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 Focus – The recruitment conundrum
  • Olivia Foley, whose nursery group, Hungry Caterpillars, won the Nursery Group category of the NMT Awards 2017, gives a personal take on the ever-present issue of recruitment and staff retention




Catering – Ready, steady, cook!
  • Sarah West takes a closer look at the Just Childcare winner of the NMT Chef of Year award and finds out more about catering and nutritional practices across the settings




Special Report – Winning approach
  • Sharon Rumens and Stacey Kenyon provide an overview of their recruitment practices and take readers step by step through their highly effective recruitment evening



Springing ahead

Sue Churchill, Editor

Sue Churchill, Editor

Not so much spring fever as spring back to bed with that electric blanket. Certainly, the threatened blizzard doesn’t bear thinking about. But despite that bleak outlook and below-zero temperatures creeping up indoors, the daffodils in my study and the zip and zest of the NMT winners, whose talents and achievements take up most of this issue, are prompting me to spring back into life. Indeed, there is nothing like the positive experience of sharing success and excellence – and this is what I am laying in front of you, oh well beloved. Take Hungry Caterpillar, whose focus on branding drives both their marketing and their recruitment and retention. An honest, self-deprecating good read with some useful tips that you could implement in your nursery business. And talking of recruitment, there was a new category in the NMT Nursery awards in November, the Nursery Recruitment Initiative, won by the Mulberry Bush Nursery group from Lancashire, who have recruited with great success for all five of their nurseries, which, dauntingly from the point of view of recruitment, are all in the same small town. Their successful initiative? A recruitment evening. Run of the mill? Anything but. Go to this issue’s Special Report column to find out the secrets of their success. All our winners focus on their resources and potential and build on that. Take Naturally Learning, a family-run group based in Cornwall. Drawing on their rural location and proximity to the sea, they have developed award-winning expertise in outdoor play. Read Tom Richardson’s article in the Great Outdoors column. And that’s not all. There are articles from other prizewinners – Lisa Weston and Gemma Hobson introducing The Old School House’s training programme; Clare Roberts charting Kids Planet’s extraordinary expansion; Sarah Steel considering the question of what exactly it is about a nursery business that turns it into a winner. And there is more, much more from the mouths of prize-winners in this issue, all telling of ideas realised, ambitions achieved. There’s a treat for a wintry evening. And just for a change, how about an article from Zoë Raven, chief executive of the Acorn Foundation, which Zoë set up from scratch and then transformed into a not-for-profit charity? Zoë tackles the thorny question of how you balance the books while maintaining quality.

Sue Churchill
Editor, Nursery Management Today