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Photo Š Andrew Parsons

Newsletter Winter 2012/13

Caring‌ Men at work Update

LEYF wins National Business Award

Out & About

More community nurseries open

Get Connected Olympic summer


In this issue Update

• Men at work • Supporting parents • National award win • Summer celebrations • Staff conference

Out & About

• What do you do? • My LEYF experience • Nursery Olympics • Parents speak up!

Get Connected

• Nursery openings • Diary dates • Top tips



Dear Parents Early in the year, we took the bold decision to grow LEYF by opening up more nurseries across London. We felt we had a duty to share what we do with more families, and recognised that a larger LEYF would be the best way to do this. In January we began working with the Social Business Trust, a group of six corporate companies which offer financial and staff support to organisations like ours. So it’s with great pleasure that we can now begin to share more news of our recent nursery openings in Kensington & Chelsea and Tower Hamlets, along with existing contracts renewed in Barking & Dagenham and our original home of Westminster. Meanwhile, we have continued to work hard to improve the great start we give children through play-based education, and so are delighted when we continue to hear how well children who have graduated to ‘big school’ are coping in their new surroundings.

It’s equally pleasing to have already received praise from Ofsted under their new approach for inspecting nurseries, where successful visits to both Furze and Colville brought such comments as how ‘children show they are happy and secure’, ‘develop strong emotional attachments to staff’ and how staff ‘value and praise them in their play.’ Such feedback is further brought to life by the many kind letters and emails our nursery staff so often receive – explaining exactly why an incredible 90% of parents are ‘happy or very happy’ with the level of care we give their children. So many thanks to those of you that were able to complete this survey. Of course, achieving such results requires dedicated nursery teams, but also great training. In this regard, we enjoyed another fantastically positive staff conference at Pimlico Academy this year. The focus of the day was on quality and the Home Learning Environment – the two key elements of what’s now being known as ‘LEYF’s magic formula’. Essentially this is a combination of high quality care and education shared between the nursery and the home that over time adds up to a successful outcome for all children. Finally we were absolutely thrilled to be the first childcare business to win the prestigious Orange National Business Award for Transformational Change, celebrating our move from charity to sustainable social business. So a tremendous year all round – and a tough one to beat come 2013!

June O’Sullivan Chief Executive


in brief

Parents may have noticed a few changes in our nurseries recently. This is due to the revised EYFS (standards set by government), which now focuses on three prime and four specific areas to support a child’s learning and development, especially looking at school-readiness. At LEYF we felt it was particularly important to ensure good practice was embedded for 2-3 year olds, helping them express themselves, and giving them the space to face challenges and assert their independence. They are not called ‘the terrible twos’ for nothing!

Ofsted awards

Ofsted inspectors have also changed their approach, and now assume all nurseries are ‘Good’, and simply judge them as having met, exceeded or failed this standard (and so crucially no longer highlight ‘outstanding elements’). At LEYF we have been delighted with the number of ‘Good’ awards in our nurseries over the summer, but are now using ITERS and ECERS (environment rating scales) to further support the development of our prime and specific areas in the EYFS; an approach that has already seen benefits during visits by Ofsted at Lisson Green, Bessborough, Angel, Warwick, Noah’s Ark and Earl’s Court.

did you know?

We are directly helping 53% of our parents improve their child’s learning at home Home learning

At LEYF we believe in working in partnership with parents, something that is frequently borne out by the latest research, which clearly states the most important learning environment is the home. That’s why our children’s learning journeys are now easier for parents to follow and why our Early Years Professional Glynis recently held a series of parent workshops (as part of our Marsham Street Children’s Centre pilot). We are also now hoping to develop specific resources to support the home learning environment early next year.

Careful men at work Historically child care has always been seen as a woman’s role. At LEYF this is far from the case.

“It doesn’t help people if we always think about stereotypes,” David tells me. He’s 42 and has been working in childcare for 20 years. “I have tattoos, a shaved head and piercings, so I guess I fly in the face of convention – but I wanted to go into childcare because I wanted a career with a purpose and meaning.” David explains that when he was at school, boys were not given information about the possibilities of such a career. “Childcare was still viewed as women’s work. In fact, when I first told my dad I wanted to work in childcare, he asked what was wrong with me.” These days it may be less unusual to hear how important a father’s role is in a child’s life; although it’s most often relegated to the idea of ‘rough and tumble’, where men tend to encourage more risk-taking, helping children to stretch and explore their boundaries. (Apparently the average man finds it easier ‘being a child’ with children.)

