Nursery World Awards 16: Initiatives -Business Development

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The Wendy House Day Nursery, Foundation Unit, Birmingham

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The Wendy House Day Nursery has filled a market gap for local parents who do not wish to rush their children off to school. Its two Foundation Units have significantly expanded during the past year, as parents have opted to keep their children on in their nurturing but educationally structured environment.

As parent Louise Orme said, ‘I didn’t even consider a state nursery for Sophia – I made a conscious choice for her to stay at The Wendy House. Sophia has grown in confidence since starting there and the staff are outstanding.’

Importantly, The Wendy House has met the commercial challenge that many nurseries face of retaining children once they reach state school age. With 50 children now attending across the two sites, it has focused on combining the warm and flexible environment of the nursery with appropriate learning. Parents enjoy the convenience and assurances they have been used to, and feel that their children are being ‘gently’ prepared for big school. Revenues have increased at both settings.

The Wendy House has recognised that it needs to invest in well-qualified staff, and all of those in the Foundation Units are qualified to Level 3 or above, with room leaders qualified to degree level. The room has a 1:13 ratio and provides structured learning combined with free-flow play, and an extensive range of extra-curricular activities including Spanish, drama, football, dance and a visiting storyteller. Staff retention is high at more than 95 per cent across both settings.

The Units welcome a broad range of children with differing needs and abilities, and the emphasis is on individual planning. In 2015 there were a number of gifted children at the Wythall setting and for these it put in place specific extension activities, to stretch their targets. Another of its children was a wheelchair user, whose parents were delighted for her to be able to continue her nursery education through the Foundation Unit. Full support was arranged for her and she made excellent learning progress.

To foster a sense of identity and differentiate from other rooms, Foundation Unit children wear a uniform and a PE kit, which helps them learn independence skills such as dressing. There is a free-flow snack table, which is accessible to all children all day, to teach them about food and empower them to make good choices. It is all about making children feel independent.

The expansion of these units is not only providing parents and children with more choice but is also feeding into The Wendy House’s nursery business as a whole, making it more ambitious in its commercial reach as well as in its aspirations for its children’s success.

‘Such a great preparation for big school!’ - Parent

Finalists

Bright Horizons, Cisco Early Years Nursery and Preschool, Middlesex

Little Bears Children’s Day Nursery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Criterion

For a new launch of, or significant expansion to, an early years service in the past 12 months

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