Willow Cottage Nursery
Parents' Newsletter

October 2022
At Willow Cottage, our vision is to offer parents the highest quality of childcare and a pre-school education of excellence.

Our newsletters are published in conjunction with our website, eyLog communications and social media posts to keep you informed of what is currently, and has been, happening at Willow Cottage.  

We hope that they will enable you to work in close partnership with us and to play an instrumental role in your child’s education, development and happiness.  

In this, our latest newsletter, we enclose some important dates and news together with information that we hope you will find of interest.

Willow Cottage has family at the heart of all that we do.

Willow Cottage has a rich history of family run nurseries that were started in the early eighties nearly 40 years ago. Originally set up by Neil and Valerie Grady, they have been supported over the years by numerous family members, Valerie’s mother Beryl Green, uncle Terry, sister Julie DeBanks and her nephew's wife Lorraine Debanks and her niece Laura Stone have worked for Willow. More recently their sons James, Adam and Ben have joined the family business and were recently appointed as directors as part of the business succession plan.

An integral part of Willow Cottage’s success over the years, particularly at our Owl’s Leat setting near Eynsham, has to be credited to the years of support and hard work of Valerie’s sister Julie De Banks (photo below) who retired this spring. Julie is, and will be, deeply missed. Here is the link to our news post back in May.

Over the summer, our head teacher Ruth Salway (photo below) kindly stepped in and took on the responsibility of managing the setting whilst we appointed Julie’s successor. We are excited to announce that Jess Mills (see further below) has been appointed as setting manager for our Owl’s Leat nursery and she will complete her handover period from Ruth at the end of October. Ruth will remain based at Eynsham for the foreseeable future to ensure a thorough induction and mentoring process for Jess but will also resume her position on the senior management team. A very warm welcome to Jess Mills as she joins the Willow Cottage family.
We would also like to celebrate with you Ruth's length of service. Currently working as our interim setting manager of our Eynsham nursery, Ruth (above) also holds the position of head teacher on our senior management team. Ruth Salway has been working at Willow Cottage for over 20 years and during that time her passion and dedication to the children and families at Willow Cottage has never waivered. She is always looking for ways to inspire and encourage the teams and is willing to support any one of us whenever and wherever she can. We are incredibly fortunate to have her.

With the recent change in leadership there have been a few opportunities of promotions and we have been able to welcome a few more members of staff to the Willow family. Here is the link to all the recent promotions and length of service record at Willow Cottage. 
We would like to introduce you to Jess Mills (photo above). Jess joined us over the summer and she will shortly be taking up the responsibility for our Eynsham setting. She has been working with children for over 20 years, both as a teacher in the USA for several years and as a nursery manager for the past 10 years.

Jess holds the Early Years Professional Status and is qualified in Forest School Leadership as well. She says that in her free time she enjoys exploring the outdoors, reading, and listening to music and podcasts. We are thrilled that Jess has joined the Willow Cottage team and wish her every success in her new role.

Congratulations to our Eynsham setting, following their recent successful inspection. 

To read more about the inspection, including some of what the inspector said during the visit and some lovely quotes from our Eynsham parents, please click here.

Sowing and growing

It had been an incredibly busy spring and summer in our nursery gardens and growing areas as well as being an especially difficult one with our lack of rainfall. The children have however had an incredibly successful growing season despite the tricky weather. Understanding healthy foods, how it is grown and our food handling skills, is an important part of what we do here at Willow Cottage. 

Recently we have been picking blackberries and it has been a bumper season for fruit from our Bramley apple and pear trees. These we will store and use throughout the winter where we can in our winter menu. The sunflowers at Farmoor are always a huge success and we have harvested carrots, tomatoes, beans, strawberries, squashes, courgettes, a variety of herbs (used in our lunches and teas) blueberries and plums. Lots of fabulous growing.

