Leaders at Little Stars Day Nursery use a skills matrix to identify individual and group training needs. This ensures a consistent approach across the nursery. New members of the team develop quickly and all practitioners strive to improve the performance of others. Staff are highly motivated to improve their skills which has a very positive impact on children’s outcomes. Staff are confident that their voice is heard, and this helps them feel valued and respected.
Information about the setting
Little Stars Day Nursery is a privately owned English-medium nursery in Pontypool, in Torfaen local authority. It offers early education sessions from Monday to Friday from 9.15 am until 11.45 am during school term time and full day care from 7:45 am until 18:00 pm. At the time of the inspection, 20 children were in receipt of funded early education and there were a very few children identified as having additional learning needs. No children have Welsh as their home language.
There are seven members of staff including the management team. Five members of staff work with the three and four-year-old children. The two senior nursery managers have been in post since 2003 and the pre-school room leader since May 2018.
Context and background to sector-leading practice
Leaders prioritise improving standards of wellbeing for children, staff and stakeholders. They achieve this by role modelling the values that are important for growing an ethos of ‘Respect for all’ and share their vision with all practitioners and parents exceptionally well.
Description of nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice
As the setting has grown and blossomed, leaders support staff to develop the skills required to meet the changing needs of the business. They use a skills matrix to identify individual and group training needs, and support staff through a blend of coaching and mentoring. This ranges from improving staff understanding of child development and attachment theory to developing their leadership skills.
Leaders prioritise developing the whole team. This builds a culture of shared ownership that inspires practitioners and motivates them exceptionally well.
Room leaders book monthly one to one meetings with each team member. This provides an opportunity for staff to reflect on the impact of training, receive constructive feedback on their practice and celebrate their achievements. It involves staff very effectively in the self-evaluation process by providing a regular opportunity to share their views. The meetings ensure that staff are confident that their voice is heard, and this helps them feel valued and respected.
All practitioners understand their roles and responsibilities and know that they need a good balance of knowledge, skills and behaviours to run the room effectively. Leaders invest heavily in professional development for practitioners. Staff progress through the skills matrix and can achieve ‘internal coach’ status, which recognises their potential to mentor other team members. New members of the team develop quickly and all practitioners strive to improve the performance of others. This ensures a seamless transference of skills, and a consistent approach across the whole setting. The skills matrix is constantly evolving to support emerging local and national priorities successfully.
Every room has its own objectives and each team member works towards specific targets linked to carefully identified priorities. This means that staff are highly motivated to improve their skills and knowledge.
Leaders review staff performance and job progress effectively and regularly. This allows staff to prioritise areas for improvement and keep a record of progress in personal development and career plans. This leads to highly effective team work and job satisfaction, as well as ensuring that staff training meets the setting’s and practitioners’ needs successfully. The monthly meetings link closely with appraisals, supporting staff development extremely well.
What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?
As a result of the inclusive approach, practitioners know that the quality of teaching and learning from all staff in all rooms is very good. External validation from Estyn, CIW, the LA and consortium Foundation Phase team confirms that leadership is strong and is delegated appropriately to ensure that all staff continually improve their practice. This has a very positive impact on children’s outcomes.
How have you shared your good practice?
The setting works closely with the consortium as a Lead Non-Maintained Setting. This role involves offering bespoke coaching and mentoring to support leaders and owners in other settings. They frequently hold ‘practice worth sharing’ events and involve the whole team in supporting other settings to improve their self-evaluation procedures. A video is available to download from the HWB FPEN site, which settings across Wales can access and use for professional development.
The setting is working with the consortium to produce materials to support developing speaking and listening skills using digital technology.