24th February 2020
Malone Kindergarten secures new site to firmly establish early years’ centre
Malone Kindergarten is set to secure its future in south Belfast and continue its unique offering after securing a new, permanent forest school site just yards from its current position.
The innovative south Belfast early years’ centre has just lodged a planning application for the move, planned for this July, which will allow it to enhance its outside space and offer a new family wellbeing and support service.
It will relocate its current Scandinavian-style purpose-built building to the new site, improve access from the Lisburn Road and develop its facilities, the most unique in Northern Ireland.
Malone Kindergarten said the move will also allow it to further its aim of bringing nature into learning by enhancing its outside play areas.
The school will also be a key part of the Kings Hall Health and Wellbeing Park, one which is redeveloping the Kings Hall complex into a ground-breaking healthcare hub. The park will transform the provision of integrated healthcare in Northern Ireland by acting as a home for a range of health and medical service providers, alongside elderly and assisted living accommodation. and as a base for a range of precision medicine companies.
Alison Madill, Principal and Manager at Malone Kindergarten, said: “At Malone we are proud to cement our place in the local community permanently within this high profile and exciting development, one which has a vision to offer health and wellbeing services to the community. We have set out a four-year plan – Vision 2022 – to further develop our Kindergarten preschool education model which centres on continuing to grow our position in the local community as an innovative, multi-cultural centre of excellence.”
Alison said the close proximity to care for the eldery facilities at the Kings Hall Health and Wellbeing Park will allow the school to fulfil its plans to further intergenerational care.
“One of the central planks to that vision is to establish close links with the new facilities for older people on the site to offer mutual psychological benefits and learning experiences for young and old alike.”
The school has been in operation for 25 years and now offers an Education Authority funded Nursery Unit for children in their pre-school year, a Playschool for 3-year-olds, a Toddler Playschool for under-3’s, a dedicated room for 1-2 year olds and a recently added Child and Family Wellbeing & SEN Support Centre.
Education in Malone Kindergarten follows the Reggio Emilia philosophy which advocates an environment filled with ‘natural light and beauty’ and the Montessori approach which encourages children to become independent learners. Meanwhile, the Kindergarten learning style classrooms place an emphasis on bringing nature into learning and extending play areas into the environment.
“We are completely multi-cultural and cross-community and currently cater for around 100 children from a wide range of backgrounds in the local community and I am proud to claim that Malone Kindergarten is one of the most unique nursery schools in Northern Ireland,” Alison said.
David Burrows, Director at Benmore Octopus which is developing the Kings Hall Health and Wellbeing Park, said: “We are delighted to have Malone Kindergarten as a central part of the Kings Hall Health and Wellbeing Park. Its philosophy around early year’s learning is unique and fits perfectly with our vision for the park, one which is itself unique in Northern Ireland.”
Benmore Octopus is a joint venture between local developers Benmore Group and Octopus Real Estate. Construction has already begun at the site on the first phase of development of Dataworks, a new precision medicine hub.
The wider site – formerly the Balmoral showgrounds – will also include care for the elderly and assisted living accommodation, medical facilities and a multi-storey car park.
Photo Caption: Pictured are Alison Madill, Principal and Manager at Malone Kindergarten and David Burrows, Director at Benmore Octopus, in one of the kindergarten’s classrooms.