Sandmartins Nursery celebrates ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted rating!


Sandmartins Nursery, which is based here at York Biotech Campus, is celebrating being rated ‘Outstanding’ after a recent Ofsted inspection – the highest possible grade.

The Ofsted visit took place in August and was the first routine inspection since before the COVID-19 pandemic. The last onsite visit from Ofsted took place in 2013, where the nursery was also awarded ‘Outstanding’.

Describing on what it is like to attend Sandmartins, the report begins with: ‘Children are extremely happy to attend this warm and inviting nursery. They are joyful as they enter and greet the staff with affection.’

The report also comments on ‘overjoyed’ parents full of praise for the staff and support provided by the nursery. One parent commented that the nursery feels like ‘a home from home’ with the staff going ‘above and beyond’ to make everyone feel welcome.

The inspector also commented on the staff’s exemplary communication and guidance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – a rewarding acknowledgement for owners Debbie Ashby and Helen Pearson who took over the business during this period.

Sandmartins Nursery opened as a workplace nursery on the York Biotech Campus site in 1996, with Debbie and Helen forming part of the original management team. Faced with redundancy in January 2020 and the potential closure of Sandmartins Nursery because of a contractual change, Debbie and Helen took over the nursery during the lockdowns.

Debbie Ashby, Director of Sandmartins Nursery, said: “We’re incredibly happy to see all our hard work pay off. Helen and I knew taking over the nursery wouldn’t be easy but the COVID-19 pandemic just added to the number of hurdles we already had to face, and at times it seemed impossible to overcome them.

“We’re so glad we persevered through the challenges with the help of our loyal and supportive staff. The uniqueness of every child, family and staff member is at the heart of what we deliver, and we could not have achieved this fantastic accolade without them.”

Sandmartins Nursery provides care for children aged from three months to five years, for both parents in the local community and also for employees working at leading bioscience organisations based at York Biotech Campus, including Abingdon Health, Fera, Covance and Labskin.

Liz Cashon, Innovation Campus Manager at York Biotech Campus, added: “We’re so pleased to see that the Ofsted report highlights the quality of Sandmartins Nursery, as well as how hard all the staff work to create such a safe, nurturing environment.

“Sandmartins Nursery is a really important asset for York Biotech Campus. It can be incredibly difficult to find high quality childcare, let alone childcare that works around a parent’s working life, and many of the employees based onsite take advantage of it.

“We hear first-hand from our occupiers about how having the nursery so close to their work makes balancing childcare much easier for them, meaning that they can focus on important scientific research, discovery and application, comforted by the knowledge that their children are being well looked after, and are only a short distance away.”

Sandmartins Nursery is in a bespoke purpose-built building which includes a large outdoor play area, and is situated in nature beside woodland. The nursery is divided into three age and development dependent rooms: ladybird room, caterpillar room and butterfly room. Sandmartins currently has spaces available in all three rooms.

For more information about Sandmartins Nursery, please visit: