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Please note: There is a nursery in Wincanton which describes itself as ‘The Balsam Nursery within the Wincanton Early Years Centre’ and whose OFSTED report is headed ‘The Balsam Nursery’.
Please be aware that this nursery has absolutely no connection with the Balsam Centre, or its nursery, Conkers Community Nursery.

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All ducks deserve hair!
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Baby sensory exploration
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Checking out the mini-beasts in the garden
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Creative construction
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Down at the farm
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Caught red - or orange - handed
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Let's look at a book
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Painting with wheels
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Ready for some jumping in muddy puddles
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Some creative drawing
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Time for tea
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Water play
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Baby sensory exploration
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Making habitats for our garden friends


Welcome to Conkers, the nursery that always puts children and families first. We provide a happy, nurturing environment to enable all children to reach their full potential.

Our own nursery, run by The Balsam Centre's Early Years staff, is a natural progression from the high quality Children Centre services we provided at The Balsam Centre. Conkers has been running since 2015 and provides a full-time service that children can access daily, or as required.

We are able to offer flexible childcare for 51 weeks of the year, with funded places for 3 to 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds. We also offer places for babies from 3 months.

Based in The Balsam Centre, the ground floor nursery has a large light room zoned into different areas with access to the secure outdoor play area. A quiet room offers space for the younger children to nap. In addition to the main nursery garden, there is a small orchard for forest school activities.

Access to the nursery is through the Balsam Centre garden following the signage. Please note all visit are by appointment only due to the current situation.

The importance of play:

Play is how all children learn; this is their form of work. Allowing children the opportunity to discover, use their natural curiosity, imagination and enthusiasm allows children to learn and develop all the skills they will need for later life. We encourage children to be as independent as possible as they will also learn through trial and error. By encouraging children to overcome difficulties for themselves they build resilience which better equips them for the future. These are the Characteristics of Effective Learning (COEL).

At Conkers we use Child-led Planning. This is where we provide an enabling environment with resources which cover all areas of learning and allowing the children to choose their own activities. Children learn best when they are interested in what they are doing and by allowing them to choose their own activities along with long periods of uninterrupted play, children can become deeply involved in what they are doing. Using the Leuven Scale of involvement developed by Professor Ferre Leavers our skilled staff asses the environment, looking out for children who are showing high levels of engagement and involvement in their chosen activity. Staff will then extend this learning by providing ‘teachable moments’. This is where staff will observe the child or group of children first without interrupting and then skilfully extend the learning when appropriate. For example, a child may be trying to fill a watering can by scraping it through a puddle, the member of staff may extend this learning by showing or suggesting that the child could use a scoop to fill the can more effectively. This may then lead to a discussion about water or rain or the colour of the scoop or watering can, the patterns the water makes on the floor or that we need to make sure our pet dinosaur has water to drink… the possibilities of the learning are endless and staff remain led by the child as to where the learning takes us. By learning in this way children should show high level involvement most of the time and therefore deep level learning is taking place. The emphasis is on processes not end products and so we do not use templates, creative works that your child produces will be individual to each child.

This learning and these interactions are taking place the whole time, there are too many in a day to record each one and so each child in the setting is given a turn at being a focus child where these interactions are recorded for a week. This information is shared with the parent on Famli (our online learning journal that we use for all children). We also ask parents to contribute to this process.

This recorded information links in with the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which is the curriculum followed by us and will continue into the Reception year at primary school. The EYFS is divided into areas of learning. The three Prime Areas are: Personal, Social and Emotional, Communication and Language and Physical Development. These are the areas of learning which underpin all other areas and building these fundamental skills is of paramount importance in the Early Years. The specific areas of learning within the EYFS are: Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. Along with long periods of play, we also have some short focussed circle times for the older children where children are able to further develop those listening skills which will be so important for their journey on to school.

Did you know that all babies and young children are superb scientists?

They spend their time developing theories which they test, evaluate, retest and confirm. ("This lady is smiling at me; I wonder what happens if I smile back? Aha, she is talking to me now - I wonder if I can make my mouth into that shape? I wonder if this will work with other people?")

child with pots

At Conkers, the "Characteristics of Effective Early Learning" are at the centre of what we do

These are life skills really: curiosity, willingness to have a go at something new, getting involved and concentrating, having the confidence to keep trying even when it gets tricky, or choosing a different way of doing something, even setting up your own challenges and recognising your own achievements. Every child who develops each of these characteristics builds the resilience to overcome the challenges of everyday living and succeed in what they choose to do.

child with scissors

Partnership with parents

Conkers recognise that as your child’s main carer you are their most important educator and of course you know your child the best. We induct all new parents to the setting to enable us to get to know you and your child better which will help us provide the best service to both your child and family. Parents of younger children are also required to share and regularly provide an update of their routine for naps, feeds, nappies etc. Throughout your child’s time at Conkers, parents are asked to actively engage with us on Famli and share your family news and milestone moments. For example what is your child particularly interested in at home at the moment, have you been on a recent holiday, got a new pet, has your child sat unaided for the first time, put on their shoes independently etc. Sharing this information enables us to help your child feel settled when with us and enable staff to provide a more familiar environment. All children are allocated a Key Person, this person will be responsible for recording your child’s information and keeping you informed of their progress, although we are a small team and so all staff will get to know your child.

