“It’s really important to establish partnerships with parents first and foremost,” says Laura Wayman, Owner of Child’s Play Private Nursery in Ferryhill, County Durham. With this in mind, she designed an innovative online system that enables parents to check in with their child’s progress whenever they choose.

The nursery’s e-portal was the first of its kind in the UK, providing a secure online domain where parents can access their child’s individual learning journey, charting their progress with photos, observations and assessments. A private messaging system permits parents to contact staff directly and to upload their own photos showing what their children have been up to outside nursery. “It’s about having a harmonious relationship with parents where they understand what’s happening,” says Wayman, “so their child is more likely to feel happy and confident. This also enables staff to make specific judgements on where children are in the own learning journey, helping them support new learning.”


Strong relationships

The nursery’s “special carer” system also helps to cement strong relationships with children and parents. Each child is allocated a staff member who has particular responsibility for his or her needs and development. They also share information with parents, and rotas are arranged so they are there at drop-off and pick-up times. “That really breaks down the barriers,” says Wayman, “as parents see the same person day in, day out.”

Other initiatives, such as stay-and-play sessions, help parents learn how the nursery supports children’s development so they can continue this at home. And it’s not just the children who benefit. Although Ferryhill has a relatively high level of deprivation, parents’ involvement in the nursery has helped many gain the confidence to go back into education or work.

Wayman is passionate about providing the very best childcare possible and constantly improving Child’s Play’s standards. The nursery opened in 2013 with just four children; now it caters for more than 100 families. In August 2016, Ofsted rated it outstanding, with high praise for the nursery’s “superb” quality of teaching, its “rich and plentiful” resources and its “remarkable” partnership with parents. In 2017 Child’s Play will be opening a second site in Newton Aycliffe, near Darlington.

This relationship underpins the nursery’s success and bears testament to Wayman’s determination to involve families fully in its daily life. Child’s Play ensures that the children it cares for are given the best start possible, both at nursery and at home.