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Newsletter Spring 2010

What you need to know about LEYF’s new look Update

Out & About

Get Connected

LEYF’s nursery food is highly commended

Parents and staff tell all

Top tips for settling your child into nursery

In this issue Update

Out & About

Get Connected

• New look as LEYF • Socially enterprising • All that you eat • Making news • Sing together

• What do you do? • Fundraising • My LEYF experience • Diary dates • Eastbury science • Top tips • John Lewis partnership


in brief LEYF listens

A warm welcome to our very first newsletter for parents, staff and partners, following our name change and new look in September 2009. LEYF News is divided into three parts: Update, Out & About and Get Connected. Update tells you about the latest LEYF stories and news. Out & About profiles LEYF’s parents, staff, nurseries and those companies offering us their support. And, finally, Get Connected offers suggestions on practical ways you can help LEYF, as well as ideas for how parents can make the most of their child’s Early Years. Highlights in this issue are top tips on how to settle your child into nursery, a feature on our forward-thinking approach to nursery food, and what you need to know about our new look and name change.

At LEYF, we strongly believe that involving parents and staff makes for a successful and happy nursery. Our fabulous staff give 150% every day, making a real difference to the learning experience of every child. At the same time, we never forget the precious nature of our relationship with parents. In a recent survey, 75% of parents told us they were happy or very happy with the service they get from LEYF. That’s fantastic, but at LEYF we strive for excellence: we want that figure to be 100%. So, do please remember, this is your newsletter. In the future, we hope to see you, your child or your nursery featured on these eight pages, so please do get in touch. Together we can build a better future for London’s children. Until then, have a great Spring.

June O’Sullivan Chief Executive

We believe that listening to the views of our staff, parents and children is vital. Getting feedback helps make sure children in our nurseries have the best possible care. It also lets us know what improvements need to be made. That’s why we have set up a Staff Forum. It’s made up of representatives from our nurseries and head office and held its first meeting in December 2009. The Forum now meets every few months to give all staff a voice. Maureen Andall, LEYF Staff Forum Head Office Representative, says: “It gives me great satisfaction to see that my colleagues’ thoughts and ideas are given proper consideration.”

did you know?

Around two out of three nursery places at LEYF are subsidised

New nursery for LEYF We were excited to take over Wellgate Community Nursery in Barking & Dagenham from the local council at the end of 2009. That means there are now 19 LEYF nurseries across the capital, all offering high-quality, subsidised care to children who need it. “The takeover has gone smoothly,” said Deputy Manager Kelly Miles. “The children are really enjoying themselves and we’ve had lots of positive comments from parents.”

Celebrating together: LEYF staff at the June 2009 conference

Our journey from Bold, bright and childfriendly. These are words many of you used to describe LEYF’s new look in September 2009. It’s fantastic feedback but there’s more to LEYF’s new look and name change than a superficial Changing Rooms style makeover. At the LEYF staff conference in June last year, one staff member summed it up well: “We like the new logo because we think it represents our children: shooting stars growing.” The new name also better reflects what we do. As WCS, there was too much confusion. “People thought we were a Children’s Centre or something to do with health,” explains LEYF Chief Executive, June O’Sullivan. “What’s more, although established in Westminster in 1903, we have since branched out to other areas of London.”


A charity and social enterprise What is a social enterprise? Social enterprises are businesses trading to benefit ‘people and planet’, with fundamentally social or environmental aims. Profits are continually reinvested to further support and broaden these goals.

