Nursery World Awards 2020 - Newcomer of the Year

Friday, February 5, 2021

Kayla Jones, Daisy Chain Nursery, Ingol, Preston

Kayla had only been in post as a full-time childcare practitioner at Daisy Chain Nursery for five months when the country went into lockdown. She completed her NVQ Level 3 in 2018 and her role as a qualified nursery nurse at the setting was her first full-time post, working with children in the nursery’s two- and three-year-olds’ room.

At the start of lockdown, the nursery owners made the difficult decision to remain open throughout the pandemic in order to support vulnerable children and those whose parents were key workers.

The majority of staff were furloughed and an experienced ‘skeleton’ staff were chosen to remain in order to help keep the business running.

Kayla immediately volunteered to stay working throughout the lockdown period to allow any members of staff who had family responsibilities to remain off work.

She adapted extremely well to the nursery’s new way of working despite being new to the role. She remained positive, supportive and enthusiastic during the next six months, going above and beyond to be a ‘ray of light’ for staff, parents and children alike during the challenging period.

She was particularly good with a group of new children who came to the nursery because their setting was closed. All of the parents asked for Kayla to be their child’s key person, as their children bonded so well with her.

One parent commented: ‘Kayla was really reassuring to me and my daughter – she spent time talking to me every day and made me feel at ease leaving my daughter when I was stressed with my own work. It made a horrible situation so much better as it was one less thing to worry about. I have since kept my daughter at Daisy Chain as she had such a bond with Kayla.’

In providing a ‘normal’ experience for children during these unprecedented circumstances, Kayla showed resilience beyond her age and experience. She worked harder and longer than ever, but remained a positive influence to others throughout.

Her deputy manager described her as ‘inspirational’, explaining: ‘Her positive attitude to all areas of her work is infectious. She has breathed new life into the setting and we are eternally grateful that she chose to come and work with us.’

Her outstanding support of children and colleagues during this difficult year proves that while Kayla is at the very start of her childcare career, she is a magnificent example of the type of person who will flourish in the sector.

FINALIST

Bethany Hayter, Gateways School

CRITERION

Open to early years practitioners who started working in the early years sector since 1st January 2019

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