quality of care and education children get within a nursery is directly reliant
and (to a lesser extent) the nursery surroundings.
Due to the importance of having the right staff in order to offer excellence, we have put in place a strong emphasis on support and coaching.
It all starts at recruitment.
We use a 5 stage rigorous selection / development process.
Stage 1- A verbal application and overview telephone interview.
We have found this to be the best way to assess basic suitability. We gain basic details and if potentially suitable ask them to the next stage of the process.
Stage 2 - Stage 1 Interview.
Before the actual interview, candidates fill in an Application Form, a very detailed medical questionnaire and an Ofsted Clearance Form. The forms are all thoroughly reviewed and potential issues investigated through discussion. There is then a thorough structured interview lasting up to 1 hour which examines the candidate's childcare knowledge, practical experience and attitudes. The candidate is then "scored" against different areas and a weighted % is derived. As the most important aspect is how the person is with children, the majority of candidates are then asked to return for a morning or afternoon to work along side the nursery staff (Stage 3).
Stage 3 - Practical Interview.
The purpose of this is two fold. Firstly to give the candidate a chance to see the nursery and their potential colleagues in action so that they decide whether they feel they would like to work in such an environment. Secondly, but equally as important, the candidate is observed interacting with the children they are with. They are asked to work in all areas of the nursery. From the observation their ability is assessed. We look for two basic things: people who play with the children at their level (it's surprising how many people who actually don't do this - even those who are qualified!) and people that the children like. Those who have excelled in both are offered positions. It is solely based on demonstrated ability and this (which may surprise some who read this) means we may employ a person who has no qualification instead of a person that is (supposedly) qualified.
Stage 4 - Background Checks.
We ask for 2 references which include the person's last employer. We always follow these up in writing and also, where necessary contact the referee for further verbal information. The medical questionnaire is copied and the person takes it to their doctor. This is for two reasons, firstly to prove they have told the truth in it and also to get their Doctor's opinion as to their fitness to look after other people's children. (note Ofsted only do this for the Manager of a nursery). Copies of their certificates are taken along with proof of identity. We also use the Criminal Records Bureau to check for relevant criminal records. Permanent employment is subject to satisfactory results of these checks. It is surprising how many people who apply don't believe that the information they give will be followed up and verified!
Stage 5 - The 3 month trial period.
All successful employees are employed subject to the satisfactory completion of a 3 month trial period. Within this they receive a detailed, comprehensive and thorough induction programme. They receive on the job feedback and guidance. They have weekly performance reviews. The performance reviews are friendly supportive sessions with a senior member of staff where the employees observed actual performance is discussed and guidance given. Most staff comment that these sessions are very helpful and supportive. Good performance is acknowledged and praised. Low performance is discussed and guidance given on how to improve. At the end of the 3 month period people who meet the required standards are retained. Those who don't are not.
We believe that one is always learning and to this end all staff have monthly performance reviews and regular coaching. Based on identified development needs people are put on either internal or external courses which are then followed up when they return. Those members of staff who have not yet got the paper qualification to support their proven performance are gently encouraged to undergo accredited courses either at the work place or at college.
For those who are already qualified but wish to take further qualifications this is encouraged. Some staff have gone on to do degree level courses.
When people get promoted, its never due to length of service - it's always due to proven ability. People who take on new roles or responsibilities under go supportive coaching and training. They are not left to work things out for themselves and never left to just sink or swim.
Continual Improvement and Striving for Excellence.
An ethos of continual improvement and striving for excellence pervades through the staff and the nursery. We believe that, whilst a few may tell you they do some of the things above, the fact we actually do all of them means you see the results in the quality of care and education your child receives.