Photo © Andrew Parsons

It’s a crisp autumn morning, and a riot of happy children are kicking through leaves in a nursery garden. Somewhere in the middle of it all is a middle-aged man with tattoos. Not what you might expect at your average daycare setting in Southwest London.

It’s simple, he claims: “It’s very important for children to have male role models; but most of all we need highquality practitioners, whether they are men or women.” And he’s right. In fact, evidence suggests a balance between male and female role models works best. So why, despite the best intentions of recent government rhetoric, do men make up only 2% of the Early Years workforce in this country – what if anything is being done about this? LEYF clearly supports and promotes the idea of men in childcare (including David, men account for 9% of all staff). More importantly, the nursery group has launched the first London Network of Men in Childcare, and at the same time published their own research to further investigate the issue – and for the first time, properly taking into account the voice of the child.

By contrast, brain studies suggest women are more likely to focus on keeping a child warm, safe and well fed – surely what’s needed in a nursery while one or both “I wanted to go into parents are hard at work? “It’s more than just playing with children all day,” David continues. “A lot of child development happens between the ages of two and four. We deal with important stuff.”

childcare because I wanted a career with a .” purpose and a meaning

at Angel David Stevens, Manager Community Nursery

As well as providing a forum for male childcare practitioners, LEYF CEO, June O’Sullivan hopes the network will prompt more male-led research into men in childcare: “There is a real need to develop action-led research about men, and by men, in the childcare field.” June continues: “Research shows there are huge benefits from having men in nurseries – such as providing male role models, eradicating gender stereotypes and helping fathers engage with their children. LEYF’s research questioned more than 50 professionals, but also gathered the views of 23 three- to five-year-olds. Of particular note, when asked about the roles of male and female practitioners within nurseries, none of the children associated activities involving stories and songs with men. “That’s fascinating,” June added, “because we have issues with boys and literacy when they get older, and with trying to encourage dads to do more reading as an activity.” Elsewhere children expressed very little preference. So it seems David was right: whether you’re a man or woman, when it comes to a career in childcare, you just need to be great at what you do. To read our research, visit 3

What a summer… Summer may be long since passed, but for the children, parents and staff across LEYF’s many distinct nurseries, memories of the fun had this summer will last for some time to come… It all began with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. And nowhere was this more in evidence than at our Ford Road Children’s Centre Nursery in Barking & Dagenham, where staff held an afternoon tea party for the local community. The already delightful garden was decorated with red, white and blue bunting - and of course, plenty of Union Jacks! And whilst the nursery’s three and four year olds did a spectacular job of singing ‘God Save the Queen’ to parents, activities led by the nursery’s three LEYF apprentices continued the red, white and blue theme – with a table for children to make play dough, thread painted pasta necklaces and ice biscuits. The Children’s Centre Community Forum were invited to bring their children, as were former LEYF nursery children who had recently graduated to nearby Village Infants School. Meanwhile, aptly named nursery practitioner, Wendy Buckingham invited her local church and communityrun group ‘Ace Life’ (set up to support families with children who have special educational needs).

In the news Margaret Horn Lecture The Margaret Horn Big Conversation took place as always on Social Enterprise Day, this year drawing together a panel of inspirational women, each with their own take on the topic ‘The Great Women’s Trade Off: Helping Women Succeed at Work’. Chaired by the Associate Editor of the Sunday Times, Eleanor Mills, the evening raised many issues, from ambition to expectation, and proved another great step forward in this ongoing debate. National Business Awards LEYF were thrilled to win the Orange National Business Awards ‘Transformational Change of the Year’ for turning a vulnerable charity into a financially secure social enterprise. Recognising excellence, innovation and 4

