Last Friday we held our Annual Training Day and Review. Our staff team, which is now 102 people strong, came together at the Textile Centre of Excellence to enhance and develop their childcare practice for the future and reflect on the year past. As a company we have always put a strong emphasis on continual training and development. Our nursery teams work hard throughout the year to improve the care and resources we provide for the children. This is done in a variety of ways; through internal and external training courses; conferences; personal development plans and appraisals; coaching and mentoring; networking; professional qualifications and the sharing of high quality practice. This year we focused on several key areas from Leadership and Management led by consultant Karen Murray from the National Day Nurseries Association, Nutrition for the Under 5’s and Weaning led by the FINE team from Kirklees and Well-being led by trained psychological therapist Mary Franklin-Smith. The day was filled with workshops and presentations from both consultants and members of the Portland Nurseries management team. General Manager, Anastasia Murphy gave an overview of the previous year and reported that over 85% of the childcare staff now hold a NVQ Level 3 qualification, with over 20% of the staff holding degrees and higher. She added that “this is a fantastic amount and reflects the investment in the high-quality care and education we provide at our nurseries this percentage is something to be proud of as research has shown that early years settings led by highly-qualified practitioners have the greatest impact on children’s outcomes” Information on each training session: Nutrition for Under 5s An external consultant from the Kirklees Fine Team ran a morning and afternoon workshop for those members of our team who have not yet had the chance to attend this training we have been running over the last 2 years. These workshops focused on: The importance of healthy diet The importance of a balanced diet and portion sizes Introduction of solid foods Sugar and salt reduction Eatwell plate and the 5 food groups “Fussy” eating Suitable drinks Weaning: Correct and incorrect signs for an infant ready to be introduced to solid foods Safe introduction of foods Accessing additional literature Cohort Tracking Ongoing monitoring and assessing the children at nursery is an integral part of the learning and development process. It involves the staff observing your children to understand their level of achievement, interests and learning styles, and to then plan and shape learning experiences for each individual reflecting those observations.This workshop aimed to increase our understanding of how to effectively collect, use and interpret children’s progress data to further develop our practice, inform future planning and improve the outcomes for children We looked at in detail; How to use the data collected by these observations. The importance of looking at cohorts such as key groups, age and gender. How to analyse this data and plan from this to enhance provision, train staff and further challenge the children to ensure they reach their full potential. “Simply gathering information about a child is not enough. It is how the information is used to affect children’s opportunities and experiences which makes a difference to their learning and development” (Progress Matters). Active in Autumn The aim of the workshop was to further support the staffs knowledge, understanding and confidence in planning stage appropriate activities for individual/groups of children; linking these to the EYFS and vital planning for the next steps to extend and support the children’s learning further. We discussed the topics that the autumn term is enriched with and brainstormed lots of activity ideas to be implemented into the planning across the range of age groups and to also enhance the continuous provision areas for learning opportunities within the rooms. Wellbeing One key area of focus for the company over the last year has been Well-being. To nurture happy and resilient children our staff team need to come from a place of clarity. This is a vital element in the success of Portland Nurseries and we have looked deeper into how we as a company can help all our staff team develop well-being, clarity, resilience, creativity and connection while at work. We have worked closely with trained psychologist Mary Franklin Smith to develop a series of workshops and presentations to give our staff the mindfulness techniques to fully thrive both at work and within their personal lives. Mary originally qualified with a Masters degree in Drama and Movement Therapy from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She is a HCPC registered psychological therapist, who works in specialist NHS mental health services In addition to her clinical and research roles in the NHS Mary runs a private practice where she facilitates individual and group work as well as offering well-being and resilience training to schools and businesses. Making Happy Happen – Building Resilience in Children This workshop explored the staff’s own responsibilities, their team’s strengths, their own resilience and how to build resilience within children. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. The science of resilience can help us understand why some children do well despite serious adversity. Resilience is a combination of protective factors that enable people to adapt in the face of serious hardship, and is essential to ensuring that children who experience adversity can still become healthy, productive citizens. A number of activities, discussions and videos were used to help the team reflect on their own practice and the ways it could be improved. We looked in to understanding the difference between generic praise and encouragement and this can develop and nurture resilience in children. Graduates Workshop At Portland Nurseries we value our graduates skills, knowledge and expertise. We currently employ 25 graduates across the company. During appraisals some of our graduates have expressed the desire to continue their studies and gain their Early Years Teacher Status. This workshop allowed graduates to look at the teaching standards they have to achieve to become an outstanding teacher. The workshop was led by two Early Years Teachers who first explored the importance of communication and working in partnership with other leaders, parents and Early Years Educators. We discussed the importance of having the confidence to use our skills and reflect regularly to make sure all our children are provided with high quality care and education. Tasks involved creating something with loose parts, communicating together in small teams and remembering to inspire young children’s curiosity and critical thinking. We analysed what each standard looked like in practice and each graduate has now formed an action plan based on the Early Years teacher standards and will now be translating this into practice to benefit our children.