Choosing a nursery can involve lots of difficult decisions. We asked Deena Billings, Quality Director at Busy Bees for advice
How helpful are Ofsted ratings in choosing a nursery?
Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills and inspects a range of educational establishments in England including nurseries. The inspections are used to make sure that standards are being met and that children are safe.
Ofsted ratings provide a good guide to base your search on – reports can be found online which means 98% of our nurseries in the UK are either Good or Outstanding (or equivalent*). Top tip: make sure you check the date of the last inspection as they may not have been inspected for a number of years, it’s therefore always important to book a visit to ensure they are maintaining their standards, or on the flip side they may have improved since their previous inspection.
*Scotland’s equivalent is the Care Inspectorate, whereas Wales’ equivalent is Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) and Estyn.
How can a parent be sure that nursery staff are trained in education and safety?
Most early years providers will have a website you can explore before your visit, it’s worth checking the website as this acts as a shop window. By looking on the website you will hopefully be able to find out a bit more about the safety credentials and education they can provide at nursery.
If you plan on visiting the nursery then don’t be afraid to ask more specific questions around the qualifications the team have or their experience, such as training including first aid and also staff CPD.
See also: Dr Ranj Singh Teams Up With Cricket Stars to Get Kids Active Again
What can a nursery do to prepare a child for school?
Starting school is an important milestone for every child and their family. Every year between January and July Busy Bees focuses its efforts on preparing children for the next stage in their learning. Within all Busy Bees centres we tailor our approach to meet each child’s individual needs to give them the skills that will help them when starting school:
• Ready to learn and follow simple instructions
• Able to make friends, play and cooperate
• Be confident in their independence and self care
• Voice their own needs
What different style of teaching do nurseries offer? What is the Montessori method?
The early learning foundation stage (EYFS) curriculum is taught to all children up to the age of 5 and is the statutory framework nurseries use to support children’s learning and development.
You may have also heard of the Montessori method of learning which involves child-led activities and encourages independence. At Montessori by Busy Bees, we blend the Montessori programme with elements of the early learning foundation stage (EYFS) curriculum for a well-rounded experience.
How can apps help parents support learning and help monitor their child’s progress?
Apps are providing early years providers the opportunity for greater connectivity with parents. This has a huge benefit for both the nursery and parents alike.
Busy Bees parents have access to two exciting apps, Unleashing Potential (UP) which is exclusive to Busy Bees parents and ParentZone. UP is a learning and development programme used both in our centres and at home, it provides lots of inspiration for activities. Meanwhile ParentZone allows parents to see exactly what their child has been up to at nursery.
How is environment important to the effectiveness of a nursery?
Take note of the learning environments both indoors and outdoors as these should be tailored to every age and stage of your child’s development. Does the room feel bright and airy, are there lots of resources and stimulating features such as sandpits or sensory play areas, do children have access to an outdoor area filled with a variety of age-appropriate equipment? Does the environment reflect the interests of the children attending? All of these elements can help your child flourish and these are all questions you might ask yourself when you visit a nursery.
How can I be sure my child will be properly fed at nursery?
Many nurseries now pride themselves on the food they serve, Busy Bees for example have a dedicated catering team that create seasonal menus from scratch, using fresh seasonal ingredients to tempt even the fussiest of eaters. The menus at Busy Bees are NHS accredited which means the food served is well-balanced and limits salt and sugar content. All dietary requirements and allergies are catered for too so you can rest assure your child will be in safe hands.
What other factors do parents tend to look for in nurseries?
Choosing the right nursery is such an important milestone and so there are many factors that will form part of the decision-making process, here are some other things parents consider:
• Location; is it convenient to get to, for example
• Availability; do they have space available for your chosen sessions
• Funded childcare; can you claim the government funding entitlement
• Do you get ‘the feeling’; some parents will know they have found the right nursery when they step inside and get ‘the vibe’ or ‘the feeling’ – they just know!
What is the history of Busy Bees?
Busy Bees came to being almost 40 years ago, when three families were dissatisfied with the childcare options available to them. Ever since Busy Bees was founded, we’ve always believed in giving children the best start in life.
Marg Randles, our co-founder tells the story of Busy Bees beautifully, for more information visit busybeeschildcare.co.uk/our-story
Where can I find out more about Busy Bees?
Call our friendly team on 0330 333 8133 or visit busybees.com/visit-safe to find out more.