How is LEYF a social enterprise? Just under a third of children in Britain (3.9 million) live in poverty. LEYF believes quality childcare for all can help address some of the poverty felt by children and their families. As London’s largest childcare charity and social enterprise, we were recently awarded the prestigious Social Enterprise Mark, which identifies businesses that meet strictly defined criteria in this respect. Why is it important? A recent survey by children’s charity the Daycare Trust shows that it can cost more to send a toddler to nursery than to one of the country’s most prestigious private schools. At LEYF, we believe that social enterprise is a long-term

And importantly, as Julie Weiss, Manager at Luton Street Community Nursery, adds: “Now parents know that LEYF is a large organisation which ow parents know that “N means they have access tion LEYF is a large organisa to a range of support.”

access which means they have to a range of support.” Luton Street Julie Weiss, Manager at Community Nursery

movement with the real potential to make the world a better place – not least in delivering affordable but equally high-quality Early Years education for all children. As a social enterprise, LEYF invests directly in communities, helping poor and lower income families afford quality childcare. Around two thirds of LEYF’s nursery places are subsidised, meaning parents can return to work or training, safe in the knowledge that their time and money will be well spent on a better future for both them and their child.

What else makes LE YF’s approach unique?

• Since 1997, LEYF has helped train more than 250 stude nts, including many local parents. • Nearly two thirds of LEYF staff are local and half are fro m Black or Minority Ethnic backg rounds. • LEYF regularly asks for feedback from parents, staff an d children on how the nurseries are run and acts on these suggestions . • LEYF is passionate about engaging with and actively supp orting local communities whereve r possible. LEYF’s way of working works. In 2009, the organisation was voted runner-up across the whole of En gland in the UK’s prestigious Social En terprise Awards.


Grow your own: LEYF involves children in the entire cooking process to develop a generation of mini Chefs

Singing to bring generations together Whilst LEYF’s priority is helping underfives to thrive through nursery education, it’s also important for us to support children, their parents and the local community beyond the nursery door. That’s exactly why we get involved with projects bringing people of different ages together. Giving young people the opportunity to mix with other generations promotes shared understanding and mutual respect. It also gives children a voice in their community. Our latest such contribution is to help promote Churchill Gardens Community Choir, set up by Sing London, an organisation which brings people together through song. Based in Pimlico, the choir already has over 30 members, including both former and current children, parents and staff from local LEYF nurseries. The group is currently preparing for its second public performance on 24 May, having already wowed an audience of over 300 at its debut on 2 March. “Singing is a fantastic way to bring communities together,” says Sing London project manager Camilla Tuckey. To join in or for more information, email or call Fiona Barron on 020 7245 2101.

t You are what you ea LEYF’s commitment to healthy eating was officially recognised at the 2009 Nursery World Awards, where the organisation was ‘Highly Commended’ in the Food category. David Neil, who is the Chef at Katharine Bruce Community Nursery, attended the event in Park Lane. Like many of LEYF’s 14 nursery Chefs, David runs cooking lessons for the children, and taster evenings for parents. He makes sure his daily menus are healthy and use fresh, seasonal produce. “I like making fresh things like home-made chicken nuggets and my own tomato ketchup from blended tomatoes,” says David. “I show the children they don’t have to go to a fast food restaurant to have food like that. Now’s the time to get children used to flavours and introduce them to a balanced diet.” LEYF has now partnered with the initiative Fresher By Miles to deliver produce from a local Kent farm to the nursery kitchen in less than 24 hours from harvesting.

In the news

David Cameron visits LEYF nursery It’s not every day that the Leader of the Opposition takes time out to visit a nursery. But on 11 January, David Cameron came to Marsham Street (above). He spoke to parents about their experiences of childcare in London and even showed off his sketching skills as he joined children in their activities. 4

LEYF Rules for Healthy Food • Ensure all children eat and drink a healthy, varied and balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals and starchy foods. • Cook with fresh seasonal foods, using locally sourced produce and organic milk. • Serve children fish at least twice a week, fresh fruit and vegetables every day and always have water ‘on tap’. • Make carbohydrates fun by introducing children to the concepts of ‘afternoon tea’ and regular home baking sessions. • Open your child’s eyes and taste buds by always trying different foods from cultures around the world. We are also developing the first National Standards for Early Years Chefs – a specific and professional level 3 vocational qualification – working closely with professional Chefs, the Sector Skills Council and the Soil Association. LEYF Chief Executive June O’Sullivan says: “We provide most of the children’s meals and the parents rely on us. It’s important to provide good quality food and improve the all-round experience for children.”

the headlines

LEYF debates social enterprise at the Houses of Parliament Our Margaret Horn Lecture brings together experts and interested parties to debate the latest issues in childcare. At the November 2009 event, we discussed whether a social enterprise approach to community childcare offers a long-term sustainable solution to our often-reported “broken society”. LEYF Chief Executive speaks out As always, June O’Sullivan, LEYF Chief Executive, has kept the voice of children under five on the political agenda and in the news. Her comments have been published in many papers and websites, including The Guardian and BBC online.

