The Elmscot Group

Elmscot Group, based in Hale, Cheshire was established in 2001 to meet the needs of parents who were struggling to find a homely nursery offering exemplary childcare, nutrition and education. The business now employs 220 colleagues and is responsible for the care and early years education over 1800 local children.

Elmscot Group Day Nurseries and Nursery Schools offer parents a choice of seven exceptional Day Nurseries:

  • Elmscot Altrincham
  • Elmscot Broussa (Hale)
  • Elmscot Chester
  • Elmscot Hale
  • Happitots (Sale)
  • Poppies (Knutsford)
  • Elmscot Woodlands (Timperley)

All Elmscot Nurseries offer self-contained Nursery Schools, each led by qualified Early Years Teachers and post-graduate Early Years Professionals overseeing Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) education.

Elmscot Broussa

All of our settings are Ofsted registered and reach exemplary standards as set by the national regulator.

We have gained national recognition for our achievements, winning several national educational sector awards for exceptional learning environments, staff development and child nutrition.

Kids Collective Out-of-School Clubs are also part of the Elmscot Group and offers the opportunity of continuity of care for children leaving an Elmscot Group nursery to attend a local primary school.

Kids Collective cares for children aged 3-11 years, offering Breakfast Clubs and After School Clubs at eight local Primary Schools during term-time and two Holiday Clubs for the school holidays.

Dee McKenzie, owner of Elmscot Group Day Nurseries, Nursery Schools and Kids Collective Clubs says: “The teams across all Elmscot Nurseries and Kids Collective Clubs work very hard to meet the needs of parents and lead the way in best practice, working closely with educational and childcare experts to develop and implement new strategies. Consequently, places at Elmscot Group nurseries have always been very much in demand, offering an exceptional choice for parents and offering exciting career opportunities for early years practitioners.”

Watch the official Elmscot Group video below and learn more about our nurseries.

Elmscot Hale

Mission Statement

The Elmscot Group : Nurturing Inquisitive Minds

At Elmscot Group we ensure that each individual child reaches outstanding personal development, learning and outcomes and that they all thrive and achieve their full potential. We achieve this exceptional quality by providing nurturing, safe, welcoming and enabling learning environments both indoors and out, complemented by rich and stimulating learning experiences designed to capture children’s imagination and curiosity. This promotes children’s happiness, confidence and self-esteem, with a focus on teaching children the skills they need to be well prepared for future learning.

We prioritise the health, nutrition and wellbeing of children.

We provide inclusive practice led by inspirational early years teachers and qualified professionals, dedicated to working in partnership with parents, outside agencies and other settings.

We are always mindful of the scale of our responsibility to the children, parents, carers and staff who form our small community. We are simply passionate about doing what we do, well.

A Healthy Choice & Sample Menu

 Soil Association Food For Life Award

This quality assurance programme is employed by all Elmscot Nurseries and shows we are providing tasty, nutritious meals in an environment that creates great social skills. We sow the seeds of good food habits for life through practical cooking and growing activities and food-based learning – both for children and their parents and carers.

The award has been developed using expert learning from the Soil Association’s flagship schools award programme – which has shown through independent evaluation to make a positive contribution to pupil health and wellbeing.

Healthy Setting Award

Elmscot Altrincham and Elmscot Woodlands were the first Day Nurseries in the area to achieve the Healthy Setting Award in 2010, and Kids Collective were the first settings in Trafford to receive the Healthy Club Award. These awards are based on the national Healthy School’s Award. Elmscot Hale received the award in 2012 and Elmscot Broussa in 2019. This award is reassessed annually.

Food Hygiene Rating

All our Nurseries have achieved the highest Level 5 rating in routine unannounced inspections.

Nutritious and Educational Menus

Our menus are renowned and we have often been called upon to advise and support other childcare providers. In 2002, Elmscot Altrincham gained an ‘Outstanding’ from Ofsted for our food provision. Elmscot Woodlands was further recognised in 2009 as one of the best three providers of nursery food in the country, in the national Nursery World Awards. In 2013, Elmscot Woodlands’ Chef won the national Nursery Management Today ‘Chef of the Year’ Award. In 2015, Elmscot Altrincham Day Nursery won Nursery World’s Best Nursery Food UK Award.
Our menus run over a multi-week cycle which allows tremendous variety to reflect the diverse society in which we live, and are regularly reviewed by a qualified dietitian. We have a strict food purchasing policy, ensuring we meet FSA guidelines, reducing salt, saturated fat and sugar levels in the ingredients we use, and utilising wholemeal/higher fibre alternatives. Meat is purchased from butchers local to each setting, including Taylor & Son’s of Sale, a member of the Butcher’s Quality Guild, where produce is of exceptional quality and sausages are low salt and home-made especially for us.

All individual dietary requirements can be met.

