About Us

Barcombe Playgroup is a village preschool located just outside Lewes in a beautiful rural setting. We offer a safe, warm, caring and stimulating environment for your children and we strongly believe in our ethos of learning through play.

By providing a wide choice of activities daily and a variety of play facilities the children in our care are encouraged to develop their social, emotional, intellectual and physical skills.

We believe that learning should take place at each child’s particular level with plenty of adult support and encouragement. We help all our children to grow in independence and self-confidence by learning through play.

Barcombe Playgroup was established in 1967 and is a member of the Pre-School Learning Alliance. It is a charitably constituted body (no. 1027947) with an active and hardworking parent-led management committee. We have dedicated and well trained staff who are committed to providing a first class pre-school experience.

Our setting is in the beautifully situated village hall of Barcombe, where we have our own outside play area and easy access to the surrounding countryside. We have regular outings and enjoy visits from members of the local community, as well as holding regular fund-raising and social events for both children and parents to enjoy.

We are an integral part of the local community and we welcome children from two to five years of age from Barcombe and the surrounding areas. We have excellent links with the Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding’ village school and we enjoy weekly visits to the school sports hall to encourage the children to take part in sports, games and physical activities.

We welcome children of all backgrounds and abilities, and we cater for children with special needs. We have our own Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator and we have a good working relationship with the Early Years Service.

Please explore our website to find out more about Barcombe Playgroup but if you have any questions feel free to contact us on 07845 937254 or use the Contact us page.

The Team

We have an excellent team of staff who are committed to achieving the highest possible standards for each and every child in our care. All our staff are aware of the importance of personal development and regularly attend further training courses and information sessions.

Mim Austin
Mim AustinSupervisor
Mim has worked at the Playgroup since 1997. She has lived in Barcombe village all her life and attended the Playgroup herself during her pre-school years. Her qualifications include NVQ 3 in Early Years Care and Education, Basic and Advanced Safe Guarding, Paediatric First Aid, Speech and Language Training, Health and Safety in an Early Years Setting including Risk Assessment training. She is also our Setting SENCO (Special Education Needs Co-ordinator).
Jessica Austin
Jessica AustinPlaygroup assistant
Jess joined us in May 2022. She is currently unqualified but as a Mum of two she has a wealth of experience when dealing with young children. She will be undertaking Paediatric First Aid and Safeguarding qualifications in the very near future and is hoping to also enrol on to a Early Years qualification. We are all really pleased to have Jess on board.
Jon Richards
Jon RichardsPlaygroup Assistant
Jon joined Barcombe Playgroup in February 2012 and his qualifications include NVQ Level 2 in Children’s Care, Learning and Development. Jon is also a qualified paediatric first aider, and has completed Safe Guarding training.
Kerry Mouland
Kerry MoulandPlaygroup Assistant
Kerry has worked with us since September 2008 and has a Level 1 BTEC Certificate in Child Care and has also qualified in NVQ Level 2 in Children’s Care, Learning and Development. Kerry has also worked as a childminder for an eight and seven year old. Kerry has qualified as a paediatric first aider, and has completed Safe Guarding training.
Jess Shoesmith
Jess ShoesmithAssistant Supervisor
Jess has been working with us since December 2017. She holds a Level 3 Diploma in Child Care and Education. She has also completed a Paediatric First Aid course, a Child Protection course and a basic Makaton course. Jess came to us from Wallands Primary School, where she was a lunch time supervisor, 1-1 individual needs assistant and also worked as a teaching assistant. Jess has three children of her own and is a welcome addition to our team.
Charley Nutbrown
Charley NutbrownPlaygroup Assistant
Charley has been working with us since February 2018. She holds a Level 2 Certificate in Childcare and Education and has recently completed a Paediatric First Aid course. Before coming to us Charley worked for 14 years as a nanny and then had a brief spell as an individual needs assistant at Lewes New School. We are very pleased to have Charley on board.

Premises & Facilities

Barcombe Playgroup is based in Barcombe village hall, which is situated just on the edge of the village, surrounded by fields and beautiful Sussex countryside. Our floor to ceiling windows not only let natural light flood into the setting but give us a stunning view over the fields behind.

Barcombe Playgroup is within easy walking distance of the village but we also have plenty of free parking for drop-off and pick-up for families living a little further afield or wishing to drive.

The village hall itself is a modern sustainable building with an under-floor heating system that provides excellent levels of fresh air. It has a solar thermal collector and a PV (photo voltaic) array, which between them provide electricity for heating and hot water. It also has a rain-harvesting tank that provides water for toilet flushing and the building’s large windows make maximum use of natural light.

We use the smaller of the two halls inside the village hall, which is bright, airy and warm in winter but cool in summer, as we can safely open the door to our own enclosed outside play area to let fresh air flow in.

