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Rutland Information Service

The Ark Association Ltd - Princess Avenue

We would like to welcome you and your family to the Ark Association.  The Ark is a Registered Charity, based at Princess Avenue Oakham, which is run by a committee of parents and friends for the benefit of the community.

There are two Arks in Oakham, both of which are registered with Ofsted Early Years and comply with Children Act 1989 regulations, providing care and education. However, Princess Avenue caters for children from 3 months old to 4 ½ years old.

The Ark is the longest running nursery in Oakham with over 35 years’ experience and have been rated ‘Good’ in all our Ofsted inspections.

The Ark aims to provide a happy, safe, and stimulating environment for all children to play, learn and develop freely.

We offer fully inclusive services that are accessible to all children within the community, and a programme of activities created from the children’s interests that are educational, stimulating and fun.

We help children to develop responsibility for themselves and their actions and to be confident, independent individuals and ensuring a healthy well-being is paramount.

We encourage children to have a positive attitude and respect for both themselves and other people all made possible by an experienced well-trained friendly team who are supported in their roles by the manager Mary Darlington (BA Hons).

We promote a positive relationship with parents and carers and work in partnership with them to provide high quality play and care for all children.

Although, the Ark at Princess Avenue is not on any school sites, we have very good links with all the primary schools in Oakham so that we can ensure the best transition into school possible for every child.

We have access to the swimming pool at Oakham C of E primary school and take the children that are preschool age swimming weekly. We also access Forest School curriculum weekly. These two activities are accessible as we use our own minibus to transport the children with members of staff. The minibus allows the children to explore our local environment such as Rutland Water.

During the school holidays we provide Kids Club for children up to the age of 11 at Princess Avenue. We want every child that comes through our doors to go home at the end of the day happy and contented knowing that they are always valued and listened to and have enjoyed the activities they have engaged in.

Who to contact

Contact Name
Mary Darlington
Contact Position
01572 755776
Visit The Ark website
Social Media

Where to go

The Ark Association Ltd (Princess Avenue)
Princess Avenue
LE15 6PQ
View LE15 6PQ on a map

You can find us on the left hand side coming from Cold Overton Road.

Once you can see the sign follow the path and go through the big metal gate.



Time / Date Details

When is it on
Monday - Friday
7.30am to 6pm
Time of day

Other Details


Please contact us regarding any costs as this will vary according to the age of your child.


Age Ranges
3 Months - 4 1/2 Years

Inclusion Information

Special Needs

Has Provision
Experience with
Cerebral Palsy
Down's Syndrome
Asperger Syndrome
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Attachment Disorder
Pathalogical Demand Avoidance
Our staff have had training in the following:- SENDCo Every Child a Talker Hoist Fun Time Signs and Symbols Autism ADHD Safeguarding Food Hygiene First Aid

Dietary Needs

Has Provision

Cultural Provisions

Has Provision

Childcare Information


Immediate vacancies

Funded Places

3 & 4 year old funding
2 year old funding

Opening Times & Facilities

Opening Times
Opening Times
DayOpening TimeClosing Time
Mon - Fri 7.30am 6.00pm
Visits and Outings
Sleeping Area
Refreshments Snacks
Arts and Crafts
Outdoor Play Area
Play Equipment

School Pickups

Offers pickups

Ofsted Information

Ofsted URN
Link to latest ofsted inspection report 
Inspection history
Inspection History
Inspection DateInspection typeInspection Outcome
13/06/2012Inspection (Early Years Register)Good
26/02/2014Inspection (Early Years Register)Good
14/12/2017Inspection (Early Years Register)Good

Local Offer


Children will be admitted to the Ark according to the waiting list guidelines and no child will be excluded on the grounds of race, culture, gender or disability.

We aim to offer high standards of education, stimulation and fun within a structured environment. Our ideas are very neatly summed up in the words of educationalist, Charlotte Mason: “We must help them to grow at their own pace by nurturing their own talents and helping them to develop their own individual personalities”.

How does the setting know if children need extra help and what should I do if I think my child may have special educational needs?

  • Through observing and assessing all our children we get to know the children. Along with the integrated review and working alongside outside professionals we can help to identify any additional needs of the children.
  • The Ark has an open-door policy and strives to build good parent partnerships. We hope that this will give our parents the confidence to talk and tell us of any concerns they may have regarding their child.

How will early years setting staff support my child?

  • With meetings with our SENDCo and key person of your child you will be able to receive frequent progress reports.
  • The Key person will observe and assess on a regular basis by using eyLog an online assessment program which as a parent you will be able to access on the internet.
  • With our open-door policy parents can talk to a staff member on a day to day basis. If we feel a child/parent will benefit from a home diary one would be started.
  • Within SEND meetings your child’s progress is discussed and their learning is planned for with targets set. The parent will be invited to attend these meetings and they will get a report on what is discussed.

How will the curriculum be matched to my child's needs?

