Our Approach

At Ark Start nurseries, we have built environments that emphasise creativity, and independence.

Our Values

Our values underpin everything that we do to enable your child to grow, thrive and learn in a happy, stimulating, safe and secure environment. At Ark Start we give your child not only the start they need but the one they deserve.

Be Brave

When we’re brave, we explore new things and have a go. We do the right thing when no one’s watching.

Aim High

Aiming high means we make ambitious plans and enjoy achieving what we set out to do. And we know that we can learn from our mistakes and experiences.

Keep Learning

It’s fun to learn new things and be creative. At our nursery, the children and the grown ups never stop learning. We talk about our thoughts, our feelings and our interests.

Be Kind

When we’re kind, we think about how we feel and pay attention to how other people feel. We make choices that help others and have fun playing together.

Our Philosophy

At Ark Start we know that what each child learns (our curriculum) and how they learn it (our pedagogy) really matters. Our philosophy has been inspired by great educational thinkers and programmes, including:

  • Maria Montessori
  • Freidrich Froebel
  • Loris Malaguzzi and Reggio Emilia
  • Vivian Gussin Paley
  • Alison Gopnik
  • The Perry Pre-school Project


And by the world in which we live:

  • Human kindness, hope and community
  • The science of child development and neurology
  • The beauty of nature and the benefit of the outdoors
  • Stories – in books, told orally and our own
  • The exciting things the world has to offer and for us to find out

Our Curriculum

The Art Start curriculum has been designed by early years specialists and follows the Department for Education’s Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework. It’s structured around storytelling, encouraging children to tell their own stories and listen to others’ stories. Through storytelling, we can develop children’s creativity, their own voice and their listening skills.

Our practice has grown out of our work with Ark schools and our desire that every child should have the best start in life.

Our Pedagogy

The 'How'

Our staff are trained to respond to individual children and their play. To do this, we have created an environment that enables children to explore, learn and play. We know that time is precious and plan it carefully so that children come together to think and find out with their friends and have time to lead their own learning.

At Ark Start, you should notice how adults listen to each child and respond thoughtfully and the care with which the toys, materials and books have been selected. We also ensure children learn outside as much as possible.

Enhancement & Enrichment

15 Things

We also believe children should have a joyous early education and that means access to a range of onsite and offsite opportunities and experiences. We make sure that every child who spends their nursery education with us will access our 15 Things: 


We use a six-month developmental milestone tracker to assess children against six-monthly milestones and to record when children demonstrate the characteristics of effective learning. Before beginning any assessment, we ensure that children are well settled and take the time to get to know each other. We also talk to families and observe their wellbeing and involvement in nursery.

In preschool we also use GL’s BPVSIII and the CSBQ assessments to measure progress in vocabulary acquisition and self-regulation. These assessments feel like a nursery activity and take place when a child is settled and happy to join the game and is easily paused or postponed. Access to any of the assessments is available on request.

Our Nurseries

Learn more about our nurseries, including what a day at nursery looks like for your child, our members of staff and our fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Considering a place at an Ark Start nursery? Below you’ll find some of our most commonly asked questions. You can also explore our full FAQs page.

How do I enquire about a place at Ark Start?

In order to register your child, please submit an enquiry form on our website LINK HERE. You will then be invited to come and visit the nursery. 

What are your opening hours?

We are open from 8am – 5pm every day. We are closed for 4 weeks a year and for bank holidays.

Can my child come to nursery for one day a week?

Yes, but we strongly encourage children to attend nursery for at least four sessions a week over two days. This is because children find it easier to settle in and benefit from nursery if they attend regularly.

What do the fees cover?

Fees cover everything with the exception of snacks and meals; nappies and wipes; and certain offsite visits – we publish these at the beginning of the year so families can plan.

What funding support can I access?

There is some government support for childcare costs. You can check your entitlements here: https://www.gov.uk/help-with-childcare-costs. You can also speak to our nursery team, who will help you understand your entitlements.

What extracurricular activities do you offer?

We think children should experience awe and wonder and strive to create many opportunities for this through the curriculum. Enrichment opportunities include offsite visits, for example to the farm or to the fire station, and onsite experiences such as baking and hatching ducklings and butterflies.

So Much More Than Childcare