OUTSTANDING nursery groups from Hampshire were honoured as being among the best in the country at a special celebration by watchdog Ofsted.

Two nurseries from the Southampton-based Paint Pots Nursery group and three from Yellow Dot Nursery group, which has pre-school provisions across the county, were invited to London’s Guildhall after being named as outstanding providers – the second time both groups have received the accolade.

Julie Hooker and Catherine Baker, who run Paint Pots groups in Freemantle and Sholing, attended the celebration for providers who inspectors judged as giving excellent quality of care, support and education.

They were joined by Yellow Dot group manager Vanessa Innes, as well as Lorna Innes, who runs the group in Chandler’s Ford, Jilly Pearce from North Baddesley, and Liz McCarthy from Eastleigh.

Chairman of the Ofsted board, Zenna Atkins congratulated all the managers on their achievements.

She said: “Excellence does not happen by chance, these providers have a real drive to inspire, challenge, and support children. But there is no reason why everyone can’t be outstanding; I hope they will be a source of inspiration to others.”

The Chandler’s Ford nursery at the Millers Dale Centre, was highly praised in a recent Ofsted report which said children made “great strides in their individual learning journeys”.

The nursery group, which has 70 children aged from two years and nine months to four years, scored top marks across the board in every category the education watchdog looks at. In fact, the only improvement the inspectors could recommend was to provide a lidded bin for tissues.

The report stated: “The staff, from management down, are skilled in working with young children, and are all committed to providing children with care, learning and education that is of an exemplary quality.

“Adults have an infectious enthusiasm for their work and maximise every opportunity to extend children’s learning.”

It went on to praise staff for building up pupils’ confidence, safety knowledge, independence and active learning.

Director Jane Dyke said: “I am sure there are not many nursery groups who can boast that all their settings are rated outstanding. I am very proud of my fabulous team and all our children.”