Fears that children might be under threat from dangerous plants were dismissed as the local authority got behind plans put forward by the outdoor learning group ‘Stramash’ to create a new base at Badger’s Wood.
Around 70 families have already applied to send their pre-school children to the new nursery when it eventually opens, with Laurence Finlay, the corporate director of education and social care, insisting that the idea is in line with the policy of encouraging learning out of doors and so helping develop a wide variety of skills.
Mr Findlay said: “The early years are important and we already have some very good outdoor learning practice in Moray in our nurseries.
“Combining early learning, childcare and outdoor learning is highly innovative and will make a huge contribution to the health, wellbeing and development of our youngest citizens. Outdoor learning provision is beginning to develop nationally and I’m delighted to see more of it coming to Moray.”
However, fears of giant hogweed plants growing in some parts of Moray were put forward as typical of the type of dangers that could await such a project. These were discussed at the planning and regulatory services meeting this week by Forres councillor and former teacher George Alexander.
Councillor Alexander said that giant hogweed was known to exist alongside the River Lossie and these could harm children if not managed properly. Reassurance over such fears were provided by Morag Head, early years and family manager for Stramash, who said: “Every nursery falls under the auspices of the Care Inspectorate and has to make sure children are safe.
“The hogweed will be dealt with appropriately and the kids will not be coming into contact with it.”
After planning approval was granted Mrs Head said she was “obviously delighted”, adding that the nursery should now be open in August with the only building on the grounds a small hut for use in colder weather.
The Badger’s Wood site for the new nursery is on 40 acres of woodland – funded and non-funded places for children aged two to five years are being offered, with the nursery set to be opened from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday, 50 weeks each year.
Further information can be found online at http://www.stramash.org.uk/info/outdoor-nursery/