View Sample Menu

Physical Development

This is a specific area of learning within the Early Years Foundation Stage national curriculum, and consequently is a major focus for our curriculum planning. To enhance our own provision at each Nursery, we also offer a range of extra curricular activities (please see more details under ‘Curriculum and Activities’).

At Kids Collective, we ensure there are plenty of indoor and outdoor activities planned offering physical exercise; in fact, physical play is one of five main areas of daily planning provision for every session.

At each Nursery and at most Kids Collective Clubs, there are outdoor canopies and awnings to protect children from extreme weather and encourage maximum use of the outdoor play areas. Each Nursery has a set of triple buggies, so trips out in the fresh air are not just limited to older children.

Kids Collective works closely with the Trafford Childcare Development Team to ensure that Clubs deliver best practice. We also work in partnership with the school and other community agencies to support children with special needs.

Quality and Awards


Ofsted Outstanding Provider

All of our settings are Ofsted registered and reach exemplary standards as set by the national regulator.

Details of our most recent inspections can be found within our Ofsted Reports page.

Parental, Staff & Child Quality Surveys

The quality of the childcare we offer is our utmost priority and everything we do, we do with quality in mind. Parents’ and carers’ views are encouraged and regularly sought via online and paper surveys, meetings and news e-bulletins.

External Quality Assurance Schemes

Since 2001, we have used several QA schemes to ensure the quality of our provision. We have been accredited as an Investor In People and achieved NDNA eQuality Counts accreditation, a quality scheme accredited by Investors in Children and run by the National Day Nurseries Association. Woodlands and Altrincham both gained this Award at the highest Level 3. This is exceptional, and assures their place amongst the best Day Nurseries in the country. In 2015, Elmscot Altrincham was Highly Commended and in 2016 Elmscot Hale was the Runner Up, both as the NDNA Nursery of the Year UK, as voted by parents. For more information, please see

All our Nurseries have earned the Soil Association’s Food For Life Award.

External audit is important to us as a sounding board for our ideas and for confirmation that our provision is of the high standard we expect to be, both as professional practitioners and as parents/carers. It gives families confidence in the
quality of service we provide.

Top Marks for Health & Hygiene

All our Trafford settings have been awarded the Trafford Healthy Setting Award and were the first in the area to achieve this high standard of nutrition and physical well-being, which is reassessed every year.

All settings have achieved the highest ‘5’ Food Hygiene grading by Environmental Health.

Elmscot Woodlands Giving Voice Award

Equal Opportunities and Inclusion

A number of our Nurseries have achieved the Giving Voice Award which celebrates the impactful activities and achievements of those who improve the lives of those with communication needs.

Elmscot Altrincham achieved ICAN Early Talk Accreditation in 2015, the only Day Nursery and Nursery School in Trafford to achieve this. The awarding panel members were very impressed with our practice and systems for supporting children’s speech and language development. Our strengths include:

  • Systems for identifying and supporting Special Educational Needs and Disability. The nursery has close working relationships with a variety of professionals. They can demonstrate that children identified with a SEND make progress.
  • Partnership with parents – there is genuine two-way communication with parents.
  • Children with English as an additional language – staff have a good understanding of how to support children with EAL and see it as a positive attribute.

National Awards: we are amongst the best nationwide

2019: Nursery Management Today Awards Finalists (Nursery Room Leader, Nursery Operations/Area Manager, Nursery Outdoor Learning Environment, Nursery Apprentice)

2019: Nursery World Awards Highly Commended (Nursery Practitioner of the Year) and Finalists (Nursery Manager of the Year and Nursery Practitioner of the Year)

2019: Elmscot Chester achieves the Food for Life Award from the Soil Association – the first setting within Cheshire West

2019: Giving Voice Silver Award

2019: Elmscot Nantwich achieves the Food for Life Award from the Soil Association – the first setting within Cheshire East

2018: Elmscot Altrincham gains the Lasting Parent Partnership Award (LPPA)

2018: Nursery Management Today (NMT) Awards Finalists (Nursery Room Leader, Nursery Operations Director/Regional Director, Nursery Apprentice)

2017: At the Nursery World Awards in London Alex Chiorando was a finalist for Early Years Teacher of the Year, and Ami Mahon was a finalist for Nursery Practitioner of the Year

2016: All Elmscot Group nurseries achieve the Soil Association’s Food For Life Award

2016: At the national Nursery Management Today awards in London, Woodlands was a finalist for Best Indoor Learning Award, Rachael Lyons (Elmscot Group Operations Manager) was a finalist for the Best Operational Manager UK and again, the Elmscot Group was a finalist for Best Nursery Group UK.

