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Wednesday, 6 September 2023 saw the Kidzrus Group team gather at Swinton Masonic Hall for our third annual staff training day; an ideal opportunity for us to get together, meet up with colleagues from all settings to become familiar with new concepts, guidelines and developments to further improve our practice.

 On arrival staff were greeted with coffee and pastries. The morning session kicked off with an ice breaker under the instruction of our Area Manager, Gemma Fletcher; an alternative version of ‘Pass the Parcel’ with direct reference to the Kidzrus story and staff members who were directed to pass ‘left’ or ‘right’ on hearing those words.  Colleagues in possession of the parcel at the end of the game were the winners of a range of prizes.

Natalie Jones, Manager at our Swinton Forest School and Nursery then gave an insight into their Ofsted Inspection which took place on Wednesday, 30 August.  She paid reference to anything and everything important throughout the day, from the Inspector’s initial arrival, chatting with parents and acknowledging written testimonials, to meeting team members and observing learning, fact finding discussions with Leadership and Management regarding Policies and Procedures.  Combined with a number of other factors, the Inspector was able to make an informed decision regarding overall effectiveness within the Forest School and Nursery, the quality of its teaching and learning, behaviour and attitudes of children, personal development of children and the setting’s leadership and management in line with a rigorous Ofsted grading criteria.  This was verbally fed back to the Senior Leadership and Management Team, and we will be pleased to share the full written report with you once it has been published.  Natalie shared questions from the Ofsted Inspector and discussed the most recent topics which was really helpful for Managers and staff who are due the next Ofsted Inspection.  The Inspector was very approachable and made the staff feel at ease whilst being questioned throughout the day.  The Pre School children were taken to the Forest School and the Inspector along with Natalie changed into their wellies to join the group so they could be observed in a totally different environment.  Initially the staff were very anxious and nervous, however the Inspector soon made them feel at ease as they were able to answer all the questions as they followed their own daily routine and the children were happy to engage too.  Natalie and her committed team do what they do every day as did the children and the parents who spoke very highly of the setting which was evident during the feedback at the end of the day and the numerous emails received prior to the inspection to be shared with the Ofsted Inspector.  It’s been almost six years since our last Ofsted Inspection where we achieved an outstanding outcome and we have faced many challenges and lots of changes in legislation.

Since the pandemic we have changed from a nursery environment to an extremely successful nursery and Forest School which we are very proud to promote.  During covid we soon realised we had to make changes to accommodate the needs of the children who had spent long periods at home and quite often in front of screens without any social interaction with their peers.  We have noticed a huge increase in children with speech and language delays and other SEND.  We recognised that parents also need additional support.  As a result we recruited a designated Inclusion and SEND Co ordinator, Helen whose sole purpose is to identify and observe children to support them and liaise with the Local Authority and other agencies.  Also to assist with funding applications including those for our families to ease any financial burden, quite often parents are unaware of their entitlements and how to access funding.

 

Each year Managers are invited to nominate an individual team member that has gone above and beyond in their daily practice to make an outstanding contribution to the Kidzrus community.  Noting that it has been extremely challenging to select one staff member, Nicola Fleury MBE, Founding Director confirmed that the decision was made based on staff and parent feedback as well as Senior Leadership observations.  The citation for the award states that “the staff member is such a worthy recipient for so many reasons… she is extremely supportive, a wonderful listener to her colleagues, amazing with our children and colleagues and very popular with her team and within the Early Years sector.  She is caring and compassionate, dedicated and totally committed.  She has everyone’s best interests at heart and always wants the best for them.  Not only is she highly experienced and very knowledgeable, she finds solutions to problems.  She is a very special individual and an amazing team player.  Nicola stated that the recipient could not be more deserving of the accolade, as it was suggested that if she were cut in half it would read ‘Kidzrus’.  We are delighted to announce that this year’s recipient of the Kidzrus Outstanding Achievement Award is Natalie Jones, Manager at Swinton Forest School and Nursery”.

Safeguarding is at the forefront of our practice within the Kidzrus Group.  We were pleased that Detective Sergeant Katie Halstead from Greater Manchester Police Child Protection Investigation Unit was able to speak with our colleagues about her varied role and responsibilities, including the actions that she and her colleagues take in the protection of children and vulnerable young people who are suspected of or are being abused.  Ms Halsted was extremely considerate and compassionate in the delivery of her session, which contained distressing yet pertinent information regarding how, when and why she executes her role.  She also delicately cited a number of infamous case studies that are relevant to the Early Years Sector and gave expert advice and guidance on what to do should any of our team members have concerns regarding a child in our care, we also discussed the different types of abuse and how many of the perforators remain under the radar often continuing to commit crimes undetected.

