National award for innovative Cambridgeshire STEM education nursery

An innovative Cambridge nursery specialising in STEM education and learning for early years children has been named as a winner of a national award.

Shelford Day Nursery, which offers a unique science, technology, engineering and mathematics pre-school curriculum, won the New Nursery of the Year category in the National Nursery Awards, held at the ExCeL London exhibition centre.

Panash Shah, director of nursery owner STEMtacular Childcare, said: “We’re overjoyed to have won this national award, which recognises our unique curriculum, inspiring learning space and our amazing nursery team.

“The inspiration for our nursery came from Cambridge’s role in some of the world’s most important scientific discoveries, and we are passionate about introducing children to STEM subjects from a young age.

“The emphasis for us is always on encouraging children to learn through play. The STEM-based curriculum that we have developed provides structure while still giving the children the opportunity to shape their own learning by exploring our interactive nursery space.

“We’re so proud of the nursery team, who create a fantastic atmosphere for the children and help them to learn in a fun and engaging way that prepares them for the transition to primary education.”

Shelford Day Nursery opened in March 2022 following the renovation of a former bank in Great Shelford.

The building and its grounds were completely remodelled to offer indoor and outdoor spaces where interactive learning is the major focus.

Children have the opportunity to experiment with water features, discover properties of different materials in sand and gravel pits and even develop their first engineering skills in a ‘construction zone’. 

There is still a place for traditional childhood games, with activities like hopscotch used to develop maths skills.

And children can gain first-hand experience of the force of gravity on a slide plunging from the first floor of the nursery to the outdoor learning space on the ground floor.

Inside the nursery, children have access to the latest technology, including interactive touch tables and a sensory room featuring colourful lighting and interactive fibre-optic installations.

Nursery Manager Deborah Parfitt said: “Winning this award would not have been possible without the contribution of our nursery team, who have embraced the idea of centring our curriculum around STEM and encouraging children to learn through exploration and experimentation.

“We place a lot of emphasis on staff training and have attracted a fantastic team who are dedicated to developing themselves and continually improving the education we offer to our children.

“We have found that many parents chose us because our STEM approach complements their professional lives, and that has helped us to foster a culture of continued learning at home.”

The £800,000 renovation project was supported by Growth Works, the strategic economic growth programme launched by the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority and Business Board to support businesses to accelerate and sustain their growth through consultancy and expertise, workforce skills development, and inward investment. 

The award is the second national accolade for STEMtacular Childcare, which also owns wraparound childcare provider Cambridge Kids Club – recent winner of the Play Setting of the Year category in the national Out of School Club Awards.

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