The past, present and future of Chelwood Nursery School

Ali writes:

Chelwood Nursery School is looking back over its 73 year history in Brockley as one of London's first open air nurseries built following the pioneering work of the McMillan sisters in Deptford.

School staff have been exploring the school photographic archive preparing for the Early Education conference to be held next weekend at the Laban Centre celebrating the tradition of outdoor play in early years education.

Hunting through photos of war-time evacuation, 1940s and 50s has highlighted the long tradition of excellent early years nursery education we have here in Brockley. Chelwood was judged outstanding by Ofsted in the last 2 inspections!

The school would love to hear from families with a Chelwood connection who have photos or memories to share. If you have a passion for local history and could help with the archive please get in touch.

Looking into the future Chelwood has launched its charity Chelwood House for Families who are raising funds to support the school in the provision of services for families with under fives here in Brockley.

Anyone interested in joining the Friends of Chelwood or in the work of Chelwood House for Families should email

We would love to hear from you!


Tressilliana said...

I'll have a hunt through our stuff to see if there's anything we could offer. I mainly want to say here that Chelwood Nursery School is one of the best schools you could find anywhere for any age group and it's free! Well done to Lewisham Education Authority for keeping it as a nursery school open to all. Both my children had the good fortune to go there and we still talk about the things they did.

I particularly remember the summer there was a tank of butterfly eggs in my son's classroom and all the children took turns to draw the butterflies just after they had hatched and before they were ceremonially released into the wild. I think we still have my son's drawings, which were fantastic. He wouldn't have done something like that off his own bat. That was so typical of the place - they were so good at getting the children to broaden their horizons and try something new.

Here's to the next 75 years!

myopic said...

"Here's to the next 75 years".

I did wonder - 73 years seems an odd anniversary to celebrate!

Tressilliana said...

Doh! Misread it. Maybe they're gearing up for their 75th. I do seem to recall that the nursery school was ready to open just before the war started and was immediately converted for use as a day nursery for children whose mothers were doing war work.

Robert said...

I went to Chelwood in the 1970s. Lots of vivid memories - and I think I still have one or two pieces of "art" that I made there. It was a great introduction to education. Children of that age live in a magical world - and Chelwood understood that beautifully. Too often nursery education is seen as "child management" rather than a fun and friendly environment. I acutally walked past an early years school recently that described itself as a "Family Management Centre". Awful.

Transpontine said...

My daughter went to Chelwood and it's a great school.

Some people automatically put down the nursery class of their local primary in the erroneous belief that it will guarantee them a place in reception - it won't, the primary admissions criteria don't allow schools to prioritise those in their nursery.

So I would recommend checking out Chelwood if you're children are coming up to nursery age.

Claire said...

Chelwood is just the most wonderful place. I started there aged 3, 24 years ago, followed by my 5 siblings and then my niece. Nikki, the wonderful head, was a mere PGCE student doing her training at Chelwood when I was in Blue Class! As a family we have tons of old photos, art work etc. It really has been a defining place for my family.

It was also doing work experience here 12 years ago that prompted me to become an early years primary teacher, after receiving compliments and advice from the then head Jane Keefe.

I have such fond and vivid memories of Chelwood, I hope that the new generation of users feels the same.

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