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Can You Help?: Please help! Which nursery? Cambridge Day Nursery, Abacus, Smiths Montessori or Snap! 4 Kids (Cambridge)?

(25 Posts)
MiniMaks12 Mon 25-Feb-13 00:36:47


I am newly registered user of Mumsnet Local and have already looked though its forums in Local Talk area. I found some information on nurseries I am currently thinking of but majority of them are old or very old.

I am looking for fresh opinions and experiences of four nurseries which are located close to my home. They are as follows:

1. Cambridge Day Nursery (Milton Road, Cambridge)
2. Abacus (Green End Road, Cambridge)
3. Smiths Children Montessori (St Luke's Church, Victoria Road)
4. Snap! 4 Kids (Chapel Street, Chesterton)

I have visited all of them (and four other) and have some opinion on all of them (see below) but would like to hear from Mums/Dads who can tell me about their experience and share their thoughs and perspective on their children's wellfare in these places, nurseries approach to teaching children new skills and promoting their further and better development.

I would love to send my little one to a place in which children are encouraged to gain new skills, in which carers show them what to do and what can be done with particular thing, where letters, numbers, shapes and clours are tought from very beginning...
I do appreciate promoting creativity and free flow play/games in the youngest ones but what I can see and say from my little experience with my first child is that if you show your baby what he/she can do then he or she is likely to learn new skills quicker than all maternity books say about particular age development.

Threfore...I really need your opinion on these four nurseries. My quick remarks can be found below.

1. Cambridge Day Nursery

First impression:

smell of mustiness / mildew smell in baby room area (January 2013) from the moment we walked in

only 3 cotbeds for 0-12mnts, rest of babies sleep on mattresses on the floor


colourful, plenty of displays with children work on the walls, small area of black and white and sensory area

good information board, parents forum, seasonal parties and parents meetings

young but friendly staff

close to the city centre, the river Cam, parks (Midsummer common, Christ Pieces, Jesus Lane, etc.), ducks, etc. so good opportunities for outings

friendly approach to multinationality, different religions, races, etc.

nice garden although toys were dirty and old (do children really care?)

OFSTED REPORT : GOOD, 2009 (mostly 2s)

2. Abacus

First impressions (Jan/Feb 2013):

small, cosy, friendly, seems to be clean
nice garden, nice toys (cleaner than in CDN)
friendly and multinational staff
weekly activities (discovering what cold means - snow)
friend's recommendation

OFSTED report - 3 sad

3. Smiths Children Montessori

Friendly staff, nice open space area bur seems to be too spacious (lack of cosy corners, soft play area, cosy pillows, etc).

not many toys (majority of them were wooden)

not many displays with children work

nice and cosy baby sleeping room

I have not checked OFSTED as yet.

4. Snap! 4 Kids

well, first impression - formalized and institutionalized playgroup (based in an old church building)

colourful, plenty of displays with children work

good quantity of toys and books

space for buggies and bikes

Babies area on the first floor - the person who showed me the nursery walked in slippers from ground floor area though outdoor pavement/passage to the upstairs area for babies (not very hygienic)

In Baby area:
a separate sleeping room with a cot bed for every child
a separate sensory room (not sure how often it is in use)
a play area with an allocated kitchen area

carers in Baby unit not very active - one of them was holding a baby, the other one was sitting next to / starring at 6 months old baby on a playmat - no talking or playing with her
thrd person was talking to me

It didn't look like these carers were going to do anything interesting with these babies...They were there - that was it.

WELL, these are my first impressions on these four nurseries but what are yours.

Please share your thoughts with me as I have to take a decision as soon as possible which means in the next few days sad

Thank you in advance for all of your advises.

AfricanBigElephant Thu 28-Feb-13 13:05:18

DD went to Snap 4 kids 6 years ago. She was there from 8 to 18 months.
The baby room was fine, one of the carers wasn't very warm, the other were nice. The next room (tweenies I think) was better in terms of carers but they had so little outside that they never played outdoors.
Also, I thought the manager was horrible, only concerned about money, rude, didn't care about ratios not being met (I complained about this several times), etc.

If the manager is still the same I wouldn't choose this nursery again.

Sorry it's a negative review and best of luck!

