Little Learners’ Nursery gets a makeover

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Scottish Government Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville with Amanda Lawn, some of the children from the nursery with Sarah Blacklaw right. Back Kathleen MacNiven Nursery Manager Fraser Durie College Principal and Senior Practitioner Sean Cooke as the minister cuts the ribbon to re-open the nursery

Argyll College’s well-loved Little Learner’s Nursery will be officially re-opened on Tuesday 15th August by Minister for Further and Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville, following a refurbishment which will see the 32 place centre of excellence spruced up and ready to play.

 The nursery, which was crowned Best Independent Nursery in Scotland in 2015 originally opened in 2006 and is located in a fairy-tale setting just minutes from the beach, forest and castle, near the village of Dunbeg, just north of Oban.

The Nursery’s Senior Practitioner, Sean Cooke, completed an NC in Early Education and Childcare with Argyll College UHI before moving on to study an HNC in Glasgow. Sean recently returned home to Oban after working in Ayrshire as a Youth Activities Co-ordinator.

 Sean said ‘’One of the most inspiring things about  Little Learners’ is the amount of outdoor learning the children receive, spending part of every day exploring outside either on the beach, discovering our ‘Gruffalo-land’ in the forest or playing in the castle – it’s just a wonderful way to learn and develop their imaginations.’’

This year will see the introduction 2 full days of outdoor fun for all 3-5 year olds, where the full curriculum will be delivered in the marvellously scenic environment at Dunstaffnage. When all that fresh air makes the children hungry, they are well served at lunchtime with a two course home-cooked lunch.

 The nursery can accommodate 32 children from birth to 5 years at any one time and currently has a waiting list for places. The centre also provides work placements for the College’s Childcare students – some of whom go on to full time employment at Little Learner’s, getting the benefits of the living wage, a generous pension scheme and professional development opportunities through the University of the Highlands and Islands.

 On the re-opening of the facility, Scottish Government Minister for Further and Higher Education and Science, Shirley-Anne Somerville said, “I am delighted to have the opportunity to officially re-open the Little Learners’ Nursery at Argyll College. The nursery already has a great reputation, which I’m sure it will cement further as a result of these refurbishments. ‘’

“The provision of affordable, quality childcare on campus plays a key role in enabling parents, and particularly women, to return to education – helping us to deliver inclusive economic growth.’’

 “It is also a very positive example of the way the college ensures students have the right skills to meet the needs of local employers by providing annual placement opportunities for those studying Childhood Practice.”

 Parent Shannon McMann, said ‘’My child is so happy at Little Learners’ and particularly loves playing in the woodland dens built by the children. Little Learners’ is more of a home-from-home than a nursery.’’

 Nursery Manager Kathleen McNiven said ‘’We are delighted that the minister has chosen to visit us and officially re-open the nursery. The refurbishments are part of our continual investment plans and allow us to provide an enhanced experience for the youngest children. We will also have more space for wet weather and outdoor equipment to support our commitment to using the environment to provide our children with rich experiences and learning opportunities.’’