Staff and pupils at Boldon Nursery are celebrating after it was named School of the Year in a national awards scheme.
The school, which provides 80% of its education outdoors, won the top accolade, as well as the title of Early Years School of the Year, in the Timed Education Supplement Schools Awards.
Boldon Nursery School was given a top prize after a unanimous decision from the judges, who said: “It is great to shine a light on the fantastic work being done in the early years sector because it is so crucial that we get education right early on.”
Ann Mroz, editor of the Times supplement, added: “The exceptional leadership and the skilled and ambitious staff at Boldon Outdoor Nursery School makes this school stand out as a highly stimulating and creative setting, and the deserved winner of this award.”
The school’s bold decision to provide 80% of its early years education outside has led to fantastic results and exceptional pupil engagement.
The school has its own allotment which, following a fund-raising appeal, now has livestock. Youngsters reared chickens from eggs and now collect the eggs they lay.
The outdoor nursery provides memorable experiences for children to develop a love for learning across all areas of the curriculum.
At its heart is the ‘firehouse’ where children explore the benefits of risk and assess and manage the risks that the world has to offer.
Head teacher Sue Stokoe said: “We believe the best classroom and richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky. That is why we are committed to using nature and the seasons to stimulate children’s curiosity and enhance their learning.
“We are absolutely thrilled that our school has been officially recognised and believe this is a huge endorsement of our approach.”
Coun Joan Atkinson, lead member for young people, children and families, said: “This is a tremendous achievement. Giving our young people the very best start in life is a key priority for the council so it is wonderful to see one of our schools being hailed as an example of best practice across the whole country.
“I would like to thank the staff, children, governors and parents and carers for their enthusiasm and commitment to constantly challenge and innovate to provide the very best learning experiences.”
The Times awards scheme has been running for eight years.