Since London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) took over Bushy Tails Day Nursery & Pre-school in Teddington the morale and teaching practice in this workplace nursery has been transformed.
Mark Maynard, the deputy manager, who started at the nursery over a year ago says that the atmosphere within the nursery is now ‘unrecognisable’.
‘We might be within the same four walls – in fact, the nursery is currently undergoing a make-over – but it is being run by an entirely different company, with new management. I would go so far as to say that it’s such an inspiring pedagogy that we are all excited to come to work each day and learn something new,’ he enthuses.
Educating parents about LEYF’s Pedagogy, which is its approach to learning, while at the same time discovering it herself, has been an ‘exciting journey’, says Emma Miller, who joined LEYF in July and has worked in childcare for 28 years.
‘For the first time in years, I feel like I’m experiencing the joy of teaching again. There’s an inspiration every day to learn and know more within LEYF.
‘There’s an emphasis on staff being teachers and understanding their profession and the importance of this rather than just ‘practicing’ it. There’s a move away from paperwork so you engage and interact with the child at their level and get immersed in the experience, rather than writing down your observations and following it up with evaluations and pages of recording.’
Parents have also been taking a more active role in their child’s learning. Families recently sent photos and made artwork with autumn leaves they had collected at the park. This gave the nursery the chance to explain that it’s not about the end product but the process – and the conversations that take place during the activity.
The move to an online management software, iConnect, is also helping with parent-nursery relationships.
Mark says, ‘We have two iPads per room and the parents get constant updates on what children are doing and where they are. The contact is instant and constant. And it frees up so much time for us to concentrate on the children’s development.’
The majority of the staff are from the former nursery provider and have worked for some years in the Teddington nursery within the National Physical Laboratory site. They will all have known the former employee who was found guilty of watching online child sexual abuse imagery.
Emma Miller, the current manager, was appointed by LEYF during the acquisition in July, and came from another local nursery.
She explains, ‘I wasn’t going into the situation blind, which helped enormously. I’d been to local meetings and had some basic inside knowledge, which gave me the ability to support staff when the issue arose.’
Her first challenge was to win over the trust from her staff. ‘They had obviously been let down and were shocked...
‘It was important to build a relationship with them but to take it slowly at first and be sensitive to the changes they were facing, in terms of new management. I have an open-door policy - it’s important that staff know they can approach me at any time – and I’m a hands-on manager, so that helps.’
Working with parents was also top of her agenda., Emma got the sense that there wasn’t a close relationship between parents and management.
‘We rectified this with a manager’s coffee morning where I got to know the parents and we followed this up by welcoming them each morning. It took some time, but we get the sense that they “feel loved again”. The LEYF approach involves working closely with parents and delivering a child’s education as one unit, and we are making lots of headway and parents often take the time to stop and chat.’
When Mark started at Bushy Tails Nursery, he was third in charge. Then after LEYF took over, he was promoted to deputy. ‘The opportunities in LEYF for growth and development are fantastic,’ he enthuses. ‘LEYF has been on hand to help and guide me. My area manager and central office have trained me in iConnect and the Pedagogy team have come in to go over all the aspects of planning activities in the nursery – in terms of looking at how a child-centred approach can help children’s development.
‘The staff are definitely happier and have a positive outlook on their job and are also excited about the prospect of training because the reason for doing it is clearly explained to them – and they are genuinely interested.’
About Bushy Tails Nursery
Bushy Tails Nursery & Pre-School is right next to Bushy Park and the children regularly enjoy Nature Walks. The nursery is just a few minutes’ walk from Teddington Station and is set in a large, single storey purpose-built building which has a big garden that wraps around it with trees; grass; a vegetable plot with a mud kitchen and a section covered with astro turf. The building is currently being redecorated, room-by-room, at weekends so that teaching isn’t interrupted.
As the team at the nursery embraces the LEYF approach and embeds the Pedagogy across all they do, the warmth and team spirit is shining through. There are opportunities to join Emma, Mark and the team at Teddington and LEYF would love to hear from you.
Get in touch to find out more on 0207592 3620, or email firstname.lastname@example.org