27 Sep 2015, Catherine Gaunt
Jennifer McQuillan started work as a childminder in 2007 in south-west London, but since 2013 has grown Jenniflowers Childcare to a team of 20, offering a home nursery (for children aged six to 15 months); a day nursery (one to two years); a pre-school (two to five years); an after-school club (four to 11 years); wraparound care (four to 11 years) and a Rest & Play SEND playgroup (birth to five years), together serving up to 120 children a day.
Not content to stop there, Jenniflowers is in talks to offer holiday camps at two term-time only settings, is opening a further pre-school in 2016 and is extending the Rest & Play group to two more premises.
Jennifer’s background is behind her drive to build a business ‘atop an ethos of doing what we can for others’. She originally trained as a graphic designer and was given the honour of creating Nelson Mandela’s 79th birthday invitations. While in South Africa, where she grew up, she worked alongside her mother in her nursery school in Johannesburg, one of the first multi-racial nursery schools in that part of the country.
She sees her business as a community service, and says, ‘Our aim is to make a difference and to touch lives.’
One example of this is the Rest & Play SEND playgroup for local children with additional needs, which runs weekly in a local church building and is free for parents and children to attend.
Jenniflowers also provides first aid classes to its parents and the local community; collects and delivers food for the Wandsworth Food Bank; has adopted three donkeys at a sanctuary; and supports two rural community schools in South Africa.
The company’s rapid expansion has not come at the expense of quality, however.
Jenniflowers takes fewer children than regulated space allows, giving children more space. Staff speak a variety of languages, which helps support children learning English as an additional language, and there is much emphasis on healthy eating, self-care, outdoor play and exercise.`
One parent, whose children attended Jenniflowers from 2007 to 2015, says that Jennifer is filling a real gap where there is a tremendous shortage. The excellent quality of the service, she says, is down to Jennifer hand-picking the best people as staff and looking after them through training, ‘making sure her high standards and exceptional values are carried through the curriculum and care of all our children’.
Jenniflowers aims to meet the needs of the community, seeing what childcare needs are out there and how they can provide them. ‘As a business, we will continue to grow and flourish,’ says Jennifer. ‘Our vision is tangible and deliverable, and we are very excited to see where Jenniflowers will blossom further.’
Fennies Day Nurseries, Surrey
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For a new launch of or significant expansion to an early years service in the past 12 months
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