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Keep up with the latest news and events happening across Storal Learning.

Where it all began…

Our saying has always been that we pride ourselves on being a home from home setting and a little family. We decide that we wanted to bring this to life even more and start a journey to making our environment match what we believed in. We had always been a bright and colourful nursery to make us stand out from the crowd, which we both loved and embraced. However, we felt that maybe if our surroundings reflected a more homely feel then this would enhance wellbeing in both staff and children and make the environment an even better space in which to learn and enjoy which in hand would provide the best possible outcomes for the children.

Once we had discussed the possibilities we started to get very excited about what we could achieve and wanted to get the input from both the staff team and the parents to see what they felt about the approach we were looking for.

 

Staff Training Day

Wellbeing is very important to us as a setting and we feel that having hygge embedded in our day to day life would help all the staff team to feel valued and supported.

We introduced a wellbeing champion to help support staff and have a go to person if they were struggling or just having a down day. This encouraged staff to talk to someone if they needed it. The wellbeing champion is there for the team with tips on how to manage their wellbeing as well as little treats to let the staff know they are valued.

Wellbeing Treats

We often treated the staff with little gestures such as breakfast, sweets and pamper packs; these were well received and made the staff feel happy.

Hygge Training Sessions

Sooo relaxing!

As part of our training day the wellbeing champion incorporated a hygge session into the day for the staff so they could get an insight into what hygge is and how we wanted to bring it in the setting. We thought ‘my perfect Hygge day’ was a good starting point with the staff as it gave them chance to think about what they enjoy doing and what helps them to feel Hygge! It was so nice to see how each one differed. There were lots of discussions about what day to day things stressed them out and how these could be overcome. The training session really help them to think a bit about how looking after their own well-being and taking out a little time to do something that helps them to relax could have a positive impact on them as a person and the setting as a whole.

Staff’s Perfect Hygge Day

Chilling time!

The  whole staff team enjoyed sharing their perfect days with the rest of the team and it gave a real insight into all the different things we all enjoyed doing!!

We also got the staff to send in pictures on International Hygge day of them doing something ‘Hygge’ they really enjoyed sharing their pictures! Baking was a big hit.

Parent Involvement

We invited the parents to attend an online parent group to let them see what our plans involved and the improvements we were looking at making. We made a mood board of lots of inspiring images to help them capture our vision and help them to understand the reasoning behind the changes! Although some of the parents were unsure as they liked the brightness of the setting they started to understand the journey we wanted to take and knew that we had thought about ensuring we get the right balance and making sure the children were at the centre of any decision we were going to make. By the end of the group they were as excited as we were to make that next step…

The parents really got on board and were looking forward to the changes we were making.

Educating the staff team

As the staff were so use to incorporating bright and bold into the environment and experiences they offered we needed to support the team with making these changes without upsetting anyone… not everyone likes change and can struggle to embrace it so we made sure we guided those who may struggle and ensured it was a positive experience for everyone!!!

(who doesn’t like spending someone else’s money!!)

Colour scheme

The staff from each room researched lots of environments taking on board what we had already learnt from the Hygge approach and took some time to think what would work well within their rooms. We had group discussions on wall colour, flooring and carpet before looking at what resources would complement the setting.

Staff Room Transformation

We decide to surprise the staff and Hygge the staff room to give them inspiration and show them our vision for the rest of the nursery… our staff room is not very big and was a wash of policies, memos and a basic overflow of nursery life!!

We looked at how we could make this a cosy and comfortable place for the staff to enjoy while they were on their lunch break. After some hard work from the management team we fell we did them proud and couldn’t wait to unveil the transformation!

We removed all the work related stuff and repainted the room in a lovely grey tone and added a photo gallery of nights out we had had as a team and funny selfies we had all taken during lockdown, we brought fairy lights to put round the photos and a little lamp as there was soft lighting rather than having the big main light on all the time.. shelves with plants and reed diffusers finished the look and some cushions and blankets to make it feel homely… the transformation was incredible and the staff loved it, they instantly felt more relaxed and chilled out when they went into the staff room which really helped them to understand what we wanted to accomplish within the whole nursery. They absolutely love it (We struggle to get them to leave after their dinner break is over!)

