Spotlight on… Liz Richardson

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Director of childcare and education at Countryside Nurseries, which owns seven settings in the Thames Valley area

spotlight-liz-richardson

Liz Richardson

Can you tell us about Countryside Nurseries and your role there?

It’s a family group of a mum, dad, son and daughter, set up in 1991. They had a good level of quality already and wanted me to come in and build on that to ensure a really good core business before thinking about growing. I was looking for a new challenge, and my experience of acquisitions gave them confidence. It’s a big thing to bring someone new into a family, but they thought I would add value. I’ve been working here for almost 18 months and it’s been quite full-on!

What have you been busy with?

We’ve made a lot of changes. First, we upgraded the environments by adding lots of natural resources, and furniture to allow children to reach them. Secondly, we looked at how we look after staff, as it is key, especially at the moment, to ensure you can recruit and retain. We looked at salaries and benefits but also training, running visits to Pen Green and Community Playthings and inviting in external speakers, especially on leadership and management, which is an area we really want to develop.

What else has changed?

We’ve just introduced new Famly software, which has been really successful. Parents can see observations and send and receive messages. We’ve also changed our logo and uniforms, and our new website has just gone live.

What's next for the group?

I was brought in to consolidate the business with a view to growing it. Now we are concentrating on growth. We’ve talked to Christie & Co and looked at some sites. We want to be a small group, adding between two and four nurseries to start, with the ultimate aim of around 14. We don’t want to get bigger than that.

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