Rabbit Patch opened its first centre in 1990 on Greers Road in a renovated house, catering for 24 children, 8 under twos and 16 over twos. Gail Clarke and Jo Campbell decided to establish Rabbit Patch because Gail was nannying for a local family’s twin girls at the time, and their parents wanted them to attend a preschool for a couple of sessions a week. After an extensive search to find a suitable preschool proved fruitless, Gail and her sister Jo recognised a gap in the market for that special preschool and the rest is history. A few years later, the house next door was purchased and established as a separate nursery, growing the preschool.

An opportunity for Rabbit Patch to develop a second preschool arose in 1997 when Gail and Jo were approached by the airport company to design a purpose built centre on Memorial Avenue. Initially this preschool catered for 50 children in two separate areas, however due to the incredible loyalty of families both preschools had full enrolments so it was decided to expand the preschool with the addition of a third classroom enabling the roll to grow to 75 children.

In 2011 an old church and buildings on Saffron Street became available and once again Gail and Jo recognised the potential for another wonderful Rabbit Patch. Considerable thought went into developing this beautiful preschool, with a key focus in maintaining the special architecture. We are so in love with our gorgeous Reggio inspired learning areas.

The steady growth of Rabbit Patch over 25 years shows the considerable passion and loyalty of teachers, families and the community. The three Rabbit Patchs’ are all very well thought out and established over a considerable length of time to ensure the high standards Gail and Jo brought to the first Rabbit Patch are not only maintained but flourish in the three centres.

Because Gail and Jo are owner operators who are very hands on, they are able to ensure their vision of high quality child centred learning conducted in partnership with parents, families and teachers in a safe, secure home-like setting is delivered everyday.

“Teachers carefully listen to children, follow their interests and actively include them in the programme. They create many and varied opportunities to engage children in learning. Teachers use effective probing questions to help children think deeply and talk about their ideas”

“The centre is well led and managed. A feature of the centre is effective management systems and support. Management have well-developed long-term plans. Managers have high expectations for what effective teaching and learning should look like.”

Education Review Office
December 2013