A nursery for Univ North
Univ North will support students, staff, and academics for generations to come. A central aspect of this is providing childcare and family support.
Since the earliest days of planning for a new Univ community in North Oxford, the working party was keen to include a nursery on the site. Four years down the line, while details and ideas have changed, the vision remains much the same: providing wrap-around services and facilities for the whole community.
Many people wishing to break out into an academic career can find that they are distracted or deterred by the availability of good-quality childcare. This is particularly the case in Oxford, where state childcare services are stretched, University services are grossly oversubscribed, and private services are simply out of budget for many people. The nursery at Univ North will be a great asset for the College, allowing us to continue attracting the best in staff, students, and academics.
To ensure that this key aspect of the development was supported and fulfilled, a small working party of College staff and Old Members was assembled:
• Angela Unsworth MBE – Domestic Bursar and Chair
• Revd Dr Andrew Gregory – Chaplain and Welfare Fellow
• Caroline Marriage (1991, English) – Old Member
• Dr Ian Owen (1971, Physics) – Old Member
• Dr Ben Jackson – Leslie Mitchell Tutorial Fellow in History and Development Advisor
• Dr Polly Jones – Schrecker-Barbour Tutorial Fellow in Slavonic and East European Studies
• Professor Jacob Rowbottom – Stowell Tutorial Fellow in Law
• Professor Sophocles Mavroeidis – Tutorial Fellow in Economics
• Jo Mason – Head of Childcare Services, University of Oxford
Together they scoped the required facilities and worked through the proposed designs, contributing to a vision of Univ’s needs now and into the future. The final plans informed the Univ North Working Party and Governing Body on excellence in early years provision and championed the inclusion of these most vital of facilities within the heart of the new development, supporting and enabling inclusivity in the workplace and in education and allowing the College to offer first-rate services to its members.
Now the nursery stands as one of the most pioneering aspects of the project, turning the site from what might have been just satellite accommodation into a one-of-a-kind centre of support for the College community.
The nursery will provide space for 54 children, from the age of six months until primary school. These spaces will be made available to all, beginning with Univ staff and students, through the collegiate and University communities, and ultimately being made available to the public.
Key to such a range of ages is to provide separation in the design to allow different ages to develop and be cared for in their own specific way.
Designing a nursery is much like any architectural design: a balance of functionality and aesthetics. The new nursery building will be in keeping with the other site buildings and will be accessible and eco-friendly. It will also provide all the facilities needed to offer a fun, safe, and exciting space for the children. There will be access to a beautiful outdoor garden space, as well as first-rate cooking and learning facilities in support of the early years’ framework. We hope that the nursery will demonstrate the leading edge of childcare provision in any educational setting.
If staff, students, and academics are supported in their personal lives, they will be able to focus on and excel in their professional lives. Univ North will provide services and support that are second to none, and one of these most vital of services is childcare.
Published: 3 July 2020