Blues Preschool revelling in its purpose-built new home, 12 years after relocation from its Bishop’s Stortford High School cabin was first mooted
A long-running Bishop’s Stortford nursery has got off to a flying start in its purpose-built brand new home.
It has been an arduous journey for the management of Blues Preschool to finally realise its dream, but just over a month since the start of term, the future is looking bright, with ambitious plans to further develop its early years facilities.
The scheme to relocate from its old portable cabin home at The Bishop’s Stortford High School in London Road was first mooted in 2011 when it became clear the secondary would be moving to a new site.
Fast-forward to 2023 and the plans have come to fruition, with the Blues now based at Cox’s Gardens on the Havers estate.
The preschool was founded more than 40 years ago and manager Kim Craythorne, 66, who has worked there for 33 years, said that it was wonderful finally to be in their own building.
“We have a lovely new purpose-built, brick-fronted building which is lovely!” she said. “We have air conditioning, our own gardens and it’s single-use just for us.”
“We have all the mod cons, which makes it wonderful. We have low-level windows the children can see out of. It’s warm and dry whereas our other building was not – more leaks than the Titanic, we always used to say.
“The new building is like for like in terms of space but has been designed just for us. We have a small group room, a designated lobby, stock cupboard and a beautiful canopy outside which covers the length of the building so the children can go out at any time.
“Everything is lighter and brighter, with lovely views, and it’s just so much easier to keep clean for the children. We have a new kitchen where we can do more cooking with them and the outside area is amazing, it makes it so much easier for the children to flow in and out independently.”
Fundraising is under way to further improve the outside space to provide an all-weather area. Children can currently grow their own vegetables – they have grown two pumpkins which they will decorate for Hallowe’en – and eat their own tomatoes and carrots at snack time.
The nursery can accommodate a maximum of 24 children per session, ranging in age from two to rising fives, and operates in term time.
Plans include the introduction of before- and after-school clubs. “We’re still settling in but have a plan to maybe start offering this,” said Kim. “It’s part of our strategic plan which we hope to address in a year or two.”
The nursery has eight members of staff, plus two admin support staff and is run by a management committee. As a private independent nursery it is not affiliated to any school; children who left in July fed into 12 schools in the area.
“People are coming from all over for us,” said Kim. “We often get the next generation of youngsters whose parents also came here, which is really lovely. Some of them were little ones when I was first here and are now bringing their own children.”
Kim’s own daughter, Hannah, now working in Cambridge, attended as a youngster.
She said the nursery was due an Ofsted inspection but has been given a settling-in period to get used to its new home.
The move was made possible due to funding the nursery had saved, money from TBSHS and from education authority Herts County Council.
“We’re a community group and are here for families to support them and for young children to flourish and be ready for their next educational setting,” said Kim.
“We have to thank a couple of the trustees who were very instrumental in leading this – David Smith, who sadly passed away but played a very major role in this, and his wife Maureen came along to our open day, and Laura Griffiths.
“Laura and Maureen officially opened the nursery and, having driven the project, it was nice for them to come along and see the end result.”