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Our kindergarten provision based at National Trust Gibside offers families a chance for their children to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life and enjoy an unhurried, wild childhood at their own pace amongst 600 acres of woodland, countryside and gardens.

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Spend some time at our Forest Kindergarten at Gibside

A day in the life of our Kindergarteners!

About these sessions

Stomping Grounds Forest Kindergarten provides a fully outdoor play-based learning environment for children aged 2-7 years. Our wonderful Kindergarten is open Monday to Friday, 9am-3pm during Gateshead Schools term time and we offer full day sessions.

Our base camp is up a few steps into the woodland and this is where we greet each other and plan our day together. Then groups of children supervised by practitioners head off into the woods, gardens and countryside to play and adventure. 

Our activities follow the lead and interests of the children whilst effortlessly covering and going beyond the Early Years Foundation Stage requirements. The vast ever-changing outdoor environment enables the children to participate in a wide range of exciting nature-based experiences, learning directly from the seasonal changes and the natural world they will be immersed in. 

Our Stomping Grounds Early Years Practitioners are trained to facilitate child-led learning, listen and respond to the voice of the child and allow children to get into the flow of playing and developing their own ideas. Practitioners will respond with encouragement, resource suggestions and to be on hand to help and advise when asked. The opportunities for imagination to flow, to learn to collaborate and solve problems together and alone are endless. We are always excited to learn from and with your children!

We accept Early Years Funding for children aged 2-5. You can use childcare vouchers or Universal Credit childcare entitlement for children aged 5-8.

We had our first Ofsted inspection in March 2023 and you can read the results here.

“The provision is GOOD. Children thoroughly enjoy their time in the forest kindergarten. They enjoy climbing trees, swinging in hammocks or walking along ropes. Other children enjoy exploring insects or talking about the birds and trees. Parents comment that their children come home covered in mud, but they have had a superb day. They feel that they are highly knowledgeable about the natural world and can identify trees, birds and flowers” Ofsted, March 2023

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“Kindergarten has been transformational for my child. My son started at Gibside as a risk-averse little boy who often struggled with separation from parents. However, he has quickly become extremely confident in the setting, his resilience has grown exponentially and he is able to negotiate well with his peers when they encounter differences. The staff have been absolutely wonderful, ensuring that his needs have been met in a holistic way since day 1. They have taken his lead and engaged with us the whole time to ensure that he develops well as a learner and as a responsible citizen. I can’t praise Stomping Grounds Kindergarten enough.”


About the team

Our dedicated Forest Kindergarten Team is highly qualified with a wealth of early childhood knowledge and experience. From visiting Denmark to learn from established Forest Schools, leading Forest School provision for children with a variety of special educational needs and delivering Forest School to Early Years in mainstream schools, they are working together to create an innovative, unique, high quality, responsive and nurturing setting where your child can thrive.


On our base camp we have a large shelter which is our gathering space and this provides us with shelter if we need it when it is very wet. Our shelter has walls which we can drop when it is cold and we can light an open fire or stove in here too which helps to keep us warm! 

We also have shared access to The Forest Room which has heating and lighting and we can plan to use this space in more challenging weather conditions. It is just a short walk away in the Marketplace. Sometimes we might start and end our days here, pop in for lunch and to dry off our layers or we sometimes stay and play for an hour or so.

There are a range of ways you can access a Kindergarten place for your child depending on your circumstances. We will outline them here but are happy to help you work through your options with you.

If you are paying full fees the cost is currently £40 or £45 per session. Typically this is two year olds (who are not eligible to Early Years Funding) and children aged 5 onwards. 

We are registered with Gateshead City Council to offer Early Years Funded places to eligible 2 year olds and all 3 and 4 year olds. You can use your 15 hour or 30 hours extended entitlement with us. You can find out more details and apply for your funded hours at and You can also split your funding and use it in more than one setting. If you would like to use your Early Years Funding (15 or 30 hours) we ask for a £10 daily Outdoor Resource Fund Fee.

if you would like your two year old to attend as soon as they turn two, working parents can apply for 15 hours of childcare. This funding starts the term after your child turns 9 months and we will accept children from 2 years old.

Again we ask for a £10 daily Outdoor Resource Fund Fee. You can apply for this funding now.

Please note these charges are subject to review and may increase in September 2024.

As per government and Gateshead City Council guidelines Stomping Grounds Forest Kindergarten charges for additional services that are beyond the standard day-care nursery or preschool provision. This is the Daily Outdoor Resource Fund payment which enables us to provide a high quality fully outdoor education for our children. The outdoor resource fund enables us to maintain high adult to child ratios, provide qualified Forest School practitioners with additional Therapeutic Forest training, alongside specialist equipment. If you use your Early Years Funding with us you will be invoiced for a payment of £10 per day which covers the daily Outdoor Resource Fund Fee. 

