On Friday I spent an interesting morning as the guest of The Co-Operative Childcare at their Wellington Road nursery. The idea was to get a feel for how the nursery operated, and to find out about the role of the nursery manager and practitioners, and just how diverse, interesting and ultimately rewarding this career path can be. This post is full of information about The Co-operative Childcare, and why a career with children is well worth consideration.
If you are interested in a career working with children, whether it be in teaching, play work or in a nursery setting, you can find more information about the qualifications you may need by contacting UCAS. Ring the ucas phone number to find out about relevant courses and qualifications.
Davina Bailey is the nursery manager, and the lady who looked after me during my visit. She started my session by giving me a little bit of background about the Wellington Road Establishment, which was rated as ‘Outstanding’ at its last Ofsted inspection.
There has been a nursery in the current site since 1990, with the current building dating from 2008, when it was rebuilt along the lines of Italian nurseries, with rooms leading off from a central courtyard area. It became part of the Mid Counties Co-operative childcare offering in 2012 and is now full to capacity virtually all year around.
The staff in the setting are very well trained, with 50% of the team qualified to degree level or above. Others are currently in training and it is clear that staff are committed to further self-improvement and development.
The Unit has children from 0-5 years and works hard on promoting and developing readiness for school, for both the children and the parents. The staff work hard to engage parental involvement, and relationships are superb between staff and parents, with a Customer loyalty index survey conducted by an outside agency recently giving a 95% positive rating.
Day to Day
It is obvious from spending some time in the nursery talking with Davina that each day is very different. Different children come to the setting on different days and can be there for one day per week, or five days per week. The range of children goes from babes in arms who require everything from feeding to nurturing and nursing, to children who are independent and able to make their own decisions on activities and their environment (which they do through a pre-school council.)
The environment is bright and stimulating, with a fabulous woodland classroom area that the children adore, and other areas which showed how children’s ideas had been utilised – i.e. a construction area where children had asked for cement, and there were now resources where they could create their own. The outdoor space was a child’s dream, with lots of intersting areas including a mini pond, mini beast homes and role play areas.
The nursery operates an open door policy, and while I was there parents dropped in, one spending some time with their child who is due to transfer from the baby room to the 2/3s room. It is clear that everyone is committed to making these sorts of transitions stress free for the children and parents.
So why choose a career in childcare?
We know that practitioners have an important role that also brings paperwork and long hours with it, but there really are so many reasons and rewards for choosing a career in childcare. For a start, it is just so rewarding. As Davina explained, you see how children grow and develop as little people, the steps they take and how they progress, and you know that you are responsible for that development, you can see how you’ve moved them forward.
Davina talked about the moments when you suddenly engage a child, create an interest in something that becomes clear through their joy, excitement and the expression on their face. This can be as exciting for the practitioner as it can for the child.
Some children are in the setting for a long time, Davina explained it is almost like taking them as a seed and then watching them grow, you feel that you send them out into the world ready for anything.
There are also some great career prospects to consider. As a part of the Co-operative there are other nurseries you can move to, or other careers within a company that also works in food, travel, funerals and energy amongst many other areas. Within childcare itself, there are lots of roles and opportunities to progress, from room managers, deputies and specialist practitioners. Davina also praised the opportunities for training – from Special Educational needs training, to qualifications in forest schooling and specific training for 2 year olds. Clearly childcare is a career where there is never any need to stand still, unless that is just what you want to do.
I had a lovely morning at Wellington Road, with a staff who are warm and welcoming, and children who are clearly very happy and secure in a setting that offers stimulation as well as quality care.
If you are interested in learning more about a career in childcare with The Co-operative childcare, click here.