A combination of a traditional nursery school with a forest school ethos offering lots of space both indoors and outside, makes this venue a firm favourite for many Acorns children and their parents.
Based at Westmeston, a small hamlet on the Lewes Road between Ditchling and Plumpton College, it is a hidden gem. Here, the children are cared for and nurtured by an Acorns team passionate about providing the best outcomes for the children who join us.
Having established The Acorns at Lindfield in 1985, Janet Irwin, the owner, found this new, idyllic venue at Westmeston in 2001. Having seen at first hand the best practice in early years that other countries offer, Janet wanted to bring the excellent standards that she had witnessed to The Acorns. She wanted Acorns
children to have the opportunity to have plenty of space to learn through nature. Over the years she has developed the forest school ethos with an introduction to science and an awareness of the natural surroundings and the importance of caring for our environment. She feels it is important for children to have time to stand and stare, time to think and reflect and to use their imagination. Here at Westmeston, the children enjoy a balance of indoor and outdoor learning. The outdoor opportunities for play , sport, exercise and learning through discovery complement the more traditional Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. Janet believes that this helps the children to develop holistically, fostering independence of thought and a lifelong thirst and excitement for learning.
Every day the children arrive with a ride-on toy from home. Most children become very competent cyclists and can ride a two-wheeler bike without stabilisers before they go to school. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays we are open from 9am-2.30pm with childcare offered before and after nursery in Lindfield. On these days we offer the traditional nursery school curriculum including a gentle introduction to phonics, a reading scheme for those keen to participate, plus an introduction to French for those who are starters and French conversations for those who are bilingual.
Fridays remain our special extended adventure day when we are open from 9am-5pm. Children have plenty of time to become expert cyclists, learning to ride their bikes on the tarmac of the integral car park. 100% waterproof wet weathers and wellies are a must for this special extended day. We go on a long walk in the surrounding woods and countryside, when the children have fun exploring, playing together, team building, splashing in puddles, building dens, finding animal tracks, identifying trees, birds and flowers, listening to sounds and collecting all sorts of treasure.
Children thrive in this wonderful environment which gives them the firm foundations in all the key skills. Our Westmeston home is the bright, warm and airy Millenium Hall which is set out each day with activities which support our theme of the week and reflect the children’s current interests. Setting high standards in terms of behaviour, independence and achievement the children thrive in this supportive atmosphere.
Very quickly the benefits of Westmeston were recognised by children and parents alike, and The Acorns is now open at Westmeston five days a week. Many parents of children at Lindfield have found that opting for some days at Westmeston provides fantastic variation in setting for their children to explore and discover. We may be able to organise travel between Lindfield to Westmeston to help support this arrangement.
We attract children who live in the vicinity of Wivelsfield, Plumpton, Hamsey, Ditchling, Chailey, Hassocks, Hurstpierpoint, Bolney, Balcombe, Burgess Hill, Cuckfield, Staplefield, Brighton, Westmeston, Haywards Heath, Ardingly, Lindfield and some from further afield, in Lewes and Shoreham. Most of the children start school in the September following their child's fourth birthday, but we do have a registration for children up to 8 years old where parents are choosing either to defer school entry or to home school.