A nursery where fizzy drinks and juice are banned is loved by Ofsted and has just been ranked among the best in the country. 

The Park Kindergarten SW11, was rated “outstanding” after an inspector visited in February.

Principal Joanne Allen spoke to the Local Democracy Reporting Service about what makes the nursery one of the best in the UK.

She said it stands out because staff love what they do and are brimming with creative ways to get young children to learn.

The education watchdog gave the nursery the highest rating in every category, including the quality of education, behaviour and leadership.

A report by an inspector said: “Children are happy and safe as they thrive at this setting.

"Staff have exceptionally high expectations of all children within an ambitious curriculum. 

"Children eagerly enter the setting confident in the knowledge that there will be something exciting or interesting for them to do.”

Mrs Allen said: “We’re constantly looking at ways we can enhance the provision for the children.

"We’re always looking at new ideas.” 

Ofsted praised the nursery for promoting healthy eating and exercise, including ballet lessons and playing outside.

The report said: “Staff support children to develop healthy lifestyles… . Children have plenty of opportunities to be physically active.”

She added: “The children are offered a very healthy selection of fruit and snacks.

"We really encourage them to drink water and we don’t let parents put things into their lunch boxes like fizzy drinks or juice. That’s connected with the fact that we’re very much about being healthy.”

The inspector was also impressed by the nursery’s “forest school”, where the older children are taken on weekly trips to Wimbledon Common to explore nature by building dens, hunt for bugs and making mud castles.

Mrs Allen said this is an important part in their education because it gives them the chance to get much-needed fresh air, helps them improve their motor skills and team work, and keeps them curious to learn.

She added: “Covid hasn’t given them as much ability to be outdoors and be able to run and play outside.

"We’re really trying to help the children learn these skills again. They love doing it.

"They make perfume by collecting flowers and we bring things from the forest back to the nursery so they can do activities like bark-rubbing or planting things.”

The inspector was also impressed by the children’s language skills.

They are taught  greetings and counting in French, Italian and German – and also listen to music with foreign words.

Mrs Allen also said the nursery introduced a “Beat Baby” – a small cuddly toy – that the children can talk to when they feel sad or stressed.

She added: “He fits into the palm of your hand and they have to speak to him in a quiet voice.

“If you’re worried or want to talk about things, Beat Baby is always there for you.

"He gets shared around and we use him if a child is upset and perhaps doesn’t want to tell an adult.

"The children absolutely love it and it’s a really great tool.”

The Park Kindergarten is one of ten nurseries run by a company called The Kindergartens and led by Joanne.

The company has nurseries in places like Kensington, Wandsworth, and Fulham with “outstanding” rankings across the board.

Mrs Allen said: “There’s a really established team in each of the nursery schools and we’ve got really high numbers of qualified members of staff.

"We’re also really close with and listen to our parents.”