A career in childcare with The Co-operative Childcare

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. If you are looking for childcare or to expand your staff, you could check out My Kiddy Sitter for Nursery Staff London.

Background

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.

Picture © Daniel Graves Photography. 2013. SHOWS:

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.

Picture © Daniel Graves Photography. 2013. SHOWS:

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.

Picture © Daniel Graves Photography. 2013. SHOWS:

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.

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If you are interested in learning more about a career in childcare with The Co-operative childcare, click here.

Some Mothers Do Ave Em – Hilarious Fun

Frank Spencer was one of the the most beloved characters from 1970s television, a time often called the golden age of British comedy. A hapless innocent, almost a man child, Frank seemed to be followed by mayhem, disaster and destruction, and this recipe for disaster made Some Mothers Do Ave Em a bonafide smash hit that had TV audiences laughing out loud. Now it has been transformed into a stage production with Joe Pasquale taking on the Frank role made famous by Michael Crawford. It opened at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre last night, and once again has the audience laughing out loud.

Frank Spencer is a walking disaster area. Married to the long suffering Betty, Frank is having all sorts of problems in his life. His house is falling apart, he is struggling to get a job as a magician and now he has to cook dinner for his mother-in-law. But after he receives an exciting letter from the BBC, and some lovely family news from Betty, maybe life is actually on the up. Now, if only he can get through dinner with the mother-in-law, the bank manager and the vicar, maybe everything will be alright. Or maybe not.

Joe Pasquale is simply hilarious as the hapless, accident prone Frank. He plays the role as Joe, rather than as a Michael Crawford impression, and this works a treat, with his talent for physical comedy, and his deadpan face just so perfect in this role. Funny lines are delivered thick and fast, you really don’t know where one laugh is ending and another is beginning. An accident with the banister spindles is a real highlight, laugh out loud funny in the most visual way. Pasquale just shines in this role, one he was born to play.

He is ably supported by a superb ensemble cast. Susie Blake is super as Betty’s mother, the increasingly drunk Barbara Fisher – the scene with the chicken/wendy house will long live in the memory. Sarah Earnshaw is Betty, and plays the role as the calm straight woman, mayhem goes on all around her but she is almost stoic in her acceptance.  David Shaw-Parker as Father O’Hara has one of the funniest situations, when Frank is forced to perform the ‘Heineken’ maneuver after the vicar chokes on an apricot stone (you can picture it, and it is just as funny as it sounds.) Rounding out the cast are Moray Treadwell and Chris Kiely in duel roles. The whole cast is hilarious and is obviously having a ball.

A wonderful set complete with furniture that is simply falling apart, posters on Bruce Forsyth on the walls, and a cupboard under the stars that is utilised to hysterical effect all add to the general mayhem of the situation comedy. And the script is perfect, with enough nostalgic nods to the television series and what made it so magical, and with one liners that just keep coming.

Funny, warm and wry, I just loved ‘Some Mothers Do Ave Em. British slapstick comedy at its best.

Wed 16 May – Sat 19 May

Click here for ticket information

Dr Jeckyll And Mr Hyde – Phil Daniels Shines

The dark and chilling Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was brought to sinister life by the majestic Phil Daniels at the Wolverhampton Grand last night. Robert Louis Stephenson’s classic psychological drama of metamorphosis and evil madness is a brooding tale with moments of pure terror and kept audiences uneasily spellbound as it spun its web of murder and menace.

Dr Jekyll is a highly respected doctor, living the life of a bachelor and scholar. A trip to see his widowed sister sees him taking the books belonging to his father which talk of metamorphosis and whether we will ever untangle the mysteries of the mind. Soon Dr Jekyll is conducting a range of strange experiments in his lab, and a strange, malevolent new friend, Mr Hyde is spied leaving the Dr’s quarters, and is suspected of being behind a series of foul and vicious crimes, including that of a distinguished MP. Only domestic help Annie suspects that there may be more to the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and that they may be one and the same. But will she be able to alert help and save herself, and Dr Jekyll too?

In the title role, Phil Daniels is a joy. He is clearly having a great time with the role, particularly when he morphs into the devilish Mr Hyde. It is a testament to his power as an actor that you can tell exactly which character he is being, even when he changes personality mid way through a scene. His physical presence also add to the performance, and, in the standout scene, the murder of the MP, he is the epitome of pure malevolence.

He is able supported by Sam Cox as the priggish Poole and Grace Hogg-Robinson as maidservant Annie. There is fantastic chemistry between both of these characters and Jekyll, and they help to show that the character of the Dr is actually not that far away from the character of the Madman Hyde.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is not perfect. The first half plods along quite slowly, and is very wordy, with some of the dialogue spoken at quite a fast pace. For a thriller, it seems to take a long time for something to happen, but the shock at the end of the first act, followed by the murder that starts the second act are genuinely shocking and graphic, and the use of the darkness of the set, combined with the mysterious red door of the lab, glowing on a dark stage, add to the feeling of unease and approaching terror.

With the excellence of the central performances, this is certainly a play worth checking out.

Wed 2 May – Sat 5 May

DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE

Click here for ticket information