Montessori Centre International and Nursery World recently held a webinar to discuss some of the challenges – and opportunities – that nurseries and early years settings are facing during this difficult time.

On the panel were Karen Chetwynd, Director of Academic Quality and Partnerships at MCI, Preeti Patel, Head of Education at MCI, Charlotte Goddard from Nursery World, Stacey Bailey from N Family Club and Sarah Steel, Chief executive of The Old Station Nursery Group. Here, we explore some of the key take outs from the webinar.

Community and leadership

“I think it’s about really getting to know the community, children and families that are in the community”.

As Preeti explored, community is really important for any setting. Communication between nurseries and the local community is highly valuable and needs to be a continuously nurtured relationship. Ensuring that parents feel engaged with your setting and their child’s education is key to success.

Linked to this is strong leadership from the nursery manager. Strong leaders make sure that the ecosystem surrounding the children at the setting is effective, and that parents and practitioners are working together.

Many practitioners fall into leadership – it’s not something they ever intended to do, but they start off as practitioners, and then decide they want to open up settings. Montessori Centre International provides training and mentoring to nurseries, so that managers can support their own personal development as leaders, and in doing so, help their team’s development too.

Nurturing your workforce

“The number one resource for a successful nursery is its very own workforce”.

As Karen examined, nurseries need to find a balance between external training and in-house support – with lockdowns continuing, it’s important that young people continue to get qualified and that their careers aren’t halted by Covid-19.

Training around the ethos and philosophy of a setting should be delivered in-house, but on some occasions, external training can be more effective. As an ex-nursery manager, Preeti believes that having an external voice is always beneficial:

“I always felt the practitioners within my team responded in a different way because they were hearing another voice saying the same message”.

Calls on government

“Funding for nurseries has not been fair for a very, very long time”.

Funding for nurseries was also a key part of the panel’s discussion. Preeti highlighted that there have been discrepancies between regions which need to be fixed, as there needs to be something that brings some sort of levelling for everybody.

With a question mark remaining over future funding, reputation is everything and public acknowledgement of quality provision is a vital step in ensuring parents can be assured of the best care and education for their children.

MCI’s long-standing commitment to recognition and accreditation of settings has always supported high-quality provision. Accredited settings have been able to advertise their well-respected quality mark and benefit from MCI’s accredited settings list as a great platform for successful promotion and an illustration to prospective families.

You can find out more about what was discussed in webinar by reading this article by Nursery World. You can also keep up to date with all our latest news, accreditation updated and training course developments by joining our Montessori Network here.