The largest nursery group in the country is opening up its apprenticeship programme to other nurseries.
The programme will be trailed initially at a number of smaller early years settings, and expanded to a wider range of childcare providers next year.
Busy Bees, which has just acquired its 239th nursery, currently employs and trains more than 600 apprentices.
The Busy Bees Early Years Training Academy will run four different apprenticeships, supported by a team of training practitioners and qualified NVQ assessment professionals.
The apprenticeships include the new Early Years Educator qualification at level 3, and the Level 2 Children and Young People’s Workforce Diploma.
The Level 2 will be open to school leavers aged 16 and over who have a passion for working with children and wish to become assistant Early Years Educators with the opportunity to progress on to the Early Years Educator apprenticeship at level 3. Short courses in leadership and management are also on offer.
Once qualified, apprentices can undertake the management apprenticeship at Level 3 if they wish to progress to become future room managers. A catering apprenticeship is also available for both school leavers and existing staff working within the kitchens.
Hadlow Community Pre-School, near Kent, is one of the first settings to sign up to the scheme. Two staff members are on a Level 3 management apprenticeship and two others are undertaking the Children and Young People’s Workforce Level 3 apprenticeship.
Jessica Sherwood, supervisor at Hadlow Community Pre-School, said, ‘Ensuring our staff are equipped with the knowledge, skills and experience required to provide the highest standards of care and education to our children is a top priority.
‘We don’t have the resource in-house to offer such a robust training and assessment programme so we’re really excited to be one of the first childcare providers to benefit from the expertise Busy Bees has to offer in helping our staff reach their career potential and build new skills. Busy Bees has a strong reputation in the industry so partnering with them made sense.’
Nurseries are assigned a dedicated tutor to visit the setting and be available by phone or email to answer queries on the course materials.
Busy Bees Early Years Training Academy training manager Fay Gibbin said, ‘We recognise that by employing both caring and well-qualified staff, we can offer our children the very best start in life, emotionally, socially and educationally.
‘As the largest provider of childcare in the UK, we also have a responsibility to set the benchmark for the rest of the industry and believe we achieve this with our many outstanding nurseries and rigorous internal training and development programmes.
‘By launching the Busy Bees Early Years Training Academy, and the external delivery of our apprenticeships programme, we are essentially offering independent settings the support, experience and stability needed to transform school leavers into well-rounded and qualified members of staff. We’re also helping them to upskill existing employees, which promotes enhanced staff retention, morale and sustainability. Ultimately, helping smaller settings achieve the highest standards and provide exceptional care to children.’
Busy Bees buys 239th nursery
Meanwhile, Busy Bees has acquired the 130-place Bitteswell Montessori in Leicestershire.
The deal to acquire the leasehold business was brokered by specialist childcare property adviser Christie + Co.
Former owner Dawn Marshall said, ‘After much contemplation, I decided that the time is right to retire. I am so grateful to my staff for their dedication and huge efforts over the past ten years. Busy Bees have a genuine commitment to delivering outstanding childcare and with their knowledge and experience Bitteswell Montessori will further develop and thrive.’
Courteney Donaldson, director of Childcare at Christie + Co, which brokered the deal, said, ‘Childcare businesses which are the market leaders and "preferred" providers in their locality, trading from well configured and equipped properties, that demonstrate solid and consistent levels of occupancy and earnings, like Bitteswell Montessori, remain very highly sought after.’