Yes. It is very important to us to take apprentices who are passionate about learning about Early Years. We always have at least one person studying for their Level 2 and others who have moved onto their Level 3. Some people go straight onto their Level 3; it depends on your background and experience. Training apprentices is really important to us, as we look to take the student on at the end of their apprenticeship. Several of our Room Leaders started with us as apprentices and have worked their way up. We have several different training providers so we can suit the teaching style to the candidate. Sometimes it’s all in the setting with an assessor; sometimes it’s a mix of assessor and classroom learning.
The practitioner induction includes formal training on: paediatric first aid, food hygiene, child protection, Fundamental British Values and the Prevent Duty, health and safety, the Early Years Foundation Stage, supporting early childhood speech and language, behaviour management, as well as on-the-job coaching and support. After that we access training from the National Day Nurseries Association, Early Education and the local authority. Emma Tennant, our Director, has an MA in Early Years as well. If you are taking on a role as Administrator, Chef or Bookkeeper, of course you will be inducted and supported too.
Usually it is 8 hours but can be 9, 10 or 11 hours depending on what works for you and how many days you work a week. The nursery is open from 7am to 7pm, which gives everyone loads of flexibility, allowing you to work earlier, later, full time over four days, so you can tailor your hours to suit your lifestyle. The more hours you work, the more you get paid! Practitioners also work just over the breakfast and morning period; over lunch; or in the evening from teatime onwards to wrap around the other shifts and to cover breaks. The kitchen is open from 8am to 5pm and the Chef works those hours. Administration cover is needed in the core hours of the day, usually from 8 or 8.30am until 5pm. These hours are important as we have three phone lines coming into the nursery and it can be busy.
Practitioners take one hour. You can either have this on site in the staff room and garden, or nip round the corner to a local Co-op or the Sainsbury’s/Starbucks on Bagshot Road. But flexibility is the order of the day, so if you would prefer to have a 15-minute break in the morning or afternoon that is fine too, whatever works for you. If you work in the office or kitchen, you have the freedom to take your breaks when it suits you.
If you are full time you get 28 days including bank holidays. After your first year with us, you get three extra days to cover between Christmas and New Year – that’s 31 days altogether – and then additional holiday for long service at 3, 4 and 5 years. If you are part time, we work out the holiday on a pro-rata basis.
We are registered for 53 children from 6 weeks old until they move on to school. We have five rooms, kitchen, office, a large garden and separate forest school area. We have a stable base of room practitioners, a team of bank practitioners, Manager, Administrator, Bookkeeper and Chef.
We are proud of our long service. We work hard, and so we find that usually if we are right for each other and you enjoy being with us then people tend to stick around. Early Years are notorious for a high turnover of staff but that’s not the case with us. We love it when new people join us with fresh ideas and it is also quite usual for us to celebrate five- and ten-year anniversaries.
We never ever use agency practitioners, so we have our own bank of practitioners who cover sickness and holiday. They are a fundamental part of our team and are included in everything, just the same as everyone else. They all have the same level of induction, training and attend the team meetings.