Kind Words and Commendations

Cowgate Under 5s Centre opened in 2002 and is continuously evolving. We seek feedback and make changes to improve what we do.

We respond to children’s interests and preoccupations daily and in our longer term planning, but we also learn from the insights of parents and visitors and from our discovery of and involvement in research.

We include here a selection of kind words and commendations which also provide an insight into the history of the centre and more about its current activities.

Visitors and parents

‘Extremely happy with all aspects at Cowgate under 5’s. I really feel it has attributed to my daughter’s progression and development’. Parent, Inspection Report, 2016

‘Excellent Early Years care and education for both my children. Warm, welcoming and friendly environment’ Parent,  Inspection Report, 2016

Watch Cowgate parents speak about their impression of the nursery environment. This film is one of five films covering exploring practice at Cowgate Under 5s as a Education Scotland Practice Exemplar to support the early years practice guidance: ‘Building the Ambition’.

Reports and publications

Cowgate is a Froebelian setting, that takes inspiration and learning from an approach developed by Friedrich Froebel who set up the first kindergarten (child garden) in 1837. Head of Centre Dr Lynn McNair co-leads, with other Froebelian practitioners, the University of Edinburgh’s Froebel professional development course.

The Froebel Course was praised in the Independent Review of the Scottish Early Learning and Childcare Workforce and Out of School Care Workforce report by Professor Iram Siraj and Denise Kingston, April 2015

The Froebel Course began in 2010 led by five Edinburgh nursery heads. All contributed chapters to Early Childhood Practice: Froebel Today, 2012.

Cowgate features as a ‘best ever transformation of tarmac’ in Play Out: How to Develop Your Outside Space for Learning and Play, 2014

History and development

Cowgate Under 5s Centre was designed by Allan Murray Architects. It was completed in July 2002 and opened shortly afterwards. The building won the British Construction Industry (BCI) Awards in 2003 – Small Projects Category; was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Better Public Buildings Award 2003 and won the Edinburgh Architectural Association Silver Medal 2002. View details of the plan and completed space.

Images of the completed and empty building contrast with images on this website to show how the environment has evolved to suit the needs and interests of children and families.

Outdoor learning advocate Juliet Robertson blogged her praise of the Centre’s outdoor environment:

Awards and other achievements

Nursery World Awards

Investing in Children

Cowgate achieved ‘Investing in Children Membership Award’ Status in 2011. Investing in Children promotes children’s rights and members are assessed for their commitment to ‘dialogue with children that leads to change’. Read a summary of Investing in Children’s findings. A comment from the first report: “The interaction between the children and the adults demonstrated a child-led approach – children were never forced to participate and children who were initially reticent to talk were respected and enabled to gradually build their confidence. The situation was characterised by gentle discussion and humour.” Investing in Children, 2011

“One of the outstanding things about Cowgate nursery is the trip to the woods on the city outskirts where children can explore and learn about nature. This requires a huge commitment by the staff to organise daily transport so that all children from toddlers upwards get the chance to experience nature on a regular basis.”

Parent, Inspection Report 2016