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Newsletter Autumn 2010

LEYF staff support War Child in Uganda Update

Out & About

Get Connected

Nursery first for the House of Commons

Life as a LEYF apprentice

Social enterprises join forces

In this issue Update

Out & About

Get Connected

• Making a difference with War Child • Sector training gets a boost • Nursery first for House of Commons • Summer fun • Fresh food for thought

• What do you do? • My LEYF experience • Marsham Street dads • Time & Talents partnership

• Fundraising • Diary dates • Top tips

Welcome A warm welcome to our second newsletter for parents, staff and partners. Time has certainly flown by since our first edition and a lot of things have changed. Since his visit to see us last year, David Cameron has become Prime Minister and I hope his appreciation of what we do at LEYF will be reflected in government policy. Certainly I am doing everything I can to ensure children remain at the very centre of such developments. We have invited Graham Allen MP to speak at our 4th Annual Margaret Horn Lecture, this year aiming to debate the coalition’s review into the power of Early Intervention. For us, this means providing great nurseries. In the past year, there has been more research supporting parents that choose to send their children to nursery. The EPPE project led by Professor Kathy Sylva at Oxford University has found that all children benefit from attending good nurseries, and children who

in brief come from more vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds even more so. Our shared aim then is to help all children reach their potential, be ready and able to succeed both at school and later on in life, in what is an increasingly fast changing world. More importantly, our own independent research now clearly indicates that what we do and how we do it is also making a real and specific difference, helping children and parents make the most of their crucial, early years. So however you come to know or work with LEYF, I thank you for your support and encourage you to continue helping us build a better future for London’s children. I hope you enjoy reading about all the great things we have enjoyed being a part of in recent months. Until the next edition, have a great autumn – and winter!

“Outstanding” Carlton Hill Congratulations to our Carlton Hill Community Nursery in Maida Vale. They had plenty to celebrate earlier this summer, when Ofsted awarded them “Outstanding” status. Inspectors praised their excellent outdoor play, great parental relationships, well-maintained learning journeys, as well as career path development for staff.

Nursery first for House of Commons On 1 September we were delighted to officially open the first ever nursery in the Palace of Westminster. Catering for up to 40 children (FTE), the brand new nursery has been created exclusively for the children of MPs, their staff and other employees of the House of Commons. “As an organisation born and bred in Westminster, we are thrilled to have been awarded such a ground-breaking opportunity,” said June O’Sullivan, LEYF CEO.

did you know?

Our online home at has had a makeover – tell us what you think!

New Head of Children’s Services June O’Sullivan Chief Executive

Karen Walker has joined LEYF as Head of Children’s Services. Former director of West Yorkshire daycare group, Children’s Place Day Nurseries, Karen has an outstanding track record of achievement in the sector. Previously National Policy Director for NDNA, she also writes a regular column for Nursery World magazine.

Making a difference with War Child LEYF nursery practitioners, Maria Goncalves and Tania Silva, spent two weeks volunteering at three children’s centres in Uganda earlier this summer. We speak to Maria about their experiences. “Tania had wanted to do something like this since she was a child,” explains Maria Goncalves, on a busy Tuesday morning at Fitzrovia Community Nursery. “That’s where the idea started. When we approached LEYF for support, they suggested we contact War Child, an organisation they already had some links with.” The international charity War Child, which protects children living in the world’s most dangerous war zones, currently runs projects in four countries: Uganda, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Republic of Congo. After meeting Programmes Director Wayne Bleier, Maria and Tania decided to go to Uganda. They received financial help for the trip from LEYF and also from parents at their respective nurseries, who were keen to support their voluntary work. War Child asked Maria and Tania to train parents and staff at three of their brand new nurseries or ‘Early Childhood Development’ centres in Pader, Uganda. “To deliver training that would make sense to them, we had to know what materials were available,” says Maria. “It wouldn’t make sense to use examples

or talk about situations that weren’t relevant. The truth is, their reality is completely different to ours.” Nowhere was this more evident than in the children’s relationship with play. “The children have some toys donated by western countries, but they are not used to playing,” explains Maria. “They were more familiar with spending their time outside, where they find their own toys – building cars with bits of plastic and iron. “Some of our work there involved explaining how we teach the children and how they learn to play,” she adds. “They really enjoyed playing – and we found parents were equally interested and soon took part in the activities we were doing. You have to remember this is a country that has been at war for most of the past 30 years, so there are a lot of people who have never had time for play their entire lives.” To prepare for their workshops, Maria and Tania were advised by the Ugandan War Child programme to visit the communities and ask as many questions as possible. “We talked to the centre coordinators, along with English-speaking parents,” Maria says. “We exchanged a lot of information and used this in our work.” As a result, they learned about the vital importance of nurseries within each community, which in the three villages they visited was primarily to protect children from harm. Parents have to

