At the Village Nursery, we fully recognise the impact that good team development has on the outcomes for children and well-being of our team and a real strength for us is supporting staff through our mentor scheme.
Our mentoring programme enables us to focus on developing practice through practical skills along with a strong emphasis on the emotional and physical well-being of staff. Upon induction, all staff are allocated a mentor to guide and support them until mutually identified by mentor and mentee that this relationship can conclude.
Mentor meetings are called at any point, either by mentor or mentee, and where appropriate, the management team offer additional support, especially through probationary periods.
Millie joined the setting as a newly qualified Level 3 practitioner, with some experience gained through a number of placements as a student, but not any considerable time working within a nursery. Her mentor provided early support and guidance and through feedback from Millie’s Supervisor, along with findings from her probationary meetings and personal reflection from Millie, we decided what further support would be beneficial.
A programme of peer observations was created, enabling the senior team to focus on specific areas of development, incorporating reflective feedback sessions to identify strengths and areas for development. This, alongside the ongoing mentor meetings allowed for the development of collaborative actions plans to support Millie in her practice.
Areas for development included gaining a deeper understanding of the EYFS in action and involvement in planning for children’s individual needs. Millie was tasked to invite her Manager along to children’s activities that Millie had planned and was leading. The feedback from these was strong, showing how purposeful intervention and support had developed Millie’s skills as an early years practitioner. This is still an ongoing process, with periodic observations of Millie, further mentoring and detailed summaries of the impact of training and development which has enabled Millie to grow both personally and professionally.
‘Sharing is caring’! This is a phrase we often use in the Village Nursery Group. We facilitate a positive approach to sharing what we do with other staff, parents and professionals. Our aim is to share practice with each other, our children and their families as well as other settings within our group and with the wider audience of practitioners from other settings. We do this in a variety of ways:
Practitioners from other settings are invited to come along, meet the team, and discuss all things early years. We then ask for their professional feedback and we will continue to offer support in areas if this is requested.
Practitioners from other settings are invited to attend CPD sessions written and led by our own team. Having the benefit of a skilled senior team enables us to disseminate our own knowledge and outstanding practices to others, with the aim of improving the outcomes and experiences for our children. Recently our team have delivered CPD sessions focusing on Communication, Language with an Introduction to Makaton and ‘The Power of Puppets’. These sessions have led to positive feedback from other settings and enquiries as to when we will be doing this again!
Parent partnerships are a strength of the setting and we capture every opportunity to involve them in nursery life as possible. During a recent Parent Open Evening, each of the rooms held mini-workshops for parents. The open evening enabled parents to view what children do on a daily basis and get involved in the activities too.
The workshops themselves were written and delivered by the teams across all of the rooms with specific age-related focuses. The areas covered included An Introduction to the EYFS, Communication & Language, Dough Disco, Letters and Sounds and Promoting Positive Behaviour. These sessions proved beneficial for parents, where they took away handouts, strategies and information to support their child’s development in the home environment.
Feedback from the sessions demonstrated that parents were interested in understanding more about working collaboratively with the nursery, so a Facebook poll was set up giving parents a choice of subjects for which they would like to gain a greater understanding.
Not only has this allowed us to offer further support, this type of approach gives parents a voice and respects their opinions. The overwhelming choice by parents was Behaviour Management, so a parent workshop was written and delivered by our own team to support behaviour at home. We will offer these sessions regularly to support both the children and their families, whilst developing the teams’ knowledge as they research and write specific training and workshops.
We understand the importance of empowering our team to take ownership of not only children’s development, but their own too. This is facilitated through the team accessing online training to complete training. We encourage them to reflect on any gaps in knowledge and identify their own training needs. Often these link into the children’s development too and the setting has produced its own project to support the settings holistic development in Literacy.
We have recently been working alongside the Local Authority to improve outcomes for children in Communication & Language. We have an appointed Communication Champion, who attends regular training. The setting is currently working towards The ‘Giving Voice’ award for implementation of communication and language support and interventions and recently introduced Wellcomm screening for children, with training provided by a qualified speech and language therapist. This has led the management team to develop a communication and language project which will see the team take charge of the project. The aim is to deepen the teams understanding of this area, improve outcomes for children and involve parents in aiding their children’s development.
Reflecting on practice, team and partnership working, and a clear vision for the setting ensures that our team receive the best support possible to develop within their roles, with the ultimate aim of supporting every child in their development and making their time at nursery happy, exciting and fun.