Flexible Settling In

As every child is unique, we have a flexible settling in period. Some children settle very quickly and others take a little longer, so we tailor it to meet your needs. Once settled each child will be allocated a Key Person. We wait until children have settled in before allocating a permanent Key Person to see if they build a bond with a particular member of staff.


child with Duplo

Lunch and snack

All children who attend over the lunch period need to bring a healthy packed lunch with an ice pack and water. We also have a morning and afternoon snack which the nursery provides such as a bread stick and small piece of fruit.



We are a community nursery and fortunate that we are based within a building which has a great support network for families and that we are able to draw upon these resources when necessary.

Visits are permitted, but by appointment only. We invite families to visit for stay and play sessions and in the past have held family events such as sports days and Christmas parties.


child in paint


Children with Special Educational Needs

Like all parents of children starting nursery school, you will have plenty of questions about how your child will be nurtured here. How will your child be supported? How can you find out how your child is doing? How do we help you to support your child's learning?

Of course, you are free to talk to us - just call us to make an appointment 01963 31842, but this pdf download may help to answer some of your questions.


child with camera


Keeping in Touch

We like to celebrate children's achievements and share them with you, so we have parents' meetings twice a year as well as daily "handover" contact with your child's Key Person. We are required to keep formal records of every child's achievements in the EYFS, which follow the child to school and remain with them until the end of the first year.

Come along and join the fun! Contact us to find out more.

If you have any questions, whether it's about EYFS or how you can register your child, contact us and talk to a member of staff. (If you are unable to reach us on the phone, call The Balsam Centre).

Address: Conkers Community Nursery, The Balsam Centre, Balsam Park, Wincanton, BA9 9HB

Telephone: 01963 31842 (between 9am and 4.30pm) Email:

children in the gardan

child with wooden items

child with sand

child with Brio

children with Brio

child pouring milk

child with pots

child in the sand

Opening Times

We are open from 8am to 5.30pm Mondays to Fridays. (The office at the Balsam Centre is open from 9am to 5pm).

We close for the period between Christmas and New Year and Bank Holidays. In addition, the nursery is closed for five inset days. We give at least one month's notice and our aim is to provide the five dates for the school year in September.

Our start times are 8am, 9am and 1pm.

All children are required to attend at least two sessions. Less than this generally results in children who do not settle well. It benefits the child to have a bit more consistency.

child playing in the toy kitchen

child with calculator


Fees are payable monthly in advance. Arrangements can be made for weekly payment in advance. Please see our Fees Policy.

The hourly rate for all children is £5.75

We offer year round and term time only contracts

Parents of children who are in receipt of government funding (3-4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds) can choose to spread the 570 funded hours over 12 months rather than having a term time only contract. This would enable your child to attend nursery for 11 hours per week for 51 weeks

We do not charge for the period between Christmas and New Year, Bank Holidays or staff training days.

Children attending on a year round contract may take 2 full weeks as holiday during the year at a 50% discount. These must be taken as a full week (child's usual attendance hours) and a month's notice is required.

Parents need to provide their own nappies, wipes, and suncream.

Supporting The Balsam Centre

The Balsam Centre is an independent charity set up by local people for local people.

Whilst the work of the Centre is long term, funding for its projects and services is all too frequently short term.

It is largely thanks to help from a fund created by a legacy left by one person, that the Balsam Centre has been able to continue its mental health work over the last few years. The help that this has given hundreds of people is a permanent and living memorial to that person’s generosity.

If you are thinking of donating, have you considered becoming a Friend of the Balsam Centre? This is a commitment to regular giving of any amount, at any interval, by standing order, and even better, if you are a UK tax payer and you ‘tick’ to say so, we can claim another 25% on top of your donation to support the work of the Centre. Become a Friend here!


Give As You Live

We have signed up to be a part of Give As You Live where you can raise money for us - just by shopping online in your normal way! All you have to do is click on the link, choose your charity - The Balsam Centre - and then create an account.

The site will ask for your name, email address and a password. You can choose your favourite shops, or just use their search bar to find the product you are looking for. When you buy in this way, the retailer will donate an amount to us, and you can see exactly what you have donated. This is a great way for people who would like to support us to do so whilst doing their normal online shopping! All the big retailers are there, Amazon, Ebay, supermarkets, and department stores. Happy Shopping! And thank you for supporting us!!

Donating via

We have a charity page where you can donate directly to The Balsam Centre, and Wonderful will collect the tax for us! Just click on the logo and you will be taken to the page for donations to Wincanton Community Venture, the official name for The Balsam Centre charity.

It is largely thanks to help from a fund created by a legacy left by one person, that the Balsam Centre has been able to continue its mental health work over the last few years. The help that this has given hundreds of people is a permanent and living memorial to that person’s generosity. A legacy to the Balsam Centre is also one of the simplest ways that you can help the practical work of the Centre.