Spot The Leader!

‘The  only real training for leadership is leadership.’ Antony Jay

Owners frequently ask me “Laura, do you know any decent managers, I have a vacancy to fill?” They also ask ”Why aren’t there enough decent managers?”  I have to agree with these owners and think that, as a sector, we need to reflect on this and find solutions.

An effective manager is one who can truly lead a setting into a zone of quality. Over the years I have had many difficult conversations with managers where I have had to inform them that actually their setting is being managed and not led. There are many tell tale signs, for example the quality of the setting is ineffective and the manager does not have clarity around their visions and values in order to lead the setting. I come away scratching my head, thinking this person has been in post for x amount of years and has attended […]


Who’s commenting on you? The Good Care Guide

The Good Care Guide www.goodcareguide.co.uk  is a new website and is a joint venture with ‘My Family Care’ and ‘United For all Ages’. The guide will give parents the opportunity to comment on their child’s nursery. In addition, families will be able to comment on elderly care homes. Nurseries will also be able to respond to comments that have been posted by parents.

The Good Care Guide is based on the ‘Trip Advisor’ concept which gives hotel guests the opportunity to rate and comment on their stay at hotels.  It is useful for prospective guests to view comments from previous guests in order that they can make an informed choice whether or not to book. For example, comments are made on a range of issues from the quality of food, cleanliness of their rooms to the calibre of the staff. However, recently Trip Advisor has had negative press, with some […]


Forty Years On

Sylvia Fields, Director of Lincolnshire Montessori is my guest blogger. Sylvia reflects on her forty years in education:

This year my twin sister and I are celebrating forty years in education – and what a journey it has been!

I can trace my first work in early years back to the 1970s. Following the birth of my first son we joined the local playgroup in a church hall, and from that point I knew that all I wanted to do was work with children. In those days – before baby cafe, drop in sessions and mumsnet, the Pre-School Playgroup Association, as it was, played a crucial role as a social function for parents and children. Committee led pre schools were practically the only early years provision in our area, and I was pleased to join with other mums running the group in a voluntary capacity.

Playgroups were very much a women-led movement, and our involvement was about having […]


Smoking and children do not mix…

…We all know it, but it’s a brave (or stupid) person that takes on an issue like this with a team of 230+ – of which probably a good 15% are smokers!

Over the years, Kids Allowed has tried all sorts to reduce the impact of smoking on children and non smoking colleagues.

When we first opened, 8 years ago, we had a team garden for all colleagues and this doubled up as a smoking area for colleagues.

Colleagues who had had a cig on their break had to spray perfume and use a mouth wash / spray to try and disguise the smell, but we all know this is totally ineffective.

We moved to colleagues, in addition to the above, having to put on a jacket so that the smoke did not make their clothes smell – a little better but still not good enough.

We then moved to a total change of clothes – this helped somewhat but […]


Have a Break!

If I am at home early evening I often see a pre-school child and his mum walking past my home. This child has caught my attention as sometimes I notice that he is crying.

On a few occasions, I have had a brief conversation with his mum who looks very tired and unsure what to do. My thoughts are that he is tired and the crying is a reaction to seeing his mum and this is his way of communicating his feelings. (Note to self – add a section in my Supporting Transitions course, around preparing children for the handover to their parents at the end of the day.) In addition, I believe that he is picking up that his mum is tired.

I saw them again as I was walking to my car during the Christmas week and I noticed that he wasn’t crying. When I wished them both Happy Christmas, mum replied ‘I’ll not be […]


Putting the Quality Back into Qualifications!

Putting the Quality Back into Qualifications!

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have been asked to produce my certificates for a provisional contract and as I looked through them I took a walk down memory lane.

One of my reflections was looking with pride at my Nursery Nursing Examination Board (NNEB) Nursery Nursing Certificate. How at the time completing and achieving this qualification meant so much to me! I still have the exam paper from 1989. If you would like a copy, please contact me.

I left school at 16 with hardly any qualifications. I was dyslexic and this condition was rarely picked up during the late seventies and early eighties. I always knew that I had a learning challenge; I only had this officially recognised six years ago.

When I left school I worked in a busy solicitors’ office, as a clerk typist, and enjoyed my […]


Promoting ‘Baby Love’

It’s time to step up our game: Promoting ‘Baby Love’

Guest Blogger: Catherine Rushforth: National Consultant and trainer in Safeguarding and Child Protection.

It is an exciting time in the early years’ sector. Key publications, point to us as those who will be instrumental in making the shift into new ways of working possible. Central to this change is way that we :

– recognise strong emotional attachment between very young children and their parents

And

– intervene early where we see that this attachment is shaky, perhaps inconsistent or appears to be missing completely.

In this blog I will run through why a strong attachment is so essential for children’s development, outline our professional role in assisting parents to build on this key relationship and make a call for all early years’ practitioners to upgrade their practice in this vitally important area.

We know from rapid development in neuroscience that a baby’s brain development is directly effected by the quality of […]


Hire people who are better than you are……….

In the pass and currently I have worked with clients who have a real issue with delegating. They then wonder why their staff do not perform and are not creative/practical thinkers. Which reminds me of this quote ‘Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.’ David Ogilvy-Scottish born British Military intelligence officer and later top advertising executive 1911-1999. Clarity around individual roles and responsibilities is also key. Within my accredited level 4 Leadership and Management course the managers complete this  task. How is leadership distributed in your setting:

Identify different key roles and responsibilities.
Explain how these are shared effectively amongst the team?

 Delegate a task to a member of your team.

Describe the process and implement it.
Evaluate the effectiveness of your decision to do this.

So, if you are micro-managing your staff and do not […]


Practitioner and Child; Positive or Personal Relationships?

For a while now, I have been reflecting on what we in the sector mean by the term ‘positive relationships’ and its impact on interactions between children and practitioners. With this in mind, my thoughts are on whether we should change the term to ‘personal relationships’ and more importantly how we should look at personal relationships between the practitioner and child in our day-to-day practice?

For instance, I have a positive relationship with the staff in my local bank, but this is not a personal relationship. Indeed practitioners need to have a positive relationship with children in order for the relationship to be personal and meaningful. Time and time again, when carrying out my mock inspection visits, I observe practitioners having positive relationships with children, but not on a deeper personal level.  If done on a superficial basis and as part of the daily routine, the relationship is one where it is routine led rather than […]


Handling telephone queries from prospective parents

I was recently commissioned by a client to carry out telephone research on how her staff and other nurseries in their locality answer initial queries from prospective parents. Sadly, I was not surprised by my findings, having done this before for other clients.

With this in mind I would like to share my initial thoughts on my experience and how you could improve your staff awareness in handling telephone queries from prospective parents:
Answer the phone so that the caller can hear the smile in your voice. Do not answer the phone as if the world is coming to the end in five minutes.
       Say ‘xxxxx nursery, Barack speaking, how can I help you……’ don’t say ‘Ello, or Eh’.
 Make sure that the member of staff has a pen and note pad to hand or, more importantly, an initial enquiry form (please contact me if you would like a copy of an initial enquiry form –

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