Smarties Nursery – Welcome To The Family

One of Cheshire’s leading children’s nurseries, Smarties, has become part of our family.

Founded on the outskirts of Chester 32 years ago by qualified teacher Annie Silcock, Smarties has been awarded ‘outstanding’ in all areas by Ofsted in its last four inspections. It was awarded UK Nursery of the Year by the National Day Nursery Association (NDNA) in 2018.

Although Annie is planning to retire, she will continue working as a consultant within the Early Years sector.

Bertram Chief Executive Officer Cary Rankin said: “Smarties is a beautiful nursery with wonderful, carefully planned, outdoor facilities that we will continue to grow and develop in line with our shared vision for outdoor learning. We believe learning outside is hugely beneficial for children and we plan to increase the range of outdoor activities offered.

“Smarties is a gem and we are delighted that Annie has entrusted us with her legacy. We are excited to move forward with the staff team and build on the excellent partnerships with parents and schools that ensure every child can thrive and develop.”

Annie Silcock said: “The last 32 years have been amazing and I wouldn’t have changed them for the world. I realised I needed to find someone to develop Smarties with the love, care and vision I have had.

“In Bertram Nursery Group, I have found my ideal successors. We share the same ethos and values regarding staff and childcare. They feel it is important that nurseries in the group retain their individual character and Bertram have an exciting long-term vision for developing one of the best outdoor provisions in the UK.”

Bertram Nursery Group now operates 37 nurseries in North West England and Scotland and is continuing to grow to allow it to provide a trusted, caring and nurturing environment for more children in the region. The Group is committed to investing in its nurseries and the training and development of their staff.

Smarties provides places for more than 100 children aged from three months to five years and is set in more than two acres of grounds, providing outdoor activities and a beautiful grand tepee tent, it also runs a holiday club for older children.

Dear families,

We are pleased to share with you our exciting plans for the future of our nurseries. Bertram Nursery Group has provided a trusted, caring and quality service to thousands of families over two decades.  That isn’t changing, but we want to grow and develop our services, facilities and, most of all, our teams who make our nurseries and kindergartens such inspiring places for children.

That’s why we’re changing our name to Thrive Childcare and Education, because that’s at the heart of what we’re about – helping our children, staff and communities to thrive.

While changing our company name and the names of some of our nurseries is the next step of our development journey, we’ll still have the same dedicated teams caring for your children.

The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced our belief that we need to adapt and invest in a constantly changing world to continue providing the service that parents and children need, tailored to the communities we support across Scotland and North West England.

Since our foundation, we have acquired some fantastic groups of nurseries and many high-quality independent nurseries. Now we are uniting them under four Thrive groupings:

  • Happitots nurseries will extend beyond Glasgow and South Lanarkshire to provide a network of affordable, flexible nurseries across Scotland.
  • Holyrood nurseries will extend more widely across our network of affordable nurseries in North West England, recognising parents’ and community needs.
  • Corner House nurseries will now extend from Edinburgh to operate more widely across Scotland, providing an extensive range of exciting, extracurricular activities and large outdoor areas.
  • Nature Kindergartens, our new sub-group, will reflect our vision to develop children’s outdoor learning. We plan to expand our Nature Kindergartens network in Scotland and England because we believe children’s learning is greatly enhanced in natural spaces.


Click here to visit Thrive Childcare and Education Website