Nurturing a home away from home with Rachael our Nursery Manager

Nurturing a home away from home with Rachael our Nursery Manager
We recently met with Rachael, Nursery Manager at Co-op Childcare Watford South Oxhey. Rachael has been with the society for seven years and in October, Rachael will be based at the new Little Pioneers nursery at The Midcounties Co-operative Head Office in Warwick. We spent time with Rachael to understand a little more about Little Pioneers Nursery and Pre School.

1. What sets Little Pioneer’s nurseries apart from others in the area?

At the Midcounties Co-operative we don't focus solely on childcare. We've have different trading groups including nurseries, food and travel, which makes it so exciting to work here. You won't be limited to childcare, if you decide to branch out further, there are lots of opportunities on offer!

Our nurseries have a homely feel which are designed to make you feel like you're walking into an extension of your own cosy home. The teams at our nurseries are lovely and they know how to make both children and parents feel at home. It's a fantastic place to be!

2. Why do our employees love working for Little Pioneers?

I think one of the reasons our employee's love working here is there is so much opportunity for development. Many of our teams start their careers as a practitioner and want to work their way up to nursery manager. We have brilliant schemes in place to help our employees get there. We support each other’s growth!

We prioritise our teams wellbeing and work-life balance. We have schemes like "Wellbeing Wednesdays" and "Thank You Thursdays." It's something we look forward to every week. On Wellbeing Wednesdays, the team gets together and brings in treats to share. On Thank You Thursdays, we take a moment to express gratitude by writing thank you cards. It's our little tradition that brings us all even closer. We understand the importance of checking in on one another and really value our team's happiness here.

3. How do we support professional growth and ongoing learning for our nursery staff?

Here at The Midcounties Co-operative and Little Pioneers in particular, the society really encourages you to grow and always strive for the next stage of development in your journey. 

It's one of the many ways we support our colleagues' development across the entire company. It doesn't matter what level you are, there is always opportunity to progress and grow in your role. At our Little Pioneers nurseries, we've got some fantastic online learning options available for our colleagues. They can learn at their own pace, making it convenient for everyone. We’ve also got in-person training sessions right at the nursery where our practitioners share their wisdom and experience with the whole team. It's an insightful experience that has received some great feedback.

4. Can you give any examples of any exciting projects we organise for children in our nurseries?

Yes of course, we deliver open days and fun days three times a year, inviting current and new parents to come in, look at the nursery and get to know our team. We enjoy having the families join us and spend time with them! We often have visits from external companies like Zoo Lab who bring in spiders, snakes and other reptiles. The children are really brave (much braver than us!) and the interaction helps with their development.

5. What employee benefits do we offer to support our nursery staff?

One of the highlights is our practitioner days where we come together to celebrate all our amazing practitioners in one big event. Families, parents and children all join in on the fun by decorating the nursery and enjoying the day together. The benefits of working for The Midcounties Co-operative is brilliant to, we receive up to a 60% off discount on childcare and 20% off food. I personally look forward to the thank you vouchers we receive once a year too!

6. What qualities and attributes do we look for like in our candidates for your nursery team?

Communication skills are a must – we love great communicators who can connect with others with ease. We also look for people with a willingness to learn and grow, and leadership skills are a bonus because we want the best from our practitioners. Also being respectful and adaptable are equally important traits too. If you've got these amazing qualities, we'd love to have you on board!

7. How do we promote diversity and inclusivity within our nursery environment?

We are passionate about promoting diversity and inclusivity within our nursery environment and we ensure it encompasses everyone - the children, parents and staff. We also celebrate and embrace all religious beliefs and festivals in the nursery with the children and parents. At our nurseries, we make sure we listen to all perspectives and ideas so everyone feels heard and can be their authentic self. Our goal is to create a sense of belonging and ensure that every individual feels heard, included and valued in our nursery community.

8. Finally, what advice would you give to someone who is thinking about applying for a role in childcare?

Go for it and keep an open mind! Embracing change can be positive, so don't be afraid to take that step. However, it's important to stay true to yourself, be confident in being your authentic self and strive to be the best version of you. Remember, you are there to make a difference and bring your unique qualities to the role. So be bold, be you and give it your best shot!

View our latest opportunities here: Childcare - Your Coop (yourcoopcareers.co.uk)