“Mealtimes can help children learn” Evening Standard

“My daughter is happy & full of confidence – Ho WCS helped one Westminw ster resident” The Westminster Reporter

“Health Minister visits WCS” NDNA Nursery News

“Generations learn from each other” Nursery World “Nursery cooking qualification set up by LEYF” Nursery World

& about out

What do ylsou do? Michelle Samue

Michelle Samuels, one of two Deputy Managers at Marsham Street Community Nursery in Pimlico, talks about her seven-year career with LEYF. “One of the best things about LEYF is they put everything into their staff. They find out about our individual needs and provide us with support and training. In turn, this helps us to work better with the children and their parents. Always learning “I’ve recently started studying for my foundation degree in Early Years education. It’s great that LEYF has given me these learning opportunities. My studies have made work mean so much more to me, because I can bring the


theory I learn into the nursery each day. It’s helped me to help the children and the parents as well. Getting out and about “Like all LEYF nurseries, at Marsham Street we don’t just stay in the building and play with Lego. We take the children out to do exciting things, like visit Tate Britain or Vauxhall City Farm. We give them opportunities they might not get otherwise. The parents come along too, and it’s great to see them having fun with their children.

about “The best thing g my job is watchin w.” the children gro sham ls, Mar Michelle Samue y Nursery Street Communit

Francesca Markes

When Francesca Markes arrived at LEYF’s Micky Star Community Nursery to see her daughter Ottilie up to her elbows in green mashed potato, she was delighted. “Ottilie just loves getting messy,” says Francesca. “Particularly playing in sand or anything with texture. She also loves dancing and physical games – even though it’s difficult for her to join in.”

Making a difference “The best thing about my job is watching the children grow. It’s great knowing you helped at the very start of that child’s life, that you’ve made a difference to them and to their parents.”

“We’re also there for parents if they need help or guidance with something.


Parent Francesca Markes really appreciates the support LEYF staff give her daughter Ottilie.

They can talk to any of the staff here and one of us will be able to help.

Ottilie, who is four, has cerebral palsy and isn’t able to sit up or eat or drink without support. Her communication and movement are limited. “But Ottilie always knows what she wants,” says Francesca, “and she always wants to join in with what the other children are doing.” The nursery staff make sure Ottilie is included in everything. “They’re great,” says Francesca. “They adapt the activities so she can do them from her standing frame. It’s not always

the time “She’s beaming by ; she she arrives at nursery .” just loves going there

Work matters: Michelle Samuels is studying for a foundation degree in Early Years education

easy, but they do manage it and are very enthusiastic.” Ottilie has one-to-one support during her time at nursery, and staff have learnt how to feed her and use her special picture book. “They really took it and ran with it,” says Francesca. “They didn’t hold back in learning and engaging with her.” “She’s beaming by the time she arrives at nursery; she just loves going there.”

Learning together: Ottilie’s one-to-one nursery support has helped her develop

rent Francesca Markes, pa




file Nursery pro unity Nursery


Eastbury Comm

They’ve made their own toothpaste, rigged up circuit boards and used chemical reactions to make objects change to different colours. Meet the Science Explorers from Eastbury Community Nursery.

For the first week, staff demonstrate the activities while the children watch. The following week the children explore each activity themselves, with an adult in the background. Then in week three, they do it on their own.

With the focus on numeracy and literacy, science is often neglected in Early Years education. But Eastbury Community Nursery, as well as a number of others at LEYF, are using an innovative project that’s bringing science to life for the under-fives.