The use of the warm tones and the soft lighting made the room a relaxing and chilled environment for the staff to really enjoy their break time. With some well being treats to go with a lovely cup of tea!!

We decide to trial our vision on the bathrooms too.

Our Bathrooms had always been areas with a big jungle or under the sea themed displays with lots of colour dominating the space, these were lovely to look at but took up a lot for the staffs time and for parts of them to fall down moments after they were put up. we decided that time could be spent In far better ways and actually on reflection these displays did make the bathrooms look quite small and cluttered.

Bathroom makeover…. The children loved the light and airy space with the Ivy and plants around the room!! This inspiration for the bathrooms made us determined to complete the journey!!

Time to Implement

The staff’s input was key to making the rooms both warm, inviting and cosy. We asked them to think about a wish list for their rooms incorporating what we had discussed such as the colour scheme and the restructuring of the rooms. Everyone was very excited about the journey we were taking and wanted to ensure the rooms we are welcoming for the children. We worked really hard over several weekends to get the impact we wanted, staff’s enthusiasm was shining through and they couldn’t wait to welcome the children into the room and see how the changes we made inspired the children’s awe and wonder….

How amazing does everywhere look!

Our Early Years 1 room now feels light and airy with lots of natural resources and investigation for our babies.

The babies loved all the new resources and the items we had collected to add to the environment. They were so engaged and busy investigating all the exciting areas.

 

Early Years 2 room with a welcoming environment made the children feel more relaxed for our Toddlers.

The children seemed so much more relaxed and calmer in their new environment.

Preschool 1 room inspired by loose parts and more open-ended resources.

Preschool 2 room- Fabulous reading and relaxing area and self selection…

Our Preschool children embraced the room from the moment they entered after the transformation. They were amazed by the changes and were eager to investigate further…. The fun was about to start!!!

 

The result…

After all the hard work the rooms looked amazing. We were so pleased with what we had achieved and the reactions we got it made it all worthwhile. The investigation and curiosity that was taking place inspired the staff to feel so confident in extending play and made the experiences on offer super inviting. It was like the whole setting had come alive in a calming and relaxed way.

Reflection

This journey has taught us so much and will help and support us in new ventures in the future. We overcome challenges such as the struggles with change and making sure we got it right for everyone.

We believe that the balance we have achieved incorporating areas of colour, light and investigation with the added abundance of natural resources has helped us to create the warm and welcoming environment that all the children parents and staff can thrive in and fulfil their full potential even more than before. ❤️

 

 

Where it all began…

Our saying has always been that we pride ourselves on being a home from home setting and a little Tiggy’s family. We decide that we wanted to bring this to life even more and start a journey to making our environment match what we believed in. We had always been a bright and colourful nursery to make us stand out from the crowd, which we both loved and embraced. However, we felt that maybe if our surroundings reflected a more homely feel then this would enhance wellbeing in both staff and children and make the environment an even better space in which to learn and enjoy which in hand would provide the best possible outcomes for the children.

Once we had discussed the possibilities, we started to get very excited about what we could achieve and wanted the staff to input their ideas and by creating mood boards. We began to have a clear vision.

Staff Training Day

Wellbeing is very important to us as a setting and we feel that having Hygge embedded in our day to day life would help all the staff team to feel valued and supported.

We introduced a wellbeing champion to help support staff and have a go to person if they were struggling or just having a down day, this encouraged staff to talk to someone if they needed it. The wellbeing champion is there for the staff team with tips on how to manage their wellbeing as well as little treats to let the staff know they are valued.

Wellbeing Treats

We often treated the staff with little gestures such as breakfast, pamper bags, homemade cakes and our favourite hot drinks.

Hygge Training Sessions   

Sooo relaxing!

As part of each Inset day we carried out a hygge session for the staff so they could get an insight into what Hygge is and how we wanted to embrace it in the setting. We thought ‘my perfect Hygge day’ was a good starting point with the staff as it gave them chance to think about what they enjoy doing and what helps them to feel Hygge! It was so nice to see how each one differed. There were lots of discussions about what day to day things can sometimes be stressful and how these could be overcome. The training session really helped them to think about how looking after their own well-being and taking out a little time to do something that helps them to relax, could have a positive impact on them as a person and the setting as a whole.

