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We are delighted to announce that we have been selected as finalists in three categories for the 2022 National NMT Nursery Awards which will be hosted at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London on Saturday,19 November 2022.

For the past two decades the prestigious NMT Nursery Awards have recognised and celebrated the many outstanding achievements of those working in early years and all the organisations that support the sector, so to be considered in three categories is extremely gratifying.

 

Despite all the challenges that are facing throughout the early years sector, our team members continually demonstrate their commitment to our children and families, and we would like to tell you about our amazing finalists.

Gemma Fletcher, Area Manager and Manager at our Media City setting has been selected as a finalist in the Operations or Area Manager category in acknowledgement of the way that she constantly demonstrates exceptional vision and leadership across all of our five settings, enhancing the reputation and success of the Group as a whole.

Gemma epitomises everything that we value at Kidzrus – she is creative, thoughtful, talented and curious.  She can motivate and inspire colleagues by getting to know them and by understanding their differences and goals.  Gemma sets out clear expectations and works hard to remove any barriers whilst recognising and rewarding good performance fairly.  She supports our teams to improve by tackling any issues as and when they arise and doesn’t accept performance or behaviour problems.  

She makes sure that the Kidzrus Group is well run by keeping policies and processes up to date, simple and effective and by making sure that each individual manager follows them. Gemma rewards people based not just on what they do but on the way that they do it. She helps the teams to collaborate and make the most of the time, space and resources. Gemma makes brave decisions for the long-term benefit of our colleagues and children.

Gemma inspires continued career and professional development so that colleagues share skills and experience and take ownership of their own career paths. She knows how to motivate, renew and refresh our amazing colleagues and they help to move around the Kidzrus Group.  She communicates openly and regularly with and leads the management team by explaining their individual roles in the Kidzrus Group vision and strategy.

Gemma is passionate about improving standards in early years education and in supporting new and current colleagues to develop to their true potential.  She actively mentors’ colleagues in the Leadership and Management Team so that they may complete formal accredited qualifications and delivers high quality internal supportive induction and training programmes.

Colleagues that initially commenced employment as apprentices or without experience now hold positions as Senior Practitioners and Deputy Managers such the level of belief in their ability and support proffered by Gemma.

In short, Gemma is the icing on the cake and oils the cogs of the Kidzrus machine so that we can operate to the highest of standards from setting managers and team members in daily practice so that our children benefit the most enjoyable learning experiences that they will remember forever.  We are so proud of Gemma and are extremely pleased that her work is being recognised at the 20th NMT Awards.

Kidzrus The Lodge, managed by Debbie Moss has been shortlisted in the Indoor Learning Award as, alongside her team has created an environment that most inspires and excites children. 

Our continuous open plan provision is accessible at the children’s level with a wide range of natural resources that stretch and challenge their imagination. It is ever changing so that staff and children are continually inspired. Listening and interacting closely with children enables our highly qualified practitioners to change the environment regularly to suit the children’s learning. In the moment planning ensures their interests and learning are effective and challenging to ensure there are no missed learning opportunities. The room layout provides the children with lots of opportunities to engage in their own style of learning.

The children are always excited to take part in our unique fitness and wellbeing sessions. This includes weekly yoga sessions and fitness circuits to learn about healthy bodies and minds. The children show excitement when they achieve their outcomes of climbing to the top of gym frame or balancing their way across the beam. We have introduced our Kidzrus Wellbeing Hub as a result of the pandemic and the substantial impact on children’s emotions and well-being, we have regular children’s sessions for example: All About Me, A Listening Ear, Building Friendships. Oral Hygiene is another regular topic and looking after our bodies. The Hub has proved a great success and children’s confidence has dramatically increased they regularly sit in the well-being hub wanting to talk and share their feelings with staff and friends, it has made a significant difference to our children, they want to talk and be listed to and it’s such an important and essential area since the pandemic. Our latest motto is KIND = Kidzrus, Inclusion, Nurture, Diversity. 

The indoor environment is constantly evolving to enable the current interests of the children and staff and to provide children with culture capital opportunities. We have been indoor gardening and growing vegetables for those who don’t have gardens. This led to the children showing an interest in birds and we are now members of the RHS achieving level 3 status with the help of our children. The practitioners added a birdwatching station which extended our interest around the topic. 

Children can learn about different artists and techniques and explore using their imaginations to create meaningful art in our indoor art studio. Their work is then displayed and shared with parents in our virtual art gallery on our Famly app. This allows children and staff to fully engage their imaginations and bring their creations to life using different resources such as clay and natural materials. 

Children feel empowered and independent when they access the playdough making station and make their own choices of what colour or scent to incorporate. It gives children the drive to create their own learning including culture capital experiences such as counting and mixing the playdough together as well as carrying out their own risk assessments and cleaning up spillages. This area allows them to make decisions, choices and develop their own independence as well as explore, investigate and develop their vocabulary. Children have mutual respect and share resources within the area as well as using natural resources from the garden. They often use their hands to manipulate, kneed, pound and flatten the playdough. This increases their fine motor skills, promotes effective ways to deal with strong emotions and positive behaviour as well as providing a healthy and safe outlet for extra energy.

