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Training – Executive function

  • Kelly Hill and Beverley Bacon, co-founders of The Key Leadership discuss the launch of the Development Matters document and explore the term ‘Executive Function’.





Great Outdoors – Embracing beach schools for early years

  • During a time where being outdoors is paramount for safety and minimising the risks and spread of Covid-19, utilising your local environment and natural play resources and opportunities has never been more beneficial for young children. Bridgit Brown and Chloe Webster of Pebbles Childcare detail the importance.



Hot Topics – Meet our new editorial adviser:
Clare Roberts, CEO of Kids Planet

  • Clare Roberts has spent years growing and establishing quality childcare across Kids Planet settings as well as building a committed and highly qualified team. She speaks to Briony Richter about her journey




Special Feature – Family First embeds new culture after doubling in size

  • With the Family First nursery group growing to 10 nurseries within just six months, we find out how the organisation has set about embedding its new culture within the group, as it moves beyond Covid-19 and back to business as normal.



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Lessons learned from 2020

As we enter the last season of 2020, I thought that it would be useful to take a look back at this shocking and yet extraordinary year and see what lessons can be learned from these unprecedented circumstances.

It has, after all, impacted on every person, business and sector around the world in one way or another. Indeed, the impact has been so great that many aspects of our society will never be the same again.

In this issue, NMT spoke with providers from across the country about their experiences this year and what plans they have going forward. For Bright horizons, equality and diversity is a top priority and the team have a new found commitment to improving diversity across the workplace.

Many across the early years sector have not just reflected on 2020 but turned potential barriers into actionable models that will now enable them to continue delivering a high standard of childcare despite the uncertainty.

That being said, the biggest lesson from 2020 is that our sector is in dire need of support. Every area of early years pulled together to battle the impact of Covid-19, and unfortunately, battled much of the setbacks alone. The Government must now look ahead and ensure the sustainability of the sector by delivering the necessary financial support.

There is still a lot of work to do. However, we have all heard the saying that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, and there is no doubt that in times of real need such as rapid and tragic changes of circumstances as we have seen in 2020, then matters are often achieved in a matter of weeks.

This can most certainly be said for the role that technology has played in supporting providers, staff, parents and children. Child engagement and development are at the heart of what every great nursery does and there’s no one-size-fits all approach to learning. NMT and Connect Childcare discussed how real-time data can help nurseries track and engage children more effectively. Technology has enabled all of society to continue working while adapting to the changing nature of the pandemic.

Keeping communications open between parents and providers is crucial as we head towards a difficult winter. Prior to the pandemic there was less of an emphasis on digital technology across the sector. While many already websites and mailing lists, few had incorporated additional levels of tech to their nursery to track progress, health & wellbeing and development. This is now far more widespread and should remain where beneficial.

Technology can keep us up-to-date with what each child needs to support them as they grow. This is especially important given that children suffering with mental health problems is on the rise. Earlier this year a group of the UK’s largest children’s organisations said years of under-investment by the government had left services overstretched.

Analysis by The Children’s Society, Barnardo’s, Action for Children, NSPCC and the National Children’s Bureau revealed that funding for children’s services had fallen by £2.2bn in the past eight years, forcing many early intervention schemes to be dropped.

The devastation caused by Covid-19 will be felt for years to come for children and vulnerable families as they struggle to cope.

Briony Richter
Editor, Nursery Management Today