Parent Involvement

We invited the parents to look at our progress with regular Facebook photos and updates on our newsletters to let them see what our plans involved and the improvements we had started to make. Although some of the parents were unsure at first as they liked and were familiar with the brightness of the setting, they started to understand the journey we wanted to take and knew that we had thought about ensuring we get the right balance and making sure the children were at the centre of any decision we were going to make. They were then as excited as we were to make that next step.

Educating the staff team

As the staff were so used to incorporating bright and bold into the environment and experiences they offered we needed to support and educate the team with making these changes. Not everyone likes change and can struggle to embrace it so we made sure we guided those who may struggle and ensured it was a positive experience for everyone!

Time to Implement

The staff’s input was key to making the rooms warm, inviting and cosy. We asked them to think about a wish list for their rooms incorporating what we had discussed, such as the colour scheme and the restructuring of the rooms. Everyone was very excited about the journey we were taking and wanted to ensure the rooms were welcoming for the children. We worked really hard over several weekends to get the impact we wanted, staff’s enthusiasm was shining through and they couldn’t wait to welcome the children into the room and see how the changes we made inspired the children’s awe and wonder.

The Before pictures:

 

The result…

After all the hard work, the environments look and feel amazing. We are so pleased with what we have achieved and the reactions we received from the children made it all worthwhile. The investigation and curiosity that is taking place inspired the staff to feel so confident in extending play and made the experiences on offer so inviting. It was as if the whole setting had a buzz about it and everyone was so enthusiastic.

Reflection

This journey has taught us so much and will help and support us in new ventures in the future. We overcome challenges such as the struggles with change and making sure we got it right for everyone.

We believe that the balance we have achieved incorporating areas of colour, light and investigation with the added abundance of natural resources has helped us to create the warm and welcoming environment that all the children, parents and staff can thrive in and fulfil their full potential even more than before.

 

 

Edgbaston Nursery & Pre-school - hygge

We are HEALTHIER TOGETHER!

We have just received our Healthier Together award from Warrington Borough Council.

This is the 5th year running that we have held this award and it signifies our commitment to ensuring we provide a healthy, nutritious and balanced menu for all of our children, and that we meet the guidelines of Public Health England.

Recently our nursery in Widnes proudly opened a new pre-school unit offering over 50 additional childcare places for local families.

Wilmere Lane Nursery & Pre-school, have adopted The Curiosity Approach which promotes the use of natural resources to support the development of children’s imagination. The Nursery Manager, Lynne Billington says:

“We want to provide an environment that inspires awe and wonder in each and every child we care for, and our new Pre School room certainly does that. We put a lot of thought in to the layout of the environment as well as the resources. The children are able to use real china plates and porcelain dolls in their play, as well as an old typewriter and an overhead projector! This encourages the children to be curious and their play to be open ended and not pre-determined. We are very proud of the end result!”

 

Children and staff at wilmere lane nursery in their new pre-school

 

 

Viewings are available to parents out of nursery hours. Please book in advance with the nursery.

Willow Tree Nursery has joined forces with a popular seaside attraction to install new life-saving equipment at the site.

The nursery has kindly donated a defibrillator to Clacton Pier after an impressive fundraising drive. Parents and staff hoped to come up with enough money to buy one defibrillator but ended up with sufficient cash to purchase two. It was decided that as part of the effort to work with the local community the second one would be given to the Pier due to the number of people that visit the attraction each year. Senior Nursery Manager Jessica Brading said that it was an obvious choice.

“Around one million people go on the Pier every year and the nearest defibrillator is at McDonald’s,” she said.

“It is a popular venue for our parents and their youngsters, so we approached the owners to see if they were happy to join up with us on this project. The response was extremely positive, and we have now handed over the equipment ready to use once their staff have undergone the necessary training. It’s a win, win situation for both the nursery and the Pier!”

Mrs Brading said the nursery was overwhelmed by the positive response to its fundraising event, particularly during the current times.

“The safety and wellbeing of the children, their families and our staff is of most importance to us, and we are so grateful for the generosity of all,” she added.