Our school transition role play helps to direct the children’s learning by preparing them for school. The children actively engage in role play and dressing up in uniforms to give them a sense of pride and independence. They take on different roles within the area; some choosing to imitate teachers using clipboards, books and charts, while others choose to be the pupil. Highly motivated and engaged Practitioners enhance the area with specific resources and books that directly relate to the cohort, for example books with pictures of the school and class teachers. Practitioners participate sensitively with the children’s play, often being the pupil and demonstrating good role modelling.

The mark making area is a popular area where children are always busy selecting and manipulating their own resources to create. This highly stimulating area is packed with a range of resources to support children’s independence and risk assessment. They are taught how to correctly us equipment such as scissors before using them independently. Our children are highly driven and express their creativity independently. The mark marking area incorporates a small painting area which complements the art studio. 

Children have recently taken an interest in shops, markets and healthy eating. This spurred staff on to create an indoor food market for the children. Children are highly motivated to explore the different resources on offer and will expertly discuss with staff their likes and dislikes around healthy eating and recipes. They will drive their learning forward by taking initiative and expressing their ideas to staff such as fruit tasting.

We are delighted that Debbie and her team have been shortlisted for this accolade as it is testimony of their continued efforts and devotion to our children’s progress.

Our Media City setting under the management of Gemma Fletcher has been cited in the category Kids Cooking and Nutrition Education Award.  We understand good nutrition is essential during childhood, as it is a time of development and increased activity. This award recognises the best programme for teaching children to cook and learn about nutrition. The judges are looking for a nursery setting that has demonstrated exceptional commitment in giving children an enjoyable introduction to healthy food and food education.

They say you eat with your eyes… The children at Kidzrus Media City certainly do that! Our fabulous nursery Cook, Helena is extremely family orientated and uses this important quality to inform her practice by providing homely, fresh and nutritious meals for the children. Helena is not a trained chef, but cooks from the heart no amount of training can provide you with this skill. 

All food is cooked from scratch and includes a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. Healthy food is key to a child’s developments and educates children on healthy lifestyle choices when they are older. The nursery as a collective has produced a menu including All Around The World themed days where the nursery cook works in partnership with parents to replicate the traditional dishes from the different cultures of children who attend the setting. From homemade Greek tzatziki to Hungarian Goulash, Helena serves the dishes with flags and traditional items taking the children’s tastebuds on a mouth-watering Journey! Children enjoy baking with Helena a firm favourite is homemade bread, Children enjoy putting on their hats and aprons, getting messy with the flour and watching their bread rise. 

Children use all their five senses whilst engrossed in their learning. Children’s dietary requirements are gathered upon induction by working with families. In depth care plans help identify children’s requirements and how they are supported. Children often talk about this during mealtimes. We regularly hear I’m dairy free, are you dairy free? These sociable learning opportunities educate the children in our care. 

Practitioners put a strong emphasis on children’s oral hygiene, minimising the amount of sugar in children’s diet and a large variety of resources to support children learning. 

Free toothbrushes are on hand in reception for parents to take in order to promote tooth brushing at home. We work closely with the local authority and government guidelines to ensure we are tooth healthy. 

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn…. a little patience, creativity and guidance, our well experienced and passionate educators ensure children benefit from hands on experiences in adopting healthy lifestyles. Children enjoy watching vegetables grow from seeds to serving them in the daily meals. This is done through our very successful ‘Get up and grow’ sessions. These sessions have been very well attended. We use additional space round the nursery grounds including the car park (Yes, the car park!), 

Children pull up in the morning and enjoy discussions with their parents and carers proudly showing off their achievements starting their day munching on peas or eating strawberries. Most parents who attend the nursery live in high rise apartments in the city with no outdoor space or garden. Staff are passionate about ensuring that children are provided with the knowledge and tools to grow vegetables in the city! From home learning kits to building her very own veggie patch our nursery doesn’t stop! 

The nursery has its own Instagram page which families follow. The page is filled with photographs of the mouth-watering dishes that Helena prepares, parents look in awe and comment how they wish they were at nursery eating the delicious meals! Kidzrus created a nursery recipe book which was published and sold within the nurseries, all proceeds went towards supporting the nursery Food Bank ensuring no family goes hungry.

Our amazing cook, Helena is the most generous and heart-warming individual. Helena puts a 100% effort in everything she does and adds her magical touch to it. Helena has created an amazing bond with the children and parents. When Helena walks over to the vegetable patch the children’s voices can be heard shouting ME… ME… ME… as they are eager to help plant, pick or water the vegetables. Parents and children are eager to attend the ‘Get up and grow’ sessions and share ideas on how to grow vegetables in small spaces at home. The ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ scheme allows children and parents to learn about home cooking using fresh and seasonal produce. Parents often ask for Helena’s recipes to cook at home. Not only does Helena educate children and families; she educates us as practitioners ensuring that children have the best possible start in life.  It’s important to teach children how to be healthy and Helena helps us with this. The children love to be around Helena and enjoy spending time in the vegetable patch. 

We would like to congratulate our Media City team on being selected as finalists in their category – we see it as confirmation of the great work that they do day in, day out to ensure that our children eat a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet, and are able share this learning opportunity and experience with their families to ensure that these good habits are extended to the home environment.

To be nominated in one category of these prestigious awards is extremely pleasing, but to be recognised in three is completely delightful.  We are so looking forward to the Awards ceremony and celebratory dinner at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London on Saturday,19 November 2022 and feel sure that you will join us in congratulating our team members.

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