Future 50: New Year, new nursery

Outside of the Barrow Montessori school

Colourbox took on the Barrow site, renovating it and opening the doors on January 4 - Credit: Colourbox

Future 50 member Colourbox Montessori School added a fifth site to its portfolio – at the height of the new lockdown.

Colourbox Montessori School has been on a transformational journey over the past five years and even the latest lockdown hasn’t slowed it down, with a fifth location opening in the Suffolk village of Barrow on January 4. 

Founder Susie Norman explains: “Barrow is a big village with a large new housing development but two nurseries there had closed. We were invited to apply to take on the site – and we were successful.” 

Happy child with nursery staff

Colourbox has consistently been rated Outstanding by Ofsted - Credit: Colourbox

Her team took over on November 8 and set about refurbishing the school and expanding its capacity, in part using a grant funded by the housing developer and administered by Suffolk County Council. “Even on New Year’s Eve, it was all hands on deck, preparing for the opening,” she says.

Taking on any expansion during the pandemic is a gamble, but the size of the village and filling the void left by two nurseries make this a safer bet for Colourbox. But why take the risk at all in this climate?

“It’s about providing opportunities for my team,” Susie explains. “We have such talented staff and such good retention. Some of the team have been with me for 15 years or 20 years.”

Nursery worker with doll

Providing opportunities for staff like new deputy manager Hannah Lockwood inspired the expansion - Credit: Colourbox

For nearly 20 years, there was just one Colourbox site, but the expansion since 2015 means there are now nurseries in Newmaket, Red Lodge and Haverhill and a pre-school at St Christopher’s in Red Lodge, as well as the new Barrow location. There’s a huge demand for places at all of them, which Susie puts down to the quality of the education and childcare.

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"We’re consistently rated Oustanding by Ofsted,” she says. “That’s what’s so good about our team – they always go the extra mile.” They’ve even managed to adjust groups to keep children in small social bubbles to enhance Covid security during the pandemic.

Wood-panelled interior

A new toddler room was created at Barrow as Colourbox filled the void left when two nurseries in the village closed - Credit: Colourbox

While the Future 50 journey for Colourbox has begun with growth, there is still more to come. “We’re looking to expand into forest education,” Susie explains. “We have qualified forest leaders and a one-acre woodland on site at our Newmarket School, but we’re looking for further sites to offer more.”

For further information see www.colourboxmontessori.co.uk

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