WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR 25-YEAR CHILDMINDING CAREER?
As a student nursery nurse, passing all my practical placements with an Outstanding grade was wonderful. Later, highlights included feeding premature babies and seeing them thrive on a postnatal ward, and witnessing a child in my care who had cerebral palsy receiving special callipers and experiencing the sheer joy of standing unaided. Working abroad in a daycare centre in Toronto was also a great experience, and meeting my sign-language tutor.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I was thrilled to receive my first overall Outstanding grade in 2005, and to be only the second childminder in Cumbria to do so. I wanted to keep the top grade over the years so never allowed myself to get complacent and attended many courses and self-evaluated. I always had evaluation sheets for parents or carers to complete, which was very important. In 2008 Ofsted changed the EYFS format and principles yet again, and as my inspection was due in November, I read the whole Ofsted website and the guide to the changes in Nursery World, and with only weeks to adapt I gained my second Outstanding. I then went on to make it a hat-trick in 2013.
WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO RETIRE?
I am now 65, so will be cutting down to part-time work. It is a new chapter for me and I intend to have more time for myself.
WHAT WILL YOU MISS MOST?
Of course, without a doubt, the children. I must admit the job satisfaction is second to none. The parents have also been very appreciative over the years. I have had so many beautiful cards, gifts and messages. I can seriously say I have the same enthusiasm today as I had as a teenager. Yes, it is a demanding job, but it is so worthwhile. I was taking a three-year-old boy home in the car the other day when he looked out of the window and said, ‘Lynda, there’s the moon. I’m going to go there in a red spaceship. Would you like to come with me?’ That’s the kind of note I’m happy to end on.