After more than 40 years of operating, a west Dorset pre-school has had to adapt and change in order to reopen after the lockdown.

Whitchurch Pre-school has become a forest school, with children spending all their time learning outside and only using the village hall as a base.

Marie Winnett, pre-school manager, said: “At Whitchurch, we believe children learn through play and being outside in the natural environment.

“We have always spent a large majority of our time outside, but during the Covid pandemic, we took the decision to run outside fully as a forest school. During these sessions the children use real tools, hammers, drills and saws to create anything they like with wood. We also bug hunt, go on nature walks, bake bread and learn about the natural world we live in.

“Whitchurch is a great base for a pre-school, we are lucky to be able to visit local farms where we have seen baby lambs being born and the children learn about the animals and crops. Within the village we also visit Alpacas and feed them, we walk to the church and allotments, down to a river with a rope swing and also follow footpaths, taking activities for the children to do along the way. The children each have their own backpacks so they can carry their drinks and anything they find on the way.”

The pre-school has been at the village hall since the 1970s and the children have welcomed the changes.

“The children have embraced the changes and have adapted well. They are all very aware of social distancing and the need to wash hands.

“It is a blessing to have somewhere as a base and the village hall committee have been kind enough to give us sole use at the moment.”