Whenever possible we let the children’s play free flow in and out and we encourage some daily outdoor play whatever the weather. We ask that parents provide their children with suitable clothing for the weather, including wellies in the wetter seasons and sun cream in the summer, but we also have waterproofs that we dress the children in to take them outside when appropriate.

Our outside play area has all-weather matting and several pieces of fixed play equipment, including a wooden pirate ship, stepping stones and a balance beam. We also have a see-saw, a sand pit, a mud kitchen, and plenty of ride-on toys and balance bikes.

Inside the setting we have our own private toilets and sinks, which are great for children at all stages of toilet training. We do not ask that our children are fully toilet trained before joining us so we also have potties and nappy-changing facilities. We have access to the village hall kitchen and make use of this for weekly cooking activities.

We have plenty of toys for role-play games, a dressing-up box, cars, trains, construction toys, musical instruments, craft equipment, pencils and paints, games, puzzles, and so on, as well as a book corner with mats, cushions and chairs to snuggle up in for some quiet time.

Routines & Activities

No two days are the same at Barcombe Playgroup. We have a wide range of toys, games, puzzles, books, play equipment, crafts and activities that are rotated regularly. Children can choose their own games every day but they are encouraged to join in if a more specific activity has been laid out, for example cooking, making something seasonal or painting.

If a child doesn’t wish to take part in a specific or group activity they are never forced to do so as each child’s individual needs and spontaneous play take priority over planned activities.

We also encourage daily outdoor play and despite the British weather we often take the children out on ‘adventures’, for example a walk to the little wood at the bottom of the hill just behind the village hall or a visit to ‘Wild About Barcombe’ (a community wildlife habitat situated just off the recreation ground in the village).

Our daily activities include registration every morning, when we ask the children to sit quietly on the mats while we take the register, as some structure to the day provides the children with a sense of routine and helps them to feel secure in the setting. It also helps to prepare them for school life later on.

After taking the register we have ‘Show and Tell’, which has proved to be very popular with the children. If a child wishes to bring in an item from home to ‘show’ to the group they put it in the ‘Show and Tell’ box as they arrive so that it does not get muddled up or lost amongst the Playgroup toys. Each child can then show their item in turn or just share some news with the group if they wish. We find that the children really enjoy this routine and we watch them grow in self-confidence during this activity over their time with us.

Food & Drink

At roughly the same time mid-morning every day we provide the children with snacks, consisting of some fresh fruit or vegetables, with either toast with a choice of butter, Marmite or honey, or bread sticks with houmous, or crackers with cream cheese, and milk or water to drink.

On special occasions we have treats, such as pancakes on ‘Pancake Day’.

We aim to make snack time a social time as children and staff sit and eat together. We feel that children learn a lot from sharing together and the social element also encourages the children less interested in food to eat.

Do please tell us about your child’s dietary needs and any allergies so that these needs can be met.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays the children have the option of staying for lunch. We ask that the children bring a packed lunch and a drink, and again lunchtime is a sociable time as the staff and children all sit together to eat.

Key Person Scheme

On joining Barcombe Playgroup each child is assigned a member of staff as their ‘key person’. This member of staff helps the child to settle in and it is their ongoing responsibility to support the child in all areas. The key person observes and records each child’s achievements, and identifies their ‘next steps’ or areas for future development.

Each child’s key person is also responsible for keeping their ‘learning journey’ up-to-date. A learning journey is an individual record of development, containing on-going observations in the form of written information, photographs and examples of activities, such as a child’s artwork.

Parents are encouraged to take their child’s learning journey home regularly and to add any relevant information to it. Parents are also encouraged to liaise directly with their child’s key person to support their child’s progress and stay abreast of their developments.

Ofsted Report

Barcombe Playgroup had an Ofsted inspection in March 2017. The Inspector deemed the practice at the Playgroup to be “good”. We were very pleased with what the inspector had to say about us. To read the report in full, please click on the following link:

Barcombe Playgroup Ofsted Report

If you do not wish to read the full report here are some of the things that were said about us:

“Staff promote children’s good health well. They enjoy healthy snacks and meals and follow good hygiene routines.”

“Staff are positive role models and help children learn to respect and tolerate each other’s differences. Children behave well.”

“The staff use an effective key-worker system this means they know their key children well. They target strategies for early intervention to support children’s individual needs. As a result, any gaps in children’s learning are closing.”

“The staff plan a good educational programme. They provide interesting and challenging experiences that enhance all children’s learning.”


Barcombe Playgroup is run by a parent committee that works closely with Playgroup staff to ensure a high standard of care and education is provided for your children.

All our committee members are parents of children currently at Playgroup, who volunteer to provide a little of their time and varying skills. The committee deals with the business side of Playgroup – advertising, marketing, fund raising, purchasing of equipment, recruitment, staff wages and so on. It meets once a term for committee meetings.

