Hobby Horse Nursery and Children's Centre

We work with parents as partners, and provide an environment where each child is valued and feels secure and happy.

We provide an environment where children will be encouraged to learn through play, promoting all aspects of their development.

The Centre is staffed by fully qualified and experienced Early Years Practitioners. You can be confident that we will work with you, offering a fun and loving atmosphere for your little ones to develop into confident and independent individuals.

Ofsted rated the children’s centre as ‘good’ in every area in its most recent inspection: 

“Children show that they thoroughly enjoy going to nursery. They thrive in the positive, happy and homely atmosphere, created by the attentive staff.” Ofsted, Nov 2021

“Staff provide good levels of support for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities. The manager ensures that additional funding is used effectively to provide the targeted support that some children need to reach their full potential.” Ofsted, Nov 2021

The Centre is committed to working with parents as partners:

“Both my girls have gone to Hobby Horse from 9 months old. They both love it. The oldest now goes to Hobby Horse school holiday programme which is a complete lifesaver. The staff are brilliant - they are open, friendly, welcoming, non-judgmental and very down to earth. You couldn't pay me to send my girls anywhere else.” Parent

We are open to the public from Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 6:00pm.

Open to the public

We are open 51 weeks of the year and provide childcare for up to 62 children each day, between the ages of three months and five years.

  • Two-year-old funding: Registered to take children aged over two years and in receipt of funding.
  • Three-year-old funding: Registered to take children who are aged over three years and in receipt of funding, both 15 and 30 hours.
  • School holiday provision: The Fun Club is for children in full-time school, up to the age of 10 years and 11 months in all of the Oxfordshire County Council school holidays. Sessions must be booked in advance with the Centre Manager.

Visit Childcare Choices to check your eligibility for funded places and sign up for Tax Free Childcare.

Please see our fee structure for more information.

Places for the children of the staff and students

We offer places for children of our staff and students at the college, as well as to children from the wider community.

“My son is very happy here, the staff are very experienced and caring. He is excited to go to nursery and spend time with his friends and do lots of different activities. Very happy with his progress and the care he is receiving.” Parent

Superior standards of care

Our staff qualifications exceed the minimum standards set by the Government. For example, all staff members are Paediatric First Aid trained, which is not required by law, but we feel this is very important.

The Centre has been established for over 30 years and is run by experienced, qualified nursery staff. We feel that it is important to get to know each child individually, finding out their likes and dislikes and building on their interests to incorporate them into the daily activities we have on offer. 

Each child is an individual and is responded to sensitively and carefully by Centre staff at all times. Children are encouraged to care for one another, the equipment, and their environment, gradually learning to share and take turns. 

Each child’s learning journey is different and starts with developing a good bond with their keyworker. It is important that you feel happy to leave your child with the staff at the Centre as this will be one of the most important choices you make. We encourage you and your child to visit as often as you’d like whilst making your decision to attend. When your child has been offered a place at the Centre, we will arrange settling in sessions for you.

My initial response when visiting this nursery; it was bright, colourful, engaging and the staff were super friendly! My daughter started in September and instantly took to the nursery, and I did as a mum. I had not a single worry when I left her in their care. I have recently been offered a place at the nursery which was initially my first choice, however, I will not be moving my daughter as I am so very happy with Hobby Horse.” Parent

Children benefit from a curriculum with a strong emphasis on developing their speaking and listening skills. Staff understand the importance to children of knowing lots of words and having the confidence to hold meaningful conversations. Staff skilfully thread this aspect of learning through the whole curriculum… the children are developing well into confident communicators. Ofsted, 2021

Fees and Opening Hours

We are open Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:30pm.

By arrangement, children can arrive early from 8am and can have a later finish time of 6pm. Early starts and late finishes need to be booked with the Centre Manager in advance. Without prior agreement, children must be collected by 5.30pm.

Please see our fee structure regarding costs for extra services, such as early starts/late finishes, more information regarding fees, closure dates and our payment policy. 

PLEASE NOTE - To protect your child, we will only hand your child to people named on the registration form.

Frequently asked Questions

You can contact us by emailing hobbyhorse@activatelearning.ac.uk or by phoning 07823367714. We would be happy to send you one of our prospectuses or you can download one digitally from this webpage.

We are attached to Banbury and Bicester College and provide childcare for staff and students at the college. We also welcome children from the wider community; if you are interested in a place for your child, please get in touch with us.

The Centre has five base rooms for your child to develop their existing skills and learn through play. This is complemented by a garden with both grass and a playground area, enabling the children to use it all year round. In addition, we have a separate enclosed outside area that is just for the younger children. The garden allows children to observe changes in their environment, look for mini beasts, and enjoy the vast outdoor resources.