A safe place Tania greets children in Uganda

leave their children when they go to work and, in areas where ritual murder and child sacrifice are not unheard of, nursery is simply the safest place for children to stay. “Experiences like this make you reassess many things,” says Maria. “Before I only saw these situations on TV. Now I have a very real sense of how people live. It makes me value the things we have here so much more.”

“To deliver training that would make sense to t them, I had to know wha e” materials were availabl

via Community Maria Goncalves, Fitzro Nursery For Wayne Bleier at War Child, it was also a mutually beneficial arrangement. “Maria and Tania really know what they’re talking about,” he says. “They had to use local materials and work with the local teachers. And I know the experience was very helpful for them too. I hope this is just the start.” Looking to the future, LEYF is already working to develop a sustainable plan to support the Ugandan project, while Maria and Tania remain in touch with War Child. “We really started something there in Uganda,” says Maria. “I would like to go again someday and see if we really made a difference.”


Summer fun

Sector training gets a boost From delivering staff development programmes through to innovative community engagement, our new Centre for Research, Learning and Development (CRLD) is already proving itself to be an invaluable resource. When Mine Conkbayir joined LEYF to help launch the centre last year, she was one of only two staff members on the project. Today, the team is six strong and the centre offers a wide range of continuing professional development (CPD) courses, based on research with our very own nursery staff. Amongst the many new courses on offer, the one-year Leadership and Management programme is accredited by the ILM, and the team hope all future courses will benefit from similar professional recognition.

This summer has seen another packed programme of activities across our growing family of community nurseries. For starters, an incredible 200 families came to the Fun Day put together by Furze’s Children Centre and Nursery in Chadwell Heath, Barking & Dagenham. Despite the rain showers, the “beach” in the nursery garden proved especially popular.

now benefits from additional preprogramme classes. These range from building trust to managing finances, and are crucial when it comes to them being able to succeed in the outside world. “I recently heard a student tell another how she’d bought a laptop after following the savings advice in our Money Matters course,” Mine explains. “It makes all the difference when you hear they’re listening to what we say.” The students are also encouraged to contribute outside of the course. “We held an event to show external nurseries what we had to offer,” says Mine. “Two of our apprentices gave presentations, and were then interviewed by Nursery World magazine.”

As well as offering CPD, the centre also runs apprenticeship and youth mentoring programmes for young people.

Beyond CPD and apprenticeships, the CRLD also offers bespoke consultation, visiting other nurseries to create tailored support packages.

Many of the 30 or so students enrolled in the centre’s first three apprenticeship programmes are aged 16-18, come from the local community and are no longer in formal education. Mine quickly recognised that academic learning alone was insufficient for this group. So as well as receiving £100 per week, each apprentice

“The feedback has been great and we have lots of plans for the future,” says Mine. “We’re moving to Churchill Gardens Community Centre, with plans for an official launch in January 2011. We also hope to deliver our own foundation degree in early childhood studies next year, so it’s a very exciting time.”

In August, Queensborough Community Nursery organised a trip to Broadstairs, which was enjoyed by parents and children alike. Some of the youngsters were so taken with the seaside they quickly asked their parents to move there! Eastbury Children Centre Nursery celebrated National Family Week with a busy programme of fun activities, including face painting, an art competition, a messy ‘play and stay’ session for the whole family and a story brought to life with interactive props. Over at Ford Road, the week included a family tea and ‘strange sports’ day – packed with unusual events, such as bean bag sprints, bucket filling and a potato and spoon race. At Micky Star, dads took centre stage with ‘Daddies do Breakfast!’, arranged by the Children’s Centre and nursery team. The dads in question helped the children to make a healthy breakfast of porridge with berries and delicious fruit smoothies. .

