Early years professional finds long term rewards

What were you doing before you became an Early Years Professional (EYP)?
I always wanted to be a primary school teacher so I trained as a nursery nurse at the age of 16 and worked in a range of day care settings.  I then took on a BA Hons in Early Childhood Studies on top of working part-time for a Young Carers project.  Qualified teacher status followed as I then completed a PGCE in primary education and taught for three years.  I now own and manage my own private day nursery and have achieved early years professional status (EYPS).

What does your role involve?
I provide a high quality learning environment for children and families which is achieved in a variety of ways from managing staff to writing policies.  I need to have a good awareness of health and safety issues as it is crucial in an early years environment.  In addition to this, I run training sessions on different topics, develop and maintain high quality resources for children, and meet with Ofsted during inspection visits.  I also mentor and supervise students, attend steering groups and relevant meetings, as well as arrange good practice visits and model good practice within my nursery.  I assist staff with planning and assessment, meet with parents, write newsletters and compile parental questionnaires.  Having the paperwork ready always helps with Ofsted inspections.  

What are the best bits of the job?
The best part of the job has to be providing fun experiences for children which give them the best possible start to education.  I enjoy talking to staff and supporting them through further training. Although my role is very supervisory, I still have the chance to spend lots of time with children and can interact with them daily following their progress and achievements closely as the nursery is small with a very homely feel.

What are the worst bits?
The worst part about the job is seeing students and staff coming into the profession without passion for what they are doing. Owning and managing a nursery can also be frustrating as there are so many documents to keep and different types of legislation to follow that decisions can be restricted.

What are the difficulties and how do you overcome them?
The major difficulty is finding the right staff team. Staff are the centre of the nursery and are the best resource possible. It is important to have continuity for the children and so either my mum or I will cover absence due to sickness, holidays and training courses. 

Describe the skills needed for the job
In order to work in childcare you need to be committed, enthusiastic, caring, passionate creative and dedicated. Being an EYP requires all of the above but you also need leadership and devotion. You need to be patient, understanding and quick to think on your feet. Managing your time is crucial and working long hours is all part of a normal working week. Communication skills are essential and having the ability to challenge and equally accept new ideas from parents, children and staff is all in a day’s work.

Why should others think about becoming a director of play and learning?
Being in charge of a nursery is an extremely rewarding but very challenging role. If you are passionate about early years and want to shape practice this is the role in which you can achieve your aim. Upon taking over at the nursery I have faced many challenges including staff reluctance to change, resistance from parents over outdoor play in cold weather, maternity leave all of which have an impact on nursery plans.  However, the one thing that stays the same is the 29 smiley faces that arrive in the morning all eager to learn and excited about the day ahead.  If you want to meet the expectations of these children becoming an Early Years Professional is the route to take as you can inspire the children, staff and parents and create a fun environment where all will flourish.

How can they find out more?
Contact the Children’s Workforce Development Council

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