Childcare expert says nursery schools are not the best and here’s why…

I thought I would share a couple of stories with you, both totally true. The first is about a family who attended our Aldridge Nursery. Mum and Dad were more than happy with the care they had received from us. Their little one had been with us for two years. They had been told that they needed to take a nursery place to get into the school of their choice. They were very keen on a specific school, which wasn’t their closest. We tried to explain to mom and dad that schools don’t offer places and that they don’t control the waiting list at any stage, it must all go through the council’s school admissions service. So to cut a long story short the family decided they would take a nursery place. I met the family at the Christmas Tree Festival 15 months later, it’s quite a big thing. It was lovely to see them and the conversation soon turned to how school was. Mum was very honest in her response. She wished that she has listened to our advice. The little one had started at nursery school but due to mom and dad’s work commitments had to go into lunch club and a different group in the afternoon. This meant that their child was being cared for by three different sets of staff a day. Mum felt that this had dented her confidence. This made me quite sad, she had left us as a confident little soul.

Sadly parents don’t always realise how the relationship we have with their child impacts on their learning. The final part of this, was that the little one hadn’t been allocated the school they had tried so hard to get a place at, they actually got their third choice. They had put the school of choice first, another one that was not close enough. This meant that little one had to move 3 times within a year. I wish I could say this is an isolated incident, but it isn’t. Please don’t just take my word for it, this happens a lot. School admissions will agree with me on this one.

The second part of this story also relates to school nurseries but this time the staff. We have a lovely practitioner who we will refer to in this part of the story. She had worked in nursery for 21 years and trust me she is exceptionally good. The school had a new headteacher, who could see how well the nursery team worked together. So she decided to split them up and put said practitioner in year 3. They put the year 3 teaching assistant in nursery (We hear that a lot). Now personally I strongly believe that Early years is a unique and wonderful group to work with after all I’ve done it for 33 years. The thought of working with 8 year olds makes me go a little cold, and I’ve had two of my own. I’m not an expert with them. I’m best with very little people. The same as my nameless practitioner. But what happens when the weak teacher from year 3 ,4 or 5 who has no training for nursery suddenly in July finds out that they have the nursery job. Because headteachers (not all) think nursery doesn’t count. But it does. If we get early years education right it sets children up for a lifetime of positive learning and experiences .

So before applying for or even taking that nursery place ask yourself is it the right move? Or will your little one be the subject for this message next year?

  • Debbie Clarke – Nursery nurse of 30+ years. Founder and owner of Little Rascals.