I have gained an interesting title from my colleagues within our family run group of nurseries as “problem child”! Whilst this is a little bit of fun, it actually makes me smile when I hear it, because I know it’s really about the fact that I have a voice which is valued! I am encouraged to ask questions, think around challenges, distribute my passion and vision and communicate more about what we do really well and where we could improve. I can do this because I work with a team who care for and respect each other.
My progression from Nursery Manager to Operations Director couldn’t have happened without the support of my family and discussing this with Julie and Ian, themselves recognising their own families’ support, we decided that we wanted to say a huge thank you to our staff families with a Family Fun Day and BBQ.
We have an important set of values which underpin everything that we do in nursery and when we make decisions and aim for the best outcomes, we are constantly reflecting on how we are demonstrating and living these values. I have written this as an insight in to how we plan events like this, whilst keeping our values at the core of everything that we do. Also, I thought it would be nice for our parents to read about how we take care of the people who are taking care of your most precious little people!
We have six settings and within them a range of diverse and strong teams who all work together. In preparation for the event we thought about how we wanted to say thank you to our teams. Above all we wanted to have FUN! We couldn’t miss the opportunity for some team games and a chance for a bit of healthy competition between the nurseries! From Giant Hungry Hippo’s to Team Rounder’s, we had all the bases covered here. Everyone supported each other as they took it in turns to hit the ball and make it around in one run (not always the case and not for the want of trying). This games was loved by the adults as much as the children. It was great to see how our managers worked closely together to ensure the smooth running of events and lovely to watch the children engage and play together as they explored the wonderful grounds at our Mere Nursery in Knutsford.
All of our staff go above and beyond in their roles to nurture, support and care for our children. We strongly believe that this passion is harnessed by our managers and directors. In recognising our ambition to be determined, we ensured that we had everything we needed for a wonderful day out. Our families received a welcome drink from Alex and and our very own Sophie at ‘Fancy Flutes’, the fab Prosecco Van we booked, and a delicious selection of food from the BBQ. I cooked more than a few sausages and burgers myself but the crown of BBQ King was held by Ian and Liesa’s (our wonderful Project Manager) husband, Ian! We often say thank you to our staff in events such as Nursery Awards and Staff Appreciation lunches but after some reflective thinking, we realised that many of our staff couldn’t do their jobs as well as they do without the love and support of their friends and family. This is what made us determined to make the day a success, not just for the staff but for everyone who in-directly supports us too!
We nurture this in our staff too! Everyone has a voice and autonomy to make choices. The managers were able to demonstrate this when they were planning the event and what the day would be like. They decided that the setting with the perfect surrounding outdoor space was our Mere Day Nursery in Knutsford. One of our managers organised an Ice-Cream van to arrive so that the children could have a treat in the sun too! We have creative and talented team who are fantastic at face painting and so we set up a Face Painting Station.
Julie and I encourage our managers to see each challenge as an opportunity. Seeing our managers dynamically working together to plan the fun day was really valuable. The managers respected each other’s ideas and experience. We all have different professional heritages and by valuing these, staff feel safe to ask questions and make suggestions. This was also visible in the outcomes for the families. The BBQ and games were spread across the nursery grounds. Children felt confident to play, explore and have a go at new experiences whilst their parents and grandparents were busy chatting. I particularly enjoyed talking to everyone whilst my little boy and Julie and Ian’s ran and climbed the trees!
This is the value which is at the core of everything we do, whether this is for our children or for our staff. Whatever we do, we have to do it in the best way. Outstanding to us is less of an Ofsted judgement, and more of going above and beyond each time you try something. It is then about reflection and discussion. What worked well and what would we change to make it better? After this event we were so pleased with the outcome and feedback that we received that the reflection part was to do it again next year and build this into our annual appreciation programme for staff! Our next challenge will be to think what can we do next? Watch this space!
“A big thank you to Julie, Ian, Emma and everyone else that organised today. The Ditchfield family had a lovely time!”
“Thank you so much to Julie, Ian, Emma and everyone who arranged the BBQ for us. Was lovely, we all really enjoyed it!”
“Thank you for a wonderful time a the BBQ today was lovely to see everyone having a fun time x x It was a lovely occasion☀”