Spotlight on…Gail Tanner and Claire French

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Co-managing directors, Toad Hall Nursery Group

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Gail Tanner (left) and Claire French, co-managing directors of Toad Hall Nursery Group

What led you to work together?

Gail: I’ve worked in childcare for over 25 years. After relocating to Oxfordshire I worked as deputy manager in a small nursery group where I met another young deputy manager, Claire. In time we were promoted and worked well together running two separate sites, with a healthy degree of competition!

Claire: In 2017 we were approached to review Toad Hall Nursery Group. We were instantly captured by the excited children, passion of the staff and love of childcare from the company.

What do you love about your role and what are the challenges?

Claire: It’s been an exciting first year working at the varying locations and learning how the nurseries reach families across the many diversities of each place. Now we are actively looking to ‘buddy’ our existing nurseries with further sites to help with staff allocation and support. This is a challenge as many sites we have considered don’t provide the outside areas we are so keen to expand.

How do you find working together?

Gail: When you work closely with someone for a number of years, there is a level of honesty present at all times. We are lucky enough to agree most of the time and, on the very rare occasion we don’t, we trust that the one who feels the strongest is correct.

Claire: Half the time we work as polar opposites. I start, she finishes; I’m focused, she’s patient; I’m determined and she’s organised. The other half, we are identical in our creative vision; we are both caring, disciplined, supportive and approachable. This joint philosophy enables us to make our aspirations reality.

What are the pros of working together?

Claire: Every day brings something different. That’s one of the great things about working with children, but it means there’s the potential to be distracted by the next task before the current one is completed. When two people do the same job, nothing has to wait; two brains are multi-tasking on many projects.

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