We are so pleased to be open nearly everywhere (we are still waiting for Government permission to open our stand-alone holiday clubs, but we expect that soon) and to welcome you and your children back. It is amazing how much the children have grown over the last few months – although I suppose no more than everyone’s hair!
During lockdown we have been closed in most places, with Heath Mill and Oxford Science Park being open for Key Workers’ children for several weeks. This gave us a good opportunity to iron out all our safe operating procedures and to ensure that we are safely operating as a wider group. We are currently following guidance to ensure we operate in ‘bubbles’ of 16 children at the most, to reduce cross-contamination between groups of staff and children. If your child has not returned to nursery yet, do speak to your Nursery Manager, who will be happy to run through all the measures that we are taking. We have also produced and recently updated, our Frequently Asked Questions sheet for parents. This should have gone out to you all by email but you can also download a copy by clicking HERE. We will be returning to our usual T&Cs from 1st July, so please contact your nursery by then if you wish to change your booking pattern.
We have been busy throughout lockdown as a Head Office team, using the Area Managers for all our communication requirements with parents, local authorities and all our staff. We have also said some farewells and hellos during the past few months. A fond farewell to Lynette Jacobs, Julie Gough and Sandra O’Donnell, who have all left us from the Finance Team for pastures new. We wish them lots of luck in their new roles and a big thank you for all their hard work. Rosie Bridgman joined us a few weeks ago as Financial Controller for the group and is supported by Amy Moughal, our new Finance Assistant, who came on board a couple of weeks ago. Rochelle Anderson replaces Sukhy Hothi as Nursery Manager at Uxbridge and we are really pleased to welcome her to the team.
Just before lockdown we also welcomed Jo Bamforth as our Marketing Manager and Tom Swire as Integration Manager. They have been very busy preparing for all the nurseries to re-open and have been supporting all the managers. Last, but by no means least, we also welcome Claire Sephton, who has joined us as our Chief Operating Officer. She has over 20 years’ experience in the sector and has worked for Bright Horizons and Childbase, and she is now working closely with Emma Pittam to find out as much as she can about the company, despite the fact that she hasn’t yet been able to visit all the nurseries or meet all the teams. You may see some of the Head Office team out and about at the nurseries, so please say hello.
We also completed on the acquisition of Small Friends Day Nursery in March and I am aware that many of you won’t be aware of this as we were rather overtaken by coronavirus. I did manage to visit the setting and meet the team there before they had to close, and we are so pleased to have them all as part of our family. We will share news and photographs with you on both social media and our website in due course, but for now, a warm welcome to children, parents and staff.
That just about brings me to the end of our ‘Parish Notices’, but just a reminder that we can take school-aged children (4-11 year olds) at our nurseries if you are stuck over the summer. Similarly, all parents have the right to keep their children in nursery until they reach statutory school starting age, in the term after their fifth birthday. If you feel that your pre-school child isn’t ready to be in a group of 30 after so long away from nursery, or if you need the guarantee of a full-time place in September, then we will work with you and the Local Authority to enable them to continue at nursery until January or Easter. We can identify any areas that your child needs more support in, to make sure that they make a smooth transition into school when the time comes. Schools are not allowed to make their place in Reception conditional on their start day, so your child’s place will still be available at a later date, should you prefer to go down this route. Some food for thought. Please speak to your Nursery Manager for further advice.