Philosophy-led Forest School Nursery
Ages 2-8

 

View our TedxNorwichED talk "Small children, giant voices: empowering children & reforming school" here!

Dandelion Education Ltd is a unique outdoor nursery based in Norfolk, England.

It is the first entirely outdoors nursery in Britain to combine both the approaches of Philosophy for Children (P4C) and Forest School together in a unique approach to learning and development which nurtures cognitive development, well-being and resilience. It has been judged by Ofsted as Outstanding in all areas; has won 3 national awards; and is the only nursery in Norfolk/Suffolk to hold a Sapere kitemark for its use of Philosophy 4 Children.

Thinking of joining us?

Get in touch for more information, or book a tour

Our Story

Dandelion Education Ltd is a place where children grow and flourish through exploring their natural environment under the skilled guidance and support of a team led by founders Hayley Staniforth-Room and Emma Harwood.

The seed of the idea came to Emma and Hayley, as they sat drinking tea under a flowering magnolia tree, dreaming of a perfect learning environment for children.

This seed became Dandelion Education Ltd.

And now, in a land not so far, far away, there is a place where children play under the sky, climb trees, feed chickens, nap in the warmth of a cosy yurt, and take pleasure in learning with friends in nature.

Our Spaces

We have two fantastic locations...

Dandelion Aylsham

One minute from Aylsham , 12 minutes from Reepham, 9 minutes from Cawston, 23 minutes from Cromer. As close as it gets to heaven on earth!

Dandelion Eaton Vale

Five minutes from Norwich city centre, close to heaven on earth!

  • What parents say

    Flexi-schooling has helped relieve the pressure of a five-day school week for E: Dandelion provides her with self-confidence and resilience that is sometimes knocked in the wider world. It gives her space to run and create, and a freedom she cherishes.

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    After deferring, when F entered school they were quite surprised by how much he already knew! He did not have to catch up academically. He misses using his body for learning, but I wouldn’t ask you to help him practice sitting still! F found that the rules of the playground were different and that other children didn’t have the same skill set. But, he was able to continue to apply what he had learnt. At Dandelion and the teachers have noted that.

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    The skills that J developed at Dandelion help him to be confident and resilient to deal with such a bug change. J is ready to tackle anything!

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    Thank you so much for giving J such a wonderful time at Dandelion. It’s been noticeable how he has grown in independence and developed his own ideas. He is certainly very aware of health and safety!

    - Pat & Pete
  • What parents say

    You have provided J with the best start anyone could hope for. You have nurtured, loved, engaged, laughed, cuddled, danced, shared, celebrated which will enable J to soar high and free.

    - Natalie & Paul
  • What parents say

    I knew J was going to benefit incredibly from joining Dandelion, but both John and I have too. As a family we try and live as much the ‘dandelion way’ as we can with J. You aren’t just teaching children, you are also helping, teaching, encouraging families too.

    - L. Snowling
  • What parents say

    We are delighted with R’s education at Dandelion, as is he! We are continuously amazed at what he has learned and relays to us, his confidence and development is growing and improving with each session.

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    We think you provide an amazing environment and experience for the children. We love that they can use their imagination and be active for a lot of time during the session but that there are also routines to follow and times where they can need to focus more. Incorporating learning numbers into play is great as we feel that J is preparing for school but in a fun way which will encourage his love of learning. All his teachers are so welcoming and encouraging, he loves interacting with all adults. We can’t thank them enough for what amazing job they do.

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    A truly superb start to I’s education journey. He is so happy here, and his socialisation skills have come on leaps and bounds since starting here. Everything is so engaging and fun. The perfect environment to encourage a real love of learning. A well rounded, comprehensive education is being provided, while allowing the kids to just ‘be kids’. Ticks all the boxes of conventional education as well as all those that conventional methods consistently fail to! We love it! Thank you Dandelion!

    - R. Haddon
  • What parents say

    We are very pleased that G is able to be part of what we feel is fantastic nursery. She settled straightaway and comes home from her session with lots of enthusiasm for learning and having had her imagination fired up for creative play. Thank you!

