Bridge Nursery provides a home-away-from-home for our children. We pride ourselves on developing lifelong curiosity and confidence through play and adventure. We provide a warm and caring environment that welcomes the whole family and takes care of their needs.
We offer outstanding care for children from 3 months to 3 years old. Children enjoy access to four main rooms, each designed specifically for a child’s age and developmental stage.
Our Baby Suite
The Bridge journey starts in the Ducklings Room for children from the age of 3 months to approximately 1 year old. The environment is equipped for our youngest children, with lots of age-appropriate toys and resources. For our children to thrive, we support them to develop in their prime areas with activities to stimulate their development of physical, emotional and language/communication skills. The main emphasis is on sensory experiences that stimulate their senses, covering the sense of touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight. From the first settling session, we strive to build a strong, emotional bond between a child and practitioner, which is based on mutual trust.
Our Dragonflies Room is for children aged 12 months till 24 months. As children grow, their needs change. This room has more areas of learning that support their curiosity for building, exploring the world around them, and developing their gross motor and language skills. The room is always a hive of activity with exciting resources and activities for the children to explore and play.
The Baby Suite
The Baby Suite boasts a Sensory Room, which provides a calm hub for children to explore and play through music, movement, touch, and vision. A variation of the activities in this area can be anything from baby yoga to messy play. Since sensory play is such an important part of learning in the early years, sensory activities exist throughout the Nursery and evolve as a child gets older.
The Sensory Room
Our Toddler Suite
Once our children are socially and emotionally ready (usually from 2 years old), they move to our Frogs and Turtles Rooms. At this stage, the children’s enquiring minds are developing quite rapidly, so we have created an exciting and stimulating learning environment for them to explore. We support their interests and expand their learning every day, ensuring they have outside time, healthy food and positive experiences. Each child is supported by a key person, while independence is encouraged through play. The children also form secure friendships and an understanding of other children’s feelings.
The Toddler Suite
The rooms are all equipped with appropriate resources based on the children’s development stage, giving our children the opportunity to be the leaders of their own learning. Each day, children are welcome to choose what they would like to play with which allows us to further develop their interests and support the learning of new skills.
The children’s exciting and inspiring minds are nurtured and supported to ensure they develop to their best potential whilst having lots of fun. We encourage our children to be engaged, active and creative learners.
Our Early Years Team
An experienced and dedicated leadership team oversee an excellent staff of Early Years Practitioners.
The level of care and development that your child receives whilst in our care is of the utmost importance to us here at Bridge Nursery. All staff are enthusiastic and passionate about their career and hold professional childcare qualifications. They are committed to providing a positive learning environment for our children.
We feel strongly that we meet the emotional wellbeing as well as the developmental needs of the children in our care. We believe that if a child’s wellbeing is sound and that they are given a variety of options to explore, that they are likely to engage and learn new experiences individually at their own pace. Acknowledging children’s achievements with their friends and parents is an important part of their emotional growth, supporting them to be confident and self-assured.
Each child has a special member of staff, referred to as their Key Person, who will ensure your child’s specific needs and interests are met. We invite you to chat to us regularly to help us provide appropriate activities and opportunities for your child to support and develop their learning. These conversations may also provide you with some additional ideas and activities to provide at home.
Francesca Russell – Head of Bridge Nursery
Francesca Russell has been the Head of Bridge Nursery since 1997. She studied Nursery Nursing at Tonbridge College and then moved on to Nannying in London for a variety of high-profile families.
She moved away from Nannying when she had her own children and started a new chapter working in London schools, specifically with nursery and reception year groups. This formed a very important part of her experience in the provision of outstanding care for very young children, where she was able to consider the various building blocks that allow children to flourish and grow upon starting Prep School.
Francesca then moved to Ashford in 1996 where she worked as a SENDCo at a local school. The following year she was recruited by Ashford School (then an all girl’s school) to establish a Nursery for children aged 3 months to 3 years. Very quickly, Bridge Nursery became a huge success and has continued to grow and flourish, consistently rated ‘Outstanding’. Francesca attributes the success of the Nursery to the reflective and positive progression of the team that she leads.
Outside of work Francesca enjoys spending time with her family, walking her two dogs, skiing, and paddle boarding.
Sue Yeates – Head of Early Years
Sue Yeates is Head of Early Years at Ashford School and oversees all three settings within our family – The Stables & Bridge for the younger children, and the Prep School Nursery for those children aged three and four.
Sue has extensive experience of working and leading in Early Years as both an Early Years Practitioner and Montessori Teacher. Under her leadership the School has consistently achieved ‘Outstanding’ in its Early Years settings and she has been very much part of the success of Ashford Prep School at this age group. Sue has been instrumental in the development and design of The Stables and the Prep School Nursery, both of which she and the School are justly proud.
She has also worked with many schools within United Learning to support them in the quality of their provision and the development of their staff, showing total commitment to providing the very best start for all children in her care and in the care of others.
Emma Wakefield – Deputy Head
Emma Wakefield joined the Bridge Nursery team in 2016, starting as an Early Years practitioner. She progressed to Room Leader Assistant and then became the Room Leader of one of the toddler rooms. In January 2021, Emma began her role as Deputy Head. She completed her initial childcare training in 2012 and has continued to educate herself further to broaden her knowledge and skills within the Early Years sector.
Emma has a passion for travel and has been fortunate enough to explore Asia, Europe, Australasia and North America. Additionally, she spent 3 summers working at a camp in the USA, teaching kayaking, canoeing and archery, caring for and mentoring children aged 6-16 years. Through these experiences, she has developed a greater understanding of different cultures and lifestyles and the importance of teaching children about the world around them.
Emma feels very strongly about supporting young children to have a high sense of wellbeing. She has successfully implemented the roll out of yoga and mindfulness sessions in the Nursery and continues to support staff in providing a calm and secure environment for our children to learn.
In her free time, Emma loves to try new recipes in the kitchen, practice yoga and spend time in her garden.
Matea Pavletic – Deputy Head
Matea Pavletic found her passion for working with children when she became an aunt to her three lovely nephews. She studied and finished her Teacher of Education training in Zagreb, Croatia. She has achieved qualifications equivalent to a bachelor’s degree and then began working with children aged 1 to 8 years. She was very enthusiastic about early years and did a variety of training to have a better understanding of children’s behaviour and development.
During her life, Matea travelled around the world with her Dance group. As a choreographer and a dancer, she won many competitions.
In 2016, she moved to England and started working for Ashford School as an early years practitioner. Over the years, she has worked her way up through the School to become one of the Deputy Heads of Bridge Nursery.
In her free time, Matea likes spending time with her family and going for long country walks.
At Bridge Nursery we consider outdoor learning as important as the learning that takes place inside. We are fortunate enough to have a large garden in extensive grounds in which the children have the opportunity to discover and explore. Children can plant seeds and watch them grow, observe bugs in woodland area, join in birds watching, make sandcastles, listen to stories, play instruments and participate in water play in a safe and fun environment. Children often spent time at school grounds, around the nursery, running in fields or having picnics.
Bridge Nursery is ideally situated in Ashford Senior School’s extensive grounds in the centre of Ashford. This is just a short walk from Ashford International Train Station and linked closely with Junctions 9 and 10 of the M20.