News & Events

We like to share some of the things that the children have been doing at nursery in our News and Events pages. We hope that you enjoy reading our stories and looking at the pictures. The children really love seeing their pictures published too! 

Learning with Anna Ephgrave

Toni attended a training day with Anna Ephgrave, the award winning academic and author who popularised the practice of 'in the moment planning' which we use at Once Upon a Time. Toni was able to show what we have been doing at the Nursery over the past year and Anna said how impressed she was with the team's practice. She then proceeded to use some of our work as a example for over 300 other early years practitioners in attendance! This is amazing news for the whole team who are dedicated to enhancing all our children's development.  

Another Graduate on the Team!

We are delighted that our own Chanel Miles will soon be graduating from her foundation degree in Early Years Education and is moving on to her BA Honours degree in Early Childhood Education. This is a fantastic achievement especially as it was done alongside a busy day to day job in the nursery! We are committed to building a team of staff who are dedicated to self development. We support our staff in any education, training and qualifications they wish to pursue and we are so proud to have such a highly skilled team serving our children and families. This passion for learning and drive to achieve to the best of one's abilities is inspiring for our children. Our staff work incredibly hard so to find the time to do another qualification is commendable - Congratulations Chanel!

Our Team has Grown!

A new school year and ever growing numbers of children joining our family means we are welcoming 2 new members of staff this month.
The highly experienced Amber Davies has started in to the Cubs room. Amber is grade 4 Makaton trained with years of experience in early years working in a range of settings. Also in the Cubs room we are delighted to have Natasha Edwards joining us. Natasha has lots of experience in reception aged children and is going to be highly valuable in helping at this pivotal stage as children blossom and get prepared to become preschoolers!

We welcome both Amber and Natasha to our team. Please say 'Hi' if you see them in the nursery!


We've achieved the Bristol Standard!

We are absolutely delighted to announce the setting has been validated as achieving the Bristol Standard! The Bristol Standard is recognised nationally as an outstanding self-evaluation framework and the benefits and impact of its approach have been well evidenced. Through team reflection and discussion, the strengths of the nursery are celebrated and future priorities become clear. The Bristol Standard enables practitioners to talk more knowledgeably about what they do, why they do it and the difference it is making for children and families in their care. A huge amount of work went in to our application and the most importnt thing of all was that it reflected the work and the efforts of every member of staff in the whole nursery. We are very proud to have such a great team here at Once Upon a Time and we're proud of the recognition we achieve!




Barrowloads of fun!

In May we came runners up in the Westbury on Trym wheelbarrow parade competition! We had lots of support in the parade for our families so thank you for everyone who turned out and helped us to raise money for our chosen charity, the Crackerjack Foundation. 

Forest School

In June we held a forest school stay and play session for all of our children and families which we will be doing termly. Children listened to Julia Donaldson’s Stick Man story, made mud pies and had a picnic.

Golden Student!

Our deputy manager, Charlie, was invited by Bristol University to present to students in their first year of their Early Childhood Studies degree that Charlie recently completed herself. She shared our journey of using the space in the front garden and taking it from an unloved and unutilised space to winning the Gold Bristol in Bloom award. She focussed on why she undertook the challenge and what the children learned from the project. We are proud to have Charlie representing Once Upon a Time at such a prestigious institution.

Bristol Boys Achievement Project

Once Upon a Time has been invited to take part in a major new study of boys' early years development. Our focus is the promotion of literacy in the setting and home learning. we have introduced Book Bears to take home along with many other changes in the setting that have enhanced children's literacy skills. Our findings will be posted on Bristol Early Years Research website ( for other settings to learn from.

Led by Toni and Charlie who have shown hugely impressive levels of subject knowledge, application and, most importantly, dedication to delivering the practices they believe in, our nursery was showcased in a video interview which was shown on the big screen at the annual Nursery World Conference in London in February 2018, at which Toni and Charlie represented us in person.

We are committed to delivering top quality childcare and we value collaborative working with the council, other settings and the children and familes who attend Once Upon a Time.

We won GOLD in Bristol in Bloom!

With a gold medal score of 86% we are absolutely delighted to have won a gold medal in this year's Bristol in Bloom competition. 

The judged comments read as follows:

Once Upon a Time Day Nursery & Pre-school ~ 86% Gold

An outstanding start to this first-year entry, this small space was used to its best advantage and to its fullest extent; it is a pleasure for neighbours and passers-by to see.

The enthusiasm and commitment to outdoor learning, led by Charlie, was an inspiration. The evident involvement from the community and parents and the affirmations of the effect the gardening has on the children were highlights of the excellent garden portfolio.

Every attribute of the garden was well thought out and innovative, the use of up-cycled and recycled materials was great to see. The level of maintenance, quality of plants (sown from seed) and visual learning aids that were hung in the trees all enhanced the learning experience.

