About us

About us

On 31st August 2015 we moved in to our new purpose-built nursery building. Our building is the first early years setting in Scotland to be built using the Passivhaus (Passive House) design. The passivhaus aim is to be energy efficient and maintain a comfortable environment without the need for using heating.

The Rocking Horse Nursery is an independent nursery set up under the terms of a Trust to provide nursery facilities for students and staff of the University of Aberdeen. The Trust is a non-profit making body, but the Nursery has to be self-supporting.

The nursery is committed to the provision of high quality childcare and education. Through its registration with the Scottish Care Inspectorate and its partnership with the Local Authority Early learning and Childcare Department who provide the curriculum guidelines for the 3-5 year olds, it is open for inspection at any time. The nursery also is a member of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA).

Children running in front of the Rocking Horse Nursery

We are located in Aberdeen University's Old Aberdeen campus and can cater for up to 84 children at any one time. The nursery has 3 departments:

  • Yellow room
    Children aged between 3 months and 2 years have facilities where there is a cloakroom, large playroom with snack and craft areas, a sleep room, and shared toilet/changing area.
  • Pink room
    Children aged 2-3 years have a large playroom, adjoining shared snack/craft room, and shared toilet/changing area.
  • Green Room
    Children aged 3-5 years have facilities in a large playroom, separate toileting area, direct access to a creative play/meal room, and a cloakroom area.

We are a single-storey building, with all departments having direct access to our outdoor areas. There is a large outdoor area of slabs and grass, and we have a separate large walled garden area.

The kitchen is adjacent to the reception area. There is also a family area available next to the reception in which parents can meet.

Our Vision and Aims

Rocking Horse Nursery Vision and Aims

We as a team (Staff, Management and Trustees) recognise the importance of a child’s early years. We believe that children should be supported in play by providing a safe, secure, fun and challenging indoor and outdoor environment where children can develop at their own pace through support from practitioners.  Health and wellbeing are fundamental to supporting children and play a key role in our values.  Using the Wellbeing indicators (Safe, Healthy, Active, Respected, Responsible, Achieving, Nurtured, Included) we promote the following aims:

  • As a staff team we self-reflect and take an active role in our own continuing professional development to enhance to practice.  Practitioners are aware of their role in supporting early learning and childcare.
  • We are aware there are different learning styles and encourage children’s choice in their learning wherever possible.  Staff are responsive to children’s needs and will work with families to promote these at all times.
  • We respect diversity and aim to offer an inclusive approach for all by promoting individuality.   Children are treated as individuals and as such we encourage innovation and creativity
  • We work in partnership with parentsand families in providing the best possible experiences for children within the setting. We will involve parents in nursery life and value their feedback.
  • We strive to provide an enabling environment where children are learning through play and exploration. We are aware of the potential for children to learn through real life experiences and will provide opportunities for children to experience this through play and in our local community.
  • We work alongside our local community and use resources which are available to enhance our practice.  We will promote a sustainable attitude to our environment and work in partnership with the University.
  • We work in partnerships with other agencies to enhance children’s development
  • Outdoor playis at the heart of the nursery life. As well as encompassing the aspects of health and wellbeing through exercise and fresh air, we believe that all learning can be promoted through the outdoor area. 

Our Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees

The Rocking Horse Nursery SCIO is an independent Nursery registered with the Care Inspectorate. It has been set up under the terms of a Trust to provide nursery facilities primarily for the students and staff of the University of Aberdeen. The Trust is a non-profit making body and the Nursery is self-supporting.

Parents who wish to discuss any issues regarding the nursery with the Board of Trustees can contact:

  • Dr Gerry Hough – Chairperson
  • Ms Katrina Foy
  • Mr Adelaja Israel Osofero
  • Ms Caroline Smith


The nursery is professionally managed and is governed by a Board of Trustees as a not-for-profit organisation. All places are taken by children of students or staff of the University, with the benefit of cost reductions for staff parents from a salary sacrifice scheme and by university-term contracts and differentially lower fees for student parents.


Care Inspectorate inspection

The latest inspection was on the 10th of February 2023.  Inspection reports can be found at Find care (careinspectorate.com).  

As the nursery changed to Rocking Horse Nursery SCIO as of October 2023 information can be found here: Find care (careinspectorate.com)

Education Scotland Inspection

There is not current inspection report available.  Please see link for more information:Details | Find an inspection report | Find an inspection report | Inspection and review | Education Scotland