Staffordshire University Nursery and Forest School

Third Sector • Stoke-on-Trent

Located close to Staffordshire University's nature reserve, this new £4.4 million nursery and forest school is targeting zero-carbon upon completion in January 2022.

  • Vice-Chancellor Professor Liz Barnes on site with the project team.
  • Artist's impression of the completed new build.
  • Construction in progress.

Staffordshire University's Story

Located close to the University's nature reserve, this brand new £4.4m facility, which is targeting zero-carbon upon completion, will feature four inspirational learning spaces enhanced with digital technology and a forest school provision.

Set adjacent to a woodland, but close to the city centre, the new on-campus Nursery and Forest School at Staffordshire University is intended to be a sustainable place of early years learning with a connection to the immediate landscape and nature reserve.

More than doubling the nursery's existing capacity, the new provision will see 100 full day-care places for children aged from 0 to five delivered. It will also have the capacity to provide childcare and education for children from five to 12 years outside of term time.

Sustainability, digital technology, and nature are at the forefront of the new build, which aims to further our commitment to creating a family-friendly campus. Featuring four inspirational learning spaces with areas for food preparation and wet play as well as flexible floor space, the new build also has additional capacity for a 24-place classroom and observational suite with leading digital technology. Through the observation suite, teaching can be also observed, facilitating applied learning for trainee teachers, social workers, Special Educational Needs Coordinators, and students at the University.

The new nursery provision will also incorporate a forest school facility to further develop links with local schools and provide community participation opportunities. Aimed at children between the ages of three and seven years, the forest school will enable children to experience outdoor learning opportunities such as identifying nature, play-based learning, den building and forest art. Through the forest school children will have the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills and knowledge outside of the traditional classroom environment.

Useful Learnings from Staffordshire University

Staffordshire University has signed up to the One Planet Pledge, and has committed to achieving a Carbon Net Zero position by 2030. One of our main strategic goals is to develop the University's own campuses in a sustainable manner and to improve the efficiency of campus operations.

The new building will replace the existing nursery building which is in a poor state of repair with high maintenance costs. However, it was vital that we worked with the building users to understand their needs, to showcase the nursery's excellent childcare provision, provide additional capacity for further business growth and enhance the delivery of a family-friendly campus. The nursery and forest school was designed using the principles of low carbon, high energy efficiency and flexibility of use as a starting point. The building materials are sustainable and selected for their contribution to the Carbon Net Zero target.

Construction company Henry Brothers Midlands is the main contractor and the project team is supported by Mace (project and cost managers), Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (lead designer and architect), Max Fordham (building services engineers), Civic Engineers (structural engineers and transport consultants), and Re-form Landscape (landscape designers). All are bringing their experience in delivering the next generation of sustainable buildings for the next generation. We have also sought the advice of the University's environmental champion Dr Elle Atkins who, alongside our consultant ecologists has provided invaluable advice on what to do and not to do when it comes to birds nesting seasons, flight paths for bats and crossing areas for newts. Given the building's location close to the University's nature reserve, the building's impact on native wildlife species has rightly been given top priority.

Staffordshire University's Metrics

Carbon impact and energy efficiency of the building.
Amount of carbon and greenhouse gases emitted.

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Response to climate crisis





Third Sector, 250 to 10,000 people

Shared by

Midlands Net Zero Hub

Updated Feb, 2024

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