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Nursery education

20 February, 2020

Kristina, an hour after the shelling in Luhansk, Eastern Ukraine, 2017. Photo: courtesy of the artist

• IN Jane Clinton’s report on the Play Well exhibition (In praise of play, Review, January 16), your writer reports that Rachel and Margaret McMillan set up the first nursery school for London’s poor in 1917.

This was simply to repeat an error in the Wellcome exhibition catalogue and on a caption in that exhibition. In fact, the term nursery school simply replaced “free kinder­garten” and the first of these opened in Woolwich in 1900. In London, the term “nursery school” was first used for a school in your very own borough!

Esther Lawrence, principal of Froebel Educational Institute, opened Somers Town Nursery School at 18 Crowndale Road in 1910. Two years earlier she had opened the Michaelis Free Kindergarten in Notting Dale and renamed it Notting Hill Nursery School in 1915.

Both of these, as well as the free kindergarten in Woolwich, served some of London’s poorest families. Somers Town Nursery School was evacuated in 1939 and did not reopen after the war.

Emeritus Fellow
School of Education
University of Roehampton


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