Staff conference looks to the future As guests tucked into cucumber sandwiches, finger rolls and a selection of cakes, Her Majesty The Queen even put in an appearance – in the form of Kunmi, one of Ford Road’s four year olds. Kunmi truly entered into the spirit of the role, as she sang the National Anthem with great gusto and watched over her subjects from a specially made throne! Garden parties brought similar levels of fun, food, music and dancing across many of our other nurseries – especially Bessborough, Lisson Green and Luton Street. Meanwhile, children writing letters of congratulations (or in the case of Furze, sending cards they’d designed themselves) to Her Majesty The Queen were tremendously excited to receive personal replies from Her Majesty’s Lady in Waiting by return post! And of course, summer wouldn’t be the same at LEYF without the local SouthWestFest in Pimlico. This year our nurseries not only took a lead role on the day, providing a wide range of fun and free activities for families with children under five, but were also selected to feature in the ‘Secrets of SW1’ art and photo exhibition. LEYF summer fun continues on Page 6, with the Nursery Olympics!

ethics, the ceremony was opened with a video address from the Prime Minister David Cameron, followed by the keynote speaker Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, who welcomed over 1,200 of the UK’s most influential business leaders to the event. Research to support under 2s After hosting a related workshop by NSPCC and Department for Education, LEYF were asked to research leadership of two year old provision by the National College of School Leadership. To ensure this was practitioner-led and LEYF remained a driving force for good quality nationally, influencing the Government while it develops the Two Year Old offer, LEYF began by conducting a short survey of its own nurseries to understand best practice in leading two year olds.

Each year during the Autumn Half Term, we bring all staff together for an update on where we stand, where we’re headed and most importantly how we plan to get there. This year was especially important, as we had earlier announced plans for significant growth over the next three years. Our model is simple. We run inclusive community nurseries, offer parenting support and opportunities for apprentices, all with a multi-generational focus. Our reason for growth is equally simple. Too many families are without access to the high quality childcare they need and that we can provide. And to make sure we thrive, the focus of the day was on continuing to improve quality in the nursery. We worked on key skills for staff, established what support was needed and tried to better understand the perspective of both children and parents, as we looked at the journey both take during their time with us. As ever, this was all accompanied by great food, friends… and of course fun with colleagues new and old, as this time we looked into the future with a special timetravelling video link!

the headlines

“Choosing the best nursery for you and your child” at home parenting with Jo Frost

“How social ventures can build scalable models that will fly” Guardian

“Will Jimmy Savile case put men off working in childcare?” Telegraph

“Academic rejects proposals to deregulate childcare sector” Children & Young People Now

“…frazzled mothers struggling to juggle career and children” Mail Online

& about out

What do you do? Pauline Jupp

Pauline Jupp postponed studying for her degree in Early Childhood Studies to take on the role of Manager at LEYF’s busy Ford Road Children’s Centre Nursery in Barking & Dagenham. Since becoming Manager of Ford Road in 2009, Pauline has made the nursery her own – successfully supporting staff and developing apprentices, whilst making strong links with the Children’s Centre and local community. And although external funding for her studies is no longer available, LEYF is now directly supporting Pauline to complete her degree. How did you first start working at LEYF? I qualified as a nursery nurse at the age of 18, then worked in a nursery school,

teacher’s crèche, daycare setting and as a childminder before seeing an advert for Deputy Manager in Nursery World, and thought it sounded like an excellent opportunity. Why did you want to study for a degree? To gain more knowledge in my chosen field, and improve quality for the children and families I worked with in the nursery. What are you most proud of now? My team, and knowing each person’s strengths and using them effectively for the benefit of children in our care. Also the family feel we have developed in the nursery, especially with so many siblings now. We have arranged the space to make sure they see as much of each other as possible, with older children visiting the baby room and both playing together in the garden.

It was such a relief when LEYF let Alia attend nursery free of charge whilst I looked for another job. Majdouline didn’t know anyone with children in London when she arrived from France with daughter Alia. Finding herself suddenly out of work after six months, Majdouline was able to bring Alia to Earl’s Court Nursery thanks to LEYF’s Better Future fund, which pays for free part-time childcare while parents study, look for work or start their own business.

urt staff o C s l’ r a E t “A amily” f a e k li e r e w ne, parent Majdouli

What’s next for Ford Road? Work on the home learning environment. Each room is developing packs to send home with parents around children’s favourite activities, songs and books.

“I wanted t o improve quality for t he children and fa I worked wit milies h.” Pauline Jup p

, Manager a t Ford Road Childre n’s Centre N ursery

e My eAlxiaperienc Majdouline and

In fact, the garden is something I’m also proud of – in particular our fantastic fire pit. Children sing campfire songs and afterwards enjoy chocolate and marshmallows. The area is perfect for children exploring their natural environment, especially where some have very little if any outdoor space at home.