Parents have been involved too. A local science teacher, whose child attends the nursery, put on a workshop for the children and their parents.

“We’ve shown parents how simple it can be to introduce science in the Early Years,” says Maria.

“We made circuits. We put the light on with the wire and e batteries. We mad t-shirts to wear.” stbury Lyide, who goes to Ea Community Nursery

“We’ve taken ideas from the world of science and simplified them for the Early Years,” says Maria Anemouri, Nursery Officer and Early Years Foundation Stage Coordinator for Eastbury. Each month, there are several experiments and activities for the children to get involved in. They’ve learnt where to put wires in a circuit to make a bell ring or a bulb light up. And they’ve played with boats made from paper plates, learning about concepts of speed and gravity.

Super science: An Eastbury Science Explorer discovers the laws of attraction

“We adapt the ideas so they fit with their individual ability,” says Maria, “but all the children get something out of the different activities.”

Company profile John Lewis

Thanking you: John Lewis staff have helped take children on trips to Vauxhall City Farm

LEYF has won a Volunteering Partnership Award for its work with John Lewis. We received the prize from Volunteer Centre Westminster during a ceremony at Lord’s Cricket Ground in January. John Lewis has worked in partnership with LEYF for over three years, donating money on a number of occasions.

Employees at John Lewis have helped take children on trips to Vauxhall City Farm and to Legoland near Windsor. They also helped build the new garden at Marsham Street Community Nursery. And when LEYF settled into the newly refurbished head office, Anna Farrow, a ‘Space Planning Consultant’ from John Lewis, proved invaluable in advising how to replan the space.

“We support LEYF because we can see that our contribution makes a big difference. Giving a child good Early Years education can improve their whole life. LEYF nurseries are well run, child-focused and make a huge contribution to their local communities.” nity


Anne Folan, John Lewis Commu Liaison Coordinator

Anne Folan, John Lewis Community Liaison Coordinator, and Elaine Angelis, LEYF Fundraising Manager, meet every two weeks to discuss upcoming projects and opportunities. John Lewis is now considering donating money to LEYF’s A Better Future campaign, which aims to provide 20 free or very low cost nursery places to children from poor and deprived backgrounds for two days a week. Such crucial support would mean their parents could return to work or training and so start to lift their family out of poverty. “The support John Lewis gives us is really important,” says Elaine. “It’s essential for us to build sustainable partnerships so we can keep funding our nurseries.” Would your company be interested in working in partnership with LEYF? If so, please email or simply call 020 7834 8679.

connected Fundraising for

A big

thank you!

Every month, LEYF supporters and donors are hard at work helping the organisation grow. PricewaterhouseCoopers invited 206 children from LEYF nurseries to their Christmas pantomime. Amateur actors from PWC’s staff treated the children to a great performance of Snow White at the Peacock Theatre in central London. “We had a wonderful time,” said a LEYF nursery staff member. “In particular the children enjoyed the song ‘I Like to Move It, Move It’ and were all on their feet dancing and grooving!” Several organisations and individuals have made generous donations to LEYF’s A Better Future campaign

Could you help LEYF improve the lives of London’s children? LEYF depends on generous donations to improve children’s lives through high-quality, playbased nursery education. Funds are desperately needed for LEYF’s A Better Future campaign, which is raising money to pay for free or very low cost places at LEYF nurseries for some of the two in five London children who live in poverty. LEYF nurseries focus on caring for children, not the bottom line. Our guiding principle is that all children deserve equal care and respect, with the same opportunities given to inspire a passion for learning, regardless of their background.

Nursery Nativity: The Mayor of Westminster, Duncan Sandys, and LEYF donor, Charlotte Grobien, with children at Marsham Street Community Nursery

recently. The initiative is raising money to assist up to 20 children from poor and deprived backgrounds – who don’t have access to the opportunities offered by a good pre-school education – by providing free or very low cost places at LEYF nurseries.

se “LEYF is a great cau to donate to.” ion inster Collect René Dee, The Westm

The Westminster Collection, which provides venues and event facilities in the borough, raised £1,000 for A Better Future after taking donations from their members. “LEYF is a great cause to donate to,” said René Dee from The Westminster Collection. “We’ve made them an affiliate member of the Collection, which means they get a discount on venues, and we hope we can support them again in the future.”