Using CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and a defibrillator provides the best chance of survival after a cardiac arrest.

Billy Ball, managing director at the Pier, said taking on the equipment was a no-brainer.

“As soon as Jessica got in contact with us, we were delighted to be able to accept this very generous offer which will benefit so many people,” he added.

“We are keen to be able increase the safety of all of our customers and to have a defibrillator on site is a real bonus.”

Mr Ball said that it was perfect to team up with a local nursery as children are such a big part of the Pier and its effort to create happy memories for families.

 

Clacton Pier was built in 1871 and remains the town’s most iconic seaside attraction drawing almost one million visitors each year. It operates all year round with The Lanes tenpin bowling, family arcade, Seaquarium and its new £4 million development.

Clacton Pier was named Pier of the Year in 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

Nominations are now open for the Storal Awards 2021!

Staff and parents are invited to nominate individuals who stand out an deserve to be recognised. Last year was a great success with hundreds of nominations received, and we cant wait to celebrate this year’s nominees and winners.

A reminder of the categories:

The Extra Mile Award

  • Nominated by colleagues and managers

The Storal Sprouts Award

  • Nominated by colleagues and managers

The Parent Partnership Award

  • Nominated by parents and carers at the nursery

The Shining Star Award

  • Nominated by colleagues and managers

 

Ready to submit a nomination? View the award criteria and complete our online nomination form here. If you’d like to submit more than one nomination, you can send them in an email directly to awards@storal-learning.co.uk. Nominations close Monday 31st May 2021.

Dear Parents,

As we come to the end of what can only be described as a most extraordinary year, we would like to take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt gratitude to all our families for your support and cooperation, and to reflect upon the incredible work that has happened across Storal Learning in 2020.

We appreciate just how quickly and considerately you complied with all new operating procedures that came with COVID-19. It hasn’t always been easy – especially with Government guidance often arriving very late in the day and leaving us with more open questions than answers; but our dedicated nursery leadership teams have worked tirelessly to minimise any disruption and to keep parents and staff informed and updated throughout. Special thanks to our Area Managers and to our Central Support team for the many late evening and weekend Zoom calls as we tried to get ahead of each new announcement.

Over the coming days and weeks, we anticipate having to adapt at short notice to further announcements, but we draw continued strength and hope from your kindness and support, from the rapid progress being made with the vaccine roll-out, and above all, from the inspirational positivity of our children. Seeing the joy on their faces as they reunited with their friends and educators at nursery, after the first lockdown, was incredibly heart-warming and we will continue to do our utmost to provide them with consistency of care and the nurturing learning environments they deserve.

For now, we would like to share with you just a few highlights that we’re especially proud of during 2020.

Continued focus on Wellbeing

Parents who have been with us for over a year may recall that in 2019, we signed the ‘Time to Change Pledge’ – a commitment to change the way that we, as an organisation, think and act about mental health. With the profound changes that took place this year, never has a focus on mental health been more important. Since many of our staff teams were home-bound during the first lockdown, we quickly came up with the idea of creating a Staff Wellbeing pack that included information on how to practice self-care and provided opportunities to keep their brains active and learning.

As children started to return to nursery from June onwards, their wellbeing during these confusing and unsettling times took priority and we were so proud of how resilient and confident the children were across the board. Our Employee Wellbeing Champions at each site continued to do incredible work in supporting staff wellbeing, taking part in Early Years Wellbeing week and Christmas schemes to boost staff morale and to say a big ‘thank you’ for all that their colleagues do.

Curriculum enhancements and Staff Development

At the beginning of the year, we created the role of Childcare Development Manager to adopt a research-based approach to enhance the curriculum and pedagogical practices across Storal Learning. We were thrilled to offer the position to Hannah T, who was previously Area Manager for our South East nurseries.