A most enjoyable first visit.

This achievement is testament to the selfless work of our wonderful team who have created something truly special for the children to enjoy. Charlie saw potential in the outdoor space in the nursery and had lofty ambitions from day one. Well she proved any doubters wrong like she always does! For our little nursery to win such a prestigous award is something truly special and we are so proud and grateful for Charlie's hard work and determination. And of course, none of this would have been possible without the help of our children and familes who helped with planting, donations of gardening equipment and some rather small but certainly green fingered helpers!

Making new friends!

Each week we go to Patron House, a local specialist residential care home for the elderly with a focus on dementia. From the moment we started going we have had the most incredible, heart warming experiences and to witness the bond between the residents and our children is something that we could never describe. The children love sitting with the residents, playing with them and hearing their stories. The skills they learn and develop though thi process - such as patience, clear communication and empathy - are some of life's most important and will stand the children in good stead for the future. We hope to continue this special relationship for years to come.

 We have made many new friends and have received great feedback on the behaviour, conduct, attitide and most importantly happiness of our children!

Green fingers at the ready!

Charlie has been making the most of the nice weather by givinbg the front of the nursery a well needed revamp! It's lovely to have a safe front garden for children and families to walk through as they come in to nursery so it's only right that we make it look great! Thanks Charlie, and thanks to everyone who helped too!

Focus on the garden

Kirsty and Toni have been busy spending their weekends making improvements to the garden! The children now have lots of exciting new areas to explore ensuring that there are lots of opportunities to learn outdoors. These areas include a dinosaur park, a mud kitchen, a writing area and a water area! We have also made a potion making station and some sensory tyres full of herbs for smelling and tasting. Spike and Gizmo, the nursery's resident Guinea pigs, have moved outside for the warmer months and are also enjoying their new surroundings! There are still lots of exciting things to come and the children have loved exploring it so far! Watch this space……………

Toni is our new deputy!

We are delighted to announce that Toni has been promoted to the role of deputy manager and will formally assume her position at the start of Kate’s maternity leave on 18th March. Since joining us as Cubs leader she has transformed the room into somewhere we are truly proud to offer to our families and she has it running fantastically well. We hope Toni can take this focus and drive to the next level in her new role.

Toni has over 10 years of experience working in day nurseries and is working on her level 5 qualification. She will work closely with Kirsty to lead the nursery and we are confident that the two of them will make a great team!

A new leader for preschool!

Lucia qualified as an early years teacher in Spain before making the move to Bristol in 2014.

Since joining Once Upon a Time Lucia has been hugely influential in developing our preschool into a wonderful asset to the nursery and something we are truly proud to offer our children and their families. Working alongside our experienced preschool worker Paige and our Early Years Practitioner Rebecca Lucia completes a very strong team in our preschool and we are incredibly proud to have such a strong team. All three have experience of working in schools and use it to best prepare our children for the step up to primary education. All this while still remaining true to the spirit of the nursery of providing a small, intimate setting and a truly personal learning experience for each of our children.

We are delighted to have Lucia in such an important role and we encourage all of our parents to say hi and talk to her about her plans for our preschool!

We have 'bean' busy!

The children at Brentry have been learning about vegetables. They set up their role play area as a greengrocers shop where they could buy and sell fruit and vegetables to their friends. On Tuesday they used peelers to peel the vegetables and knives to chop the vegetables into smaller pieces to put into a soup for tea! We all sat down and ate it and it was yummy!

They added all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and covered them in some vegetable gravy which they ate for their tea.

Once they had finished making soup, they cut up the spare vegetables into different shapes and used them to dip in paint and make some vegetable picture.



Would Ewe believe what we have been doing?

Following the launch of the Shaun in the City trail on 6th July 2015, the children have had a fab-ewe-lous time visiting Cribbs Causeway, the Downs and Whiteladies Road in search of the model sheep. The children have been very excited to put on their jackets and take the bus - they even had time to take a selfie!


 On Tuesday 21st July, all of the children attending the morning session took the bus to see the sheep called Bumble on the Downs. Whilst there they had a picnic lunch and took part in a Stretch and Grow session with our regular visitor Linda. The children went baa-rmy and had lots of fun!


Ofsted - We're all Good!

On Thursday 2nd July we had a routine Ofsted inspection at our Downs Cote Drive nursery. We are proud and absolutely delighted to announce that we received a ‘Good’ rating which was backed up by a hugely positive report that can be read here. As with our nursery at Passage Road a lot has changed in the last year or so and to have an official tell us that she is astounded at the speed of the changes and the positive impacts that have resulted, and that at the current rate of change we should aim to be rated as Outstanding soon is a massive boost for the team who have been working so hard. We are already acting upon the inspector’s recommendations that were around further embedding the changes that we have introduced and looking to take that next step towards becoming an Outstanding nursery.


