Our research

Oak Tree believes that opportunities for learning and pedagogy are enhanced when they are informed by research.

Being part of the wider Bath Spa University research community provides opportunities for the nursery to become research active and involve staff, children and families in making insightful contributions to the field of early childhood education and care.

The nursery aims to work across the University on multi-disciplinary projects and has significant links with the Centre for Research in Early Childhood based in the School of Education. This research centre’s overarching research theme aims to question assumptions in relation to the role of the adult and their interaction with children and young people.

Oak Tree believes the benefits of setting-based research include:

  • the promotion of shared reflective dialogue between practitioners, children, parents and academic staff
  • the development of practitioner understanding of the role of the adult and environment
  • engaging children in the process of their own learning, competencies and interests
  • provoking new understandings leading to quality improvement

If you have any questions about our involvement in research projects, please contact us.


Forest and outdoor research project

Oak Tree nursery participated in the School of Education’s research into outdoor forest experiences.

Vicky Towell, Deputy Manager at Bath Spa University’s on-site setting, Oak Tree Day Nursery, joined Senior Lecturer Dr Lone Hattingh and a group of undergraduate and postgraduate students on a field trip to Denmark in December 2016, to study play pedagogy in three outdoor settings in Copenhagen. Vicky commented on the resilience of the children, who were able to sustain their activity despite the cold weather. They were able to explore freely and to focus and reflect on their play while they immersed themselves in the natural environment as they climbed, explored, and examined their surroundings.

This field work related to the School of Education’s Forest and Outdoor research project, a multiple case study which explores outdoor pedagogy in a number of settings in Denmark, England and in the USA with our GALA partner at SUNY Geneseo. The nursery is participating in the English case study, and will be contributing to the final report. The project aims to explore shared understandings of outdoor forest experiences in order to facilitate a deep understanding of the ways in which children benefit from forest and outdoor experiences.

Children’s visible voices project

As part of the Year of Digital Citizenship, academic staff from the School of Education are working in partnership with the staff, parents and children at Oak Tree Day Nursery to create high quality video footage of the children playing and interacting. The project reflects a key principle of early childhood education and care in that it aims to capture children’s views of their experiences, environments and relationships in natural and respectful ways.


The project aims are twofold; firstly to create high quality video footage alongside teaching materials which can be used as a resource for students on Bath Spa University’s undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Secondly, the unedited footage will be used by staff at Oak Tree Day Nursery to inform planning, resourcing and staff development. The footage will also be shared with the children and parents to generate reflection and discussion.


The project team and Oak Tree staff have met on a number of occasions to plan the filming and discuss ethical considerations. Parents have been informed about the project and invited to an open day to discuss any questions. The team plan to start the filming in April 2017, with the edited footage and teaching resources completed in May 2017.


Ethical processes have been followed according to Bath Spa University Ethics Committee and the British Educational Research Association.

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