As a parent at the nursery, Kate Morris shared a ‘truly reciprocal relationship’ with the setting by taking part in family sessions and then getting involved in citywide reading project ‘Building a bridge of books’, as part of which she attended the nursery as a mystery reader, took part in a developing storytime workshop, assisted the nursery’s reading advocate to develop the portfolio and was one of the parents interviewed as part of the assessment process.
Kate’s feeling that she was ‘so involved in the nursery that she might as well join the team’ was initially a passing comment, but staff recognised her potential and she started to work in the setting first as a part-time supernumerary but then, on gaining Early Years Teacher Status, as a full-time practitioner.
In her first year, Kate’s role as a key person to 11 children and families has been her main responsibility, and she has supported these children in learning and areas for development. Feedback she has received from families has been exemplary, with one parent noting that her daughter ‘is lucky to have such a great person in her life’.
Kate has also been responsible for developing early maths in line with the setting development plan, and is working towards a city-wide accreditation. She has led staff meetings and fed back to, and supported, other practitioners, and worked alongside families and other professionals to create a vision for developing early maths as a starting point for progression into Key Stage 1 and for life. Her work in this area has also strengthened links with the local primary school and led to further professional development opportunities within the school for the whole team.
Kate’s audit on practice and provision, scrutiny of maths delivery across the setting and extensive report on the impact of the project on children’s progress has provided quantifiable evidence of the success of her work. As a result of the project, the setting was awarded a gold award in early maths.
Kate’s manager comments, ‘Her impact within the team has been tremendous. It cannot have been easy to come from a different career background into a well-established and outstanding team, and be required to lead on a prime area of learning. However, Kate has quickly but subtly established herself as a well-respected member of the team. Kate made it clear that she is learning from, and alongside, the team.’
Her background in mental health and well-being has allowed her to unpick the Leuven scales, which were already in use at the nursery, and articulate exactly how they affect practice and what they mean for children and their families.
She has also reviewed the transition process within the setting. Parental evaluations of transitions and how children and families are welcomed into the setting have been extremely positive.
A colleague says, ‘In the present economic climate it was a brave move to push forward with a career change, especially when it involved additional hours and less pay. Kate brings to her role a wealth of experience from previous employment and a love of learning new aspects to enhance her career, and opportunities for children and their families.’
Abbie Hendry, Rainbow Corner Nursery School, Southsea
Abbie joined as a nursery apprentice in May 2016 with the ambition of achieving her Level 2 NVQ in childcare, but staff quickly decided she was more than capable of going straight for Level 3 instead, so she returned to college to complete her GCSEs as well as working full time and completing her apprenticeship.
She is now able to support a small team and as a key person plans and prepares activities to support the development of the two- to three-year-olds in her room. In her first month, Abbie introduced a bug hotel to the nursery, with children going on bug hunts, looking after tadpoles and hatching eggs to leanr about lifecycles.
Fellow staff call her ‘a hands-on practitioner who loves getting stuck in with the children’, and note the flowers children bring her are testament to her ‘positive attitude and cheerful manner’.
Liam Bartlett, Little Forest Folk
David Trillo, Little Forest Folk, London
Early years practitioners must have had less than one year’s experience at closing date