Nursery school gets new home at iconic Park Hill

The official opening of the Grace Owen Nursery at the new redeveloped Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Pictured is Jacob Moore, four. Photo: Chris Etchells
The official opening of the Grace Owen Nursery at the new redeveloped Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Pictured is Jacob Moore, four. Photo: Chris Etchells
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A nursery in the shadow of Sheffield’s most iconic landmark has been relocated to a ‘vibrant’ new site.

Grace Owen Nursery School is at the heart of Park Hill’s community and has been a haven for children for more than 50 years.

The official opening of the Grace Owen Nursery at the new redeveloped Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Pictured is Jacob Moore, four. Photo: Chris Etchells

The official opening of the Grace Owen Nursery at the new redeveloped Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Pictured is Jacob Moore, four. Photo: Chris Etchells

The nursery now has a new space in the landmark building which has been redeveloped at a cost of £160 million by Urban Splash. It is one of the last council-run facilities in the city.

Headteacher Nancy Farrow said: “The environment has changed beyond recognition.

“The old building was falling down and we didn’t want to keep buying new things in case we couldn’t take them with us.

“Morale has changed, the staff are more enthused. There is a feeling of revival and we’ve got lots of new families coming in.

The official opening of the Grace Owen Nursery at the new redeveloped Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Pictured with some of the children are Nursery Manager Claire Boardman and Head Teacher Nancy Farrow. Photo: Chris Etchells

The official opening of the Grace Owen Nursery at the new redeveloped Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Pictured with some of the children are Nursery Manager Claire Boardman and Head Teacher Nancy Farrow. Photo: Chris Etchells

“It’s so much more vibrant and colourful. It has taken on a whole new feeling.”

The nursery now boasts a three classrooms, a kitchen and playground with a climbing frame, swings and sandpit.

Everything has been designed with the youngsters in mind - from the display boards at children’s height to the interactive whiteboards.

Mum Alison Cartwright-Jones, 45, whose three-year-old son Edgar attends the nursery, said: “It’s fantastic. The same support and love is still there, the quality of care is still the same.

The official opening of the Grace Owen Nursery at the new redeveloped Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Pictured is Roza Salih, five. Photo: Chris Etchells

The official opening of the Grace Owen Nursery at the new redeveloped Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Pictured is Roza Salih, five. Photo: Chris Etchells

“But it’s just that little bit better, he comes home and he’s tried something new every time.”

Mum Suzi Flinders said sending her son Jacob, four, to Grace Owen was ‘probably the best thing I could have done for him’.

The 37-year-old said: “It’s wonderful, his social skills and educational development has really come along.

“He’ll be going to Manor Lodge school in September and they’ve given him the skills and confidence to do the transition.”

The official opening of the Grace Owen Nursery at the new redeveloped Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Pictured is Roza Salih, five. Photo: Chris Etchells

The official opening of the Grace Owen Nursery at the new redeveloped Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Pictured is Roza Salih, five. Photo: Chris Etchells

The facility is named after Grace Owen, a Sheffield woman and one of Britain’s pioneers of early years education, who created the nursery in 1964.

Before Ms Owen died, she inherited a house on Paradise Square from her family but, already owning her own home, she sold it and used the money to set up a nursery in Park Hill.

Former headteacher Sue Pearson, 88, who came to have a look round the new facility as it was opened by new Lord Mayor Denise Fox, said: “It doesn’t feel too much different as there has always been a community feel to Grace Owen ever since it started.

“I think we were way ahead of our time as we encouraged parents to be involved and come into the classrooms. But it is much posher than the old building, and is much better resourced which will really help the children.”

The official opening of the Grace Owen Nursery at the new redeveloped Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Pictured is Rand Salih, six. Photo: Chris Etchells

The official opening of the Grace Owen Nursery at the new redeveloped Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Pictured is Rand Salih, six. Photo: Chris Etchells

The official opening of the Grace Owen Nursery at the new redeveloped Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Pictured with the Lord Mayor of Sheffield Councillor Denise Fox are Xi-an Dilaurenzio, four, Nesrit Mabrhtu, four, and Roza Salih, five.  Photo: Chris Etchells

The official opening of the Grace Owen Nursery at the new redeveloped Park Hill flats in Sheffield. Pictured with the Lord Mayor of Sheffield Councillor Denise Fox are Xi-an Dilaurenzio, four, Nesrit Mabrhtu, four, and Roza Salih, five. Photo: Chris Etchells