The Eveline Day and Nursery School Group began as a crèche in 1964, when it was set up by Maria Keaveney-Jessiman MBE and named after her daughter, Eveline. It was, and remains, a family concern.
Maria wanted to provide an 'extension of the home', for working mothers, a safe and secure environment for them to leave their children. An environment where children thrived, offering innovative opportunities to learn in a stimulating and caring environment.
With her husband Alf and latterly joined by her 3 sisters, and children Eveline and Gordon, she is now the principal of 7 thriving nurseries and a school. Although a growing concern, the Eveline Day Group remains true to its ideology of catering for the needs of the individual child, with wrap around care, across 51 weeks of the year, from 7.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. Maria and her family ensure that the needs of the child are always at the forefront of development.
The 1960’s period was a time of transition; few nurseries or day care facilities existed and the idea of mothers returning to work was frowned upon by many. As a mother herself, Maria sought to recreate a nurturing environment for children of working parents. She helped to dispel many of the anxieties experienced by mothers returning to the workforce; taking the time to listen and support. Although more than fifty years has passed since those early days, many of the parents remain in touch with her today. Over the years, Maria has been delighted to see the children of her pupils, and latterly even their grandchildren, passing through the Eveline Day facilities.
The first nursery, in the Eveline Day Group, opened its doors in 1965 and was located at 68 Huron Road. The nursery began with 25 children and four staff. The Eveline Day Group has grown considerably from those early days, and now encompasses over 500 children and 240 staff, in eight premises. Every provision is good or outstanding and each branch retains its family atmosphere. It is of paramount importance to Maria that a home from home experience is at the heart of every establishment. Details of all of the nurseries can be found on this website.
Eveline Day Nurseries provide the highest quality of care and provision and have all received the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) ‘Quality Counts Accreditation Award’, from an organisation dedicated to Early Years provision. This award is only given to nurseries that meet the highest of standards. In 2018, Maria’s impact on the education of the young was recognised when she received the ‘Outstanding Contribution Award’ from the National Day Nursery Association. She remains innovative and progressive in her outlook, always moving forward to meet the needs of the children in her care and those of their parents/carers.
In 1989, following the success of the nurseries, Maria branched into primary education and the Eveline Day School was opened. A year later, Maria’s daughter, Eveline, returned from teaching in Paris to take over the role of Head Teacher. In 2012, the school was moved to Swan House, in Balham High Road, where it continues to flourish and expand. In the recent Ofsted in October 2017 the inspectors stated:
“The curriculum is both broad and balanced. It provides a very enriching experience for pupils, promoting British values very effectively. It ensures that pupils achieve well and become inquisitive learners.”
“The school's work to promote pupils' personal development and welfare is outstanding. This is due to the very effective way leaders and teachers work together to create an environment where all pupils feel valued, supported and encouraged.”
Many of the children at Eveline Day School graduate to independent secondary provision at some of the top schools in the country, including
Kings College, Dulwich College, JAGS, Alleyns, Emanuel, Trinity and Whitgift; with a number gaining educational scholarships.
The latest acquisition for the Eveline Day Group, in 2017, was The Boulevard Nursery, adjacent to the Eveline Day School, in Balham. Recent building work in 2019 has provided links through to the school, once again creating an innovative setting where children can be educated and cared for from 3 months to 11 years on one site.
Maria and her family believe that the success of the Eveline Day Group is about giving every child the opportunity to be the best that they can be, in an environment, which values and cares for the individual. The next generation of family has now entered the business and Maria’s grandchildren, Lucy, Adeline and Kelsey are now at the forefront of development, under Maria’s guidance, ensuring the child-centred ethos of the schools, started in the 1960s, remains central to all policy and practice. To Maria and her family, and to the staff at each provision, every child really does matter.
Eveline Drut and Gordon Jessiman
30 Ritherdon Road
Telephone: 020 8672 7549