During the summer, we successfully introduced an accelerated version of our ‘Rising Stars’ school readiness programme to support as many children as possible as they prepared for school in September under unusual circumstances. It has been wonderful to see an increase in confidence, focus and concentration, which evidences the impact this programme has on our children as they take this big step. We are excited that 2021 brings with it two new programmes – ‘Incredible Babies’, targeted at children under two and due to be rolled out in early 2021, and ‘Terrific Twos’, currently being trialled at a few nurseries and due to be rolled out closer to Easter. Not only do these programmes give staff additional tools in which to support your child’s development, but they also provide opportunities to focus on the particular needs of the children in a way that goes above and beyond our already high-quality everyday practice.

We are also pleased to have introduced multiple new methods of providing staff training over the last year as part of our commitment to developing and upskilling our teams. Our HR and Childcare teams at Central Support developed a relationship with The Skills Network, which has given us access to a wide list of funded courses, including level 3, 4 and 5 apprenticeships, which many of our staff are already undertaking. In addition, we introduced Flick training, which includes required training programmes for all staff, incorporating priority topics such as Safeguarding and Equality & Diversity, as well as dozens of optional e-learning modules. The feedback has been terrific!

Moreover, we’re proud that we are one of the few nursery groups to have two inset days a year, dedicated to staff training and development, a chance for staff to step away from their day-to-day activities and focus on key learning areas and team development.

Diversity & Inclusion

Racial tension across the globe continued to bring to our attention the importance of open conversations about diversity and inclusion within our society and within our company this year. In June, we published a blog post – ‘Let’s talk about race’ – to address how we, as early years professionals, support the cultural identity of our children and teach them about tolerance and respect for all. We also opened-up the conversation to our staff about their own experiences and how we can better create an inclusive culture. As part of this, we will be introducing a new role focusing on inclusion at each nursery in 2021 and hope that we can continue to learn and grow in this area, ultimately doing our very best for each other and the little lives we are influencing each day.

Awards and Recognition

We are delighted that Storal Learning was recognised by daynurseries.co.uk as a Top 20 Nursery Group for the second year running. The fact that this award is based entirely on parent feedback made us all feel especially proud and grateful.

In June, we hosted our inaugural Storal Awards ceremony over Zoom – a chance to acknowledge and celebrate team members who personify our values and behaviours and act as role models. We received hundreds of submissions from both staff and parents. Congratulations to Amanda, Jodie, Cheryl, Jack and Kerry, our winners on the evening. During the ceremony, we also took time to personally thank our teams of Early Years Heroes across the country. Nursery practitioners were rightly classified as Key Workers during the first lockdown, and every Thursday evening, when we clapped for carers, we also wholeheartedly clapped for our amazing teams.

 

Charity, Generosity and Community initiatives

While the news has a habit of focusing on the worst in society, this period has also showcased the very best in us, with countless small acts of kindness that have melted our hearts and reminded us of the importance of compassion, selflessness and a spirit of generosity. Thank you to Cook, the food retailer where a few of our parents work, for donating a full array of delicious meals for our children and staff at Ickle Pickles to enjoy; to Morrisons for donating enough Easter Eggs to last a lifetime; to the parent at Rocking Horse who donated such a generous quantity of hand sanitizer that we were able to share our supplies with parents and the local care home which the children used to visit before the virus struck. The list goes on and what it so clearly shows is that there is goodness to be found everywhere.

During the October half term, inspired by Marcus Rashford’s campaign, our team at Willow Tree Nursery in Clacton-on-Sea prepared 100 pack lunches a day for children on Free School Meals. We strongly believe that all children deserve to eat healthy, nourishing meals every day and that there is a strong link between nutrition and a child’s development.

Finally, to all our families who would like to give a little something back this Christmas period, we encourage you to donate to our Charity of the Year – Young Minds are the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health. A £15 donation supports a Parent Helpline volunteer to provide information and support to parents who are worried about their child’s mental health. A £30 donation will provide training for a Young Activist to have the skills and confidence to talk about mental health and support their peers and local community. We are sure you will agree that this is an ever more important issue. Donations can be made through our dedicated JustGiving page.

 

With that, we wish all our families a safe and Happy Christmas! Although it will be different this year, we hope you and your children are still able to create wonderful memories together.

Please do remember to complete the parent declaration form before nursery re-opens to help us keep nursery safe, and we look forward to seeing you in the new year!

 

Warm Regards,

Ash Grover & Varun Chanrai

Managing Directors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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