Young manager celebrates nursery 'outstanding'

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The manager of a Liverpool nursery has become one of the youngest ever to receive an Outstanding grade from Ofsted.

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The Botanic Lodge nursery building dates from 1836 and is set in Liverpool's walled botanic gardens

Rachel Prayle, 21, has run Botanic Lodge Nursery in Wavertree since it opened in September last year.

At the 63-place setting’s inspection in February, Ms Prayle was praised by Ofsted for the effective partnership she had established with parents at the nursery, as well as the focus on healthy eating, exercise and an eco-friendly approach.

Ms Prayle said, ‘We’ve always aimed to go the extra mile and I think we’ve learned even more from having Ofsted in. It was great to hear from them that we’ve set the bar high and it’s so nice that all the hard work is paying off.’

The nursery also won the region’s best nursery award at the Family Go Live magazine awards in November 2013.

Botanic Lodge is located in a previously derelict Grade II listed building in Liverpool’s Botanic Walled Gardens.

It is is owned by Ms Prayle’s mother, Jackie, who has also run the St Paschal Baylon Nursery in nearby Broadgreen for 24 years.

The Prayles converted the building together from scratch over six months after it was left empty for more than 12 years. Many of the original 1836 features have been retained, including carvings and fireplaces.

jackie-and-rachel-prayle

Mrs Prayle said her daughter had benefited from growing up in a nursery environment.

‘She always showed an interest in the early years. She used to do her work experience in our after-school club and she volunteered on days when she wasn’t at school.

‘She’s been involved from the start with Botanic Lodge. I think as a mum I did always have that slight worry in the back of my head, thinking “Is she too young?”, but the big test was Ofsted and she did brilliantly.’

Her daughter agreed, ‘I’ve definitely always had that passion. It was scary when we first opened to know that all the responsibility was on me. But I had done lots of research and I knew all the policies and procedures. I went through them with staff and I overcame any issues like confidence when talking to parents.’

Ms Prayle now manages a staff team of ten at Botanic Lodge, all of whom are older than her. She said, ‘I thought that might be a problem, but they’re all so nice, and hopefully they appreciate I do know what I’m talking about.’

Of her mother, Ms Prayle said, ‘She taught me everything I know. She pops in maybe once a week, and if I have any questions or queries I know she’s at the end of the phone, so we do work together, but the majority of the time I’m on my own.

‘Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to open my own nursery one day like my mum, maybe even a little chain. That would be brilliant. But I’m mostly focused on gaining more knowledge, meeting new people and dealing with new issues. You face new things every day – that’s the beauty of this job.’