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Childcare & Early Education


Derwent Stepping Stones began in 1988 with a group of women in the Derwent area who were unable to work due to the cost and availability of childcare locally. By coming together, these women ensured that affordable and flexible childcare was available in their community for all families to benefit from.

We are a long standing, well established and highly respected organisation, working in partnership with local communities to deliver high quality and effective services. We were Derby’s first community business, combining being a Limited Company and a voluntary organisation in order to provide the local area with flexible childcare and nursery places for all families, and exciting career opportunities to those pursuing a career in childcare. For over 20 years we have continued to strive for early education and local families, and we plan to keep doing so for many more years to come.


Derwent Stepping Stones is proud to be Derby’s first community business. We are a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity, which means there are no shareholders and any surplus money generated is re-invested for the benefit of the community. It allows us to continue to maintain high standards of early education in modern facilities, source and develop highly skilled staff and excellent early learning resources, and still continue to ensure nursery placements and childcare are available to all families within our community.

Strong Leadership

We have a strong, committed and highly qualified leadership team, which includes a voluntary Board of Trustees and an executive team. Together they have skilfully managed Derwent Stepping Stones through a variety of changes, growth and diversification over many years that has always kept the core aim of affordable and flexible childcare for local communities at its heart. Every member of the Derwent Stepping Stones team is devoted to early education and the communities we support and with their leadership we continue to go from strength to strength.

Staff Development

We always knew that as well as supporting the local community with flexible and affordable nursery places, we wanted to help local people begin rewarding careers in childcare. Through collaboration with Qube Learning and Eden Training Solutions, we have helped many to complete traineeships and apprenticeships in childcare, embarking on rewarding careers they love in the communities they call home. Our partnership with Derby College (formed over 20 years ago!) also still exists today, allowing local people to continue their education with flexible childcare on site.

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Derwent Area

St Marks Road is our central site providing local and flexible childcare for the Derwent community. While it began in temporary buildings, our new purpose-built facility opened in 2006 and brought 128 places, including out of school services. Since 2018, a lovely forest garden also gives all children the experience of outdoor learning.

St Marks Road is also an Adult Learning Centre, providing a range of courses from business and digital skills to mental health awareness, and has meeting room facilities available for hire.


In 2009 we opened a new setting in the St James Centre community building in Normanton. This new Derwent Stepping Stones site came in response to English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learners needing reliable and flexible childcare whilst they completed their studies, allowing them to focus on their classes whilst knowing their children were being well cared for.

While many parents are ESOL learners, the setting is open to all families within the community and provides sessional care for 2, 3 and 4 year olds over 38 weeks per year.


In 2013, working in partnership with Brackensdale Spencer Academy, we opened a 12 place unit for funded 2 year olds within the heart of the school. In purpose-built premises, this has since expanded to include a new 26 place room for 3 & 4 year olds and is now open all year round for funded and fee paying places.

With a holiday club added in 2019, the setting offers flexible childcare throughout most weeks of the year, ensuring that families are fully supported and all children in attendance can develop the skills they need for the next stage of early learning.