Every month, we carry out a feature on a setting. This month, we put the spotlight on Tops Day Nurseries which has recently been in the press due to their stance of banning the use of glitter in order to preserve the environment. Here, we find out how the Tops family has grown since it was established 27 years ago.

When was Tops Day Nurseries established and how has it grown since then?

Tops Day Nurseries was founded by Cheryl Hadland in 1990, following an unsuccessful attempt to find high-quality flexible day care provision for her children.

The first Tops Day Nurseries, Tops Parkstone, opened with 4 children. Over the past 27 years, there are now 19 nurseries within the Tops Day Nurseries family across Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset and Wiltshire – catering for over 2500 children. 11 Tops Day Nurseries settings also provide afterschool and holiday club care for children aged between 5-14 years old.

What is the nursery’s ethos and what values does it promote?

Here at Tops Day Nurseries, we know parents and carers may not always need the same set hours each week so we work with our families to ensure that they get childcare that suits their requirements. Tops are the only nursery group to offer flexible hours for families. We open early and close late and provide flexibility for parents who are working shifts. Most of our nurseries have a flexible holiday scheme and we open all bank holidays with the exception of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Respectful care – At Tops Day Nurseries, staff are given the opportunity to undertake Respectful Childcare training in order to be able to implement a consistent amount of respect across all ages, from babies to school-aged children.

Healthy eatingTops Day Nurseries launched a no-added-sugar menu in 2016 across all 19 nurseries, in support of the national campaign to promote healthy living amongst children. Tops also provide a cooking school for children, where they will learn skills such as mixing, kneading, chopping and pouring all with close support, to encourage and develop the skills of independence.

SustainabilityTops Day Nurseries believe in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible world for all, educating the children of today in order to influence the way future generations live.

Keeping focusEach Tops Day Nursery has a rich and vibrant environment, custom-built to encourage children’s safe exploration, learning and discovery. Research shows that having bright colours on the walls can be overwhelming for children. All Tops Day Nurseries have been specially designed with neutral walls to help children focus on learning through play.

British valuesAll Tops Day Nurseries settings teach the children British values and have different activities and displays around these.

What do parents say they love most about your setting?

One of the things that parents comment most on is our staff. The passion shown by staff members within the Tops family is incredible and we value them dearly.

Parents also love the fact that Tops Day Nurseries is a sustainable company. We recently held a beach clean alongside Bournemouth University and the support we received from parents was incredible. Some of our parents attended the beach clean with their children, and those who couldn’t make it contacted us to wish us well and congratulate us on our efforts.

The areas set up in the rooms are always a favourite with parents. We use real, everyday items to create magnificent areas for the children to explore, based on their current interests.

In what ways do you strengthen your partnership with parents?

We send an annual survey out to our parents, asking for their feedback at Tops Day Nurseries. Staff have regular communications and parents are informed about any changes in the nursery.

All nurseries offer parents evenings to catch up on their child’s development, and we encourage parent representatives.

Parents and families are welcomed to attend the nursery for occasions such as Grandparents’ Day, International Children’s Book Day, science week and traditional holidays.

How is Tops working to become more environmentally friendly?

Tops Day Nurseries believe in an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible world for all, educating the children of today in order to influence the way future generations live.

The way we currently live our lives is environmentally unsustainable and, therefore, ultimately socially and economically unsustainable too. Tops believe the education sector has a vital role to play, so what better place to start than in the nursery?

Tops Day Nurseries have put a ban in place for any more ordering of glitter.

Glitter microplastics are an increasing problem. These tiny, shimmering specs of microplastic are virtually impossible to remove from the environment once there. When we’ve finished using plastic glitter for play, in decorating a card, sprinkling it into playdough or glue or painting with it, it goes into a bin or into the sink. It can’t be recycled because it isn’t practical to do so, it’s too small to separate out.

We already know that 100% of mussels found off France and Belgium have ingested microplastics and many fish have too; so if you eat shellfish you more than likely have eaten microplastics already, along with the toxic additives that manufacturers use (for colour, flexibility etc.) which are known to copy oestrogen, and affect human fertility.

We have initiated many energy-saving systems and have more than halved our monthly spend on internal photocopying and paper costs! This is a really important issue and the overall performance has been greater than expected, saving over 28% across the business as a whole with just under 34% of this coming directly from head office, where we have replaced lights with LED lights, fitted timers and sensors and worked with colleagues to recycle and turn equipment off when not needed.

Nurseries have started to grow their own herbs and vegetables with the children, using water from a water butt, meaning children can sample their homegrown produce during snack and meal times and they learn a huge amount of biology at the same time.

Some of the changes Tops Day Nurseries have made include:

To find out more, visit the Tops Day Nurseries website here.

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