Dukes and Duchesses is a private nursery in the heart of Liverpool city centre, whose community vision is to ‘extend young children’s understanding beyond their own backyard’. The nursery embraces the Reggio approach of recognising the environment as a natural resource and using every aspect of the city.
The nursery has cemented its place within the community to the benefit of all parties involved, endeavouring to teach its children about respect, diversity, challenge, resilience, tolerance, sharing and, above all, love for each other, their own and the wider community.
About 12 years ago, when Dukes and Duchesses approached the local Chinese community to support new-year celebrations, it was turned down because it was ‘not a Chinese business’. This year, for the first time, the dragon danced and ate a lettuce from outside the setting – a symbol of good luck and prosperity. The nursery has also worked with the bilingual Pagoda Nursery, using ECCERS rating scales to support a move from ‘requires improvement’ to Good.
This year, relationships with local schools have also been strengthened, with one of the nursery’s early years professionals cascading training and resources as part of the Creative Arts Project.
As part of a drive to improve parent partnership, Dukes and Duchesses has set up and sponsored a local football team, which many of its children go on to play for, and its parents coach and run. ‘Anfield Elite’ has given children from a deprived background the chance to engage in competitive sport, and for families to meet each other outside nursery. The setting also supported the team to spend a weekend away competing against teams from across the country.
Dukes and Duchesses’ work with a local homelessness project also evolved through its parents. Staff and families collect to provide resources such as sleeping bags, hats, gloves and sanitary products. Two dads go out every Sunday evening to distribute these items and the nursery kitchen has been used to prepare supplies. As well as making a difference to the local community, this has allowed the nursery to discuss the issue with the children openly and without fear and prejudice.
An initiative this year is a link with Nutricia through a father who worked in a nursery in Uganda for two weeks. Families donated more than 300 pairs of shoes for the children and raised money for a party. Dukes and Duchesses wants to establish ongoing links with the nursery in Uganda.
The nursery has plans to extend its services to develop a social enterprise model with the support of key partners.
‘Dukes and Duchesses have gone on to be a huge part of a wider local community by giving, sharing, connecting’ - Former parent and head of local charity
MTO Nursery, London
Open to early years settings and services that have involved staff, parents and children in projects to support charities or the local/wider community