2016: Elmscot Group was a finalist for Best Nursery Group UK at the national Nursery World Awards 2016

2016: Elmscot Hale Day Nursery is regional Runner Up for NDNA Nursery of the Year UK and is Highly Commended at NDNA Healthy Nursery of the Year UK

2015: Elmscot Group won in three categories at the Nursery World Awards 2015, also gaining a Highly Commended (2nd place) Award:

  • Early Years Professional/Early Years Teacher of the Year (Winner): Jessica Curbishley, Elmscot Woodlands Day Nursery (Joy Homersham of Elmscot Altrincham Day Nursery Highly Commended).
  • Nursery Practitioner of the Year (Winner): Jenna Holloway, Elmscot Altrincham Day Nursery
  • Nursery Food (Winner): Elmscot Altrincham Day Nursery

2015: Elmscot Altrincham Day Nursery is Highly Commended as NDNA Nursery of the Year UK, just missing the top spot!

2014: Elmscot Group named Trafford’s Business of the Year 2014 ( > 50 employees)

2014: Elmscot Group shortlisted as national finalists in six categories at the Nursery World Awards, gaining a Highly Commended (2nd place) Award in 3 of them:

  • Enabling Environments (Highly Commended): Elmscot Altrincham Day Nursery.
  • EYP/EYT of the Year (Highly Commended): Nicola Saunders, Elmscot Hale Day Nursery
  • Website of the Year (Highly Commended): Elmscot Group
  • Practitioner of the Year (Finalist): Hannah Reeves, Kids Collective Group Manager
  • Nursery Food (Finalist): Elmscot Hale Day Nursery
  • Working with Parents (Finalist): Elmscot Group Parent Workshops

2014: Elmscot Group shortlisted as national finalists in three categories at the Nursery Management Today Awards:
Nursery Team of the Year (Elmscot Woodlands), Nursery Apprentice Award (Chelsea Thomas, Elmscot Altrincham) and Nursery Website of the Year

2013: Elmscot Group shortlisted in top five nationwide for Nursery World’s ‘Best Nursery Chain UK’ Award

2013: Elmscot Altrincham staff member Jess Berry wins Nursery World Award for best ‘Newcomer of the Year’

2013: Elmscot Woodlands shortlisted in top six nationwide for Nursery World’s ‘Working with Parents’ Award

2013: Elmscot Hale staff member Lucy Yarnell shortlisted in top seven nationally for Nursery World’s ‘Best Nursery Practitioner’ Award

2013: Elmscot Woodlands shortlisted in top five nationally for Nursery Management Today’s ‘Best Outdoor Learning Environment’ Award

2013: Elmscot Woodlands Chef Helen Krawczyk wins Nursery Management Today’s ‘Best Nursery Chef UK’ Award

2013: Elmscot Hale Manager Rachael Lyons shortlisted in top five nationally for Nursery Management Today’s ‘Best Nursery Manager’ Award

2013: Elmscot Hale staff member Amanda Grogan shortlisted in top five for Nursery Management Today’s ‘Best Nursery Nurse’ Award

2012: Nursery World ‘Outstanding Contribution’ Award: Top three national Finalist

2012: Elmscot Hale wins national Nursery Management Today best ‘Nursery Outdoor Learning Environment’ Award 2012

2012: Elmscot Hale shortlisted for Nursery Management Today ‘Nursery Indoor Learning Environment’ Award

2012: Elmscot Altrincham shortlisted for Nursery Management Today ‘Lifetime Achievement’ Award

2009: Nursery World Awards: Elmscot Woodlands was a ‘Highly Commended’ top three finalist (Best Nursery Food), recognising our commitment to locally-sourced, fresh nutritious food and our approach to the education of young children in healthy eating

2007: National Clean Air Award

2003: Nursery Management Today Awards: Finalist in two categories (Best New Business and Best Nursery Manager).

2002: HSBC, Sky News and Daily Express Start-up Stars Award: Semi-Finalist.

Safety & Security

Secure Biometric System

It is the primary aim of all of our settings to ensure the safety of all children in our care and all staff members. Each Nursery has a state-of-the art biometric door entry system so only pre-registered adults are able to gain access, and access is automatically monitored and recorded. New parents are registered on the system during settling in.


In addition, each Nursery has 24-hour external CCTV monitoring. All doors with access to the outside are kept locked during opening hours. No child is released into the care of someone we don’t recognise or expect to collect the child.

Safeguarding Children

We have a comprehensive policy regarding the safeguarding of children, including levels of supervision and it is mandatory for all staff to attend external training in this area.

Safe Recruitment Practice

Finally, all setting managers are required to undergo formal training in safe recruitment practice to ensure we have a rigorously-checked team in place. This includes an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check reviewed every six weeks.

Activities, Free Forest School & Extra-Curricular Sessions

Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum

We follow the statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), in the same way as schools who accept children under five. More information about the EYFS can be found on the Foundation Years website.

