery of the Year 2023

  • Watch Will Charley's report on the 'best nursery in the UK' here.

Staff at a family-run nursery in the southwest say they are "over the moon" at being crowned the best nursery in the UK.

Archfield House in Bristol has been given the prestigious award by Nursery World magazine, having been short-listed against other sites around the country.

It follows the nursery being rated as 'outstanding' by Ofsted for the second time, which encouraged staff to enter for the award.

Rebecca Clevett, the director of the centre, took over in 2005 from her mother, Susan Parslow, who founded it beneath their family home in Cotham in 1986.

While almost forty years have passed and the nursery has significantly expanded, Rebecca believes it has kept the same values. She described finding out that they had won as a "magical moment".

She said: "We were over the moon when we realised we had even been shortlisted because the quality and the standard of the entries was really high this year.

"When we went up to London for the award and when we found out in that moment, we were over the moon. It was just a magical moment, knowing that we had won over the high standard of all the other entries."

Staff got to celebrate being crowned Nursery of the Year at an awards ceremony held in London.

As part of the competition, Rebecca said they were "thrilled" to be visited by well-known early years consultant, Helen Moylett, who then fed back her thoughts to the judges.

Among the activities on offer at the nursery are reading, kitchen crafts, singing, woodwork, a sensory room for the youngest children and even a chance to pet the centre's tortoise.

But Rebecca said the nursery also prioritises engaging with nature and getting outside.

"I think one of our areas that we stand out with is that we really believe in the outdoor environment," Rebecca added.

"We make the most of the space available to us, not just on our site but in the wider locality. So, we have a thriving forest school at Ashton Court and we also operate a unique beach school which we pioneered back in 2013."

The beach school sees the children travel by train from Redland train station to Severn Beach, where they are able to engage with nature and has proved popular.

Children at Archfield House Nursery are encouraged to make the most of the outside playground and elevated sand pit.

But Cassie Holland, the manager of the centre, believes the key to the nursery is the children themselves.

Cassie said: "It really is its own very unique little bubble. Even during covid, when we were open as key workers and we had just key worker families with us, it really is a sacred little bubble.

"You walk through those doors and the children are the children. They are happy and they are content and they are so wonderful."

She added: "You are getting to see those children learning things and seeing things for the first time through their eyes, and there is just nothing that can compare to that."

The nursery enrols around 200 children and serves many families who work at the nearby Bristol Royal Infirmary and Bristol Children's Hospital.

It means the private nursery is already very busy, but Rebecca urges parents interested in their children joining to plan ahead.

"The advice I give to any parents or new parent is put your child's name down on the nursery you like as soon as you can," she said.

"The nursery sector is thriving within the Bristol sector and it is difficult to get a space at your first choice of nursery unless you're very quick."