We asked Leigh’s Nurseries what questions parents should ask before sending their child to a private nursery
Placing the care of your child into someone else’s hands is scary. Leigh Caven from Leigh’s Nurseries shares how you can give yourself better peace of mind by asking the right questions.
This week, Leigh’s Nurseries celebrated their 17th anniversary in the North East’s childcare sector.
They’ve had the most challenging 18 months, doing everything in their power to support their key worker parents during the pandemic by staying open every single day. Huge congratulations – we hope you enjoyed celebrating!
What makes your nursery special?
Placing your child into someone else’s care is a really big decision. You need to be sure that your child will be safe, happy, inspired and lovingly cared for by a team of warm, qualified staff in a safe, secure and enriching environment.
If you decide to pay us a visit, we hope you will see all these things at Leigh’s Nurseries. The vast majority of our parents come to us via word-of-mouth recommendations. Our social media will give you a lovely flavour of what we offer and what parents think about what we do.
How much say do we get over how you look after our child?
It’s there in the question – this is your child we’re talking about. Nursery providers should respect the routines, eating and sleeping habits and ambitions you hold as parents for your children. If you don’t get the feeling that a nursery is listening to your input about your child then we’d suggest that’s a fairly big warning sign.
Having four children of my own who were all very different as babies, I totally understand the importance of parents being involved. At Leigh’s Nurseries, we always ask new parents to describe for us “a day in the life of their child”, so we can be sure we’ll meet their individual needs. Your child will also have a free settling-in session, where you will both meet their designated key worker.
Will my child have their own key worker and how will they support his/her development?
Be sure to ask if your chosen nursery will allocate your child with a specific key worker. The idea behind this is that this member of staff is both your main point of contact, as parents, but also the main point of contact for your child at nursery, too. Research shows that children thrive when they have strong and secure attachments; in the absence of parents, a key worker is an incredibly important part of this and can have a huge impact on your child’s development pathway.
At Leigh’s Nurseries, all children are allocated a key worker at their initial settling-in session. They make them feel safe and secure from day one and will be there throughout your child’s journey to promote their wellbeing. They will also make sure your child progresses via a range of age-appropriate activities in an enriched and varied environment, helping them to reach their full potential.
Have your staff been with you long?
Stability in terms of staff is particularly key in a nursery. When choosing which nursery for your child, the staff who work there are the single most important factor.
Here at Leigh’s Nurseries, we’re fortunate to have lots of staff who have been with us for many years. We really focus on looking after and developing all of our staff, who are essential in delivering an outstanding quality of care. All our new staff are carefully vetted and heavily supported to achieve the standards we expect.
What meals are provided?
Good nutrition is essential during early childhood, as it’s a time of rapid growth. General eating habits are formed in the first few years of a child’s life too, so it’s important that we, as nursery providers, support the habits you have established for your children at home. And, of course, it’s also essential to ensure that your chosen nursery recognises any allergies or dietary requirements your child may need and are willing to support them.
We pride ourselves at Leigh’s Nurseries that all our meals are cooked fresh, on-site, daily. We cater for all dietary requirements. Breakfast, a morning snack, two-course lunches, an ‘afternoon tea’ and an evening snack are all provided. Organic milk and water are also available all day.
What happens if my child is unwell at nursery?
This should definitely be on your list of questions to ask. Children get poorly, it happens. What’s important is to know for a fact that your chosen nursery will put your child’s wellbeing first and foremost, and that they will handle the situation appropriately. The more experienced and qualified the staff, the better. Nursery practitioners work with children every day, so the more time they have spent in that setting, the quicker they will recognise minor ailments from more serious illnesses. It is also vital that there is someone able to carry out paediatric first aid, should the need arise.
When your child becomes unwell at Leigh’s Nurseries, parents will be informed immediately. We will advise whether your child needs us to administer medication in the nursery, or should be collected by their parents. As extra reassurance, all our staff are trained in paediatric first aid.
What support do you offer parents?
Behind asking a prospective nursery the ways in which they will look after your child, this is such an important question to ask. As parents, you can’t help but worry – but you shouldn’t have to. You’ve chosen to place your child in nursery to help your individual situation, not to give yourself more anxiety. So, it’s important to ascertain if and how your chosen nursery will communicate with you going forward and if this is structured enough to give you peace of mind.
At Leigh’s Nurseries, it’s equally important to ensure that our parents feel as reassured and comfortable as their children do. Parents have access to our Learning Book, which lets you see your child’s nursery journey and allows you to contribute from home. Every day at drop-off and pickup, our door team are also here to welcome and support you, listen to any questions or concerns you may have, and generally to reassure you.
What is your Ofsted rating?
While an Ofsted rating certainly isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to choosing a nursery, it is important to remember that Ofsted are professionals in knowing which schools and childcare settings meet what we expect in our society and where improvements need to be made. So, it’s always helpful to know, as parents, where your chosen nursery sits on the Ofsted scale.
All of Leigh’s Nurseries are rated as outstanding (the top rating) by Ofsted. We invite parents to read our most recent Ofsted reports for themselves, to give them confidence in what we do. The reports are available on our website.
What do your fees include?
Your children are priceless, but your childcare needs to be affordable. So, ask the question; how much are the daily fees and what is included/not included. It’s important you know exactly what you’re signing up to from the very beginning.
At Leigh’s Nurseries, our daily fees cover all your child’s care, education, activities, meals, drinks and access to our Learning Book. Parents are asked to provide nappies, wipes and any creams or medication.
ABOUT LEIGH’S NURSERIES
When they moved down from Scotland to Northamptonshire in 2003, Leigh and Paul Caven found themselves struggling to balance their full-time jobs with finding quality childcare for their four young children. Living in a different city, they could no longer ask for help from their relatives and friends so started relying heavily on nursery places.
While they eventually found a nursery they liked, the couple couldn’t help thinking ‘this could be done better’. And so, when a bereavement rocked their family, Leigh and Paul were inspired to move back up North to start a new life in a sector a little different from the successful retail careers they had both enjoyed so far: providing the best quality childcare in the country.
Having started their professional childcare journey by opening their first nursery in Heddon on the Wall – after meeting Jade Dixon, who is now their Senior Nursery Manager and an experienced nursery practitioner – Leigh and Paul began recruiting a team of 70 staff members who are all as committed to working to the same high standards as they are. They also expanded to Gateshead and Newcastle but no further, as it’s important to them that they know all the children and parents they work with and can work hands-on in their nurseries every day.
‘We have a homely, enriched, natural environment where your child has the freedom to explore.’ – Leigh Caven