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South Thames Early Education Partnership (STEEP)

STEEP is a partnership of six like-minded London Nursery Schools and Children’s Centre’s, across two London Boroughs, Greenwich and Lewisham, who have a long history of high quality Early Years provision.

Rachel McMillan Nursery School

Robert Owen Early Years Centre

Pound Park Nursery School

Abbey Wood Nursery School

Chelwood Nursery School

Clyde Early Childhood Centre


We are all committed members of Early Education; The British Association for Early Childhood Education (BAECE), and believe every child deserves the best possible start in life and support to fulfill their potential. A child’s experience in the early years has a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its’ own right, and provides the foundation for children to make the most of their own abilities and talents as they grow up.

Read about STEEP

STEEP Company

In 2016, the governing bodies of each of the nursery schools formed a schools company and elected one governor from each school to act as a director. The STEEP company offer consultation and an annual conference.  It also offer specialist training courses delivered by the nursery schools or in conjunction with highly qualified associated services. STEEP currently offers 95 training courses ranging from statutory training to curriculum guidance for governors, practitioners, teachers and childminders. STEEP are the main provider of Early Years training for Lewisham but training is certainly open to all.

For further details on the Annual STEEP conference, training within the Early Years sector and CPD visits to the nursery schools please visit the STEEP website.

Initial Teacher Education - in partnership with Goldsmiths University

For several years, STEEP has worked together with Goldsmiths to form an Early Years training school partnership, which specialises in the delivery of high quality teacher training in the field of Early Years Education. We draw on our long history of high quality Early Years provision and excellent outcomes for children in the design and delivery of our PGCE pathway. Through this partnership we seek to ensure effective succession planning in the training of the expert Early Years teachers of the future.

Quality and qualified staff

Our settings are proud of their secure and established Early Years specialism, and the high level of expertise and experience amongst our Teachers, Practitioners, Support staff. We share a passion for the importance of putting the needs of the children first and ensuring high quality early education for all our children. We know from experience that children thrive and achieve when the staff who work with them are specialist early years practitioners, who are well qualified in this field and have high levels of expertise, a robust understanding of the development of young children, a knowledge of how young children learn most effectively, and a tireless commitment to put the needs of the child and family, at the heart of their work. As such we welcomed and celebrate the findings of Cathy Nutbrown in her review of Early Education and Childcare Qualifications and agree with her statement that ‘there cannot be a compromise on quality and we must be relentless in our desire to improve experiences for young children.’

Core beliefs and principles

The principles and commitments of the Early Years Foundation Stage, clearly articulate to a wide audience, the principles by which our settings, BAECE, and many other nursery schools across the country, have worked for our long history working with children and families. Each of the settings within STEEP will have unique qualities and identities but we share core beliefs and principles, which will be common to other nursery school settings:

  • We pride ourselves in valuing each child as a unique individual whose strengths, interests and passions should be at the heart of their own personalised curriculum.
  • The curriculum that we provide is broad and balanced and responsive to each child’s development, focusing on them as a whole and meeting their physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social, linguistic, cultural and cognitive needs.
  • We recognise the significance of strong personal and caring relationships, in children’s development and learning. To support us in this we work closely with the children themselves through our work on children’s voice and in close partnership with our families and wider community. We see the role of the Key Person in this work as invaluable.
  • We know how important the physical and emotional environment is to a child’s well-being and motivation to learn. We plan with this in mind when we develop exciting, dynamic spaces and places inside and out, considering the learning styles and needs of our children in order to make the experiences we offer irresistible.
  • We are rooted in the ‘open air’ philosophy, where children are able to access the outdoors fully throughout their early years learning and development.

Open Air Philosophy

We know that the outdoor environment provides opportunities for learning that cannot be experienced inside and we are committed to giving children the opportunity to explore on a large physical scale, and with freedom of movement. We plan for the children’s learning outside with the same rigor and with the same commitment to personalisation that we give to our inside environment.

‘Children want space at all ages. But from the age of one to seven, space, is almost as much wanted as food and air. To move, to run, to find things out by new movement, to ‘feel ones life in every limb’, that is the life of early childhood’     ~ Margaret McMillan, The Nursery School (1919) (1930)