Nursery World Awards 2021 - Nursery Group of the Year
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Top in Nursery World’s Nursery Chains 2021 quality table, the Kids Planet group, which offers more than 10,000 places across 75 settings, puts children’s interests at the heart of all its work.
Staff are encouraged to repeat the mantra, ‘what are we doing and why’, to help them reflect continuously on individual environments, experiences, and activities they create for children.
Children are engaged and challenged across all settings, from role-play areas enhanced by real items and clothing to fully qualified chefs in kitchens preparing fresh, wholesome food to reflect diverse cultures. Carefully considered outdoor environments are filled with sensory learning experiences, offering children a home beyond the four walls of the nursery and away from any technology.
The group’s dedicated SEND team is passionate about ensuring all children have the best start in life. Working with parents and children alongside nursery SENCo’s, the team consistently upholds high aspirations for those with additional needs and embeds practices that improve outcomes.
Meanwhile, working in partnership with parents is crucial for learning and development at the group, and the ‘You Said, We Did’ template allows staff to share feedback with families to demonstrate how they have responded to ideas.
During the pandemic, several nurseries continued weekly intergenerational meet-ups with care home residents via Zoom, while others delivered hampers to volunteers at Covid vaccination centres.
Staff members are continually learning and reflecting on their practice and knowledge. Succession plans and training pathways are embedded as part of every team member’s journey, and the group delivers a wide range of training courses and skills assessments through its internal Training Academy, which gained Main Provider status on the Register of Accredited Training Providers in March 2020, enabling Kids Planet to offer its Outstanding apprenticeship training both internally and externally.
As part of the Government’s Kickstart scheme, the group has helped 30 young people launch a career in the early years since the programme began in March. Across all Kids Planet settings, 100 new trainees have also been enrolled in a range of courses, from traineeships to Master’s degrees.
‘Mindful Moments’ activities are used by staff and children alike to support positive mental health and well-being, while employees are encouraged to talk and are signposted to external support where appropriate.
Starting with expansion into Oxford, taking over the University of Oxford’s five existing nurseries in July, Kids Planet plans to expand to more than 200 nursery settings by 2026.
At Kindred Nurseries, a team ethos and the passion and determination among staff are what makes the group special. Many staff members have worked with the company for over 30 years and have seen huge change both in their settings and across the childcare landscape. Meanwhile newly-recruited apprentices will talk with just as much energy and passion about what drives them and how they live and breathe the group’s shared mission to create inspiring worlds full of awe and wonder.
During the pandemic, the Kindred Nurseries teams have opened their nurseries as hubs for local key workers, spent hours on Facebook Live running storytelling sessions, home-learning activities and singalongs for children, and been hailed as ‘superheroes’ by families who have relied on them at this difficult time.
One judge praised, ‘a clear vision for raising the profile of early years and giving children and families the very highest quality of provision.’
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Open to UK nursery groups with three or more settings