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The Rocking Horse Montessori Kindergarten

The Rocking Horse, established in 1989, is a single, family owned nursery in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Set in a family home, the nursery is a carefully developed environment, which nurtures each child in the transition from home to school life. The nursery practices a mix of Montessori and traditional nursery methods. 

The owners and the fully qualified staff team ensure that the very high standards that were established at the outset are subject to regular review and enhancement. The nursery benefits from a consistent loyal team.

Meticulous records are kept to ensure every child develops at an individual pace, which enables them to reach their true potential; encouraging each child's talents and abilities. The high ratio of staff to children ensures every child receives the appropriate level of one-to-one attention.

The reputation of the school is built upon the high standards of child care championed by its founding staff.

The Rocking Horse was finalist for 'Best Nursery' in the National Nursery awards in 1997 and in 2011 Mrs Pridmore was short listed for a NMT Lifetime Achievement Award for her outstanding contribution to nursery education.

Who to contact

Contact Name
Linda O'Brien
Contact Position
01892 532704

Where to go

Lansdowne Road
Tunbridge Wells

When is it on?

When is childcare available
Term Time Only
Carescheme Age Range:
2 year(s), 0 month(s) to 5 year(s), 0 month(s)
Opening Times
Opening Times
DayOpening TimeClosing Time
Monday 08:30 1:30
Tuesday 08:30 1:30
Wednesday 08:30 1:30
Wednesday 12:30 16:00
Thursday 08:30 1:30
Friday 08:30 1:30

Other Details

ECD Type
Private Nursery School
Offers pickups
Cost details
Contact provider for details
3-4 Year Old Funding?
2 Year Old Funding?
Total vacancies
Vacancies Details
We usually have one intake each year (in September). Occasionally spaces become available at other times during the year due to family circumstances changing (eg. a family relocating away from the area).
Places Range
Places Range
Start AgeEnd AgePlaces
0 5 26
5 8 26
Immediate vacancies?
Contact Provider for Vacancy Details?
Vacancy Information Last updated Date
Arts And Crafts, Scooter, Music, Reading, Refreshments, Messy Play Area, Books, Dressing Up, Sign Language / Makaton, Team Games, Outdoor Activities, Themed Sessions, Kitchen, Pets, Songs, Play House, Slide, Stories, Puppets, Water Play, Quiet Room, Games / Puzzles, Garden
Wheelchair Access

Ofsted Information

Ofsted URN
Link to latest ofsted inspection report 
Inspection history
Inspection History
Inspection DateInspection typeInspection Outcome
24/03/2011Inspection (Early Years Register)Good
07/05/2015Inspection (Early Years Register)Outstanding
07/06/2019Inspection (Early Years Register)Outstanding

Service status


Local Offer


The Rocking Horse is an inclusive practice, meeting children’s existing or emerging needs and having high expectations of all children.  Every child is a unique child and children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates.  A comment from one parent whose child left for school in July 2018:  “RH is such a caring nursery – it treats every child as an individual, offering support and encouragement with such a wide range of activities.”


We operate an ‘open door’ policy and feedback from parents is welcomed and encouraged at any time. 

Special Needs Support

On admission, we ask parents to complete a detailed ‘Registration Form’ and a ‘New Starter Questionnaire’ which gives us a chance to get to know your child and their particular strengths or areas where they may need extra support.  We ask about your child’s interests at home so that this can inform our planning.  During the first 2-3 weeks of your child being at nursery we assess his/her starting points in line with a document called ‘Development Matters’.


The completion of the ‘Progress Check at 2’ is a statutory assessment and this may be a time when any delay in development can be discussed and appropriate next steps identified.  The next step may involve your child’s key person targeting a specific area of development, such as social skills, to plan some additional opportunities for your child to gain further experience in this area.  This would be written and shared with you through a Targeted Plan.


