Free Stay and Play Community Sessions for Pre-Schoolers

Posted on 5th April 2022

Norwich High School for Girls has launched a new Little Caterpillars Stay and Play group

This article first appeared in the Norwich Evening News ‘School Focus’ by Suzanne Day on Saturday 2 April 2022.

Norwich High School for Girls has launched a new Little Caterpillars Stay and Play group, offering free half-termly courses of sessions for pre-schoolers.

This follows the opening of the school’s new Early Years Hub, which is part of the Nursery provision, in September 2021, an impressive indoor and outdoor space prioritising free play and the opportunities for child-led discoveries and creative learning through play.

Families from the local community, including grandparents and childminders are invited to visit Norwich High School for Girls and use the Early Years Hub for an hour per week over a half term period. The sessions include the opportunity for outdoor exploration and play in the newly designed area with themes such as forest schools, arts and crafts and cooking.

Susan Roberts, Head of Norwich High Prep School and Nursery said “We are keen to give the children who attend opportunities to do things they normally wouldn’t be offered at stay and play groups. Being able to get outside and enjoy the natural world is a really important aspect of development for all children. We have a stunning 14-acre site on Newmarket Road in the city and we are passionate about giving local families access to this beautiful environment. Our Little Caterpillars sessions offer a different experience to the visiting families and it is wonderful to see how much both the children and their grown-ups enjoy it, from cooking together to messy play and arts and crafts and utilising our forest schools area, which is in the grounds of the main school. This has been a very successful programme which has increased word of mouth about our amazing provision.”

Anna Barnes, a parent attending the group commented, “We have attended both the crafting and cookery sessions and loved it. My daughter really looks forward to coming each week and is really proud of the creations she brings home. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming and she has gained in confidence over her visits. Visits from Bailey, the school’s pet dog are also a real hit and helping to start overcoming her fear of dogs. We can’t wait for forest school sessions next term.”

Mrs Barton added: “At the Forest School sessions, they can be found throughout the year, den building, playing in the mud kitchens and toasting marshmallows over the campfire. For Early Years children, this opportunity for creative play, problem solving and physical challenge is invaluable. Over the sessions our enabling approach sees the children grow in confidence.”

Norwich High School for Girls has also hosted forest school sessions with local nurseries, Nellies and Bouncing Beans for children aged 3-4, which don’t have a similar facility at their own sites. The children are collected by the school’s minibus and enjoy the woodland site, bespoke forest school area, with campfire and activities and play in the mud kitchen. The sessions promote exploration and active play through physical activity, freedom and movement.

Nellie’s nursery said, “As always, the children (and adults) absolutely loved their time with you this morning.”

Feedback from Bouncing Beans reported, “Thank you so much for organising these events for us. The staff and children really enjoyed their Forest School session with you.”

Norwich High School for Girls have spaces for their Little Caterpillars ‘Play in the Woods’ sessions after Easter. Register interest by emailing or call 01603 351 878. The five sessions will start Tuesday 26th April and run for five free sessions. Campfire refreshments will be provided and limited parking is available.