In the news Margaret Horn Lecture ‘Early Intervention and the Big Society’ is the theme of our Margaret Horn Lecture this year, as always to be held on Social Enterprise Day (Thursday, 18 November). Intended to provoke debate, this year’s keynote speaker will be Graham Allen MP, chair of the first independent commission into early intervention. Fresh food for thought Highly Commended as a group in this year’s Nursery World Awards, LEYF was also finalist in the Food category. Fighting for improved nursery food standards, we submitted our ‘National 4

Qualifications for Professional Cooking in the Early Years’ to City and Guilds and have recently interviewed six potential chef apprentices. We are also delighted to be shortlisted for this year’s ‘Good Food on the Public Plate’ award, celebrating caterers with a sustainable approach to food. Abbots Manor Response has been overwhelming since Abbots Manor Community Nursery switched to term-time only last year. Now full and with 20 families on the waiting list, the nursery also organised its first play scheme this summer.

the headlines

“The great outdoors” Teach Nursery

“Is your Toddler tucking in to chip s sardine pate?” or The Times “Stepping stone for young unemployed ” Nursery world “You are what you eat!” Baby London Magazine “Early years policies too crucial to drop” Community Care magazine “Will we love the Big Society beat?” Social Enterprise magazine

& about out

What do you do? Nicola Finch

Nicola Finch was one of 12 graduates on LEYF’s first Apprenticeship Programme last year. Here she talks about her experiences and future goals. “I started as an apprentice with LEYF back in October 2009, based at Marsham Street Community Nursery. I provide children with a fun and exciting experience in the nursery, where I care for them, carry out observations and support them during activities.” Life skills “I also help to teach them life skills, promoting their self-worth and confidence, so they hopefully leave nursery and go on to become wellbalanced individuals who want to go on to achieve great things in life.”


“Although it’s a fair way for me to travel from home to the nursery, I love commuting – it makes me feel mature and independent. Some days are incredibly stressful, but that’s life! Most of all, I think I still enjoy my time here because I have made such great friends with the staff - and have built such great relationships with the children.” Study essentials “You have to leave personal problems at home when you start work, and that’s fine. But it’s a great feeling when you see the children are so happy to see you and spend time with you!” “Away from the children, I even enjoy the study too. The debates and discussions – I love them! They go really quickly. As for me, I am more determined than ever now to go on to university and study to become a


Gargiulo Chris and Susanne

h “I have built suc ips great relationsh ren.” with the child am Street sh Nicola Finch, Mar sery Community Nur

Having just relocated abroad, Chris and Susanne Gargiulo recently reflected on the care their two children received from Queensborough Community Nursery.

spend their formative years. “They have felt happy, comfortable, safe, loved and cared for every step of the way. Our entire family has come to see and love the staff as our extended family.

“We had the fortune and privilege of having both of our daughters attend the nursery,” says Susanne. “Our oldest went from the age of 2½ to 5 and our youngest from 18 months to 2½ years. We are now moving the family to Denmark, and it is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to Queensborough.”

“The skill, knowledge and understanding they bring to their work with young minds has been an important and immensely positive force, both for the children and us as parents.”

The nursery, explains Chris, has been an amazing place for the children to

see and to e m co s a h y il m “Our entire fa tended family.” x e r u o s a ff a st e th love iulo rg Chris and Susanne Ga

primary school teacher. I love thinking of new ways to bring out the best in children, support their learning and help them to grasp new concepts.”

The Gargiulos point to the high staff retention rates at Queensborough as a key reason for their positive experience. “The nursery is run with consistency and creativity,” says Susanne. “What little turnover we’ve experienced has always been handled seamlessly and with proper thought to the children. “I have always felt secure in the knowledge that my children were completely safe and in the best care possible. I would highly recommend Queensborough Community Nursery to any parent.” 5



Nursery profile


Marsham Street Community Nursery

Situated at the heart of a bustling children’s centre, with a range of professionals including family psychologists and speech therapists on site, Marsham Street is a thriving and much-loved community hub for local families. But one group has traditionally been conspicuous by its absence, says interim manager, Michelle Samuels: fathers. “It can be hard for a dad to walk into a room full of women and children,” she explains. “That’s why we wanted to break the ice.” To encourage more dads to spend time at the nursery, Marsham Street had a ‘Daddies’ Day’ this summer in support of Fathers’ Story Week. Held in the evening, fathers, as well as grandfathers and uncles, were invited to have fun in the nursery with their children. “It wasn’t just about playing football,” explains Michelle. “We did handpainting, involved them in malleable play such as making playdough with their child, which they got to take home as a souvenir, and used ICT equipment – everything that the child normally does here that they don’t get to see.” The

evening was a success, and many more dads now come to the nursery on a regular basis.