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    A loves his time in Dandelion. He has made some good friends that enjoys talking about. The outdoor setting is wonderful and allows so many different learning opportunities. A always some out filthy which is a sure sign he’s had a wonderful time.

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    Dandelion is a warm and friendly place where children can thrive. J has loved climbing, playing, digging + everything. His vocabulary and ability to express him self has really grown thanks to the stories, philosophy etc.

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    We are delighted with Dandelion and positive benefit it has had on T. She has grown so much in confidence and independence. I can see that she feels very safe and happy. She is making lots of new friends, learning to play and work together. She likes responsibilities and challenges the environment and teachers provide.

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    I don’t think I can ever put into words how incredible Dandelion is. R has flourished and is almost unrecognisable from the shy, anxious child he was when he started. I can’t ever thank you enough for what you all do. You are just so wonderful.

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    R has come along amazingly at Dandelion. I am so pleased with wonderful things he is learning. I feel very happy knowing he comes home after nursery with fantastic new skills and always has a big smile on his face.

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    We are 100% satisfied with the education our child receives. Emma, Hayley & all the staff are professional, compassionate, sensitive, approachable and friendly. We feel our child’s personal needs, likes and dislikes, are constantly considered by everyone. Dandelion has helped our child

    grow into a strong-minded and confident person. Your ethos inspires us and we strive to be better parents. There is constant feedback about hoe I is developing and we are given lots of advice about how to extend that development at home. Whenever I has experienced any difficulties it has been taken seriously, acted upon quickly and we have been offered one-to-one consultation time. We will be incredibly sad when I has to finish the school year.

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    G has had a wonderful time over the last year at the Eaton site. The staff have been dedicated, kind, helpful, fun and it is constantly reassuring to know he is in the care of such a loving and nurturing community. We’re extremely grateful to everyone at Dandelion for making our experience of nursery such a positive one. The outdoor children centred, play-led education offered is everything we wanted for G.

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    Overall we are thrilled with Dandelion. My daughter has acquired a wide range of new skills which a more traditional nursery simply couldn’t offer her. She looks forward to attending Dandelion with great excitement each week and has grown in confidence significantly. She loves the outdoor setting and the wide range of activities on offer

    - S. Whitlam
  • What parents say

    He has really excelled there and his behaviour was so different, and he got a lovely night‘s sleep and this morning wasn’t his usual jumpingoff-thewalls self but all reflective.

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    I’ve just got the home and wanted to let you know that my two boys (D 7 and R 3) had a fantastic time today! (First day of holiday club). They are ready to come back again! I wasn’t sure what they would think or if they would like Dandelion. They are both very boisterous boys and D can lack confidence too but they throughly enjoyed themselves today. It’s a brilliant environment and I can’t believe I’ve only just recently heard about you through a friend. I will definitely be recommending you to all my friends!

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    One word – Amazing! You are all amazing!

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    We are delighted with the education Dandelion provides. He has become a much more confident child and his problem solving has really developed.

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    Staff are amazing; it is clear that the child is at the centre of all that they do. They move kiddies on when they’re ready!

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    T is a much happier, more engaged than he ever was in his other setting. It is a joy to see!

    - Anon
  • What parents say

    We are so pleased we chose Dandelion. We’ve been impressed by the level of care and the range of activities on offer. We have the themes you have, it makes us feel involved and it seems fantastic in stimulating imaginary play. Interactions are warm and caring with lots of individual attention.

    - Heather
  • What parents say

    The settings have produced a brilliant supplementary education alongside home-education. B’s phonic’s skills have improved. It is really important that B has fun while learning and discovering new things, and making brilliant childhood memories. I believe he gets all that and more from Dandelion!

    - Vicki
  • What parents say

    We love Dandelion and think the whole concept and environment is amazing! J is full of excitement when going AND when I pick him up.

    - Kelly
  • What parents say

    Since being at Dandelion, R has developed his self-esteem and is beginning to seem more independent from his brother. We’re having another baby just so they can join Dandelion!