“My husband and I were in a difficult financial situation, and I really wanted to go back to work. It was such a relief when LEYF let Alia attend nursery five half-days a week for free whilst I looked for another job. Thanks to this, I was able to attend interviews in London and found a job in Monaco. I don’t know how I would have managed without their help. “I knew Alia loved her LEYF nursery when I had to put her in another one near my new job. At Earl’s Court Alia hardly ever cried, even in the beginning; and if she did it was usually when she left nursery each day, rather than when she arrived in the morning! “At Earl’s Court learning took place in a fun and secure environment; children would sing and dance, and the staff adapted to the children. My daughter was asking for staff from Earl’s Court months after we left London.

“Thankfully Alia did finally adapt to the new nursery, although we both know it’s nothing like LEYF. At Earl’s Court they were like a family. “So thank you LEYF for one of my most beautiful British experiences, for helping me when I needed it most.” To find out more about LEYF’s ‘Better Future’ fund, parents should speak with their nursery manager, or email 5




Nursery Olympics! After the fun of celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, nursery staff right across LEYF fully embraced the spirit of the London Olympics – from a guest appearance by Tessa Jowel (Shadow Cabinet Minister for the Olympics) at our own pan-London Providers’ Olympic Committee to several closing medal ceremonies, our own ‘Nursery Olympics’ won’t be easily forgotten!

Meanwhile, Julie from Colville was being interviewed and followed on her daily commute for a special report on the effect of the Olympics on public transport by the BBC…

To begin with, everyone at Carlton Hill and Noah’s Ark were getting very excited by the unexpected arrival of the original Olympic Torch, as parents on the Olympic Committee unexpectedly brought it in for the children to see.

At the other end of the capital, two ponies from Wellgate Farm delivered the real Olympic Torch for nursery children to pass onto the nearby school. David (aged 3½) described the event as ‘All go’, adding ‘I need a rest now!’

“I need a rest now!” David (age 3½), Wellgate Children’s Centre Nursery

Parents speak up! Supporting parents is a crucial part of what we do at LEYF. We ask parents to complete a survey each year and invite a small number to attend occasional focus groups. Some of the most valuable feedback – and certainly most affecting – we ever receive is sent to us from parents in the form of letters, emails and ‘thank you’ cards.

And for just over a week, children, parents and staff led the way with LEYF’s own ‘Olympic’ relay event – carrying a torch decorated by our children from one nursery to

being “Thank you for um, for Enzo’s second m special, making him feel hile he loved and safe w was with you.” (Eastbury)

“Your team genuinely love what th ey do, and the nur sery is a happy place.” (Queen sborough)

“More communities need nurseries like this.” (Fitzrovia)


the next, across five London boroughs, picking up individual pictures of their local area from each nursery as they went. With seasoned London Marathon runner and member of LEYF’s Central Office team, April Rawlings – plus colleague and official outrider Neil Hart – making the long handover on foot from Noah’s Ark in Tower Hamlets to Eastbury in Barking & Dagenham, the relay finally concluded in a shower of celebration at Wellgate!

It really is important parents let us know how we are doing – so if you have a child in one of our nurseries, please do speak up! Talk to us about any concerns you may have – and if you’re happy with how we care for your child, please tell your friends! And don’t forget to ask us about any parent events we may be planning in your nursery – covering anything from cooking to messy play, modelling to interactive storytelling sessions, or coffee mornings to movie nights. They are all great ways to pick up tips, get to know your fellow parents – and most importantly support your child’s learning.

don’t forget

Ask your nursery about any parent events they may be planning

connected Getting to know

New nurseries now open… With ambitious plans to help more families, LEYF has grown a little more every time we look. The latest addition to the growing family of LEYF community nurseries is Henry Fawcett in Lambeth. Now registered for 50 children aged from birth to five years, the nursery was originally based in a local park and cared for children aged 2-5 years. The nursery and Children’s Centre became one with Henry Fawcett Primary School in June 2011, thanks to major refurbishment of the original school building under Headteacher Claire Nuttall. We officially took over management of Henry Fawcett nursery in December 2012, having carried out extensive renovations to include a new kitchen and changing area, allowing the nursery to accommodate babies and children under 2 years, along with brand new furniture and other equipment. The nursery also enjoys the luxury of two large, airy and bright rooms, both of which open onto a fabulously spacious garden.

