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Apprenticeship A Team!

We have seen many of our apprentices flourish into professional, talented, caring and skilled nursery nurses over the years. Some have gone onto higher education, primary teaching, the field of medicine and even a published children's author!

There is so much opportunity for our apprentices to further their studies and broaden their horizons whichever path their career may take them. Many of you have probably met with our Business Administrator Donna at some point. We are so proud of Donna's achievements at St. Michael's. Back in 2004, Donna joined our team training towards childcare on an Apprenticeship scheme. In 2016, Donna returned to study to further her career at St. Michael's within the field of business, accounts and administration. In 2018, she went on to complete her AAT at Petroc and is now the Business Coordinator & Accounts Manager. Donna tells us that she felt "very supported to build on my skills from becoming a Nursery Nurse to studying Business Administration and then Accountancy, to now being appointed Business Coordinator with the knowledge of childcare to go alongside this."

Many of our apprentices have qualified and taken up a full or part time role at St. Michael's and bring their enthusiasm and talents to the nursery everyday!

Nursery Manager Sarah explains "we are very proud of our apprentices who every day work alongside our team, learning new skills, facing new challenges and studying for each module towards their Early Years Educator qualifications. We enjoy seeing our apprentices grow in confidence and bravely taking on new roles within the setting (imagine reading a story to 20 kindergarteners!), building strong relationships with children and colleagues and becoming enthusiastic individual practitioners."

Chloe and Emma have just qualified at Level 2 and they are well on their way towards gaining their Level 3 in childcare. Level 3 in childcare is a role with huge responsibility. A practitioner can then Supervise a room and other members of the team and is responsible for the planning, organisation and running of their dedicated room.

Chloe explains that she feels a "sense of achievement" having gained her Level 2 and one of her proudest and stand out moments is when she was nominated as a Key Person for a set number of children within her dedicated room she works in. Chloe explains that "being a Key Person means I am part of children's learning and helping them to achieve. It involves tracking their progress and helping them to learn in different ways. I have been working closely with our Speech Therapist on site to indirectly learn about how to use open questions with children, slow down when talking, eye contact and get down on their level."

Chloe praises the team around her especially Nursery Manager Sarah who has always supported her and checks on her progress and if there is anything she needs. Chloe enjoys planning fun activities and is grateful that she is encouraged by such a kind and supportive team. Any resources she needs for an activity is provided and one of the highlights was Chloe's erupting volcano last summer!

Emma is a valued member of the team working mainly in our Dragonfly Garden Room with the 2-3 year olds. Emma, who has previously worked with Year 3 & 4 within a school developing a sports programme during lunch time play, says she wants to "make a difference" for the children that she works with.

We absolutely love the activities that we have seen Emma set up and the children have really enjoyed exploring the invitations to play, in particular the sensory activities. We recently had oats set up in the Tuff Tray with the characters of Goldilocks and the Three Bears painted on wooden spoons. Emma explains that the children benefit from these activities because it brings the story to life and the children are pouring, scooping, developing their coordination and story telling.

When asked about the support she has received by St. Michael's, Emma has nothing but praise for Sarah, Emma and the whole team. She is interested in furthering her knowledge in the field of Special Educational Needs.

Last year's interview asked how Leah and Zoe felt about nearly completing their level 3 training. One year on and Zoe is a valued, full time member of staff in Butterflies, (16 months - 2 years), where she excels in creating sensory activities and inviting children to explore. She uses her artistic background and Level 4 graphic design skills to plan, design, create and support children's learning with exciting sensory activities. They often follow a theme or a provocation for a child who has a particular interest in something. Her proudest achievement and real highlight over the past year has been her involvement of National Nursery Rhyme Week....

Outside of Nursery, Zoe is a Scout & Cub Leader and enjoys this role. She is keen to develop ideas at nursery incorporating her love of the outdoors such as workshops or bush crafts. Environmental issues are also hugely important to Zoe and she is an Eco-Heroes representative and has worked towards helping nursery gain and maintain a 'Plastic Free Status' awarded by Surfers Against Sewage. Zoe is very talented at taking photographs and contributes regularly to the weekly blog for our families to read and keep up to date with news from nursery.

We are so proud of Leah's accomplishments, dedication, enthusiasm and innate ability to lead a team and room. Leah became Team Leader in Kindergarten in November 2022. Leah describes everyone here as friendly and supportive which has spurred her on to believe in herself. Leah talks about how she felt overwhelmed and grateful when she was offered such a responsible role in the nursery. "It's so lovely to be recognised and be given this opportunity. I really enjoyed working in the background in Kindergarten during my training and was happy to be part of the team and never dreamt I would be leading it one day. To be given this opportunity has really given me confidence that 'yes I can do this!' Thanks to a really supportive team."

Leah speaks highly of our Nursery Manager Sarah explaining how Sarah would always check in on her, offer study time during the working hours and asking if she needed anything. Any questions or queries were always answered quickly.

When thinking of future personal development and training, Leah is really interested in extending children's language and supporting communication. St. Michael's recognises this because Leah talks with enthusiasm about working alongside our visiting Speech Therapist. Leah is soon to attend a training course 'Closing the Word Gap' proving that her knowledge, skills, understanding and learning are still supported within her employment at St. Michael's.

Last year, we also supported another member of staff towards her Level III in childcare in a similar way to an apprenticeship. Megan has completed this now and is a valued and regular member of the team. With a love and skill for Physical Development, Megan has recently been appointed PE coordinator here at St. Michael's. Her activities have invited children to develop their large muscle movement, gross motor skills and coordination as well as as creating exciting small scale activities designed to stimulate and develop their fine motor skills and dexterity.

Megan has taken a group of Kindergarten children out bird watching on the Tarka Trail and she supports visiting sports coach Andy from Romar Sports North Devon, with football sessions very week.

Well done to all our apprentices - we are so proud of you all!

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