Nursery World Awards 16: Initiatives - Team Development

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Quackers, York

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Quackers originally opened in 2005 as a packaway setting in a local church hall in response to a local playgroup closing. The team made a commitment to deliver the best quality childcare and education, which has led to it becoming a thriving setting – now operating from a former caretakers’ bungalow in Copmanthorpe Primary School grounds. While building up the pre-school the team members have also embraced the opportunity to improve their own qualifications.

The three original staff team have now all gained BA honours in early childhood studies. Owner and manager Menna Godfrey has completed an MA in education (early years) and has recently embarked on a PhD studying the phenomenon of the mud kitchen. She is proud that Quackers has to date supported around ten EYPS/EYITT trainees along with three apprentices who have completed their Level 3 awards and moved into employment.

Ms Godfrey nominated her team for the award following pressure from parents who compiled a document of supporting quotes praising the work of the Quackers practitioners. Comments include the ‘well-educated and informed’ staff going ‘above and beyond’ for their children and giving them an ‘amazing start’. One parent said, ‘The amount of work the staff do to ensure the children learn through play is outstanding. There is real commitment shown through all the team and they are very easy to approach if I ever need help or advice.

‘I also like the parent workshops that are held, helping us to understand that, just because our kids aren’t sat at a table learning how to hold a pen, it doesn’t mean they are not learning. Instead they are outside cooking in the mud kitchen and sharing their worm pies into equal pans.’

By entering the awards Ms Godfrey wants to formally recognise the hard work and commitment of her team. ‘All except one member of staff are graduates and yet I am unable to pay them at a graduate rate. Their commitment to the children and families is such that they all attend training in their own time, travelling some distance to find courses that are relevant to their interests, roles in setting and skill level. I am proud to be their manager and would be delighted to see them achieve this award,’ she says.

‘We understand ourselves as a community of learners, where children and adults learn together. Staff share our “understandings” with parents and carers, both informally and formally, so helping them to both understand our practice and support their children to learn and develop. We use our developing knowledge to support our reflections and so follow our vision,’ she adds.

Quackers is a Unicef Rights Respecting Setting, an award the team received in 2012 in recognition of the way they work to ensure that they uphold children’s rights and enable children to understand that they have rights.

‘The team are constantly expanding their knowledge and exploring current thinking. They are well-educated and informed’ - Judge

Finalists

Childbase Partnership, Graduate Leadership Scheme

London Early Years Foundation

Criterion

Open to early years and childcare service providers who have built a high-quality staff team through good practice in recruitment and retention, training and career development

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