MiniMaks12 Thu 28-Feb-13 21:47:24

Thanks AfricanBigElephant. Presently Mrs Kay Fordham is the manager of this place. Is that the same person who you dealt with 6 years ago?
She was reasonably nice. My only concern about her was walking in slippers from one room (pre-school group) through outside pavement to a baby room. She thought that was fine - I didn't. Also, when I asked her if they cover the food / meals when they (carers) take them from the kitchen though outside to the baby room she said that this is not necessary as the rooms are really close to the kitchen and the staff take them as they are (without any cover/lid/kitchen foil, etc.). Does this meet food& safety regulations? I bet it doesn't.

orchardy Thu 28-Feb-13 22:42:36

I looked around Snap when looking for childcare for my DS - this is a few years ago now. I didn't mind the rather grubby, tired look of the place - in fact, it reminded me of my own childhood playgroups. But I did think it seemed all a bit haphazard. Walking between baby and toddler rooms we found a toddler alone in a corridor - the worker just said "Oh hello X, what are you doing there?" but didn't seem alarmed. Too many bored-looking young girls for my liking, but it may have changed. Also, hardly any outside space, which isn't such an issue for babies, but once they are mobile I would imagine is a bit of a drawback. If you can go slightly further afield can I recommend The Fields children's centre up at Abbey Meadows? Bright, clean, cheery, lovely staff, lots of space...

AfricanBigElephant Fri 01-Mar-13 07:48:15

Hi minimaks, that name doesn't ring a bell. The manager at the time was young - early 30s at most, with long fine mousy hair. Is that the same one?

I wouldn't worry too much about the food thing... what's the worse that can happen? :-)

mynameisnt Fri 01-Mar-13 13:55:31

My youngest dd went to cambridge day Nursery just as it was getting over the awful ofsed. Granted she was only in the pre school room but we loved it. She learnt so much there and it was a happy, loving place. Oh and the food was always excellent.

bonettil Mon 11-Mar-13 12:58:29

Probably a bit late but just wanted to say that my DS1 has been at Abacus for 2 years and he loves it - as do I. Like you said, it's small and friendly. It's a family-run nursery and as such the staff are are warm and caring - to the children and the parents. There's always interesting activities going on and the kids get to play outside a lot, which my son loves! They've recently acquired chickens (and a rabbit) and the kids enjoy collecting the eggs. I also chose Abacus after a personal recommendation. I went to view Snap and nearly cried at the thought of leaving my little one there! The baby room staff seemed quite young and disinterested, the outdoor area was pretty minimal and in the main room a toddler was quietly sobbing in a corner, undetected. I'm sure the nursery is fine and lots of people are happy with the place but my visit didn't give me a good impression. Hope this helps!

Tid1 Tue 21-May-13 19:27:15

Hi, not sure if you have made your decision yet but my daughter attends abacus and really likes it. The staff are friendly and warm, always have time to talk and give you feedback on the day. They have had some staff changes lately but hopefully it will settle down now. They always have time to give the kids a cuddle if needed. Choosing a nursery is a very personal choice and what I like another may not. Hope you find one that you're happy with

amoss1968 Tue 11-Jun-13 13:30:34

probably joining the discussion way too late but have you considered the Sunflower nursery on Stretten Ave (next to the Montessori!)? We couldn't get a place when we were looking for a nursery for our son but it gets rave reviews (we use the Wendy House in Impington which is fantastic - can't fault it at all)

yume8 Thu 12-Mar-15 08:03:44

Hello to all mums out there smile

I was hoping someone can share your experience and opinions on any day nursery in Cambridge as I am looking to apply for a placement in a nursery for my 21months old and very active boy.

Has anyone' s kids attending to any of these nurseries- Ace day nursery/Cambridge day nursery/pat a cake /abacus?

Much appprecaited your help!

rosemarie04 Thu 12-Mar-15 08:48:48

abacus is now clarence house. our ds will start there this autumn. i have only heard excellent things about them. the facilities arent the prettiest but the staff seems to be very caring. we have looked at several ones and got the best feeling from them.

Lizardc Thu 12-Mar-15 14:32:50

My four year old left Cambridge Day Nursery for school last summer after 3 years and my two year old is still there.

Lovely nursery with super staff. Admin can be a bit disorganised but childcare (the important part!) is great. The nursery has just finished a huge building project which has improved the garden and indoor facilities for all age groups and it's fab now.

Happy to recommend them.

yume8 Thu 12-Mar-15 16:05:57

Thanks so much for the feedback smile,

@Rosemarie04 , thanks for updating me of the name change. Hope all goes well with your little one. I will be visiting clarence house next week and will update my views on it. Was it a long waiting list for you?