Every year when our older children leave to go off to school we lose committee members and need new ones to replace them so if you think you might be interested in joining please contact a member of staff at Playgroup for information on how to do so.

Or if you would like to chat to an existing committee member before joining to find out more about what is involved just ask Mim for the names and contact details of the existing committee.

The committee AGM (Annual General Meeting) is held every year in October and everyone is welcome to attend. Please check our calendar for the exact date.

Current committee members include:

Chairperson – Emma Stroude

Treasurer – Dan Miles

Secretary – Charlotte Marler

Committee members – Clare Church, Polly Thom, Kirsty Hills, Amy Nussey,  Laura Corbishley and Claire Stevenson


 The policies are written and adopted by the staff and parent-led committee and are reviewed annually to make sure that we continue to offer a quality service.

Accident policy

Behaviour Management Policy

Confidentiality policy

Equality and Diversity policy

Health and Safety

Medication and Sickness procedure

Non Collection of Child Policy

Safeguarding Policy

SEND Policy


These are our core policies – we do have others.  If there is a policy that you would particularly like to see please ask a member of staff.


“Both my children have loved Barcombe Playgroup. It gave my daughter the confidence to mix easily with other children and made it such an easy transition for her starting school. My son is still there and loves the variety of activities and staff. I feel really confident that they are getting a great start.”

Caroline Bragg

“Barcombe playgroup is a wonderful place for young children to begin their education. It has an energy and warmth that is second to none, the staff are always smiling and are caring towards not only the children but the parents too. Jack has been at Barcombe playgroup for two years now and absolutely loves it! I don’t even get a wave goodbye in the mornings – he is off to play! There are so many activities for the children to get involved in, from the outdoor play area, to cooking, plentiful indoor activities, links with the primary school (and external providers) and lovely crafts that Jack regularly brings home for us to keep. Barcombe playgroup offers a very high and professional standard of care to the children and I would highly recommend it to any parent wanting their children to thrive, develop and enjoy!”

Jess Lloyd

“Barcombe Playgroup provides a caring, nurturing environment for all the children that attend. Its close links with our village school mean that the children are school-ready when they leave, which was perfect for my first child who was quite shy and insecure. When he started school he ran in confidently on the first day and has never looked back and I believe that this is because he already felt at ease in his new surroundings having visited regularly with Playgroup.

My second child is still at Playgroup and enjoying it very much. The staff there make it easy for the children to settle in and provide for each child’s (and parent’s) individual needs during that all-important settling in process. There is no one-size fits all ethos but a belief that each child is unique and their individual characters should be nurtured and cared for in order to bloom.

Not only does Barcombe Playgroup provide a friendly warm environment but it is also in a beautiful physical setting with plenty of light pouring in through the full length windows and a fantastic outside garden area that is used every day, whatever the weather.

Both of my children have been very happy there and it has been a joy to watch their development. I would recommend the setting to any prospective parent.”

Kate Christie

“For the past two years our son has been cared for by the wonderful staff at Barcombe. The setting itself is amazing and the outdoor space allows children to explore and play imaginatively. We have found all the staff to be attentive, caring and above all they really get to know each child as an individual. This has been extremely important to us as our son has special needs (speech and language) which have been very well catered for. Communication with parents is excellent and they have created a community which is approachable and understanding. I would not hesitate in recommending Barcombe to any parent looking for a stimulating and nurturing environment for their child. The staff really do go that extra mile!”

Gemma Roxburgh

“The playgroup team have been wonderful…My children are always disappointed to leave at collection time! The environment at the new village hall is beautiful and light, with views over Sussex countryside and the children have plenty of outdoor play. The staff at playgroup are warm and caring and I would enthusiastically recommend this childcare setting to anyone.”

K. Crowder

“Having three out of our four children go through playgroup (one isn’t old enough yet), they have all flourished in the friendly, caring atmosphere that encourages them to develop and be ready for their fun-filled life at school. The staff have a caring and professional approach. They are always available to discuss any concerns that may arise. Our children have all settled in really quickly and have been happy to be left. They have also enjoyed the many activities that are on offer.”

Clare Cooper

“Moving to a new village, Barcombe playgroup helped both me and my children settle in very quickly. Both parents and staff are welcoming and friendly. The playgroup provides a caring and nurturing environment and is an integral part of the community.”

Emma Loughlin

“Having come from a nursery where my daughter cried every time she went to Barcombe playgroup where she ran in without looking back was a relief and a joy.”

Gary Loughlin

“Both of my children have spent their pre-school years at Barcombe Playgroup with my youngest due to leave this summer to go to school. I have been really impressed with the care and attention they have received, especially my son who has had special needs support for his speech development. The environment is warm and caring and my children are very fond of the staff, who welcome them each morning. The premises at the new village hall are a real bonus and my son loves the walks and adventures in the surrounding countryside.”

Hannah Oakden

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