  • Your child will have a key person within their room who will be their main career. The SENDCO will work within the sessions depending on severity and funding of the individual child.
  • The nursery works with the local Inclusion team and depending on the child's needs we can include outside agencies including Paediatricians and Speech and Language teams.
  • The nursery SENDCO will explain what is happening at the appropriate times.

How will both you and I know how my child is doing and how will you help me to support my learning?

  • Through continuous planning and assessments and meetings involving the child’s inclusion team, their progress is assessed. We work on the EYFS and by tracking their progress we can see if targets are being made.
  • Additional support is offered through differentiation in planning and activities
  • Parents can access their children’s learning journey online through eyLog and see what their child's next steps are. Any parent can also speak to members of staff on entry or when leaving about their child's day.

What support will there be for my child's overall well being?

  • When a child first starts, they are offered settling in days. Each child is given a key person who will build a close relationship with that child.
  • At quiet times and circle times the children are encouraged to express themselves and how they are feeling. We have the use of Emotion Puppets that help build children’s confidence
  • We give the children opportunities to develop their independence from many activities in nursery.
  • They children help make snack and self-serve it.
  • On Mondays we go swimming which is a great time to develop undressing and dressing themselves. Swimming also builds their confidence and social skills.
  • Throughout the nursery day children are encouraged to express themselves and their opinions to Adults that are willing to listen to them.
  • We encourage children to try to think through their problem and find a solution together rather than provide them with a solution.

What specialist services and expertise are available at or accessed by the setting

  • We can call upon the EYFS Inclusion team, Speech and Language therapists, Health team, Paediatricians, Educational Psychologists, Early Help and Aiming High.

What training are the staff supporting children with SEND have had or are having?

  • We have members of staff who completed the training Every Child a Talker.
  • Our setting has a named SENDCO who attends any Network meetings. 
  • Some members of staff have had training in Hoist lifts. There is a Hoist at the swimming pool we use.
  • At the current time we are looking at training to build on our knowledge of Autism

How will my child be included in activities outside this classroom including school trips?

  • As we strive to be an inclusive setting, we would make sure that any trips and outings we took part in would be suitable for all children taking part.
  • We would discuss with parents to see how else our trip could be suited for their child.
  • A risk assessment for each outing will be completed and individual needs would be shown in this

How accessible is the setting environment?

  • The building is equipped with changing facilities and toilets suitable for the nursery children.
  • The original premises at Princess Avenue (opened September 1983) are owned by the Ark Association. It has its own purpose-built play area with a safety surface, a concrete playground for the use of bikes, balls and other outdoor equipment and a grassed area enabling outdoor activities to form an important part of the day. The new purpose-built nursery which is on one level was opened in April 2002.
  • If we encounter a situation where a parent / career does not have English as a second language and is finding it difficult to communicate we try to help by asking other parents we may have with the same language to try and help or in the past a friend or other family member has interpreted for them in meetings.
  • Any extra equipment needed to support children with special educational needs could be secured using funds from Pupil Premium, 1:1 funding, and the Early Years funding

How will the setting prepare and support my child to join the setting or the next stage of education and life

  • If a child has attended another setting, we ask to see any documents or Learning Journey’s. 
  • Children are offered a free settling in session and we then work from there. We will gradually extend a child’s time in nursery as they settle in more. Parents are welcome to stay for the first session and again thereafter depending on how the child is settling in.
  • In our own admissions forms we ask parents to fill in a form to tell us as much as they can about their child. This can then be discussed at the first session/meeting with the nursery.
  • The term before a child moves onto the next stage the child will have some transitions sessions. A member of staff from their new setting should come and view a child in our setting before they move on. The child’s key person or SENDCO will accompany a child on the transitions.
  • As we use to inform a child’s Learning Journey this will all be passed on to a child’s next setting. We eyLog also have tracking sheets to show a child’s progress, this will also be passed on.
  • Meetings will be arranged between our setting, a new setting and the parents to ensure a smooth transition.

How are the setting's resources allocated and matched to children's special educational needs?

  • The local authority holds a budget for SEND and they will allocate an amount of funding which will be provided to the nursery and can then be used for 1:1 care.
  • At the review meetings held we as a nursery get to feed back to the inclusion team on how the funding is impacting on the child’s development i.e. if we feel the 1:1 care being funded is sufficient or if we feel it is no longer required.

How is the decision made about what type and how much support my child will receive?

  • The inclusion team would ultimately say how much and what type of support a child would receive. Our SENDCo would liaise with them and other outside agencies along with the parents to decide on the correct support.

How are parents involved in the setting? How can I be involved?

  • Parents are welcome to partake in a session in the nursery. This will show how we run and gives parents a chance to get to know us better.
  • As the nursery is a charity, we hold fundraisers in which parents can be involved in help run and organise.
  • Although the nursery has a manager the overall running of the nursery is overseen by a management committee in which parents are invited to be part of.


Contact Name
Mary Darlington
Contact Telephone
01572 755776
Contact Email
The Ark Association Ltd - Website Page
The Ark Association Ltd - Facebook Page
Local Offer Age Bands
Early Years (0-5)

This page was last updated on: 16/01/2023

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