Cranley Buckstone Pre-School

At Cranley Nursery’s Buckstone base in Edinburgh, the older children are preparing for the excitement of a move to brand new surroundings. But they’re not going too far. The nursery has acquired the property next door to cater for its 3-to- 5-year-olds – so they’ll still be within waving distance of the younger ones.

Once the move is complete in the spring, each age group will have its own dedicated space, while sharing a thrilling new outdoor area. The move marks the latest expansion of the Cranley family, which already runs three nurseries in the south of the city alongside Cranley Buckstone.

Perfect opportunity

“Expansion has been on our minds since we extended the nursery in 2008,” explains Cranley owner Anna Maclean. “But we wanted to grow in the best possible way, enhancing the children’s experience.

We originally planned to build a new centre for the pre-school children in the grounds of the current nursery. But when the large property next door became available, it was the perfect opportunity.”

Cranley is now in the process of transforming the new property and its gardens into a stimulating nursery environment. The grounds previously earmarked for the build project will be turned into activity areas, including a climbing wall, allotment beds, and a covered veranda for sand pits, chalk drawing and other pursuits. Elsewhere, a soft play area and a tricycle track are taking shape.

Cranley’s children will also be able to build new creations in a construction area, or test their culinary skills in a dedicated mud kitchen. “Safe places that allow children to play outdoors as much as possible are something parents really value – and they are also a priority of the Scottish Government’s new guidance for early years,” Anna says. “That encouraged us to push the boat out with our outdoor facilities.”

Indoors, the new building more than matches the offering in Cranley’s existing nurseries, which feature free-flow layouts and open-plan playrooms. The children will have free access to all the rooms, each of which has a homely feel – allowing them to build on the life skills they learn at home.

National reputation

This kind of attention to detail has contributed to Cranley’s outstanding reputation among parents and its national recognition. The group has earned several Scottish and UK awards, including the UK Nursery World Nursery Group of the Year in 2011 and runner-up in 2017.

Cranley Buckstone is also a pilot partner in the Scottish Government’s commitment to provide 1,140 hours of pre-school funding by 2020.

Cranley’s close relationship with parents is another key to success, according to Karen Murray, Cranley Group Director.

“We share our monthly themes with parents, so they can augment their child’s nursery activities with experience at home,” Karen says. “And we often introduce new activities, like parent ‘stay and play’ sessions, and talks by parents and grandparents about their jobs.”

The most critical piece in the Cranley jigsaw, however, is the team of over 50 highly-motivated staff. The group places a high priority on continuous training that goes far beyond statutory requirements, ensuring the team are fully equipped and aware of the latest developments in the field.

The team is now set to expand, in advance of the opening of the new Buckstone base in the spring. “It’s been liberating to have the freedom to create a bespoke, child-friendly nursery on such a bigsite,” says Karen. “We can’t wait to see the finished centre.”