LEYF Integration Manager, Rachele Parker – who is currently leading the nursery team – is excited with plans for the nursery, which include promoting the brand new under 2s room, and working in partnership with the Children’s Centre and School to develop a new programme of family engagement events. Ofsted success for Colville Earlier in the year, we were equally excited to open our second nursery in Kensington & Chelsea after Earl’s Court (below right), which opened late in 2011.

Colville celebrated joining LEYF with an incredibly popular family fun day when they buried a time capsule, and recently enjoyed their first Ofsted visit as a LEYF nursery. Awarded a very positive ‘Good’, with glowing comments from the inspector, the team now have their sights squarely set on ‘Outstanding’ for their next visit!

Led by Nursery Manager Julie Coackley, Colville Nursery Centre was first set up in the heart of Notting Hill in 1977 and is now open 8am–6pm, Monday to Friday, 50 weeks a year. It is registered for 44 children aged 3 months to five years. The nursery has long enjoyed an established and dedicated staff team – and since taking over the setting, we have enjoyed building on their wealth of childcare experience and local knowledge. The nursery is well-known for its warm, family atmosphere – something we look forward to developing in close partnership with Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea advisory teachers. The nursery has a fantastic outdoor play space which children of all ages can enjoy, and since our arrival has seen a major refurbishment inside. This is where we now introduce children to mark making, communication, problem solving, creative activities, role play, ICT and an understanding of the world around them. The children also enjoy a wide range of sensory and learning experiences, as well as regular outings getting to know the local community.

“I’m really looking forward to showing parents our new under 2s room!”

Rachele Parker , Integration Manager at Henry Fawcett



Get out, get active and get involved Calendar dates

Chinese New Year 23 January National Storytelling Week 26 January – 2 February Pancake Day 12 February Half Term 15 – 22 February Fairtrade Fortnight 25 February – 10 March Milad Al-Nabi (Prophet’s Birthday) 26 February World Book Day 7 March National Science and Engineering Week 15 – 24 March Mother’s Day 10 March Earth Hour 23 March Easter Weekend 29 March – 1 April International Children’s Book Day 2 April Queen’s Birthday 21 April St George’s Day 23 April Day of Solidarity between Generations 29 April National Share-a-Story Month May May Day Bank Holiday 6 May International Day of Families 15 May Food Revolution Day 17 May Spring Bank Holiday 27 May National Family Week 27 May – 2 June

Don’t forget...

Top tips

Christmas gifts for young children We all know that children love to play. It’s a tremendous source of entertainment, amusement and excitement for even the smallest child. But play is so much more, according to training specialist at Experiential Play, Alice Sharp: “Play promotes learning and helps build relationships, bringing parents and children closer together. It also helps develop many different kinds of skills in a growing child, so really is vital.” But where Christmas is concerned, it’s important that all parents (especially new ones) remember that it’s not about how much you spend, or getting the latest fad. Instead, you should spend a little more time and perhaps less money thinking about which toys will hold your child’s interest, and what they might be able to learn from them – while having fun of course!

are great. This can be anything from textures and reflections, to size, shape and weight (squidgy cubes or building bricks are perfect).

Songs and rhymes


Always popular with babies, so try a basic musical instrument or shakers – especially if you sing along to rhymes like ‘five little ducks’.

A child’s favourite soft toy offers them comfort, but will also give you both the chance to share special, quiet one-to-one moments together (times for encouraging whispers and shared smiles).

Language and communication Reading can be enjoyed from any age, and does wonders to help understanding, so a good book should always be near the top of your list.

Curiosity and exploration As a baby everything is new and so endlessly fascinating, so simple toys that offer some form of sensory experience


As with reading, young children can learn a lot about counting through play. Choosing toys with simple patterns will support reasoning and problem solving.

Spending time with children on simple pleasures shows more love for them than expensive toys.

London Early Years Foundation 121 Marsham Street London SW1P 4LX

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. Simply send us an email or find us online. LEYF News is a biannual newsletter published by the London Early Years Foundation.

Counting and numbers Email: Tel: 020 7834 8679

LEYF News, Winter 2012-2013  

All the latest news, stories and tips from the London Early Years Foundation - for parents, staff, partners and friends alike!