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History of Elmwood


Learning through play is the order of the day.

Elmwood nursery was established the year of 2002 by Denise Bunis, who had recently become a mother for the first time. She was experiencing the life-changing love for her baby as all parents do, or in her own words: “I knew how I wanted to care for and educate my daughter, the reality was as a working parent it was more difficult than I had imagined finding a nursery that could meet my expectations. My quest to find such a nursery resulted in my vision for Elmwood.”

Elmwood was really small in the beginning and starting in a one single floor building. Soon it gained popularity through the word of mouth so the nursery could not cope with the demand which led to the decision of expansion of the nursery. We added a second floor for our 3-5 years old children and then an additional building, custom-made for the babies. Now Elmwood is holding 87 wonderful children.  

In 2018 Denise Buins, the founder of Elmwood nursery, sold her business to an Icelandic nursery group, Hjalli Model Education, making Elmwood their first acquisition in the UK. Hjalli Model is the largest educational firm of its kind in Iceland, having operated nurseries, preschools and schools for over 30 years. Dame Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir, chief executive of Hjalli Model, founded the Hjalli educational model which focuses on issues including democracy, creativity and gender equality. Ms Ólafsdóttir commented, ‘We are very proud to have been chosen from among the many interested parties to take the helm at Elmwood. We aim to cherish and embrace the existing culture of the nursery while at the same time enriching the learning environment with some new and exciting ideas.”

Elmwood is excellent. The standard of care and communication is really high.
— Parent
We have always been very happy with everything at Elmwood, the staff, the environment and our girls are very happy there so thank you and well done for all the hard work in making and keeping it an excellent nursery.
— Parent
Elmwood has provided my children with a wonderful environment to learn and develop whilst feeling well cared for, it has been very positive experience in their young lives. Thank you.
— Parent
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The Hjalli Model Pedagogy

Children at Hjalli model schools receive training in all human qualities as we believe that all children should have all the possibilities in the world regardless of their gender.
— Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir

The Hjalli Model education is a teaching method for nurseries, kindergartens and elementary schools, founded and developed by Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir in Iceland the year of 1989.

It is now an independent scholarly organisation, Hjalli Model Ltd, which operates 14 kindergartens and three elementary schools around Iceland with service contracts in 11 municipalities. The total number of children in the Icelandic nurseries and schools is over 2000 and around 450 employees.

“No two children are alike; each one is a unique individual. Each child has distinct characteristics, special talents, interests, and desires. It is essential that the nursery fosters their prosperity on their premises and avoids making the same requirements of all, which would be casting everyone in the same mould.”

-Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir, founder of the Hjalli Model


Our Team

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The Elmwood team is a strong group of equals where every member counts, just like a close family, sharing their loving-kindness for each and every child.

The staff are fantastic. Always so cheerful and welcoming and happy to answer any of my questions. I feel like they really care about my child.
— Parent

Carolann Robbie

Nursery Manager

Carolann has a B.A. in childhood practice and over 17 years of experience as a Child Practitioner and 12 years of Nursery Management experience.  

“I have been Nursery Manager at Elmwood for the past 5 years and have loved every minute working closely with our children and parents. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a child’s face light up when they have achieved something for the first time.”

Carolann and her team have always been Elmwood’s biggest asset, and while our children are so young, the most important thing to us is that they are well looked after and loved by the staff.
— Parent


Anne McLean

Office Manager

Anne joined the Elmwood team in 2017 and has many years of experience in the office environment coming from a law background, where she held the position of Office Manager in a city centre legal office for 18 years.

“Elmwood is a fantastic place to work.  I enjoy meeting parents and their children on a daily basis.  It is a pleasure to see the children gaining in confidence during their time at Elmwood.”

Charlene Mann, Room Leader


Charlene started with us at Elmwood in July 2018 and has a HNC in Early Education and Childcare.

“I love working in the baby unit, seeing them develop over the time they are with us and then moving through the nursery continuing their own little journey.  This makes my job very rewarding.”

Gail Stewart, Room Leader


Gail started with us at Elmwood in 2018 and has over 17 years of experience working with children and is educated in early child care and education.

“I love working in childcare, to watch the children grow and develop and to see their personalities shine through.”

Jacqueline O'Hare, Room Leader


Jacqueline started with us at Elmwood over eleven years ago and has recently achieved her Level 4 Social Services (Children & Young People)

“The joy of seeing children grow and develop into confident and caring individuals is the greatest and most rewarding feeling to experience.”

Debbie Lennox, Room Leader

3-5's room Senior

Debbie started with us at Elmwood in the year 2014 and has been working in child care for over eight years. She is currently studying for a B.A. in Childhood Practice.

“Working within the nursery is such a reward, being able to see all the children coming in so excited to share their news with the staff. The best part for me is seeing the children grow and develop into their own little people and watching them get ready for school.”


Edda Rósa Gunnarasdóttir

Educational consultant

Edda Rósa started her work in a Hjalli Model nursery in Iceland 15 years ago when she moved back home from Scotland where she and her Scottish husband had lived for a few years. She has a B.A. in early childhood education, is also a qualified yoga teacher and is now working towards a master degree in parental consultation.


Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir


Margrét Pála is an Icelandic pioneer pedagogue, educator and philanthropist. She is a kindergarten and elementary teacher with further studies in school management, an M.Ed. in pedagogy and education and an MBA degree in business administration. Margrét Pála has written numerous books and articles on gender equality, pedagogy and education, both for parents and academics. She is also well known as a consultant, lecturer and analyst and has been granted numerous awards and recognition for her work, including The Knight’s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon from the President of Iceland for innovation in education. 


Awards Held

At Elmwood nursery, we are striving for excellence in every way and as a result, Elmwood is a proud holder of the following awards. Our educational Hjalli model is also widely recognised and awarded for equal rights and innovation.

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Eco Schools Green Flag

Awarded for raising awareness of the importance of and the promotion of recycling and keeping the country litter free.


Smile Too Centre

Awarded by NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde to promote the awareness of good oral hygiene, the importance of eating healthily and protection of teeth and body.


Family Friendly Bronze Award

Awarded by the East Renfrewshire Council for the encouragement, engagement and establishment of positive working relationships with parents and other services within the local community.


BreastFeeding Welcome Award

Awarded by the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde for promotion of breastfeeding within the nursery setting for both parents and staff.


Hjalli Model Founder, Margrét Pála - Awards and Honours

Equal Rights Prize of the Icelandic Minister of Equal Rights for creating and developing the Hjalli pedagogy.

Icelandic Children’s Welfare Fund prize for work on children’s welfare.

Educator of the year. Iceland biggest newspaper´s for work on educational matters.

Innovator of the year, prize given by the Economic life in Iceland.

The Knight’s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon from the President of Iceland for innovation in education.

EUWIIN award for innovation from the European Union Women Inventors and Innovators Network.