In August 2015, Cranley Nursery acquired its fourth setting at Lanark Road, Edinburgh, which had been issued with an improvement notice by the Care Inspectorate. The managers therefore faced significant challenges in turning the nursery around, and perhaps most of all in team development.
Low standards and morale had ‘eaten away’ at the setting’s culture and reputation, and re-skilling and re-motivating staff was essential.
Cranley Nursery was faced with the challenge of establishing a high-quality team of 14 staff at Lanark Road by using all aspects of strategic and operational HR management, including recruitment, induction, training and development, appraisal, reward and retention.
First, the nursery made the decision to merge staff already at Lanark Road with the group’s existing team, along with some newly recruited staff, in a bid to create a seamless, speedy integration into the group. Retained and new staff alike underwent a rigorous interview and induction process to ensure procedures and policies were established and basic training was followed, such as first-aid, child protection and food hygiene.
At the heart of the team’s development was a comprehensive training programme, which included an annual training day and bi-monthly training nights, supplemented by quarterly support and development meetings. Each new staff member was given a training pack to be completed, and trainees were allocated a mentor to guide them.
Thorough evaluation through self-reflection and peer and management feedback is now in place, and the nursery looks to promote from within wherever possible.
Within 16 months of acquiring it, Cranley Nursery transformed the Lanark Road setting beyond all recognition, with the results of the Care Inspectorate report showing the setting going from marks of between one and three for categories such as quality of staffing and management and leadership to high marks of five in all categories.
Retention rates have remained high since Cranley took over the setting, with minimal turnover and no agency staff used.
Parents reflect the importance of the team and how its ongoing development influences outcomes for their child, with a recent survey showing that 100 per cent said the nursery met or exceeded their expectations, and the same number saying they were satisfied or very satisfied with the nursery’s communications.
The nursery supervisor comments, ‘I began my childcare career as a 16-year-old trainee at Cranley nine years ago. Throughout my time I have felt supported and been offered an array of training opportunities, and presented with chances to progress my career. I have worked in all four Cranley settings and the continuity means we are confident in delivering a high quality service in any of the settings. The management team takes a unified and positive approach to staff training and this has had a positive effect in that I now take a lead role in training new staff.’
Honey Pot Nurseries, Liverpool
Honey Pot keeps its team inspired and motivated through a range of accessible training options. The setting realised some members of staff were missing out on training due to cost or location, so introduced an eight-week rolling programme in a designated training suite easily accessible from all four settings.
Training needs are identified at staff supervisions, practice is then evaluated, and when exceptional practice is observed it is shared with the whole team.
The staff team feels more valued and happier in their role, which in turn leads to higher levels of staff retention, and consistency for children.
All Honey Pot settings have been judged Outstanding by Ofsted, with inspectors commenting, ‘The management team has an immense impact on the success and the outstanding quality of the nursery. They drive the dedicated and enthusiastic staff team forward to provide first-rate care and education for children.’
Kids Allowed, Ten out of Ten, Manchester
Kids Planet Beamont
Open to early years and childcare service providers who have built a high-quality staff team through good practice in recruitment and retention, training and career development