Each team within our Nurseries care for a small group of children of the same age and manage their own planned activities and environment under the guidance of the Early Years Professionals/Teachers. A Key Person is assigned to your child when you settle in, ensuring your child’s achievements are recorded and the activities to encourage your child’s next steps of development within the Early Years Foundation Stage are varied, stimulating, stage-appropriate and well resourced.

Free Extra-curricular Sessions

In addition to the EYFS, we supplement our own professional activities with free-of-charge extra-curricular sessions by a variety of external providers (see examples below). Using external providers ensures these sessions are unaffected by any changes in nursery staffing and additional adults are present to assist children at these special times. We aim to vary days and classes each term so whatever days of the week a child attends nursery, every child will have a chance to try a new experience (please see our newsletter for current classes).

Regular providers of extra-curricular sessions include:

  • Pyjama Drama
  • Stretch ‘n’ Grow
  • Jo Jingles
  • We Are Adventurers Forest School
  • Diddi Dance

Special Events, Visits and Trips

We organise special events to support the planned activities, such as the Really Wild Roadshow (hands-on experience with different small animals, including reptiles and mini-beasts), Dino Dinosaur Oral Health visits and Firefighter visits.

We celebrate many different cultural festivals and support charities such as the Children’s Adventure Farm Trust, Francis House Children’s Hospice and Children in Need with our own fundraising activities.

All off-site trips are arranged in advance in consultation with parents and carers, including simple walks to the park, trips to supermarkets and open air markets where children can purchase their own food, trips on buses to the airport and many more.

Current Weekly Extra-curricular Sessions

These sessions are available free of charge to all children who attend nursery when the sessions are scheduled. Further information for each Nursery can be found in our current ‘Newsletter’.

Free Forest School

Optional Forest School classes are run by We Are Adventurers in partnership with our own staff. They are offered weekly and free of charge to pre-school children at all Nursery Schools during term time. Each session lasts two hours and takes place in most weathers so children need appropriate clothing (jumpers, waterproofs and wellies). Places on each course are limited to ensure high levels of supervision and in some cases a waiting list may be operational.

Children and staff walk to a designated woodland site near their Nursery. Sessions include getting creative with mud, hunting for bears, imaginative play with elves and fairies, making music in the forest and getting to grips with puddles, creepy crawlies and the great outdoors.

Activities focus on inspiring a love of the natural world in each and every child.

Originating in Scandinavia, the Forest school movement centres around the belief that nature and movement is essential to a child’s overall development and wellbeing.

Children benefit emotionally, intellectually and physically and they grow in confidence and build resilience through adventure play, creating a foundation for future learning and growth.

For more information about Forest School, click here.


A Whole Team Approach to Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND)

All children deserve to be supported in the best possible way to reach their full potential. As a provider of early years childcare and education, Elmscot Group practitioners play a vital role in identifying SEN early on. This means staff training is essential and every setting has its own SEND Coordinator.

Early intervention relies on a number of strategies at Elmscot Group:

  • good partnership and information sharing with parents can often be a trigger to recognising any developmental delay
  • on-entry assessments and regular cohort tracking (tracking the progress of a group of similarly aged children in the different areas of learning) highlights to the key person any areas in which children may not be reaching expected levels (or exceeding them), so we can, every early on, provide extra support to bridge any gaps
  • observation of children is vital to spot emerging patterns of play and behaviours.

Our practitioners work with other agencies where appropriate to ensure a targeted and integrated approach to supporting children and families.

All children’s individual needs are catered for and practitioners make adjustments to ensure that all children are able to participate in a wide range of learning opportunities appropriate to their developmental process. The overall aim is to provide every child with the best possible support and opportunities, and prepare them well for the next stage of their education.

To discuss our approach in more detail, please contact us.

Below is an excerpt from a comment we received from a mum of a little boy with severe visual impairment who attends Elmscot Altrincham Day Nursery:

“Fynnley’s transition to Elmscot’s Oak Room was never a concern to us or his Support Services. From his first day at Elmscot, every adaptation and every care had been made to not only support Fynnley, but to fully include him in nursery life and ensure that every aspect was adjusted to a level that would meet and encourage his understanding of the world around him. Not only this, but his peers were encouraged to embrace the way that he sees the world and I believe the ‘sensory’ way of doing things very much became the normal way of doing things!

“It is incredibly touching to see his peers have a clear, almost subconscious understanding and acceptance of Fynnley’s disability and to see them want to participate in his activities. It is clear that it is because of Elmscot’s encouragement in this area that Fynnley’s peers do not see him as any different to themselves. As a parent of a disabled child, acceptance and inclusion from their peers is all you could ever wish for…. The level of support and inclusion shown to my son is more than I can ever thank Elmscot for. They have shown the true meaning of what it is for a disabled child to live life without barriers, and have been everything and more than I could ever have dared to hope for in an early-years setting for my son.”