Nursery World Awards: 16 Individuals - Childminder of the Year

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Rebecca Lihou, Somerset

childminder

Nurturing the whole family to promote children’s happiness in response to an increasingly busy and stressful world is Rebecca’s mission. Described as ‘more than just a childminder’ by families, her personal touches serve to boost a feeling of being supported. These include playing at a family’s home, providing supportive cups of tea, and the odd complimentary day or transport at times of great need.

‘The impact of these gestures creates a happier, more resilient and supportive family,’ says Rebecca, who is lead childminder for the South Somerset district. ‘Families are just as vitally important as the children we care for, so we nurture the whole family.’

She adds, ‘Time with their children is becoming more precious, work is harder, and life is more of a challenge. Families are the most important factor for a child’s happiness, learning and success.’

Rebecca’s approach is particularly valued in the deprived area she serves from 7am until 5.30pm, five days a week, 48 weeks of the year. She has played a role in shaping the early years education vision for Somerset County Council, which nominated her for this award.

Her commitment is clear from her efforts to constantly improve, as she balances studying for a degree in early years and holding network meetings with looking after two children of her own.

A Level 4-qualified childminder, who also holds an NVQ3 children and young people diploma alongside other training courses, her high-quality setting was rewarded in 2015 with an Outstanding rating from Ofsted. She has received a long list of glowing testimonials, with one parent, Becki, saying of her two-year-old’s progress, ‘He has thrived so much being in her care and the team she has working with her are all fantastic.’

Rebecca’s constructive approach made all the difference to the mother when her eight-year-old daughter was diagnosed with diabetes. ‘She even took the time to come round to meet with the diabetic nurse and have some training so that she could still care for Mia,’ commented Becki. ‘Rebecca is more than just a childminder. She goes above and beyond what I expect.’

The judges were impressed with Rebecca’s strong role in the sector locally, and the excellent evidence of her positive impact on the lives of others.

‘A very good ambassador for the profession’ - Judge

Highly commended

Sharon Froggatt, Little Frogs, Lincolnshire

Described by a parent as a ‘blend of Gina Ford, Mary Poppins and Supernanny’, Sharon is a thrice-Outstanding Ofsted rated, and fun-loving, childminder.

Her ‘anything goes’ flexibility means furniture is frequently arranged to accommodate soft play or den-building. Her home also gave way to the construction of a children’s carnival float for the village show. Daily routines are interrupted for ad hoc trips out, to try butterscotch ice cream for the first time, or for welly walks through puddles.

Mindful of work pressures on parents, Sharon is keen to build excitement and adventure into children’s days. She is appreciated for her willingness to organise trips at no extra cost to parents. Sharon has become increasingly well-qualified during her career, balancing her studies with running the business and family, and now has a BA(Hons) in education and learning, as well as Early Years Professional Status, along with holding North Lincolnshire Council’s top quality accreditation Steps to Quality.

Finalists

May Collin, Maisie Poppins Childcare, London

Katrina Mathers, Oxfordshire

Criterion

Nominees must be registered childminders

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