“Children behave very well. They listen to what is asked of them and show care and respect for staff, each other and resources.” Ofsted

Yes, we have a free car park which is situated in front of the nursery.

Yes, you are welcome to come and visit us face to face. Just contact us and we'll arrange a time convenient for you.

Light snacks are provided by the Centre during the morning and afternoon sessions. These will be nutritious and consider all children’s particular dietary requirements.

All other meals should be provided by the parents and must be stored in a suitable container with a thermos pack clearly labelled with the child’s name. We encourage all parents to provide a healthy lunch with no fizzy drinks, sweets, or chocolate bars.

Children under 18 months can have homemade meals provided they contain no meat, fish, rice, or egg products.

We can give your child commercial baby food jars/packets that contain clearly labelled instructions. Please discuss your child’s individual requirements when you register at the Centre.

The Centre is a Nut Free Zone.


Yes, before you child starts at the Centre you will be offered settling-in sessions which will enable your child to become familiar with the nursery environment and give you the opportunity to meet your child’s keyworker and ask any questions you may have.

Please contact us for more information.

“Staff are very caring. The warm and close bonds between children and staff are evident throughout the nursery, and especially so in the baby room.” Ofsted, Nov 2021

Helen Collins - Centre Manager

Helen has overall responsibility for the Children’s Centre. She is responsible for the welfare of the children, staff, and students at the Centre. which includes special educational needs, behaviour, and safeguarding. Helen has an NVQ level 3 and 4 in Childcare and Education. She has worked at the Centre since September 1992 and has experience working with children both in schools and nurseries. Helen also has a vast amount of experience working with children with special needs and challenging behaviour. She is the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) for the Centre.

Katie Brain - Deputy Manager

Katie has worked at the Centre since July 1996 and  holds her NNEB Diploma Qualification, and an NVQ level 4 in childcare. She has a considerable amount of experience working with children from 0-4 years. Katie is also the Safeguarding, Behaviour and SENCO support for the Centre.

Kelly Bidwell - Assistant Deputy Manager

Kelly has been at the Centre since July 2000. She holds the Diploma in Nursery Nursing qualification and NVQ level 4 in childcare and has a considerable amount of experience working with children aged 3 years and above. Kelly is also the Safeguarding, Behaviour and SENCO support for the Centre.

Sarah Willis - Senior Nursery Nurse

Sarah has worked at the Centre since July 2001 after completing the Diploma in Childcare and Education Level 3.  She has experience working with children aged 1-3 years.


The Honey Bee Room

Our baby room: from 3 months up to approximately 15 months

The room is made to feel like home, with an eating, sleeping, and play area. We work in partnership with parents to ensure that each child’s individual needs are met in a fun, safe and secure environment. In the babies' play area, we operate an indoor shoe policy.

“Staff are very caring. The warm and close bonds between children and staff are evident throughout the nursery, and especially so in the baby room." Ofsted

The Busy Bee Room

Our toddler room: from 15 months up to approximately two years

This spacious room offers a range of toys and activities that encourage children to develop their interests, learn new skills, and play happily together.

The Caterpillar Room

Our nursery room: children from two years to three years

The room comprises a large play area offering fun and enjoyable activities throughout the day, allowing free choice and interactive play during each session.

The Butterfly Room

Our pre-school room: children from three years to five years

This room has defined areas of development linking in with the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum. Parent packs are provided termly, introducing the themes, festivals and activities for you and your child to explore at home.

Our Aims

Our team of highly qualified staff provide an environment where children are encouraged to learn through play, promoting all aspects of their development. We do this by:

  • providing a home-from-home experience where we can follow the babies’ routines and parents’ own values to ensure continuity of care
  • working towards the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum
  • promoting equality of opportunity for all children and families, ensuring each child is equally valued in a secure and happy atmosphere
  • providing a safe, stimulating environment where children feel confident to make choices and are motivated to become independent learners
  • giving both parent and child the support of a personal key person
  • providing opportunities for you and your family to be involved in the themed activities and your own child’s progress
  • ensuring continuity of care and education for children who attend more than one provider; good communication with the other provider, with parental consent

If you would like to find out more, or enrol your child into the centre, please contact us:

07823 367714 / 01865 551 662


By Post:

Helen Collins (Centre Manager),
Hobby Horse Children’s Centre
Banbury and Bicester College, Broughton Road
Banbury, Oxon
OX16 9QA

The Hobby Horse

Open to the public

View more details on our excellent facilities below!