Our Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) is Mrs Giselle Pridmore.  She has many years of experience in this field and ensures that families have the best support and resources to help with the development of your child and this includes managing behaviour.  Being a SENCo includes:

  • Attending relevant training
  • Working in partnership with parents
  • Supporting your child’s key person to review your child’s progress regularly
  • Completing observations and relevant paperwork
  • Liaising with the local Equality and Inclusion adviser
  • Making referrals to appropriate professionals with your consent
  • Attending Local Inclusion Forum Team (LIFT) meetings to gain advice and make referrals to the Specialist Teaching and Learning Service.

Your child will have a ‘key person’ who will be involved right from the start so that strong and positive relationships are built with your child and with you.  There are many ways that you can feel involved in how your child is being supported:

  • Daily informal contact
  • Opportunities for meetings at your request throughout the year
  • Detailed Learning Journey which set out photos and observations of how your child is developing through the year. This is available for you to view at any time upon request.
  • Written ‘Unique Story’ sheets are sent home every term which inform you of your child’s wellbeing, characteristics of effective learning and progress on the EYFS.
  • Parent meetings, 1-1 with your child’s key teacher (invitational, plus extra meetings upon parental request).
  • Collaboration with you on any extra planning we put in place eg. a Targeted Plan.

The EYFS is an educational framework which allows key persons to plan for your ‘unique child’.  We observe, assess and plan for your child in three prime areas and four specific areas.  Examples from the prime areas:

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

  • Linking with local specialist providers or advisers for advice and support
  • Targeted small group or individual activities to promote well-being and resilience.
  • Individual planning around our routine (eg. transitions from nursery to garden) to meet individual children’s needs.
  • Additional 1-1 time with staff members as needed.

Communication and Language Development

  • Providing a ‘language rich’ environment tailored to the needs of current children.
  • All children are introduced to Makaton signing and it is used daily.
  • The use of visual timetables and photographs of activities or our routine (eg snack, garden).
  • Our children are encouraged to sing daily as part of a group with additional learning resources (eg. song pebbles) to include everyone in choosing songs.
  • Using targeted small group activities
  • Provide ideas and resources for parents to use at home.
  • Working in line with speech and language therapy advice.
  • Our staff regularly update their Early Language training

Physical Development

  • We constantly review and reorganise our setting environment to suit the needs of the current children.
  • We regularly review our resources to ensure we have a sensory impact on children such as noise (musical instruments etc), colour, lighting, textures.
  • We give children daily sessions to the garden area.
  • We provide for a range of dietary requirements as required.


Our teaching starts with planning for the environment to improve the conditions that will enable children to listen and attend and give full involvement to their learning.  The rooms benefit from a greater-than-average amount of natural light.  The walls are decorated regularly in colours designed to promote a sense of calm.  Shelves and walls are attractively organised and kept uncluttered.  Storage areas are clearly labelled with text and pictures.


A wide range of resources appropriate to support children’s development at all levels allows for effective teaching and learning.  Our SENCo and the Manager work with key persons to ensure that specialist equipment is obtained where necessary.  Additional funding is applied for, if appropriate, to enable additional resources to be purchased or for additional staff support to be put into place.

Teaching strategies

Our staff are experienced and trained in early years practice and several of our staff have updated their qualifications with a course on ‘Supporting children with Special Educational Needs in the Early Years’.  We use the Best Practice Guidance document to support our teaching.  This document was written by the Specialist Teaching and Learning Service and sets out a range of teaching strategies which can be used to support children eg. the use of visual resources and Makaton signing.  The book is divided into universal, targeted and personalised levels to enable us to support children in the four broad areas of need:  Communication and Interaction; Cognition and Learning; Social Emotional and Mental Health; Physical/Sensory difficulties.

Our SEND policy sets out the graduated approach we use to support children.

If your child is making insufficient progress through a targeted plan, the SENCo or key person may discuss with you the need to refer to other services, such as speech and language therapy.  If your child begins to receive support from outside agencies, the targeted plan would be changed to a personalised plan.