We now have both nurseries with a Good rating which is testament to the team and the efforts they have all put in. We love to hear your feedback on any aspect of our nurseries so please let us know any comments you may have. Our interaction with parents and the closeness with which we all communicate and work together was something that inspectors at both nurseries praised and it is these relationships that help make Once Upon a Time what it is.


Our thanks go out to the parents who have supported us through the changes (and those who were questioned by the inspector on the doorstep!). We are all so proud of our nursery and we are excited to share it with the children as we move into the future.


Best regards,

Rob, Lorraine and the team

Gorilla Gardening

On Tuesday 14th July our nurseries went quiet as children from both Westbury and Brentry made a trip to the Downs to watch a special performance of Gorilla Gardening! The show had recently completed a hugely successful run at the Tobacco Factory and we were lucky enough to be invited to a one off al fresco performance specially for benefactors and other key people who helped make the show happen. The nurseries’ co founder Trish has a wonderful garden at her house next to the Downs and she is also the proud owner of one of the original gorilla statues that were displayed around Bristol back in 2011 so she was the perfect host!

On a day that thankfully stayed dry the children were treated to a performance of the show and a workshop all about planting seeds before having afternoon tea in the garden! There was a huge garden, an amazing wendyhouse and not to mention Doris the Gorilla! We had so many parent helpers that we would like to say thank you to all of them – The children (and us grown ups!) had a wonderful time and it wouldn’t have been possible without you!

Soaking up the sun!

The beautiful weather we had for most of April has meant we have spent as much time as possible outside – well we’ve got to make the most of it while it lasts!!

On one lovely sunny day our intrepid children and staff decided to go for a picnic on the Down. They packed a picnic with sandwiches, home made flap jack and lots of fresh fruits and travelled by bus - in itself an adventure. The children loved travelling on the top deck for a prime view out of the windows. They played lots of games to work up an appetite and enjoyed watching the butterflies and birds. Some picked daisies (yes there were daisies)  to make a daisy chain. 

On other days we also arranged excursions to Blaise Woods and Canford Park. The children really enjoyed putting on their sun hats and chatting as they walk crocodile style (we can easily walk to both destinations). Lorraine, our Westbury-on-Trym manager, is a fully qualified Forest school teacher and Blaise is great for doing Forest School activities with the chidren. We also visited Canford Park - a wonderful leafy park with a great children's play area. They love playing in the sand and taking turns on the round about, the slide and the swings.

Being small means we can be spontaneous and take full advantage of the wonder British sunshine - whenever the opportunity arises. We are all looking forward to many more outings over the coming months. 

A big welcome to Lucia

In April we welcomed the newest addition to the Once Upon a Time team – Lucia Vasquez Martinez. Lucia is originally from Spain where she attended the University of Santiago de Compostela and became a fully qualified primary and early years teacher. She went on to teach in both Spain and Sweden before coming to live in Bristol last year.

Lucia's skills and experience are going to be invaluable to the team as we build for the future and her passion and enthusiasm are already proving to be infectious! She will work closely with Abby Goddard, our fully qualified Curriculum Leader, to help assess practice and support our staff in planning and delivering exciting and meaningful learning experiences for the children. Lucia is planning to start giving the children regular Spanish lessons in May – no doubt with the help of our Spanish children at the nursery! 

The return of Forest School

After a break over winter our manager and fully qualified Forest School teacher Lorraine is taking another group of children into the forest at Blaise Woods to gain first hand experience of being in the wild and learning about nature.

Forest School gives our cildren the opportunity to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in an outdoor environment. To have Blaise Woods within walking distance of both nurseries is a huge asset and we do our best to make the most of it! It's great for the children to get out and about and enjoy the fresh air. The shade of the trees helps ensure that they don't get over heated when running about too. 



When I grow up .....

We like to introduce the children to local businesses and show them about some of the different things that people do in their working lives. To do this we sometimes we arrange a visit out into the community for example to visit the local bakery, a dentist and the library. We also have a Special Day programme here we invite people in to talk about what they do.  

As part of the programme, on Friday 24th April we had a visit from George’s grandmother and grandfather who came along to talk about their jobs. Georg'e Grandmother is a paramedic and she talked about what ! It was really exciting as she let the children try out some of her equipment - they particularly enjoyed wrapping each other up in bandages! They asked some really interesting questions about what a paramedic does and what things she enjoyed about her job.

After all of that excitement it was time to stand in line and play by the rules as George’s granddad took us out into the garden and talked to us about his career as a referee! There were whistles, flags and red and yellow cards – we were certainly on our best behaviour! The children really enjoyed this - especially blowing the whistles! 

We will let you know who we are planning to invite in next - and please feel free to send us any suggestions that you have.