Parent engagement Dads dive in with a range of projects

‘Daddies’ Day’ is just one example of proactive parental engagement at Marsham Street. “One of the most popular things we do with parents is our story box workshops,” explains Michelle. “We have a crèche and invite the parents to come in and work with us. We talk with them and help them to create story boxes which they then take home and explore with their children. It’s especially good for families who have moved here recently and don’t have many friends.” Marsham Street has also been looking to broaden its children’s activities. “It began when June, our Chief Executive, took me to the Benjamin Franklin Museum,” explains Michelle. “I realised that we do a lot of ‘growing’ subjects with the children but not chemistry or the other sciences. I wanted to change that.” As a result, the staff at Marsham Street decided to run a ‘science month’ – a full month focusing on science-based

file Company foprro Westminster

activities with the children. At the end of this time, they held a science fair, where children showed parents how to do experiments, such as exploring the wonders of cornflour and volcano eruptions. “There were two big benefits,” says Michelle. “We enabled the children to get involved in science, and we also helped our team to feel much more comfortable in setting up a science area. It was a huge success.”

“It can be hard for a a dad to walk into room full of women and children” unity mm Marsham Street Co ager, Nursery interim man Michelle Samuels

Time & Talents

LEYF teamed up with longterm partner Time and Talents, an innovative skills-matching volunteering organisation, to provide apprentices with the best possible preparation for the job market. An award-winning, not-for-profit partnership, Time & Talents for Westminster “transforms lives through volunteering”. Run by Volunteer Centre Westminster, it provides community groups with valuable time and expertise to help them do things they could otherwise ch su in ed olv inv be not do on their own. to d “I am gla

really a worthwhile project and Ipr ove do hope the training days useful to the apprentices.” Home Humaira, volunteer from the ) Office (HR team/Psychologist


For LEYF Fundraising Manager Elaine Angelis, Time & Talents proved an invaluable resource as she

considered calling on external help to promote employment training for LEYF’s new apprentices. “Through our own training facilities, we have been delivering Level 3 Certification in Children’s Care, Learning and Development,” says Elaine. “With some of our apprentices coming near to the end of their training, we knew that finding a job would be their next priority.” This is where Time & Talents came in. Through Volunteer Centre Westminster, Elaine was able to access a specialist trainer via the Home Office, who worked with the apprentices and gave them advice on seeking employment. This work included tuition on applications, essential do’s and don’ts, mentoring and mock interviews.

connected Helping hands Fitzrovia and The American School in London

Fundraising for

A big

thank you!

Every month, fundraising activity continues to help LEYF grow. Funds for our campaign ‘A Better Future’ have continued to grow in the past six months. Donations have come in from the S.F.I.A Educational Trust (£1,000), John Lewis (£5,000), Westminster Amalgamated Charity (£7,500), The Drapers’ Company (£4,000), The Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust (£8,000) and of course proceeds from Ray Holden’s Marathon Run (£1,058). So far we have been able to provide four families with childcare, helping them to access training or look for work, securing a better future for them and their family. Elsewhere Katharine Bruce are moving ahead with their sensory studio which will provide a safe and stimulating setting for the children to explore and so develop. The facility will be designed with a wide range of equipment such as a bubble

column, fibre optics, tactile panels, sound to light units and wall and floor cushioning. This is all thanks to funding from The Presidents Club Charitable Trust (£8,000), BBC Children in Need (£8,000) and The Goldsmiths’ Company (£3,000). We received a further £6,691, this time from Land Securities, enabling us to provide IT equipment, dyslexia resources and additional specialist childcare and development books for our apprenticeship programme. We also received £8,800 from the Britannia Foundation for literacy and numeracy training, which will help apprentices acquire more confidence and skills. Back in the nursery, Micky Star benefited from a number of donations, including £3,000 from Strand Parishes Trust for outdoor play equipment, £272 from New West End Company for sensory resources and £250 from City of

Reaching out to social enterprise

Westminster Charitable Trust for under 2s equipment. Meanwhile, Barking & Dagenham, Camden and Westminster Children’s Centre funding has enabled us to improve the quality of our nursery and Head Office environments. Rolls Royce recently donated £1,500 for outings, John Lewis continue to give help and advice to our Staff Forum, whilst four employee volunteers from Nike took children from Bessborough to Vauxhall City Farm in July. Finally, we were fortunate to receive almost £13,000 for ever-critical running costs. In the Spring edition of LEYF News, we stated that affiliate members of The Westminster Collection receive discounts on venues. This was incorrect and we apologise for any confusion.

day – with advice on what to cook and help on how to do it. “It turned out brilliantly,” says Olof. “June [O’Sullivan] also suggested we do some activities in the nursery, so we broke into two teams and took turns cooking and then playing with the children – getting busy with gardening and craft making.”

