By Kirstie Davis, Head of Talent Acquisition
The year 2020 is one for the record books and as we muddle our way through, we’re learning to adapt to a ‘new normal’. We have an opportunity to unite, make changes for the better, and move forward for a brighter and more community-focused future.
As we take on these new challenges around the world, we believe more than ever we need to instil our newfound knowledge into our younger generations, particularly within the early years sector, and therefore strengthen the roles that provide this education and improve the spaces around them.
I have always been proud to work for Fennies. We embrace change and continuously enhance the business for our staff, parents, and children's needs. We are always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to grow, and in most recent times we’ve invested over £10 million on developments.
Our aim with each nursery design is to create a space that is engaging for children, encourages them to learn and develop their abilities, whilst allowing our staff to be creative in their methods and give excellent childcare and education. A trending theme but one that has always been close to Fennies’ heart is teaching our children about sustainability.
One of the ways we are championing this is by teaching the children how to grow their own fruit and vegetables, and then teaching them how to use these ingredients in their cooking club and prepare meals, so they begin to understand the cycle of food and about nutrition.
For these passion projects to be successful each nursery needs the outdoor space and facilities. Our dedicated Property Project Manager is the one who ensures we have the necessary facilities to make it happen. He is currently working on a project at our Beech House nursery in Sanderstead.
We are completely re-landscaping the garden, which will include a new garden room. This will provide an additional 323 square feet to the nursery. The first floor of the nursery will also have a complete interior renovation, creating a larger open plan space to provide a more varied and stimulating environment in which Fennies children can further, learn, develop and explore.
All our nurseries are designed specifically for each age group and have been developed to stimulate the seven key areas of learning. We ensure that Fennies goes above and beyond to deliver more than the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage). Fennies children take part in weekly tailor-made PE lessons created by our PE coordinator, whereby each child develops their fine motor and gross motor skills.
Children are challenged during these classes and are given the opportunity to develop hand-eye coordination, teamwork skills and stamina. We believe that physical education is a vital part of a child's core development and supports their wellbeing and mental health.
Our staff play a vital part in the Fennies eco-system. It is therefore key that our staff have not only their genuine enthusiasm for early years development, but have support and training to keep them up to date with new technologies and methods.
Fennies offers relevant training and workshops to each team member. We also offer our bespoke leadership and management training, focus groups, staff rep meetings, and our newly developed Fennies Academy inspires our teams to deliver outstanding early years education, and to grow as a practitioner.
Fennies’ attrition level is four times lower than the national average. During our last staff rep meeting 100 per cent of staff stated that they were highly engaged at work and would recommend Fennies as a fun and encouraging place of work. By regularly checking in with our staff personally and via surveys, we understand their voice anonymously and fairly.
The teams regularly share communications through our staff app. This was particularly valuable during lockdown. Managers shared encouraging messages to their teams and news from the wider team as well as training, recipes, and inspiration. It also gave us an opportunity to check in with our staff on a human level to support their mental health and wellbeing from a distance.
We pride ourselves on rewarding our staff for their hard work and commitment to their role. Our extensive benefits package has evolved with a heavy input from our staff reps. We commit to an annual bonus for all staff that meet the outlined requirements, and a further bonus if Ofsted grade their nursery Outstanding. This is available to all employees, from room leaders to kitchen staff.
In addition, Fennies offers holiday entitlement that increases annually, as well as eight Bank Holidays each year and a refer-a-friend or joining bonus in which employees will receive up to £200 for each successful probation passed.
We are incredibly proud of the way in which Fennies operates, from our buildings and facilities to our benefits package and training opportunities.
Every step is designed with purpose and input from our front line and wider teams, to ensure each factor works harmoniously, giving our practitioners the opportunity to flourish and provide a high standard of childcare within a stimulating environment.