We are a child care setting located in the heart of North Dorset, between Blandford Forum and Sturminster Newton, on the premises of St. Nicholas Primary School, in the village of Child Okeford. We open from 8.00am until 6.00pm for 50 weeks per year, closing for one week at the end of August and one week at Christmas. We are a community group, a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity.
The Ark Child Okeford – History
The Ark started in 1967 as Child Okeford Playgroup, and was run by a committee of parents at Child Okeford Village Hall for 3+ year olds. In May 1994, it became registered as a charity and later that same year moved into St. Nicholas Primary School.
Over the years the group expanded its hours and changed its name to Child Okeford Pre-school, but it was not until 2006 that a major change took place. After five years of fundraising, an extension was built to the school to accommodate a full day nursery, and in January 2007 the Pre-school became The Ark, taking children from 0 – 11 years of age and incorporating Breakfast, After-school and Holiday Clubs.
In 2008 The Ark became a company registered by guarantee with the official title of The Ark Child Okeford. However, it remains a registered charity, run by parents, and any excess of income over expenditure is ploughed back into the group.
As the years passed and the Ark became over-subscribed, especially for Breakfast, After-school and Holiday Clubs, the need for more capacity became urgent. Further fundraising enabled us to obtain, renovate and reconfigure a mobile classroom and the school allowed us to expand into another area adjacent to The Ark’s garden. In July 2019 we opened this much needed new space, The Raft, which has provided our school-aged children with their own separate facilities and garden area.