TELL US ABOUT YOUR NURSERY GROUP
My nurseries are under the umbrella of Forest House Nurseries; however, they are all individual and different in their buildings and demographic. I think it is very important to allow a nursery to have its own individuality. The nurseries do share the same logo, but only because I love it! I specifically buy small nurseries as this helps to keep the nurturing feel I always wanted for the children. Smaller nurseries ensure you have a small staff team who work closely together to deliver the high-quality childcare we strive for every day. The newest nursery, Sylvan House, is a 59-place setting in Worsley. Three of the other nurseries are in Sale: Copper Beeches, Mulberry House, and Ruperts Day Nursery. We also have Hawthorne House in Stockport.
WHAT PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR THE NEW NURSERY?
We have inherited a fabulous staff team, along with lovely children and parents and we are now enjoying getting to know the nursery. When we take over an existing nursery, it’s important to get to know it first, like buying a house. This way we can plan effectively for the changes we want to make which will ensure we enhance the nursery and make it the very best it can be.
DO YOU PLAN TO BUY ANY MORE SETTINGS IN THE NEAR OR DISTANT FUTURE?
I am very involved in the day-to-day running of all my nurseries and I wouldn’t want this to change.
With five nurseries, I am enjoying the challenges of this and also growing a management team that develops with me. I think I can see us growing some more but only when we’re ready for it.
HAVE YOU FOUND OPERATING TOUGHER SINCE THE 30 HOURS CAME IN AND EMPLOYEE COSTS WENT UP, AND HOW HAVE YOU COMBATED THIS?
It’s definitely a challenge! It is a lot tougher now, on us as providers, to ensure the highest quality childcare and also maintain a stable business. Nursery owners have to be a lot more business-savvy to ensure they can manage these financial challenges. I think it helps that for me, owning nurseries is a long-term investment project.
YOU ALSO RUN CONSULTANCY AND TRAINING BUSINESS EARLY PROGRESS, AND AN ORGANISATION FOR EARLY YEARS TEACHERS (EYTO). WHERE DO YOU SEE THESE VENTURES GOING?
My background is primary school teaching so, after opening my first nursery, I began to explore other avenues within early years. I founded Early Progress and EYTO when I was working as an Ofsted Inspector and an EYT assessor as I am passionate about staff development. I enjoy training people and so developed a consultancy business based on sharing my skills as a nursery owner and Early Years Teacher. We have now created a training centre above one of our nurseries and provide courses for early years practitioners and parents locally.
I love to network with other nursery owners and practitioners to share our experiences, provide support and learn new things, and our plan is to develop this and have lots of events running from our Early Progress training centre.