23 Sep 2017, Liz Roberts
This award-winning nursery group entered the childcare market in 2003 ‘with a clear intention to be a disruptor’. Kids Allowed now has six settings offering more than 1,600 childcare places and employing 365 staff.
It is an exciting time for the Manchester-based nursery group. In 2016, Kids Allowed won a successful tender to run the workplace nursery at the University Hospital of South Manchester, increasing its portfolio to six settings, and creating a model for future workplace nurseries.
The next 12 months will see the opening of a new location in Altrincham providing childcare for up to 300 families and creating 80 new jobs. This will mean the group is delivering childcare to more than 2,000 families in the region with around 500 staff.
This success has enabled the company to make the final payment on the loan from its external investor – meaning that over the past 18 months it has paid back £1.25m – and continue its expansion.
In the next 12-18 months, group turnover will reach circa £12m, up from £8.7m at the end of the financial year ended September 2016.
Kids Allowed has developed its own pedagogy, with children learning through play without conventional tools and stereotypical educational props, with care, love and cuddles core in its offer.
Believing in opening up the ‘big, brilliant world’ to the nursery children and never closing opportunities or ideas down, the group says its ethos is about piquing curiosity, building confidence and preparing for happy lives by developing children’s innate abilities across the areas of creativity, resilience and critical thinking.
By establishing strong foundation skills, it empowers children to think, achieve, fail, learn, form opinions, solve problems and question the world around them.
The group’s unique approach is something that gets regularly picked up on, with local schools often saying, ‘You can tell a Kids Allowed child’.
Chief executive Jennie Johnson runs free regular parent workshops so that mums and dads can understand the nursery’s ethos and mirror it at home.
Parents are looked after too, with services to help their busy lives, including children’s hairdressing, ironing, babysitting, and even a free brew every morning.
Colleagues are valued regardless of position and the group says it always promotes from within. The group’s managing director of childcare James Crosswell is a case in point, first joining as an unqualified nursery nurse in 2006. Kids Allowed also caters for those who don’t want to climb the ladder with a Going for Gold programme designed to recognise and reward colleagues who consistently perform to an exceptionally high standard.
Accredited by Investors in People, the organisation’s commitment to training and development was further recognised when founder Jennie Johnson was awarded an MBE for services to apprenticeships in June 2016. She attends every induction, gives out her email and mobile number to every new staff member, and encourages them ‘to challenge the nonsense if they think there are things we could do better’.
Parent Richard Lawton says it is clear ‘how much energy, money and thought’ goes into the nursery. ‘The care, play and teaching facilities for the children are top-class, but also the skills and friendliness of the staff – staff who remained at the centre literally for the duration of my daughter’s time there. That kind of stability is rare, yet so important.’
‘Your team has undoubtedly played a hand in contributing to the confident, energetic and curious little girl she is today’—Parents Lucy and Mike Potter, and Emily
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