I went to visit the new Flowerpots Day Nursery, which opened its doors to the community in March this year.
Some of you will remember Potterdale Drop In and Community Support Service for Older People who live with mental ill health next to the One Stop Centre on Dewsbury Road. The service, run by Leeds Housing Concern (LHC) and funded by Leeds Adult Social Care had been there since 2000 and was well used and highly respected by the professionals in mental health and older peoples health services and the people of South Leeds who used the service.
The service closed as a result of the Leeds City Council remodelling of mental health drop in and support services in March 2014 and in its place is Flowerpots Day Nursery- a fantastic new social enterprise based in a bright, light and beautiful single story building sitting in its own secured grounds, that is providing nursery places for pre-school children aged 2 – 5 years of age.
LHC, a registered charity who have been working with homeless people and older people with mental health issues since the early 1970’s, is the parent company of the nursery. The organisation’s roots run deep in Leeds, especially South Leeds where the organisation began its work. It now provides specialist supported housing and floating support services all over Leeds to men, women and young people aged 16 and over whose support needs are wide ranging and often complex.
The decision to open a nursery was made by LHC’s supervisory board after considering a number of options as to how the Potterdale building which was purpose built in 1999 with funding from LHC and the Big Lottery Fund and is owned by LHC, could be utilised effectively, meet the organisations charitable aims and provide a service to the people who live in South Leeds and its surrounding areas.
Flowerpots Day Nursery is registered with Ofsted and has not as yet had an Ofsted inspection, but is working towards receiving an Outstanding rating. In August 2014 the first member of staff was appointed – Tracy Clegg the Nursery Manager. Tracy has 12 years experience of working in nurseries, has a degree in early year’s childcare from Leeds University and also has a Level 5 certificate in Leadership from the Institute of Leadership and Management.
Tracy greets me at the foyer and shows me around the rooms. Inside, the children can play with a variety of stimulating equipment and toys that help them to learn and develop skills as well as have fun in the Daisy and Orchid rooms, relax in the sensory room and shortly will be developing their computer skills in the soon to be completed Computer room.
She leads a dedicated and committed team of qualified nursery staff who use the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum to support children’s learning and development which is tailored to meet every child’s individual needs. Each child has a home visit and a minimum of 2 settling in periods before commencing at the nursery so they and their parents can get to know the staff and the nursery environment. They also have a qualified chef and housekeeper who provide healthy, nutritious and colourful food from a wide range of traditional British and ethnic meals chosen by the children and their parents. They keep the building and its playrooms in a tip top sparkling clean condition.
Tracey takes me outside to show me a generous incline of grass which is named their ‘Roly Poly’ hill. A gate has been added to the Dewsbury Road One Stop Centre’s communal garden so that children can visit and be involved in working in this under staff supervision. An important part of the outside garden is the mud play area, a raised bed at perfect height for toddlers exploring the art of mud pies, and sludge soup.
Tracy told me:
“This is the most used and enjoyed part of the garden . All the children love to play with mud and one child enjoys playing with mud so much he has made a little mud pit of his own at home”. Photographs of the children at play are displayed in the corridors to illustrate to parents the educational benefits of mud and luckily no parent or carer has complained of their children leaving the nursery mud stained!”
The children also have their own flower and vegetable growing area where they are growing a variety of flowers and multicultural vegetables and learning where food comes from as well as expanding their food tastes and helping them appreciate diversity.
The children and families using the nursery are from a wide range of backgrounds and ethnicities that include traditional British families to those of a Polish, Portuguese, African and Asian origin. They are keen to offer South Leeds residents the opportunity to join the Flowerpots workforce as nursery assistants and nurses and are also offering volunteering and student placements. Details of employment, volunteering and student placement opportunities are identified on the Flowerpots website.
As well as their professional qualifications all the nursery’s child care staff undertook specialist training to develop their skills in working with children and their parents for whom English is not a first language in order to work effectively with the child and ensure that no-one is disadvantaged or isolated at the nursery.
Tracy believes her 14 years working experience in various early childhood settings, was of great benefit in developing the nursery’s and staff member’s practices and procedures. The staff are able to identify a child’s needs and will refer them, after consulting with parents, to specialist services where needed. They carry out home visits before a child starts and they have strong working partnerships with the local New Bewerley Children’s Centre. The take up of Flowerpots nursery places from both families in the local community and outside of this has been positive and in the four months the nursery has been open 35 children have been enrolled and more will start in September.
The nursery offers both funded and self funded places for 2 – 5 year old children. The self funded places are available now and bookings are being taken for funded 15 hour places to commence in September. There is a currently a limited offer whereby all new children who are signed up in August will receive their first day at the nursery free.
Parents looking for a nursery place are welcome to visit the nursery anytime or can contact Tracy Clegg the nursery manager on: (0113) 270 8316, Email: email@example.com. You can also like them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/FlowerpotsDayNursery or follow them on Twitter: @flowerpotsday.