@Lizardc , happy to hear your little ones enjoyed time at CDN and your experienced recommendation means a lot for me at this point as a first time parent. I will be visiting CDN and Ace day Nursery. Its gonna be a daunting decision to make :l

Tid1 Thu 12-Mar-15 19:57:48

My 3 year old daughter attends Clarence House. Has done for over 2 years. Was taken over last year by Clarence House nurseries (previously abacus) and they have made great improvements already- new outside garden, online tracking of child's progress, parents evenings, dance classes, longer opening hours etc. the cost of the nursery is very reasonable compared to others in the area (£42 per day (8.30-6.15pm) , with an extra £2 for early mornings (7.30-8.30am). The company that took over did not increase cost last year (in fact the fees haven't increased in 2 years) but I think they definitely will this year. The thing I like most though is the staff, very nurturing, down to earth and approachable. My daughter is very happy there :-) happy looking! I'm sure you'll know which one is best for your child when you see it.

rosemarie04 Thu 12-Mar-15 21:41:30

@Tid1: thanks a lot for your feedback. do you have any idea by how much they might increase their fees? i hope not too much.
@yume8: we already signed him up last november to start this october but it didnt seem as if there was a waiting list

ChestertonCharley Mon 16-Mar-15 12:22:46

I have several friends who are fans of Ace.

Hanl30 Mon 16-Mar-15 18:55:01

Ace is lovely but once they are 3 they have to change location from priory road to Parkside.

themightywalrus Fri 27-Mar-15 00:08:29

I'm another who would recommend Cambridge Day Nursery. My 2 kiddies are there (1yr old & 3 yr old) and im really pleased with their progress. CDN have just completed their refurb, so the place has a new lease of life. The garden is great - lots of space to run about and a great forest area for picnics and den building.

yume8 Sat 28-Mar-15 00:56:05

Hi lovely mums smile

thanks again for been so thoughtful to share your opinions and experiences

I have found Clarence house and CDN as top of my list and each seemed to have won over on different aspects. time for decision to make yet but need bit more info to get more reassurance knowing it's the right choice for him and me that I make.

@themightywalrus & lizardc -thanks alot for your inputs on CDN. if you'll would not mind me asking, i really appreciate if you'll could share your experience how things were during settling in period at CDN? My DS is very attached to me and I am concerned whether one week short sessions would really be enough to have him settled feeling secured although they did seem to flex with having more couple of extended sessions to settle in. ofsted having stated that settling in period has been overlooked occasionally, and yet they are formally having set it for one week seems little worrying for me or may be i am been over worried, but your experience would give me more faith to trust on their abilities in settling DS in such short period. if I Chose CDN.

@tid1 -Thanks alot on your input. How would you find their support to your daughter's progress in term of learning and development? since they are subject to ofsted inspection, i am unable to get an idea on how Cambridge clarence house will support DS's learning and development journey. so your input may shed a light on that smile according to ofsted recent reports; Ely & Godmanchester nursery have shown improvement which seems a positive indicator for development wise i suppose.

ladies, thanks a heaps for taking time to give your feedback. smile

Lizardc Sat 28-Mar-15 16:17:56


Well my two boys were both ok with the 'standard' settle sessions (1/2 hour with me there, then 1 hour and 2 hours without me) so I can't comment too much. But if you are concerned I would say discuss it with the room staff or Rachel, the manager, and see what they say. They seem to have the children's best interests at heart so I would chat to them about your concerns. I would add that it is pretty amazing how soon children seem to adjust to the nursery routine and do things they never would at home - eat and sleep for example!! smile

yume8 Mon 30-Mar-15 05:56:56

Hi Lizardc
Thanks for your reply. Like you have suggested, i will have a chat with them and take it from there. smile

Csss09 Fri 04-Dec-15 13:29:59

Hi, not sure if this thread is still active .

@Lizardc or anyone else. How long were you on the waiting list for for CDN? Their admin seems to be a bit unorganised.
I put my Lo on the waiting list for ace and CDN in October. Got an email confirmation from Ace straight away. CDN asked for a registration fee of £50, but did not send me anything thru the post or email. I called them and they said a letter was sent in the post. It's been two months now and i still haven't heard anything.(although they banked my cheque in Oct) I emailed them and no reply. I don't know if it's a bad sign.

We went to visit sunflower nursery today. Seems really nice in there and have a home-ly feel.

Lizardc Sat 05-Dec-15 17:03:27

Hi cass. Yeah. The admin. Definitely their downside! I have fed that back to them before smile if you can get past that though, it is a super nursery. I don't know how long their waiting list is at present, as we first applied 5 1/2 years ago and things have obviously changed since then.

I would persist chasing them up if you can.

Csss09 Sat 05-Dec-15 18:13:38

Thanks for relying lizardc. I think I'm going to try and call them again next week.

Lizardc Sat 05-Dec-15 19:51:20

Good luck! I hope they sort themselves out and get back to you soon.

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