If required, your consent would be obtained to refer to the Specialist Teaching and Learning Service through the Local Inclusion Team Forum (LIFT) meeting which is held six times a year.  If the referral is accepted, a specialist teacher would then visit your child to provide additional advice and guidance and may make further referrals to other services, such as health and would support your child’s transition to school.  At all stages you would be consulted.

All our staff are regularly encouraged to complete or update their training; for example this year (2018) our SENCo recently attended an Early Years Autism Awareness course and another staff member attended an Early Speech and Language Therapy Workshop.

Our SENCo has 29 years of experience in Early Years and has a wide range of experience with SEND.  If a child has a condition we are unfamiliar with, our SENCo would research information to share with staff or health professionals would be consulted. 

Feedback from a child’s parents in July 2018: “Rocking Horse have engaged with [Child’s] speech therapist and endeavoured to assist his speech and language development.”

Your child’s key person will be the person responsible for guiding, monitoring and supporting the physical and emotional development of your child.  In close conjunction with the SENCo, after the initial assessment, they will plan next steps and make continuous observations and track progress.  You will be invited in to nursery to see your child’s learning journey, meet with the key person, hear about your child’s progress and talk about any concerns.  Our open door policy means that you can request a meeting at any time in addition to our suggested meetings.  Apart from the ‘Starting Points’ assessment we make and the statutory ‘Progress at 2’ check (both of which documents ask for your input and require your signature so that from the very beginning of your child’s learning journey we are working in partnership with you to help them achieve the best possible progress). 

Our Partnership with Parents is key to achieving the best outcomes for children and you will therefore be very involved in their learning and development at The Rocking Horse.

A commitment to inclusive practice that enables all children to be included is at the heart of our work.  All activities are planned to enable all children to take part and if extra staff resource or other learning resources are required then they are provided and utilised.

We do not take children on trips outside the nursery.

Whenever possible we will make any reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of children, parents or staff. The setting is based in the basement of an existing family home, not accessible for wheelchair users.  The barn area in the courtyard has been designed to allow access for a wheelchair and a disabled toilet, it is available for use if a disabled parent/carer wishes to visit the nursery.  Please let us know if you have any difficulties with accessibility and we can give you further details.

In the months and weeks leading up to a child leaving the Rocking Horse to start at primary school we support and prepare them in many skills to help them be ‘school ready’.  Whether your child is going on to primary school or to a new setting, their key person will prepare their ‘Record of Transfer’ to be given to their next school and you will be given your child’s Rocking Horse Learning Journey, complete with assessments, observations, progress and development and photographs to share with their new teacher.

We collaborate with the local primary and independent schools and invite Reception and Pre-School teachers to The Rocking Horse to meet your child prior to transfer and to aid the transition process.

We make every effort to keep up to date with the latest advice and training in all aspects of our provision.  We have experience of children with SEN with different and varied requirements and seek advice and input from other professionals as needed.  Attendance at LIFT meetings gives us an opportunity for discussion and collaboration with local Specialist Teachers and with other SENCos from local nurseries and schools.  As mentioned before, we place great emphasis on our partnership with parents and so we encourage parents of SEN children to feedback on our provision and give input at any time.

Please telephone or email the Rocking Horse and we will be happy to answer your questions and arrange for you to visit the nursery and speak to our SENCo.

Parental feedback is vital to us.  We send out questionnaires regularly, asking for specific feedback which we analyse and react to. We have a box outside the nursery door which allows parents/carers to offer feedback on a daily basis.  Our complaints procedure is displayed on our notice board.  Copies of all policies can be seen on our website or upon request in papercopy in the nursery.  We operate an ‘open door’ policy and our parents know that they can email, telephone or speak to staff at any time.  As a result of feedback from parents, we have introduced one or two specific toys and have improved the update and information we provide to parents at the end of each week which has been received very positively.

Feedback from a child’s parents in July 2018: “RH is so good at fostering a relationship between home and nursery.  The newsletter, weekly planner, unique story, sharing books were so valuable.  Really appreciated them.”


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