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  • Writer's pictureSam Carter-knight

Stepping In The Right Direction

In the charming town of Binstead on the Isle of Wight, Stepping Stones Nursery stands as a testament to resilience, adaptability, and a deep commitment to early childhood education. Established in 1975, the nursery underwent a transformative journey under the passionate leadership of Alison Balmer, who took over the reins in 2008. Over the course of 16 years, she has not only steered the nursery through significant changes but has also cultivated a unique and family-centric environment that sets it apart on the island.

From its humble beginnings within an institute, Stepping Stones Nursery has evolved through several relocations, reflecting the ever-changing landscape of early childhood education. Alison Balmer's tenure saw the nursery transition from a community center to a mobile unit on Binstead Primary School premises, eventually settling into two separate rooms within the school itself. This strategic move not only accommodates the growing number of children but also ensures a seamless flow where young minds can explore, learn, and interact freely.

Passion Ignited:

Alison's connection to Stepping Stones Nursery was initially born out of practicality when her own children were in their formative years. The flexibility of the role allowed her to balance work with the responsibilities of motherhood. However, fate had grander plans for her. When the previous owner retired, Alison seized the opportunity to turn her part-time job into a lifelong passion.

Educational Pursuits:

Embracing her newfound role with gusto, Alison pursued a BA Hons in early years, enhancing her knowledge and skills to better serve the growing needs of the nursery. This commitment to ongoing education is a testament to the dedication she has for creating an environment where every child can thrive and flourish.

A Unique Family Affair:

What truly sets Stepping Stones Nursery apart is its status as a family-run, independent preschool—a rarity on the island. Both of Alison's daughters have been an integral part of the nursery's journey, contributing to its warm and familial atmosphere. The Balmer family's involvement extends beyond the educational aspects, with Alison's husband taking on the role of caretaker, ensuring the premises are not only well-maintained but also a vibrant and inviting space for young learners.

Community Impact:

Stepping Stones Nursery goes beyond its role as an educational institution; it serves as a hub for community engagement and support. Over the years, Alison has employed numerous individuals from the local community, creating job opportunities and fostering a sense of belonging. The nursery has become a haven for hundreds of families, providing care and education for children from the tender age of 2 until they are ready to embark on their school journey.

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