Little Barn Owls Nursery and Forest School in Southwater cares for children 3 months to 5 years old. We are a full time day nursery and forest school, which means all children over the age of 3 years take turns to be included in our forest school programme held every day at our own private 11 acre forest, 5 minutes drive away.

We are inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach, derived from Northern Italy and world renowned for its progressive philosophy for building an education system fit for children.

We are very keen on developing children’s enquiring minds through a holistic, hands on approach to education which helps children develop their thinking and express themselves creatively. We work with two professional artists in dedicated art studios called Ateliers, which have been built for children to develop their creative research projects alongside the artists and their peers. Often this work turns into projects spanning many weeks and months that has been shared and celebrated all over the world through our professional training school for those in Education who are keen to be inspired by our approach.

Your child will join Forest School sessions at least half the amount of days they attend nursery in a calendar year included in the fees over the age of 3 years. The other days they will enjoy the wonderful facilities that the nursery has to offer including a newly landscaped large garden, and an Atelier (creative studio with professional artist working with children) and newly renovated classrooms homed in our 2019 fully renovated barn nursery.

The nursery also looks out on a huge green playing field and children’s play area which we use for group games, picnics and events. Just down the road is also the Southwater Country Park for walks and more adventures.

We have a high ratio of staff to children across the nursery and take providing high quality care, teaching and learning very seriously. We have a dedicated Head of Family Support and a dedicated Head of Children’s and Adult’s Learning who work across both our nurseries. We are unique in employing two other permanent trainers who work tirelessly to ensure our staff deliver the best possible LBO ‘5 star’ service at all times. We invest heavily in professional development of our staff at all our nurseries because we know that they are the key to children thriving and providing a first class service to you.


Click here to find out about our vision, ethos and educational approach.


The philosophy of our forest school is to develop confidence and curiosity within children in their early years through positive outdoor experiences. They focus on developing personal, social and emotional life skills through child-led, nature-based learning.

Typically, children on forest school build dens, climb trees, prepare, cook and eat their lunch around a campfire, role play in the woodland, carry out bug hunts, use rope swings and make up all sorts of wonderful imaginative games and activities. They also develop group interests and create theories about imaginative characters, such as their ‘dinosaur bird’ who lives in the forest or the ‘forest dwarves who live underground’. These ideas are encouraged and developed with the help of our expert team both in the forest and back at nursery and turn into long term research projects using many forms of expressive and creative mediums such as painting, drawing, sculpture, wire work, clay and many more…

Some of the benefits of Forest School:

  • Children assess risks for themselves and learn to make safe choices.
  • Challenging environments with opportunities to climb trees, balance on logs and build dens offer children the chance to engage in ‘healthy struggles’, where their bodies and brains develop resilience which is critical for all learning.
  • The forest encourages group interests to develop which are continued back at nursery.
  • It encourages children to be naturally curious about the world around them.
  • Physical strength and stamina develop as muscle strength improves.
  • Nature provides unlimited inspiration for children to wonder and marvel about the natural world, these often become studies of interest about wildlife, flora and fauna.
  • Opportunities for early writing and mathematics are ample.
  • Playing in the woods helps children develop a life-long appreciation of nature that we hope they carry throughout their childhood.
  • Children who play outdoors regularly are far more likely to be fresh-air loving, active adults, research has proven this!

All other information about our nurseries ethos and routines can be found in the About Us section.

to request a copy of Southwater’s Parent Information Pack, please fill out your details below


Our nursery fees are fully inclusive of three meals a day plus a morning and afternoon snack, milk, and all nappies, wipes and nappy creams.


Up to date information of fees across our nurseries can be requested by emailing


Funding is now available for eligible children aged 2-3 and each application is assessed by the Department for Work and Pensions. Eligible families will be contacted by the local family information service with a unique reference code. Once you are in receipt of this code, please contact your nursery for further information. Children who are eligible for 2 year old funding, do not pay any additional service charges which only becomes applicable once claiming 3 & 4 year old funding. Please contact the nursery to obtain a copy of our Parent Information Pack which details our terms and conditions and fee policy schedule for the breakdown of charges.


All settings who deliver care all year round (51 weeks or more) are permitted to offer ‘stretched funded hours’ to parents which means we are able to offer up to maximum of 22 hours a week each week of the year over a number of days or sessions a child attends nursery. (This is the equivalent of 30 hours a week term time only and is set by the government, not Little Barn Owls).

The government’s policy states that the funding does not cover any snacks, meals, nappies, wipes, additional services or extras that the nursery provides such as forest or farm school, working with artists or specialised personnel. The nursery is permitted to charge for these as ‘additional services’ which helps cover the disparity between the facilities and fully inclusive service Little Barn Owls provides and the rate of funding which is intended to pay for care only.

Please contact for information on free funding.

It is not possible to design a delivery policy that fits all, however all parents at all settings will benefit. Please contact the nursery to obtain a copy of our Parent Information Pack which details our terms and conditions and fee policy schedule for the breakdown of charges.


Fees are collected in advance on the 1st day of every month and are to be paid by standing order electronically. Fees are calculated by taking the weekly figure payable X 51 weeks a year, divided into 12 equal payments and invoices are emailed monthly. Late payment charges occur if fees are not settled by the 7th of the month.


A registration fee of £35, used to administration costs is payable along with a refundable deposit of £200 to reserve your child’s place in the nursery. Two months notice is required to terminate your child’s place at any time for all or any days they attend. There is generally no reduction in fees for absence due to holidays and sickness, only in very severe cases would this be considered, and we do not allow children’s days to be swapped for other days of the week. Additional days can be booked in advance ad-hoc for those odd occasions you need extra days where we have the space. Our nursery closes at 6pm so to have time to discuss your child’s day in depth, we ask that children are collected from 5.45 – 6pm. Late collection after 6pm will be charged. Full terms and conditions are provided with the registration form for parents on admission.


Little Barn Owls day nurseries accept all recognised childcare vouchers as way of part payment of fees.


Our Southwater nursery was graded OUTSTANDING by Ofsted in 2022 and the latest report is available here.

If you are thinking about continuing the Reggio Emilia and Guy Claxton ‘Power of Learning’ approach to learning for your child at our prep and senior school, Atelier 21, do register your child for a place here:



Little Barn Owl’s Forest School Nursery is located in the heart of Southwater, around 6 minutes drive from Horsham town centre, on the A24 with our own parking.


Telephone 01403 731 690

To read more testimonials from our parents go to the Parental Involvement