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Rupert House School Nursery

Nursery options in Oxfordshire fall into two camps depending on your family’s needs: day nurseries and pre-schools offer different provision with day nurseries providing a full day’s childcare and pre-schools generally reflecting school timings, more like 9am until 3pm – the Oxfordshire County Council website explains further, and our article, 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. The most popular pre-schools will need your names down soon after birth; at the day nurseries, expect to wait a couple of months for a place.

Some pre-schools are stand-alone but the majority are attached to schools. All will deliver the EYFS. Those that start at age two are usually fee-paying; there are only six state-maintained stand-alone pre-schools in the county (we discuss one below). Pre-schools which are part of schools tend to be a single year: children start at three, often wearing a simple uniform and eating lunch in the dining hall.

Nurseries in Oxford

No tractor rides here in the city, more’s the pity. For day nursery, look at Bright Horizons in Summertown and Cowley, or Busy Bees in Littlemore. University employees qualify for their Kids Planet nurseries, spread across north/central Oxford and Headington, including at the hospitals.

Many pursue pre-schools. From Jericho or Summertown, look at The Nursery (Lathbury Road), which runs nine-to-five rather than the standard school-day-length sessions. At Headington Quarry Foundation Stage School, sessions can be topped up to create a long day. It’s a standalone state nursery, offering funded places of 15 or 30 hours a week depending on your eligibility.

Oxford Montessori Schools (OMS) have two early years settings: Wolvercote and Forest Farm. The latter is ten-acres, just outside the ring road, where they also have primary and senior Montessori schools.

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Nurseries near Abingdon

Bright Horizons have a few sites around here, including one with good outdoor space in Abingdon; expect to wait a few months for a place to come up. The Manor Prep takes children from two, offering extended days to older ones. Moving down towards Faringdon, there’s a gorgeous nursery at Buckland Church of England Primary School where children tend to the school allotment; ‘many wheeled vehicles’, says school, for little people to enjoy. Admissions organized according to County Council policy. 

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Nurseries near Banbury and Bicester

Day nurseries here are independent rather than part of big chains. You’ll need to wait a few months for a place; pop their name down now. In Banbury, the Close Day nursery has a colourful garden, Astroturf-ed to ensure a soft landing (‘I can’t fault it!’, says our source). Sparkling Minds, in Weston-on-the-Green, is set in farm buildings with lots of space to roam outside.

The yummiest mummies head to Willow on the Farm at two and a half: get in touch ASAP after your child is born to enquire about a tour and registration, because it’s more and more popular. Expect tractor rides (kids), cocktail parties (grown-ups) and the classiest nativity in OX15. Many go to prep schools; others ‘state ‘til eight’ at the right village primary. Great Tew Pre-School is small and a lot more low-key; naturally, many go on to that primary, though the pre-school is managed separately. Sibford School has a nursery class who are taught together with reception.

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Nurseries near Henley and Wallingford

For daycare, we like The Old Station Nursery (downtown Henley), where children toast marshmallows in the woodland. Highmoor Nursery, a short drive away, runs Stay & Play sessions for tinies; from two, children join their pre-school, enjoying outdoor adventures, cooking with Mrs Bun the Baker and French, taught by a hand-puppet called ‘Phillipe’. Rupert House School’s nursery in Henley is popular and takes children the year before starting in Reception. Nearby Bix Montessori School is also pukka. You could just about drive to Harriet House School, a beautiful Montessori which many think it’s worth crossing the M4 for. Register when they’re a babe-in-arms. In Moulsford, Cranford House offers a nursery year, recently integrated into the main school site, which feeds into reception there. Over the road, Moulsford Preparatory School’s new pre-school, Bobcats, feeds automatically into their newly co-ed pre-prep.

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Nurseries near Stadhampton

East of Oxford, Wheatley Nursery School is state-maintained (a rare beast) with 12 places for under threes and another 40 from three upwards; families can pay extra for wraparound care to create a full day. You might get in from as far as Garsington, but it’s dicey. Luckily, you’ve got The Orchard Pre-School in Little Milton, with newly refurbished outside space, right next to the village rec where children play after school. 

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Nurseries in west Oxfordshire

Look in the towns for the best day nurseries; again, no big chains. Little Monkeys, in a Georgian townhouse in Charlbury, provides homecooked food and sessions in snail-racing or building pixie homes on a woodland adventure site. The Town Nursery in Chipping Norton is long-established, with no mod-cons. Nearby Forest Fawns enjoys a pretty woodland setting.

Kingham Primary and Woodstock CE Primary School both have nursery classes, too.

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