    - Chris
  • What parents say

    A year ago, having only just turned 4, our daughter was in no way socially or emotionally ready to start school. With the support of Emma and Hayley, we were granted a deferred reception place at our chosen school, and our daughter was able to spend an extra year attending Dandelion three days per week. Spending her reception year at Dandelion was the best decision we could have made to help prepare her for school. At Dandelion our daughter was able to develop her social skills and grow in confidence at her own pace. She thrived in an environment where she felt secure and nurtured, whilst also having plenty of opportunities to learn and develop new skills through role play and creative exploration. In the last year our shy little girl, who used to find it difficult to speak to other children, has developed into a socially confident girl with many friends, who often initiates and leads role play games, and confidently expresses her ideas in the group. Thanks to the creative early years curriculum and excellent teaching skills of the Dandelion staff, our daughter’s Maths and phonics skills are impressive for her age. She will be starting school already able to add up numbers and read and write simple words. Our daughter is now excited about starting school in September and we feel that she is ready to, even though we will all miss Dandelion a lot….
    - Lilith
  • What parents say

    All staff members at Dandelions are magical and Julie is no exception. In fact she’s a shining light for myself and my son. Julie always has a smile on her face. She accepts children for who they are and she sees the positive in every aspect of a child’s personality.

    Understanding them and adapting her guidance around what works for each individual child. From a parents point of view, Julie is excellent at calming any worries in me, she explains perfectly and honestly on my sons day and behaviours. Julie is a very positive, patient and caring woman. I consider myself and my son to be very lucky to have her as part of his growth. 

    Donovan responds beautifully to Julie’s guidance (not always immediately because he’s a stubborn monkey) however Julie has the patience and understanding of his behaviour to be able to get him where he needs to be. My sons behaviour has flourished and I’m always shocked with how much knowledge he comes home with. He responds beautifully to positive encouragement and especially when Julie sits with him to go through her emotion cards. He acts out the faces and is now able to explain how he’s feeling rather than just expressing it. 

    - Chrissie and Donovan
  • What parents say

    I am confident to say Dandelion is a dream come true for children. Izzy has been going to Dandelion for nearly two years enjoying every single day she has spent there. Emma, Hayley and the Dandelion team, who are always positive and enthusiastic, have created a wonderful space and atmosphere where children are encouraged to grow, be curious and imaginative, face challenges and embrace the outdoors with great enjoyment. Every day is a magical experience for Izzy. She enjoys using tools and creating things to bring home, climbing trees, baking her favourite cakes in the mud kitchen but ultimately the freedom to play and learn in her own way.  Thank you.

    - Eniko
  • What parents say

    Dandelion are extremely passionate about emotional literacy and wellbeing and this is reflected in everything they do – from getting the children involved in fundraising for a local youth mental health charity to teaching the children to talk about and reflect on their emotions on a daily basis.

    I remember one morning not long after our daughter first started Dandelion at age 2.5, she enthusiastically woke us up asking “how are you feeling daddy – are you content?”. More recently we’ve experienced the benefit of Dandelion’s emphasis on speaking up and expressing emotions as a way to resolve conflict between children. When our daughter told us about an incident at Dandelion involving two other children, the Dandelion staff facilitated a powerful session where all the children involved were invited to reflect on what had happened, express how it made them feel and discuss boundaries and treating each other with respect. Our daughter felt very good about being encouraged to make her voice heard and telling the other children how she felt, in a safe contained environment.

    Dandelion’s ethos is also reflected in how the staff communicate with the children, which is always extremely respectful, using positive language, and encouraging autonomy and critical thinking. I believe Dandelion’s approach to emotional wellbeing has had a huge impact on our daughters development over the last 2 years and helped turn her from a very shy little girl into the confident and empathic person she is today. 

    - Lilith and Ed
  • What parents say

    Our daughter loves Dandelions! Having been in a small indoor nursery for several months, she loves the space to run around and explore. As parents we have seen an enormous difference – she is more confident, happy, energetic and enthusiastic. Thank you Hayley, Emma and the other staff for all your efforts. If only there were more forest schools around!

