A New Lease of Life

As many of you know, after sadly closing our doors at Exeter Forest School Kindergarten in July 2020, we spent months looking for a new site so that we could reopen and welcome a whole new host of kindergarteners into the woods. Finally, in the Spring of this year we stumbled across the perfect new home for our Kindergarten in Crediton, just a few miles west of Exeter. Western Lodge is on the site of Crediton Hospital and comprises of an office building (ideal for our head office) and an area of woodland, just ripe for development.

A Rich History

The woodland and ‘pink building’ that lies at the far end of it was previously used by the hospital as a therapeutic gardening project for long-term patients. From the photos and supplies we found left on site, it seems to have been a gorgeous community-based project which benefited a lot of people. Sadly, it has been left to the whims of nature over the last decade and so both the buildings and land were in need of a lot of TLC before we could move in.

In September, we managed to get the office building fit for purpose and officially moved our Head Offices there. During this month we also held a ‘Bramble Bash’ day where a veritable hoard of colleagues from our Business Services, Forest School and Estates team joined to make a start on the mammoth task of getting the site ready for the Kindergarten to open in the Summer Term of 2022!

Over the course of the day we achieved the following list of tasks:

  • Cleared a large area of abandoned plastic
  • Burnt lots of scrap timber
  • Gutted the pink building inside
  • Cleared all the foliage off the outside of the pink building
  • Pressure washed the main building
  • Removed the old kitchen
  • Moved a big pile of logs
  • Removed old fencing
  • Filled 2 x skips to the brim
  • Cleared a heck of a lot of brambles!

Bigger and Better

Now our planning application has been submitted for the Kindergarten and it’s full steam ahead as we get as much ready as we can for a Summer Term opening. Where we previously offered Ofsted-registered childcare for 3 days a week, we’re very excited that this time round we’ll be offering provision for 3 and 4 year old 5 days a week during term time!

Of the new Kindergarten, Manager Fabrianne says

Warm drinks and stories around the fire, imaginative ingredients being measured out in the mud kitchen and role play adventures in the tree house are just some of the activities we are so excited to be planning again. Seeing the curiosity and love of learning that forest school promotes within the children, giving time to fully explore an interest and develop friendships, is wonderful to be a part of.

If you’re interested in your little one joining us in the woods next year, you can fill out an expression of interest form here. We can’t wait to update you as the work on the site progresses and to unveil our brand spanking new Kindergarten to the world soon!

Author: Hannah Durdin, Marketing Officer & Forest School Leader

Date: Monday 8th November 2021

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