LEYF would also like to thank St Giles-inthe-Fields & William Shelton Educational Charity, who donated £12,000, the Steel Charitable Trust, who donated £5,000, the John Laing Charitable Trust, who gave £5,000 to the campaign, and the ever supportive Charlotte Grobien, who recently donated another £2,000 through her company, Give It Away.

You can help You can take part in a sponsored race or other sports event for LEYF – just like Ray Holden.

is also running the London Marathon, this time for Beating Bowel Cancer.

Ray, whose sister is a LEYF Trustee, is running the London Marathon for LEYF in April 2010. He says: “This is my third marathon, so the pressure is on to beat my previous record of three hours, eight minutes. Running for a charity gives me even more of an incentive to do this and I am delighted to be running for LEYF this year.” April Rawlings, Senior Administrator for the Apprenticeship Programme at LEYF,

From a 5k to a marathon, there are lots of races you could enter for LEYF. Check out the events section of to find a race to suit your level of ability. If you have any other questions about fundraising for or donating to LEYF, please contact Elaine Angelis, Fundraising Manager, on 020 7834 8679 or email Meanwhile, please go to RayHoldenLondonMarathon to support Ray.

ty “Running for a chari of gives me even more is.” an incentive to do th Ray Holden



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

For staff LEYF staff forums 6 April, 1 June LEYF staff conference 25 June

For staff and families Spring school holidays 5 April-16 April London Marathon 25 April National Share-a-Story Month May UN International Day of Families 15 May National Family Week 31 May-6 June Half-term holidays 31 May-4 June (Camden) 31 May-7 June (Westminster) 1-4 June (Barking & Dagenham) UN World Environment Day 5 June Father’s Day 20 June Summer holidays begin 23 July (Westminster, Barking & Dagenham) 24 July (Camden) Barking Town Show 17-18 July National Parks Week 26 July-2 August Playday 4 August

Don’t forget...

Top tips

our Five ways to settle y child into nursery “The benefits of Every child is different. Settling your child into a nursery can take up to three or four weeks. Joelle Lax, Manager at LEYF’s Holcroft Community Nursery, suggests assessing your child’s level of confidence and working out a system that keeps everyone happy – from day one. Here she offers her five top tips for a great start.

your child attending a caring and well-run nurs ery will soon be clear to se e.” Joelle Lax,


LEYF Nursery

1. Introduce your child to a range of noises and different groups of people, including children, before they start nursery. This will help them feel more at ease in the lively environment of a nursery.



Visit the nursery – with your child. Learn what happens throughout the day. Visiting the nursery allows children to become familiar with different parts of their new environment and also to meet staff and other children.

Allow your child to bring along a familiar object from home – like a favourite teddy bear. These hold positive memories for children and will, by association, help them to develop secure attachments with the nursery.



Care about and get involved with the nursery. If children see parents at ease, happy and chatting with staff, they are more likely to feel relaxed, developing a stronger sense of confidence and belonging in the nursery themselves.

Be patient. Some children will be happier to join in with nursery life more quickly than others. But if you’re patient, the benefits of your child attending a caring and well-run nursery will soon be clear to see.

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, ( and designed and printed by Captiv8 (

Getting settled: Some children will be happier to join in with nursery life sooner than others

London Early Years Foundation 121 Marsham Street London SW1P 4LX

A better future for London’s children Email: Tel: 020 7834 8679 Registered charity number: 299686

LEYF News, Spring 2010  

Our very first newsletter since we changed our name from Westminster Children's Society (WCS) to the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF).

LEYF News, Spring 2010  

Our very first newsletter since we changed our name from Westminster Children's Society (WCS) to the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF).