Nursery Chelsea
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Nurseries Chelsea

About Us


Our Ethos

A healthy opening to education – Open Hearts and Open minds at Chelsea open Air. The Nursery School offers a full range of services that meet the needs of children and their families, building upon the historical strengths of the Nursery School.


Our Values

We understand that children learn everywhere; we support each child to become lifelong independent learners through play that is free flow, allows risk taking, experimentation, awe and wonder in a fun, colourful and creative environment.


We provide a challenging learning environment that allows children to thrive with dignity and respect, with a love and understanding of their own and others spiritual and cultural beliefs.


We work in collaboration, valuing and celebrating the team’s wealth of experience and diversity to successfully deliver the ethos of Chelsea Open Air.

We are pioneering, regularly challenging what already exists, forward thinking, breaking down boundaries and stereotypes.

Dr Susan Isaacs

Children enjoy playing outdoors

Our History

The School was set up in 1928 by Dr Susan Isaacs and Natalie Davies. The name ‘Open Air’ dates from that period and was part of a countrywide educational movement. The ‘Open Air’ philosophy is still important today when our children seem to lack safe but challenging space to play in. In the 1920’s it was first recognised educationally, that outdoors as valuable a learning environment as indoors. The Open Air philosophy also recognised that many city children did not have enough access to fresh air, sunlight and exercise for healthy development. In the twenty first century the garden is still central to our philosophy and combines with our indoor areas to provide a complete and balanced learning environment.

In 1978 the school became part of the Inner London Education Authority and is now state funded. In 2006 it became one of the first children’s centres in the Borough providing a ‘one stop shop’ for local families, babies and young children.

The School is housed in a timber framed building dating from 1587 and a seventeenth century workman’s cottage which along with other houses in the street became artists’ studios, in our case, for the painter Benjamin Haydon. The school garden dates from the beginning of this century.

The School Today

The Nursery School is run by the royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea who provide the staff, buildings and equipment. It operates on the basis of two part time sessions – morning and afternoon and full time sessions. The children are aged between three and four years and there are 80 places in total, with a maximum of 52 in each session. Priority is given to those living in Chelsea Riverside Ward and residents of Kensington and Chelsea, but if places allow, families who live in neighbouring boroughs or work in Chelsea may be offered a place. Children are offered a place at Chelsea Open Air nursery from the September after their third birthday. The School provides a free flow environment with access to indoor and outdoor play through the day, all year round.

We follow the term dates set by Kensington and Chelsea, which are the same as other local primary schools; we are closed for five inset days per academic year, school holidays and half terms. During the school holidays we run a very popular holiday club for children aged three to seven years. A list of term dates is available on our website.  

Every three and four year old is entitled to fifteen hours of nursery education per week, we offer the fifteen hours in two sessions, morning 0845 to 1145 and afternoon 1245 to 1545  Monday to Friday. We have a small number of full time places that are funded for the most vulnerable children, parents can also choose to pay to extend their child’s day from a half day to a full day 0845 to 1545.

Children at Chelsea open air are from a very wide range of social, cultural, economic, language and racial backgrounds which include those who have special educational needs as well as those who are gifted and talented. We respect and value this diversity and incorporate many aspects into our school life. We believe that all children should grow up together learning to enjoy and accept other people’s differences. Thus we do not tolerate racism, sexism, or any form of prejudice whether from children or adults.

The school has a board of governors who meet several times a term and can be contacted through the School. There are three Parent Governors who are elected to act on your behalf, please use the Parent Governors in the first instance to discuss your views and seek advice if you cannot obtain what you need from the school itself. If you wish to know more about the Governing Body please contact the Head of Centre or attend one of the regular Governors meetings as an observer.

Children enjoy the opportunity to express themselves creatively through music and dance




Awards and Achievements

The nursery school and children’s centre has received many awards from external bodies. These have included:

Investors in People

Excellence in Work Related Learning

The Quality Mark

The Inclusion Quality Mark

NACE London Excellence Award for Innovation and Learning




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