Mud, Glorious Mud is the key to learning for Erpingham pre-schoolers

Erpingham Primary pupils Florence, Simon and Beth pose for a photo outside the new pre-school centre

Erpingham Primary pupils Florence, Simon and Beth pose for a photo outside the new pre-school centre yurt. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

A taste of al fresco style learning, a plate of wildlife-themed cake and a bowl of freshly dug mud were on the menu for north Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, when he arrived at a village school to open a new outdoor pre-school centre.

Erpingham Primary pupils Florence, Simon and Beth pose for a photo outside the new pre-school centre

Erpingham Primary pupils Florence, Simon and Beth pose for a photo outside the new pre-school centre yurt. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

Named Little Brown Hare, the pre-school is based in a heated wooden amphitheatre in the grounds of Erpingham Primary School, near Cromer, with tots also having access to a yurt, a mud kitchen and wooden changing and toilet buildings.

Mr Lamb shook hands with pupils, planted a tree and cut a cake, before being surprised by five-year-old Year 1 pupil Simon, who handed him a red plastic bowl of mud as he chatted to guests.

Little Brown Hare, which has taken six months to complete, offers outdoor-based learning through activities ranging from tree climbing and birdwatching, to campfire storytelling and studying the natural environment.

It is run by pre-school manager Rebecca Millin and deputy manager Sas Gilding, who is a qualified Forest Schools practioner.

Four-year-old Erpingham Primary pupil Felix making the most of the facilities at a new outdoor-based

Four-year-old Erpingham Primary pupil Felix making the most of the facilities at a new outdoor-based pre-school centre. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant


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Angie Hamilton, who is executive head teacher of the Blue Sky Federation – made up of Northrepps and Erpingham primary schools - said Little Brown Hare aimed to build on the two schools' successful Forest Schools provision, offering an holistic approach to developing children's confidence and self-esteem by allowing them unlimited access to the natural environment.

'There is a whole raft of research about the huge benefits of outdoor learning,' she added. 'And we want to focus on children's mental health and wellbeing, give them a smooth transition to school and involve parents, who have the opportunity to stay and join in activities.'

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The pre-school already has a handful of children on its books and staff are hoping to increase numbers in the near future.

Guests at the opening included staff, governors, local residents and Erpingham Primary pupils, with a group of Northrepps Primary pre-schoolers also bussed in to join in the celebrations.

Executive head teacher Angie Hamilton has a go at mud pie making with three-year-old Harry, who is o

Executive head teacher Angie Hamilton has a go at mud pie making with three-year-old Harry, who is one of the first pupils at Erpingham Primary School's new Little Brown Hare pre-school. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

Congratulating the school on the new centre, Mr Lamb said: 'It is a fantastic site and a wonderful place for children to start their school career.'

Erpingham Primary pupils helping north Norfolk MP Norman Lamb plant a tree to celebrate the opening

Erpingham Primary pupils helping north Norfolk MP Norman Lamb plant a tree to celebrate the opening of a new outdoor-based pre-school centre. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

Sharing a story in the wooden amphitheatre at Erpingham Primary's new Little Brown Hare pre-school.

Sharing a story in the wooden amphitheatre at Erpingham Primary's new Little Brown Hare pre-school. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

Outdoor fun at Erpingham Primary's new Little Brown Hare pre-school. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Outdoor fun at Erpingham Primary's new Little Brown Hare pre-school. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

Executive head teacher Angie Hamilton has a go at mud pie making with three-year-old Harry, who is o

Executive head teacher Angie Hamilton has a go at mud pie making with three-year-old Harry, who is one of the first pupils at Erpingham Primary School's new Little Brown Hare pre-school. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

Outdoor fun at Erpingham Primary's new Little Brown Hare pre-school. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Outdoor fun at Erpingham Primary's new Little Brown Hare pre-school. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

Cutting the cake at the opening of Erpingham Primary's new pre-school centre. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Cutting the cake at the opening of Erpingham Primary's new pre-school centre. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

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