Back in February 2019 we broke ground on a new project I supported which was to build a dedicated children’s nursery in the heart of Warwickshire. When my first daughter was 6-months old she started going to our local childminder, Elaine, who mentioned to me on one collection her desire to start a children’s nursery with her friends, Jane and Lianne, who were also childminders. They were promised a location in the local town but for a number or reasons this wasn’t materialising so I suggested I should get involved to help move it along a bit.
What I thought might just be a few phone calls turned out to be acquiring the 1.5 acres of land, getting an architect involved and then constructing the building. As with all these journeys if someone had told me the how hard it would be, the pressure on the team and the costs involved, I am not sure I would have been so motivated to start. However, by hitting each challenge one by one we have been on an incredible journey and now have an amazing team doing great things for our local community.
After buying the land I reached out to an old childhood friend who was now an architect and together came up with a concept for a fun, inspiring and huge building (over 800 sq meters) housing up to 100 children a day across five separate rooms. We had the building scanned so you can click on this link to walk through it if you are interested.
Once the design was complete, we then needed to build it and, in the end, chose a wooden frame which gives the building a great feel. It also meant we could go from breaking ground to opening doors within 9-months which was no mean feat especially considering we had to get OFSTED approval before we could open our doors. We managed to open Bidford Bright Stars (https://www.bidfordbrightstars.uk/) in September 2019 and while the County Council didn’t expect the demand to be there, we managed to hit capacity within a year and now have a significant waiting list.
The last 18-months have been an uphill struggle with the pandemic, OFSTED challenges and recruiting good staff but we seem to have broken through and are now looking at further expansion as we look to develop our Space Academy curriculum. I meet with the team regularly and sit on the board and last week we ran our first Parentarium which was hugely positive and constructive in getting feedback from a number of parents across the nursery to understand what we are doing well and where we can improve.
I am hugely passionate about early years education as for me it was certainly my highlight in my own journey. I still remember my Montessori school that I attended, and I am convinced helped to form my personality, give me a sense of independence, confidence and embrace my imagination. Whether you are a believer in the nurture versus nature debate I do think a great start does wonders for child development and helps to instil the tools we all need for daily life, confidence, politeness, kindness, persistence and above all creativity.
It is great that now over two years since starting this journey with a blank sheet of paper we have a great business changing lives and improving our local community. Onwards and upwards!