HENNY Penny, Daisy and Love continued rooting round for food, unperturbed by the noise of the children they are used to collecting their eggs.

Laughter, running footsteps, excited voices calling to each other – the sound of youngsters having fun – is all around them.

And there is rather more of that to come in Riding Mill Pre-school’s brand new grounds, tucked away in a lovely Dingley Dell setting behind Broomhaugh First School.

The decision of the pre-school’s “wonderful” leader Suzanne Barker to retire had started a natural conversation about ‘what next?’, said the chairwoman of its management committee Carole Smith.

“It has been based at the Millennium Hall in the village since 2000,” she said, “but then we began discussing the idea of bringing it up here to the grounds of the first school.

“It just made sense to have the two together when parents were bringing older brothers and sisters here anyway.”

The pre-school’s new leader has just been named as Siobahn Stephenson.

Come September, she will start a new page in the history of the pre-school, which will suddenly be unique in Northumberland – it will be the only one based in a yurt.

Broomhaugh First School head Jen Stephenson (they are no relation) said: “We did a lot of research into yurts and I got in touch with a couple of schools in Scotland, one at the top of Scotland and another on the shores of the sea, that are both based in yurts.

“They talked about how warm and secure these things are, and just cosy in the extreme.”

As if that wasn’t enough to coax the most reluctant of pre-schoolers out of bed, then consider the days that await them, for the demands of the standard Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum will be blended with a generous measure of activities harvested from the Forest Schools’ movement.

Jen said: “It will be about just getting them out there and saying, hey, it’s a windy day, what types of things can you do on a windy day?

“Siobahn is talking about digging a fire pit and cooking over it, building things in a little outdoor engineering centre she wants to have, building towers out of sticks as a team, and so on.”

Basically, come sun, rain or snow, the children will be outside for much of the day.

“The rest of the (first) school go out a lot already – children and mud go together,” said Jen. “The only time they don’t go out is in a thunder storm.

“Children talk more when they are outside, they become far more creative and physically they become much fitter without even realising it.

“It simply makes them more resilient and robust when they are out in all weathers, and it means their education isn’t about spoon-feeding them either.

“They learn to think for themselves.”

Until now the pre-school has been open three days a week. In September, that will go up to five, with 15 places available in each session. The two stalwart assistants, Linda Humble and Ange Burrows will be there as ever, welcoming the new intake with a smile.

So there’s just that trio that might be squawking over the new arrangements. Watch out Henny Penny, Daisy and Love! You’re going to have to share more of your time and space with those bright young things.