case study:  Project activities delivered to The Valley Nursery*, by REACH Cornwall

(*registered as Wheelgate House Child Education and Development Centre)

Overview of the project

The Valley Nursery School in Newquay provides affordable care and education for young children in the community. They have developed and grown over the last 25 years to provide child centred care with an emphasis on outdoor provision including an onsite Forest School. This is a day nursery with 11 staff and 46 children on roll that are aged from 3 months to 5 years.

Sector Priorities

The LEAP (Leading Education and Aspiration Programme) was developed for managers, deputy managers and aspiring managers in early years settings who are keen to acquire leadership and industry skills to advance business operations and organisational best practice.

The LEAP programme was delivered twice, fully funded through REACH Cornwall (one of the delivery strands for Truro and Penwith College, the lead partner in the ESF Business Clusters project) and offered free of charge.

Regional Drivers

Created in partnership with Cornwall Council, the LEAP programme incorporates the ILM Level 3Award in Leadership and Management, as well as bespoke sessions on key topics for the sector.

Project Delivery

What need was identified?
Vicki Branhall , Deputy Manager at the nursey has responsibility for a busy nursery, pre-school, and a forest school in the absence of the manager. She is also the DCPO (designated child protection officer) and SENCO (special educational needs coordinator) for the setting as well as the CL Lead (communication and language) throughout all rooms and ages of the children. She has been in the role 15 years and has an NVQ 3 in Childcare and Development but was keen to undertake some formal management training.

How did the project fulfil these needs?
The LEAP programme fitted closely with The Valley Nursery’s objective to ensure staff feel confident in leading teams, dealing with challenging situations and are well informed regarding legal requirements surrounding safeguarding and other key topics.

What was delivered?
The first LEAP pilot took place from September 2021 to March 2022 with an in-person induction day, 10 x 2-hour ILM L3 sessions (delivered online), followed by 6x 1-day bespoke sessions (most of which took place in person). Vicki took part in this first pilot attending the induction day and digital refresher, completing the ILML3 Award in Leadership and Management and joining the bespoke workshops which were delivered by industry experts, Cornwall Council and tutors at Truro and Penwith College.

Business Insight, Impact and Feedback

Vicki Branhall confirmed that whilst she was the only attendee from the nursery, to have early years training available is great and eventually more of the team can be sent on training. Before this training the nursery would normally use private training providers but now Truro and Penwith College have set the standard for early years training.

Leadership and management training was needed by Vicki to gain a formal qualification to match her role as a leader/manager. The content shaping done by the group on the pilot ensured engagement and relevance, which is really relevant to Vicki’s role in this sector.

Vicki added that “The programme was fully funded which is a great help in early years sector where money is tight”

The course included bespoke modules that were great for Vicki’s role rather than being fixed – for example guest speakers covered inclusion and diversity, safeguarding and signs of abuse which are critical areas in this sector. Assignments related to problem solving and finances gave a new perspective and awareness of related considerations that are linked to daily business operations at the nursery.

Vicki leads a team and the training has helped her deal with supervisors to make the workplace more effective. The learning and development of a new formal skill set helps to progress others in the nursery as Vicki can now share and adopt learnings into everyday practice. Post course, Vicki has created projects for the wider team based on some of her learnings, for example – a wellbeing and mental health weekly session and wellbeing blog for staff with weekly team breakfasts. Also, weekly wellbeing sessions have been introduced for parents to attend. Both of which have been well received and have high attendance.

Vicki felt that the session on equality, diversity and inclusion with Beresford Lee, CEO of Rice and Peas Community CIC (formerly Director of Black Voices Cornwall) was so valuable that she arranged some training days with him at The Valley Nursery.