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Children in a nurseryYoung families in Essex have a wide range of nurseries to choose from and, unlike neighbouring London, it is rarely necessary to register for a place while the baby is still in utero. Our article on Choosing a nursery provides insight on the differences between types of nursery as well as advice on what to look for and questions to ask.

Nurseries in Chelmsford

Chain day nursery groups Seymour House, Kiddi Caru, Bright Horizons nurseries and Busy Bees have branches in Chelmsford and its hamlets but there are individual providers too, such as Montessoris Jesters and Buttercup, King Arthur-themed Camelot, and Scallywags. Places often available straight away. Any longer than a three-month wait and you could consider yourself unlucky. 

The all-through independent New Hall School has a superb barn-style nursery for one- to four-year-olds in its beautiful grounds, while established city centre prep schools Widford Lodge, St Cedd’s and St Anne’s all have their own kindergartens - most children continue through to the schools. State primaries’ on-site pre-schools are popular, particularly Small Wonders at The Tyrrells School in Old Springfield, and larger Woodcroft Nursery at Larkrise Primary School, Great Baddow.

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Nurseries in Colchester

Several chains, such as Kiddi Caru and Busy Bees, have branches in the city, but many of Colchester’s nurseries are either attached to prep schools - including Holmwood House School, Littlegarth School (just over the Suffolk border), St Mary’s (a girls’ school, although mixed in the nursery), Colchester Prep & High School and Oxford House School – or are standalone, such as Lexden Lodge Kindergarten, Monkey Puzzle, Safari, and Absolute Angels Montessori in the quaint village of Coggeshall. Waiting lists for these are minimal. Few of Colchester’s state primary schools have pre-schools and places at the highly regarded Lexden Primary School and St James’ Church of England Primary School are sought after – apply early.

Best primary schools in Colchester

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Best secondary schools in Colchester


Nurseries in Brentwood and West Essex

Unlike in nearby London, having to wait more than a month or two for a nursery place to become available is unusual. Bright Horizons runs Phoenix in Brentwood’s Merrymeads Country Park, and Poppetts in Hutton, while standalone alternatives include Nappies and Paddies in Great Warley, New Beginnings in Loughton, Epping Montessori Nursery, and Chigwell and Hainault Synagogue nursery, where children also learn the basics of Judaism. Brentwood Preparatory School, Ursuline Preparatory School in Warley (co-ed Catholic), and Woodlands School (sites at Great Warley and Hutton Manor) are independents with thriving nurseries; further west are pre-schools at Buckhurst Hill’s all-girls Braeside School, and the co-eds Chingford’s Normanhurst School and Coopersale Hall, near Epping Station.

Best primary schools in Brentwood and West Essex

Best private schools in Brentwood and West Essex

Best secondary schools in Brentwood and West Essex


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