Donkey Field Pre-School, Crawley Down

Hours/Days of Opening

09.00 am – 12.00 pm Monday to Friday
12.30 pm – 3.00 pm  Monday to Friday

Sessions are term time only. We are closed for Bank Holidays and In-Service training days (held once every half term and notified in advance).

NOTE: If we suffer from bad snow/ice this winter, please check our facebook page for up to date info on whether pre school is open.

Introduction & background

The Donkey Field Pre-School first opened its doors in Crawley Down Village on 26th February 2001 to fulfil a need within the local community for provision for the under 5s, following the closure of Burleigh Acorns Playgroup in June 2000.

The setting up of the Pre-School was the work of a small committee of people from Crawley Down, known as "The Steering Committee". They worked closely with what was then The Burleigh Infant School, The Pre-School Learning Alliance and West Sussex Early Years Partnership Team. The Pre-School is a non-profit making charity run by a parent management committee which aims to be responsive to the needs of our local community.

The Pre-School expanded rapidly and a huge demand for places has resulted in increased staffing levels and opening to 10 sessions a week.

The naming of the Pre-School may seem curious. Before the 2006 merger of the local infant and junior schools, Burleigh Infant School occupied the site on Hophurst Drive and The Donkey Field Pre-School was housed in a temporary classroom in the school grounds. Many years before the Burleigh Infant School was built, the area was grazing land and was home to a donkey – hence "The Donkey Field Pre-School". When Burleigh Infant School merged with Crawley Down Junior School in 2006 to form the Crawley Down C of E School, The Donkey Field Pre-School was offered the use of the community room (The Burleigh Room) within the new school building. We have been in The Burleigh Room since September 2007 with our own entrance/exit separate to the school and our own enclosed garden for the children to play in.

Every January we hold our AGM where a new Management Committee is elected, mainly comprising parents of pupils at Donkey Field. Full details of the Management Committee members are listed below. Although we share the same site, we are independent to Crawley Down Village C of E School.

Our Mission Statement

We want children to feel safe and happy in the absence of their parents, to recognise other adults as a source of respect, help and friendship, and to be able to share with their parents, the new learning experiences they have enjoyed at Donkey Field.
Our main aims are to:

· Enhance the early skills and education of children aged 2½ to 5 years in a parent involved, community based group.
· Provide a safe, secure and stimulating environment.
· Work within a framework ensuring equal opportunities for all children and families.

We offer your child:

· A well-planned play-based curriculum, working towards the achievement of the early learning goals in the foundation stage.
· Individual development records for the foundation stage of learning, based on ongoing assessment and observations.
· Special care and attention made possible by the high ratio of trained staff to children.
· Fun and friendship with children and other adults.

Minimum starting age

The group is registered with OFSTED to take children from 2½ years.

Under our Registration, we can only offer a maximum of two sessions per week for the age range 2½-3 years. If you wish to increase the sessions after your child's 3rd birthday, please make enquiries with the Admissions Co-ordinator who will advise you on availability. 

To view a copy of our latest OFSTED report, please click here.

What we offer

Key worker

Your child will be assigned a key worker who will be responsible for ensuring that your child’s individual needs are met. This will include helping both you and your child during the settling in period.

Playroom & garden

We have the use of Crawley Down C of E School's community room, called The Burleigh Room, which is named after the original infant school. We refer to it as our "playroom" and we feel this is fundamental in helping to provide quality care and education for the children. We have created a comfortable, pleasant environment for the children to come into, where their work is on display and everything around them is familiar.


It is the intention of The Donkey Field Pre-School to meet, through play, every child’s personal educational need using a full and varied curriculum in a warm, safe and stimulating environment. We are committed to establishing partnerships with parents/carers through consultation and participation, and will ensure that the children will be working towards the Early Learning Goals as stipulated by the Government.

The curriculum is organised around a theme or topic. Each half term the staff meet to discuss the needs of the children and plan the activities they will offer in order to help the children work towards the Early Learning Goals. We believe that children learn best when given first hand experiences and that they should be given the opportunity to explore and experiment, be encouraged to make decisions for themselves and have meaningful interaction with adults. To this end the children will be offered opportunities to develop their skills through supervised and structured play activities.

All children require support to learn - but different kinds and amounts depend on the child. At all times staff will be interacting with the child to aid areas of development.
Although our approach is to structure each session to facilitate learning through play, the children will be allowed to determine the pace of their learning.


With effect from 1st September 2012, fees are £3.90 per hour. Fees are invoiced every half term and should be paid within 10 working days of receipt of invoice. Children are funded by the Local Education Authority for up to 15 hours per week from the term following their 3rd birthday. This funding is paid for all 38 weeks that The Donkey Field Pre-School is open in the year.

Progression to school

The majority of children attending The Donkey Field Pre-School Group will progress onto Crawley Down Village C of E School. During the child’s time with us we will do everything appropriate to prepare them for "big" school; this includes visits to the school during their last term. Please be aware it is not compulsory to progress to the village school in order to be accepted to Donkey Field, nor does attendance at Donkey Field automatically entitle your child to a place at Crawley Down Village C of E School.

If you require a copy of our latest prospectus please either download one or contact a member of staff on 01342 717877 and we will be happy to send one to you.

All members of the committee are parents, and they work together with the staff to provide a safe and happy environment in which children can develop and learn through play. We are very keen for new parents to feel as much a part of Donkey Field as their children, so we are always pleased when parents become involved. One of the best ways to do this is to join the committee. 

The committee meets in the evening about once every half term and is responsible for the overall management of the pre-school. Even if you cannot make such a regular commitment, we always need help at our fund raising events and other projects. If you would like to help out and can spare some time, please speak to a member of staff or committee. 

Click here to view the Donkey Field Pre-School Constitution

The 2013 Management Committee

Chairperson   - Erin Rayner
Vice Chairperson   Emma Street
Treasurer   - Julia Dixon
Secretary   - Sarah Howes
Uniform Co-ordinator   - Bonnie Butts
Support/Fundraising/CRBs   - Beverly Webber
Support/Fundraising   - Catherine Gillbard
Support/Fundraising   - Hannah Hill
Support/Fundraising   - Chris Hunt
Support/Fundraising   - Fiona Needham
Support/Fundraising   - Beckie Packham
Support/Fundraising   - Sarah Shelley
Support/Fundraising   - Rebecca Sullivan
Support/Fundraising   - Clare Thornton
 Support/Fundraising   - Emma Paterson