The session was extremely informative and very helpful, we were given advice on the Safeguarding procedures undertaken by the police and the importance of gathering evidence to support a successful verdict should the case be presented to a judge and jury.  There are so many cases that don’t reach the courts or can be dismissed due to a slight technical error so the police have to be extremely tight in collating their evidence.  Within our nursery settings it’s crucial that all staff are very vigilant and that we listen to what children, staff and parents say to ensure they are safe at all times, we must protect each other.  It’s our duty to report any inappropriate comments or incidents to the safeguarding officer immediately, we have up-to three in each setting (The Nursery Manager, Deputy Nursery Manager and the third officer) who in turn will contact KIdzrus Nursery Director, Kidzrus Area Manager, SLW, Salford Local Authority, Bridge Team or the LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) dependant on who is involved and they will provide support and guidance confirming the need for a referral.  We take the advice from The Bridge Team and The LADO which would often result in an investigation to gather additional evidence, eg witness statements etc on occasions the police will be involved too and strategy meetings may take place to determine the outcome as well as actions to implement from the findings of the investigation. We cannot emphasise the importance for all agencies to work together and share information which could potentially impact on a child’s well-being.  All Kidzrus Nursery staff undergo annual safeguarding training despite the EYFS requirements for training every three years.  We would like to thank Detective Sergeant Halsted for taking the time to be with us on this occasion and for sharing the crucial insight into her role at GMP.

Although all staff team members participate in Safeguarding training on an annual basis in addition to KIdzrus Safer Recruitment and Induction procedure, we took the opportunity to share with them up to date government guidance and legislation alongside a range of case studies and scenarios.  Gemma Fletcher, Area Manager and Natalie Jones, Manager at Swinton Forest School and Nursery facilitated this session, ensuring that colleagues are aware of what to do if they are worried about a child or concerns about a colleague. Colleagues attention was also drawn to the many causes and effects of domestic violence and watched a video further illustrating the need for vigilance as data suggests that this occurs at an increased level within the City of Salford.  

Once again, Helena Tomlinson, our talented Cook at Kidzrus Media City prepared a delicious buffet lunch which was enjoyed by colleagues, following which they played bingo.  We would like to congratulate our worthy winners – Shirin Bastami, Practitioner in the Toddler Room at Kidzrus Monton was the first to shout out for a line and was rewarded with a Chocolate Hamper; which she was considerate enough to share with her colleagues.  Next up for a full house the prize was an overnight stay at hotel and the lucky joint winners were Kelly Smethurst, Pre-School Room Leader at Kidzrus The Lodge along with Philip Stevens our latest Kidzrus apprentice who received a gift voucher.

 

The afternoon session started with Bitesize Sessions delivered by our setting management and Inclusion Co-Ordinator, Helen Wheeldon.  Team members selected to attend two of four sessions available; Schemas with Helen Wheeldon, Safe Screen Time with Kaomi from Media City, Five Ways to Make a Parachute Fun with Courtney and Lisa from Irlam or The Benefits of Singing in the Early Years with Debbie and Charlene from The Lodge.  These short yet informative sessions allowed our team members to share best practice and experiences to the benefit of our colleagues and children in our care.

Our final topic was Sensory Play, delivered by Kate Greaves, Specialist Paediatric Occupational Therapist based in Salford NHS Trust and we are grateful that she was able to share with us many strategies to support children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.  As experienced and qualified early years educators who know our children well, we sometimes suspect a child in our settings has sensory processing difficulties.  Kate allowed us to increase our knowledge of sensory processing and learn some strategies that can easily be implemented in our settings and the information garnered from Kate will make a positive impact on our daily practice and enable our team members to extend their support children using Sensory Play and activities.

 

Kate has requested that we also make you aware of the support available to you within the local area.  Do you feel your child struggles to process sensory information? Is this is affecting their ability to do the things they want and need to do?  Would like to understand more about this and learn some strategies to help them?  

The free targeted Sensory Webinars for Parents/Carers are open to Salford families of preschool children or children in mainstream primary or secondary education settings.  The webinars are organised by age of the child to meet the differing needs of developing children.  An Occupational Therapist will lead the webinars to a small group of parents/carers across Microsoft teams.

To see the dates available and book onto a webinar please go to the link below, create an account, search “sensory” and look for the webinar that matches the age group of your child: https://salford.zipporah.co.uk/Events.Live/
Alternatively you can email [email protected]

We would like to thank Kate for taking the time out of her busy day to share with us her expertise, and also for affording parents the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge in the care and support of their children.

Of course, no gathering of the Kidzrus community would be complete without being recorded for posterity.  Colleagues from each setting had their photos taken alongside their managers and then together as a group.

We would like to thank Gemma Fletcher, Area Manager and the Leadership and Management Team from each setting for planning and delivering an inspirational series of sessions, our inspirational professional guest speakers and our wonderful team for their enthusiastic participation.  We feel sure that what was learned from our staff development day will pay massive dividends and benefit our cohort children and their families as well as our colleagues.

Much appreciated

Nicola Fleury MBE
Founding Director
Kidzrus Nursery Ltd

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