    - Tom and Charlotte
  • What parents say

    I’m just beginning on the path to get an autism diagnosis for Alexander and forwarded Dandelions report to the GP for a telephone appointment. When I described Dandelions the GP said it sounded ‘amazing and perfect for Alex’. In addition we’ve had the Local Authority visit for Home Educating and the officer was very happy with the education Alex receives in Dandelions and home combination.

    Dandelions allows Alex to socialise and learn in an outdoor setting. He especially loves Heath days: often leading us on family walks there to show us where he goes with his friends. Alex struggles with noise and cannot concentrate in crowded or noisy indoor settings, he also was afraid of heights from a young age. At Dandelions he has flourished in confidence, has firm friends and with kind support and encouragement can climb really confidently now. After one Heath day last term Alex described a lava game he was playing where himself and a group of friendy climbed up on the fallen tree and jumped down: he said he felt a ‘bit frightened but was brave and jumped’ and was so proud of himself they kept climbing and jumping down.

    - Mandy
  • What parents say

    ‘Although our son has been at dandelions for some time, he had recently been through a ‘wobble’ and been anxious at drop off time. I have noticed however that when Julie is around, he will trot in quite happily! She takes the time to engage with him, and knows just what will help him to forget his anxieties. Their time at the tool table has resulted in some wonderful creations!’

    You’re all amazing!

    ‘Our sensitive son took quite some time to settle in at nursery, it was the first time he’d ever been away from us, but I found that the supportive and inclusive ethos of dandelion made a challenging situation very smooth and almost painless! They allowed us to settle him in slowly, taking our time and were truly parent/child led, which worked really well for our family. There were no tears! (Not even ours!)’

    Thanks for all that you have done and still do! 

    - Lucy and Lucy
  • What parents say

    Like many parents, we’re worried about the pressure placed on young children in conventional primary schools, but home-education wasn’t for us. We’ve found flexi-education to be the perfect solution for our Year 1 daughter, Esme. She’s attended Dandelion for two days a week and her usual primary school for three.

    When we picked her up after her first day at Dandelion, we knew that flexi-education was the right choice. Esme looked like a weight had been taken off her shoulders. There was none of the stress we saw at the school gate.

    Dandelion has given her new confidence, resilience and independence, and its Philosophy For Children (P4C) is a wonderful tool for children to make sense of the world. Dandelion has also been a release valve for some of that school pressure. Luckily, Esme going to three days a week at school hasn’t disadvantaged her socially or academically; we think she stays more enthusiastic about school this way too.

    Dandelion’s Emma and Hayley came to meetings to help us make a case to our primary school. They have supported us, and Esme, all the way. 

    We really hope more parents are able to flexi-educate their children!

    - Patrick and Lisa
  • What parents say

    Dandelions has been a breath of fresh air for our family and a real game changer. Here we have found a place where our child’s self confidence, independence and awareness of others is being lovingly nurtured. Whilst at the same time, his desire to explore, experiment, create and question is supported and encouraged. The adults are very conscious and considered in their use of language to show the children that they are respected and in turn, they are guided to treat others with respect and compassion. Our son is treated as the individual human that he is and we couldn’t be happier with this approach. Plus we LOVE seeing his gigantic grin shining through his muddy little face at the end of the day. We only wish there were a Dandelions for grown-ups…we’d be first in line!

    - Siobhan and Chris
  • What parents say

    “The trainers were very knowledgable and gave lots of positive ideas to go forward.”

    “The trainers had  a great dynamic and the role play was great!”

    “It was good to giggle and not feeling awkward contributing!”

    “The workshop was excellent. Exactly what I’d hoped for!”

    - Comments from our adult training sessions:

News

12 Nov

Be our next extraordinary Dandelion Deputy Manager!

We are looking for a very special Dandelion Deputy Manager…  “Dandelions is an extraordinary nursery and working here is a living dream. It will challenge you though, it will challenge you physically, mentally and emotionally. But you will always be …

Dandelion began as a dream; it is a place where dreams are made.