Our four week rolling menu

Just over a month ago we began a trial of our updated four week rolling summer menu. We will be moving over to our winter menu at the end of October. As always, it is possible to view your child's menu for the day on the eyLog Daily Diary.

If you would like a copy of the menu please email your setting and they will be happy to provide you with one.


  • Please can we gently remind all parents and carers to drive slowly in our Eynsham and Farmoor setting's car parks and along Weston Road for our Bletchingdon parents. 
  • We would also like to request that if you know you are going to arrive to collect your child after 17.30 that you telephone the setting to let them know your estimated time of arrival, so the team can plan appropriately for your child/children until you arrive.
  • As we have now, finally, seen some rain once again we have needed to dust off the waterproofs and wellies. It is incredibly appreciated by the teams if your child is able to have waterproofs and wellies that are able to stay at nursery. If this is not possible we will do our best to ensure these items are returned to you at the end of your child's nursery week. 
  • We would really appreciate it if you could support us by sending in several sets of well labelled clothes all-year-round. Providing a named wet bag for wet and dirty clothes is always useful and helps our effort to do as much as we can to protect our environment.
  • The children participate in a variety of sensory/messy activities both inside and outdoors. Whilst aprons are always available, we cannot guarantee full coverage all the time. We would recommend that clothes for nursery are practical and not ones you want to keep looking smart. If at all possible please avoid white or cream clothing, especially outdoor wear as it is likely to get dirty quickly. 
Dates for your Diary

Please note that we are closing all of our settings at 5pm on Friday 2nd December to allow our teams the opportunity to get ready before we go out for our joint setting Christmas party.
The best way to check our closure days is via the Dates for your Diary tab on the drop down menu of our website.

Here you will find the dates for the nursery closure over the Christmas period and bank holidays, and upcoming events including festive gatherings and events at the settings.

We greatly value your feedback.

If you would like to complete this year's survey, please click the button below. 
Parent Feedback 2022

Changes to Policies and Partnership Documents

We regularly update our Policies and Partnership documents. On our Parent Partnership Information web page you will find the latest versions of policy documents, including our safeguarding information, as well as our Partnership Agreement and Parent Contract.
Click here to see our Policies and Partnership documents
You should shortly receive a link inviting you to update your child's profile information on eyMan. It is really important that your information and consent forms are up-to-date and accurate. Please can we ask that you ensure you are completing all the questions.

If your child has an accident, hospital visit or immunisations at home, please let us know via the accident/incident form on eyLog. Likewise, if you need us to give your child prescribed medicine whilst at nursery please complete a medicine form before you arrive at the setting. We will not be able to administer your child's medication until a medicine form has been submitted. Please make sure the prescription label accompanies the medication itself into nursery. 

Please can we remind you to submit your child's medicine doses and accident forms from nursery as you receive them from us. These are required as part of our safeguarding measures and are reviewed monthly by us. 

For extra session requests, holidays, planned absences, change of person collecting your child or changes to personal details please put this information in an email and send to the setting email address below. Please could you give us as much notice as is possible of holidays or absences as this allows us to plan our upcoming rotas as efficiently as we can.
Do check if you are eligible to pay via the Government Tax Free Childcare Scheme.

You can find out more at:

Support a local family business

Your support is greatly valued. We find that by far the best way to advertise our nurseries is by word of mouth. Thank you for all the recommendations so far!

Another ways to support us is by leaving a review on our Facebook, Google or pages.

Here are the links to submit a review:
Bletchingdon setting
Eynsham setting
Farmoor setting

(you will need to click the review tab)
Willow Cottage Nurseries

Google review
Willow Cottage Nurseries

Willow Cottage on social media

You may have seen that we have been posting more regularly to our website and on our social media sites. A big thank you to Alison for her social media and website skills.

If you would like to follow us on any of our current platforms you will find the links to them in the social bar below.

The posts are written to give you insight into the wonderful experiences the children have during their time with us. 
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