South Thames Early Education Partnership

STEEP is a partnership of six like-minded London Nursery Schools and Children’s Centres, across two London Boroughs, Greenwich and Lewisham, who have a long history of high quality Early Years provision.


We are all committed members of Early Education;  The British Association for Early Childhood Education (BAECE), and believe every child deserves the best possible start in life and support to fulfill their potential. A child’s experience in the early years has a major impact on their future life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its’ own right, and provides the foundation for children to make the most of their own abilities and talents as they grow up.

Quality and qualified staff

Our settings are proud of their secure and established Early Years specialism, and the high level of expertise and experience amongst our staff, teachers, nursery nurses, support staff. We share a passion for the importance of putting the needs of the children first and ensuring high quality early education for all our children.

We know from experience that children thrive and achieve when the staff who work with them are specialist early years practitioners, who are well qualified in this field and have high levels of expertise, a robust understanding of the development of young children, a knowledge of how young children learn most effectively, and a tireless commitment to put the needs of the child and family, at the heart of their work.

As such we welcomed and celebrate the recent findings of Cathy Nutbrown in her review of Early Education and Childcare Qualifications and agree with her statement that

‘ there cannot be a compromise on quality and we must be relentless in our desire to improve experiences for young children.’

Core beliefs and principles

The principles and commitments of the Early Years Foundation Stage 2009, and the subsequent review in 2012, clearly articulate to a wide audience, the principles by which our settings, BAECE, and many other nursery schools across the country, have worked for our long history working with children and families. Each of the settings within STEEP will have unique qualities and identities but we share core beliefs and principles, which will be common to other nursery school settings:

  • We pride ourselves in valuing each child as a unique individual whose strengths, interests and passions should be at the heart of their own personalised curriculum.
  • The curriculum that we provide is broad and balanced and is responsive to each child’s development, focusing on them as a whole and meeting the physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social, linguistic, cultural and cognitive needs of each and every child.
  • We recognise the significance of strong personal and caring relationships, in children’s development and learning. To support us in this we work closely with the children themselves through our work on children’s voice and in close partnership with our families and wider community. We see the role of the Key Person in this work as invaluable.
  • We know how important the physical and emotional environment is to a child’s well-being and motivation to learn. We plan with this in mind when we develop exciting, dynamic spaces and places inside and out, considering the learning styles and needs of our children in order to make the experiences we offer irresistible.
  • We are rooted in the ‘open air’ philosophy, where children are able to access the outdoors fully throughout their early years learning and development.

Open Air Philosophy

We know that the outdoor environment provides opportunities for learning that cannot be experienced inside and we are committed to giving children the opportunity to explore on a large physical scale, and with freedom of movement. We plan for the children’s learning outside with the same rigor and with the same commitment to personalisation that we give to our inside environment.

‘Children want space at all ages. But from the age of one to seven, space, is almost as much wanted as food and air. To move, to run, to find things out by new movement, to ‘feel ones life in every limb’, that is the life of early childhood’

~ Margaret McMillan, The Nursery School (1919) (1930)