WHEN Hampshire mum Gemma O'Reilly became frustrated at rising nursery costs, she decided to set her own prices.

As a human resources manager at a multinational corporation, the mother-of-two had a secure job but just couldn’t accept the eye-watering nursery costs of up to £2,000 a month.

So last July, and with no previous teaching experience, she took over her local Montessori Nursery School in Bramdean.

And the gamble has just paid off in the form of an ‘Outstanding’ rating from Ofsted.

“I had never done anything like this before. It was something I agonised over because I was on quite a secure salary in my old career.

“I was absolutely shocked to be honest, because I have been told that Ofsted never give an ‘Outstanding’ on your first rating, so I’m so proud of the children and the parents and the staff.

"I kept the staff on that had worked there previously when I took over and they have just worked so hard,” Gemma said.

Gemma, who has a two-year-old son and a nine-month-old daughter, says she was able to reduce costs by enrolling the nursery in a scheme which means every child over three is eligible for 15-hours a week free – money she recoups from the government.

The school had previously operated on an entirely private basis.

And to celebrate the Ofsted report, a balloon release party was held at the nursery on February 15.

Gemma said: “The balloon release was just to say thank you to everyone. It was a lovely afternoon.”

The Montessori method holds that each child should work to their own potential, and that given the right environment and stimulation, they can develop social skills and achievements beyond normal expectations.