Village nursery celebrates lockdown move to former Sure Start site

Playdays’ owner Angie Ward and Caister Infant School’s executive headteacher Jonathan Rice have join

Playdays’ owner Angie Ward and Caister Infant School’s executive headteacher Jonathan Rice have joined forces to create new nursery places for children as young as one in Caister for the first time Picture: Caister Infant School - Credit: Archant

Some of the very youngest residents of a growing village can benefit from a new relocation and partnership move between a school and a nursery.

Playdays has been in Caister for some 50 years, operating from a single room with limited capacity on numbers and ages.

Now it is welcoming children as young as one at its new site at Caister Infant School where it will run alongside the school’s existing nursery.

It means the facility is able to widen the age range for the first time and add more children to the roll, just as housebuilders plan hundreds more homes.

The partnership fulfils a long-held ambition for both Playdays’ owner Angie Ward and the school’s executive headteacher Jonathan Rice to take younger children.

“This is a very exciting opportunity to expand our provision and offer childcare to the under twos, which is something I have wanted to do for many years,” said Ms Ward.

“This has been possible because the school and Playdays shares a vision of how we want provision to be for parents in Caister.”

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Mr Rice said: “We think parents will appreciate having a range of preschool options on the school site – they can choose between Playdays and our school nursery – and the offer of places for one-year-olds is an exciting step forward.”

The long-term plan is for the provision to extend further, with a baby room due to open during the next year.

Playdays was previously based at Caister Community Centre on Beach Road and moved during lockdown.

It has been open for keyworker children and enjoying its extra space since April.

Handwashing and cleaning are part of new Covid-safe routines with some activities like sand and dressing up off-limits.

Ms Ward, who has worked at Playdays for 21 years and been in charge for 15, said the former Sure Start building - one of many closed under budget cuts - was ideal for the nursery.

She said that while some providers had struggled during the pandemic, Playdays had grown - although there were still spaces at its new home.

To have two competing providers on the same site was unusal, she said, although ultimately parents would benefit and the arrangement was helping both the school and the nursery to achieve their vision.

Places are available at both Playdays and the Caister Infant School’s nursery.

Contact Playdays on 07914 716765.

Contact Caister Infant and Nursery School on 01493 728560.