When the national body for social enterprise needed to find a venue for a staff away day, LEYF answered the call. “We often do a mix of team-building activities and strategic work on our staff away days,” says Olof Jonsdottir, Policy Officer at the Social Enterprise Coalition (SEC). “This year, we thought it’d be good to do some cooking and make our own lunch – a fun way to do some teambuilding.”

services here and have worked with LEYF before. I remembered going to an event last year and Neil [Hart] talking about what they were doing to improve food standards. So I called him up.”

The problem for Olof was where to find suitable kitchen facilities for the 16-strong SEC team. “I immediately thought of schools and nurseries,” she says. “I do a lot of work in young

After contacting some of the nurseries, it was decided that Katharine Bruce was most suitable. Chef David Neil was not only happy to let the group into his kitchen; he was actively involved on the

Team building SEC appreciate culinary talents

For LEYF this was not only a useful way to bring in additional revenue, but also a chance to reach out to the wider social enterprise community. SEC, meanwhile, enjoyed a great away day for their staff and gained a valuable insight into how LEYF works. “Being the Social Enterprise Coalition, we’re always talking about the brilliant things that social enterprises do,” explains Olof. “So it was really nice for us to actually see one in action and be there while it was working.” 7


Get out, get active and get involved Here’s a round-up of upcoming dates for your diary.

Calendar dates Halloween 31 October Guy Fawkes (Bonfire Night) 5 November Diwali “festival of lights” 5 November Remembrance Day 11 November Remembrance Sunday 14 November LEYF Strategy & Development Day 15 November Eid al –Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) 17 November Social Enterprise Day 18 November LEYF Margaret Horn Lecture 18 November UN Universal Children’s Day 20 November International Volunteer Day 5 December LEYF Staff Forum 10 December Christmas Holidays begin (Westminster & Camden schools) 20 December Christmas Holidays begin (Barking & Dagenham schools) 23 December Bank Holidays 27-28 December, 3 January LEYF Christmas Closure 29-31 December

Top tips

be doing ld u o sh n re d il ch y h w Five reasons l activity. ca si y h p f o t n u o m a the right With obesity and diabetes-related illnesses on the rise in children and adults, it has never been more important to consciously encourage children to take part in physical activities. Here are five great ways to get you started.

1. Early learning

4. Win, win

Physical activities aren’t just good for developing basic movement skills; they also help to form positive and long term physical activity habits, such as physical play and walking, early in life.

We all know that regular exercise improves balance, increases coordination, builds strength, and improves overall health for children and adults alike. But did you now that exercise also helps to relieve stress, decrease anxiety, and helps to ward off depression.

2. Water babies Whether you’re splashing around in the pool or taking a specialist course, swimming is a rewarding and fun exercise for young children.

3. Create space Official guidelines (NASPE, 2002) suggest that children aged 3–5 should build up 60 minutes of structured physical activity every day, with regular access to indoor and outdoor areas where they have enough space to perform large muscle activities. Whilst the same obviously cannot be expected of babies or toddlers, it is never too soon to start the physical activity ball rolling – and your child will love it!

Don’t forget... LEYF News is your newsletter. If you think you, your child or your nursery should feature on these pages, do let us know. We’d love to hear from you if you have a story to tell. You can contact us at our head office address opposite. LEYF News is a biannual newsletter published by the London Early Years Foundation. This edition was written together with journalists at Society Media, ( and designed and printed by Captiv8 (

5. Ask at the nursery Staff at any good nursery will be well aware of the importance of physical activity and facilitate your child’s movement skills based on their age and ability.

“Children aged 3– 5 should build up 6 0 minutes of struct ured physical activity every day.”

National Associatio n for Sport and Physical Educ ation (NASPE)

London Early Years Foundation 121 Marsham Street London SW1P 4LX

A better future for London’s children

Registered charity number: 299686 Email: Tel: 020 7834 8679

LEYF News, Autumn 2010  
LEYF News, Autumn 2010  

News from across the London Early Years Foundation.