An exciting new Forest School is about to launch in the Shear Brow area of Blackburn. The old John Smethurst Children’s Centre on St James’s Road has been completely refreshed to become St James’ C of E Forest Pre-school and Nursery.

Catering for children aged 2 to 4, the new Forest Pre-school will open its doors to children on 2nd September 2021 - offering sessions to parents who receive free childcare places and those who just want their children to gain a wide range of learning experiences before they start school. The Forest Pre-school also offers wrap-around care from 8 am to 5 pm.

The head teacher, Doug Stitcher, told us, “We are thrilled to be able to bring a Forest School to the community. Most towns have very few fields and green spaces in which children can learn and play. Our vision is to bring the authentic Forest School experience to our local area so our children can thrive, learn, play and discover in a safe yet exciting environment.”

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The Forest Pre-school and Nursery offers a high quality, structured early years’ curriculum. This helps to ensure children make the best transition to school with strong foundations in early reading (phonics), writing and maths. The strong blend of educational approaches helps learners develop socially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually.

The Forest Pre-school is led by a fully-qualified teacher who works with families and external support agencies to ensure all individual children’s needs are met.

Anna Dakin, Early Years Leader, said, “I am just so excited that we are able to bring the Forest School approach to Blackburn. We have had extensive training and we’re now able to bring learning outside to life! For us, it’s not about popping outside for a few minutes – it’s a whole ethos and we can already see the difference it’s making to our children’s lives.”

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St James’ C of E Forest Pre-school & Nursery is taking bookings now. To book, please call 01254 698335 or email or, for more information, visit