Work!!

I thought I ought to have a page devoted to my work as its seems to encompass quite a big part of my life which I never imagined work would ever do.

When I finished my 'O' levels (yes that's how old I am!) I had a choice; either 2 more years of education to attempt my 'A' levels or take a job in the wonderful world of banking (please note the heavy sarcasm intended here!).  At the tender age of 16 the temptation of money in my pocket was just too great and I set-off on what was to be 16 years of banking.

Now don't get me wrong I had a good time working in banking.  It had its ups and downs like any job and over the 16 years the industry that I had joined changed an awful lot, and not all of the changes I liked!  But I was lucky in that the path my banking career took moved me away from the changes I didn't like and into other areas that I would not have considered when I first joined.  But suffice to say when the chance of redundancy came along (whilst pregnant with child number two) I took it without question.  I missed the people and working in Nottingham but I didn't miss the work.

So I took the redundancy and enjoyed the last few months of being pregnant, it was during this time that I discovered the world of 'early years education'!!  I had been very lucky whilst working that my parents and my in-laws had been my childcare service and looked after my eldest child when I had gone back to work, no expensive nursery fees for me!  But I knew that before number two came along my eldest who was just three needed to go to pre-school, he needed the experience of going somewhere without mum and mixing with other children his age.

The scary thing was the local pre-school was the same pre-school (sorry back in those days it was called a playgroup!) that I had attended when I was three!!  Anyway once enrolled my eldest loved it....in fact there were no tears when I left, in fact I struggled to even get a 'wave bye' out of him!  Now remember at this point I am heavily pregnant with child number two but I agree to do 'parent rota' and help out, I then seem to remember hearing myself offering my services as treasurer for when the current treasurer stepped down in a few months....you know those moments when you hear someone talking and then you suddenly realise it's you speaking!!

To get to the point I took on the voluntary position of treasurer, which turned into a paid administration role, which when money was short I was 'let go' but I still stayed on as a voluntary committee member (even when I didn't have any children at the pre-school!), which then turned into a paid practitioner role (when we were short of staff) which has resulted in my being manager for the last 6 years!

So I now work as 'Early Years Manager' at Springfield Pre-school (http://www.springfieldpreschool.co.uk/) a job that started out as part-time, working five mornings and an odd afternoon to now working five full days a week plus extra hours at home.

So what is it about this job that has me so devoted and passionate....it's got a lot to do with working with children and the sense of achievement that can bring but it also has a lot to do with the team that I work with and how together we have made the pre-school into what it is today, the accomplishments we have made, the reputation we have achieved and our belief that what we do can make a difference.

Let me explain what running a pre-school is all about; firstly we are a registered charity which means that although the staff all get paid (although not nearly enough!!) we survive from one year to another through a means of government funding, pre-school fees and lots and lots and lots of fundraising.  Secondly we form part of the 'early years sector' in education which covers children aged 0 - 5 and includes full day nurseries (profit making!) and primary school nurseries (staff on way better money than me and my staff!!).  Thirdly we have to conform to the same curriculum and guidelines as everyone else in the early years, which means we are Ofsted registered and therefore inspected.  All of this means we form a crucial part in a young child's life but one which we rarely get the recognition we deserve.

We seem to be constantly 'fighting for our corner', to get the recognition and respect that a pre-school deserves - we still get referred to as a 'playgroup' and have to continuously remind people that we do exactly the same as a school nursery, although we would argue better!!

And whilst education wise we provide the same as a school nursery we have an awful lot more to deal with, not just the curriculum but HR issues, health & safety legislation, policy writing, first aid, gardening, fund raising, fixing leaking taps, cleaning the toilets...you name it and we probably do it!!  Add onto this all the voluntary time we put in to keep everything running smoothly, the extra hours (often unpaid) to get 'admin' done and the fundraising to keep us going it really becomes much more than 'just a job'!

And although, like any job, we have our not so good days, we keep on going knowing that we are providing a much needed service to our local community and one that we know is appreciated by all our parents and children. And it is that that keeps us going and always striving to do the best we possibly can.

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