Grass Roots
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"There are walks on which I lose myself, walks which return me to myself again." Thomas A. Clark  

Vision and Ethos

In the unique location of Letham Woods, Directors, parents, staff and volunteers of the Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery assist in the unfolding and development of the intrinsic worth of each child. The Secret Garden aspires to be an organisation that explores, inspires and shares learning about children, play and mindfulness in the natural environment.  We aim to:

  • Deepen the exploration and connection with self and the natural environment

  • - By providing preschool children, staff and parents access to and intimacy with Nature

    - Through developing both curiosity and familiarity with local flora and fauna, the changing seasons and the rhythms of the year

    - By promoting well being through physical and emotional resilience, healthy eating and nurturing social interactions

  • Create a positive ethos and cultivate respect for one another and Nature

  • - Through our practices of mindfulness and compassionate communication

    - By nurturing the child’s full potential in all conversations and interactions

    - By developing the capacity for children, their families and staff to work and play as a team

  • Offer learning and discovery through free and independent play

  • - By supporting the development of individual and creative expression

    - Through developing the capacity for each child to experience and be at ease with self motivated learning and exploration

    - By enabling positive and cooperative as well as solo reflective forms of play

  • Offer inspiration to and learn from each other within the Secret Garden community, with others in communities of place and practice

  • - By offering workshops and opportunities to visit to interested practitioners and researchers

    - Through publishing and presenting reflections on our ethos and practices

    - By facilitating staff and training and continuous professional development through initiatives commensurate with our ethos

  • Support access to Nature

  • - By making available a proportion of places to children with challenges in their lives such as social, emotional, behavioural, learning or physical difficulties

    - By encouraging additional access to the woods to groups and individuals that would benefit from time spent in the natural environment 

Through our Nature as Teacher Curriculum we are actively engaged in supporting the growth and development of each child through the four capacities of the Curriculum for Excellence:   Confident Individual; Successful Learner; Effective Contributor; and Responsible Citizen.

The Secret Garden is fully committed to promoting children’s rights, notably their right to be protected from harm, abuse and exploitation and to be involved in any decisions that directly affect them. The Secret Garden has a duty of care to implement effective policies and procedures for safeguarding the welfare of children and young people. In order to achieve this we will ensure all our staff and volunteers:

  • are carefully selected, screened, trained and supervised and will be kept up to date with Child Protection national developments.

  • receive first aid training appropriate to the outdoor environment

  • are aware of health and safety issues relating to child care and activities in the outdoor environment

  • develop positive behaviour management skills in order that the children feel safe, secure and know that they can rely on being cared for in a fair, non-judgmental way, where feelings expressed are acknowledged and taken seriously.

  • encourage children to express their ideas and views on a wide range of issues.

Whilst a child is attending The Secret Garden, we have a duty to ensure that s/he is safe at all times. Our service operates with the belief that we provide safety for the children that balances the benefit of risk taking, thereby enabling and supporting learning and discovery in the world and self. The outdoor environment is regularly checked to ensure that your child is playing in a safe but interesting environment. Knowing the local woodland environment well we ensure that the children are safe from hazards. We also take seriously our duty of care to ensure staff safety.