We expect that 50% of our families will pay this daily fee and the other 50% of families will be subsidised by Stomping Grounds trading profits. 50% of our spaces will be reserved for families who would not usually attend a Forest Kindergarten in line with our Positive Action Statement. Some families may be able to contribute partially but require Stomping Grounds to make up the difference. For further questions about the The Daily Outdoor Resource Fund or to ask about eligibility for a Positive Action place please contact

Stomping Grounds’ mission is to give children and families from all backgrounds the time and space to connect with nature, build relationships with the land and grow communities. We actively encourage applications from low income families, girls, non-binary and LGBTQ+ families, people who experience racism and children or families with disabilities. At the Kindergarten this means we are financially supporting 50% of the places to enable positive action families to attend by covering some of the daily Outdoor Resource Fund Fee on their behalf. We have employed staff to proactively engage with and encourage registration from local families who would otherwise not be National Trust members or consider an outdoor setting for their child. The Kindergarten does not generate profit. We use trading profits from other parts of our Stomping Grounds provision to ensure Kindergarten is in line with our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion practice

We recommend your child attends at least two days per week to get the most out of the experience. We have found that children who are with us more than one day a week settle much more quickly. Also children are more able to initiate their own play ideas and projects and see progression with these if there is less of a gap between sessions. 

Priority is given to those who require two or more days with us.

Of course! We are happy to discuss this with you and we will put an agreed plan in place to support progress in this area but there is no pressure to have your child toilet trained before they come to us! 

We recognise that some children have never been left before and that it can be a worrying time for you as parents too. We are happy to work with each family individually to create a tailor-made plan for settling your child. We welcome parents into our setting to stay as part of an agreed settling plan. Please feel free to ask us more about this when you come for a visit! 

If you have visited us and you would like to register your child for a place you can do this at any point. We suggest you register with us as early as possible to ensure that you secure a place.

Parents/carers will be invoiced by email before the beginning of each term. A payment for the term ahead must be made before the child’s first session of that term. You can make an arrangement with us to pay monthly in advance by standing order. Our full terms and conditions can be found in our Registration and Charging Policy.

Your child’s comfort and safety is of paramount importance to us. We can only allow children to attend Stomping Grounds Forest Kindergarten if they are dressed appropriately for a full day spent outside. If you think you would struggle to provide the kit described below please contact us so we can find a way to overcome this obstacle together. All children will require: 

  • Waterproof dungarees and jacket (Please note that all-in-one waterproofs are not recommended as they make toileting more difficult for your child). 
  • Warm waterproof shoes, boots or wellies are ideal with thick warm socks. In the summer croc wellies are nice and light and don’t necessarily need to be worn with socks In the winter at least two layers of socks are advisable. 
  • Long Trousers. We recommend base layer, leggings or joggers underneath waterproof dungarees. In winter a mid layer should be added, so a base layer and joggers. In Summer trousers can be lightweight. The more of your child’s skin is covered the better, for protection from the sun and tick bites. 
  • Long sleeved top. This should be worn in summer as well as Winter to protect from scratches, bites and the sun as well as for warmth. In colder weather two additional layers should be added so that your child is wearing a base layer top, long sleeved top, fleece and their waterproof jacket.
  • A winter hat or sunhat. Your child’s winter hat should fit under the hood of their waterproof jacket so one without a bobble is most ideal. 
  • Gloves should be worn in cold weather. It is best if your child has waterproof mittens or gloves with a spare pair in their backpack in case the original pair gets wet.
  • In the Summer crocs or wetsuit shoes may be brought along for water play.
  • Backpack that sits comfortably on your child’s shoulders, with a chest strap to ensure that it doesn’t fall off, Ideally the backpack will have a couple of easy to reach pockets on the sides.

If you are home educating, your child/ren are very welcome to join Forest Kindergarten on specified days. Children who are of compulsory school age (the term after their 5th birthday) will no longer be entitled to Government funded hours but can still attend Kindergarten at £35 per session. Children can join us at any point within their 2-5 years. We understand that home educating families may be looking for group provision at a later age than the child’s early years. We are happy for children to join us at a point that you feel your child is ready. 

Flexi-schooling is an arrangement that is made in agreement with each individual school where the parents and school jointly agree that a child will attend school for a certain number of days and will be educated off site for the remainder of the time. At times this agreement is made in response to a parent’s request and choice alone. Sometimes a flexi arrangement is agreed upon in order to support a child’s individual needs. If you are interested in exploring this option further, you would need to approach the school your child is already attending or you anticipate them attending and ask the Headteacher. There is no obligation for the school to agree. 

‘It’s a safe and magical place where he can just be. Learning is a by-product of the special experience he has in the woods with his friends. Inspiration is organic and everyday. He starts his own projects, involves his friends, asks his curious question- and the staffing ethos of encouraging self led play is what makes it happen naturally. Staff support, nudge and validate- but they don’t dominate. What better place to understand himself and the world than at his Gibside kindergarten.’


‘My child has grown independent, resilient and confident since starting kindergarten, formed some beautiful relationships with friends and practitioners alike.

What you do and how you do it is unique to you and exactly what our child needs. Our child is flourishing with your expertise and provision. We would be absolutely devastated if we could no longer use Stomping Grounds, it is such an important part of our child’s life and brings them friendship, joy, regulation and education’.


‘My child clearly thrives under the care of Kindergarten. He’s developed in confidence, self advocacy, he is an excellent problem solver and asks lots of relevant questions about the world around him. He’s also extremely independent and really good at trying and testing things before asking for help. I can see how well he’s set up for reception in September. He’s the youngest of 3 children and by comparison I can see the difference this approach has had on his development over the past 2 years.’ 


Further Information

If you haven’t already, complete our expression of interest form and one of our Kindergarten Team will be in touch with you to answer your questions and provide more details. If you’ve already completed the form, come and see us! We will give you a call and arrange an appointment so you can come and see our setting, meet the team and get a feel for what a Kindergarten session is like.