Boothstown nursery staff to cycle 100 miles for The Fertility Foundation

Boothstown nursery staff to cycle 100 miles for The Fertility Foundation

The staff at Little Acorns Nursery in Boothstown will be amongst a team of nine that are set to cycle on a static bike in Ellesmere shopping centre in Walkden next Saturday.

The staff will be completing the challenge for a campaign set up by one of the parents, Barbara McMillan. The money they raise will go to The Fertility Foundation.

Barbara, who is a teacher at Boothstown Methodist Primary School, set up the campaign after a five-year struggle with infertility, before giving birth to a son, Frankie, in 2016.

Barbara will also be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in September for the same cause and will do a ‘10 peaks’ challenge in 12 hours in April, and ‘24 peaks’ in two days in June in the Peak District in preparation for the big climb.

Barbara said to Leigh Journal: “When I was struggling I did not know that there was any help available.

“I think what The Fertility Foundation is doing is great; they can give people hope.

“They can give grants to people who can’t afford treatment.

“I think raising the awareness of what they do is important.”

Barbara added that she is “so grateful” to Leigh Road Nursery, which her son attends, for all their support.

Aside from the cycling challenge, there will also be a raffle with prizes including a family ticket for four to go to the Geronimo Festival in Cheshire; a family ticket to go to Smithills Open Farm in Bolton; and Water Babies swimming equipment.

“Since I started my fundraising, I have had lots of people sharing their own stories with me.

“It shows that my message is being reached by so many. It is very rewarding,” she added.

You can donate to the crowdfunding page here.

Original story by: Leah Journal


Join the celebration – International Women’s Day 2019

Join the celebration – International Women’s Day 2019

On March 8th, millions of people will come together to honour and celebrate the achievements of women around the world on International Women’s Day. People from all walks of life will recognise and pay tribute to the contribution that women make to their families, communities and countries, and will highlight the work that still needs to be done in gaining equal recognition and opportunities for women worldwide.

This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is “#BalanceforBetter” recognising the need for an improved gender-balance across many industries in which men still heavily outnumber women. Business board rooms, science and politics are three areas where the gender split is still not representative of current population demographics. The high-profile case of Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, an 18-year-old Saudi woman who recently locked herself in her hotel room and was finally given asylum in Canada, highlights the problems that many women still face in seeking basic human rights.

But IWD is also a celebration of women, past and present, who continue to ‘champion the cause’ and defy the gender stereotypes that still exist in many communities. And it’s not just the women who have made it to the top that need to be celebrated. Women all over the world, in every community and at every level, make a huge contribution to the education, care and smooth running of their societies. Without them, much of the world as we know it would not exist, so why not look around your own setting this IWD, give thanks to, and praise the amazing women who are making such a difference?

How to get involved in IWD

The IWD website at has a lot of information on how to participate and plan a campaign in line with this year’s theme. You can register to set up an account and purchase an event pack including posters, banners, pens and postcards – everything you need to create an eye-catching display in your setting. The packs usually sell out though, so order early if you want to be sure of getting one.

There is also a competition that you can enter which will be announced before the day, with last year’s event attracting over 100 groups in the ”Best Practice Competition” to showcase their achievements in helping forge gender parity.

The idea of #BalanceforBetter is that it should be a year-long campaign, not just for March 8th, so collaborations are invited from groups to show how they can tackle gender imbalance over the year to make a tangible difference in the longer term. Details of how to apply are also on the IWD website along with lots of inspirational pictures and stories of groups who participated last year if you need some ideas.

We’ve listed a few of our own thoughts here too, to help you get into the spirit of the event.

How to get involved

  • Advertise your involvement and celebration of the day by signing up for the IWD resource pack and then add logos, branding and links to your own site.
  • Research some famous and inspirational international women and girls from history and the present day and have a story-telling session or two to educate your children of some of the amazing things that women have done and continue to do.
  • Think about inspirational women from your own local community. You could invite them to your setting, asking them to give a short presentation about their work, the challenges they face and the solutions they find to overcome them.
  • Write some ‘thank you’ notes to the women close to the children in your setting, who tirelessly give of themselves to support them. This could include their mothers, female family members, carers, teachers, staff, friends and childminders who the children admire, to show appreciation for the ‘every day’ things they do.
  • Run a staff training session on challenging gender stereotyping. There is a useful document from Stonewall covering this issue, giving advice on the statutory requirements of pre-schools to tackle gender stereotyping and offering practical steps you can take to improve things in your setting. The document can be downloaded free of charge here.

And in case you need some more incentives, here’s a list of some wonderful women you could focus on:

Marie Curie – Polish physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity and won the Nobel prize – twice!

Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters – Christabel Pankhurst and Sylvia Pankhurst – leaders of the British suffrage movement whose campaigning eventually helped win the vote for women, 100 years ago.

J. K. Rowling – author and screenwriter of the “Harry Potter” books who struggled as a single mother to write part-time whilst raising her son.

Mary Wollstonecraft – 18th century British author and philosopher and advocate of women’s rights – often considered the ‘mother of modern feminism’. She was also the actual mother of another British writer, Mary Shelley, who grew up to write “Frankenstein”.

Rosa Parks – US civil rights activist who famously refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white person and fought against segregation and oppression.

Dame Kelly Holmes – double Olympic gold medal winner in the 2004 Olympics.

Amelia Earhart – the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, fighting prejudice to become a university adviser on aeronautical engineering and a pioneer for women pilots.

Tips to encourage young readers

Tips to encourage young readers

Helping young children discover the joy of reading is one of the great pleasures of being an early years practitioner. Sharing stories, discovering letters and learning the alphabet and phonics are the first steps in helping each child on the path to becoming a competent and independent reader.

March 7th is World Book Day, when all over the globe, people will celebrate their favourite books and literary characters by dressing up, reading new books and passing on stories. But what can you do in your own setting to help encourage children to read? We’ve listed a few things here to help you.

Have a dedicated story-time and reading corner

Make sure you have dedicated time set aside for listening to stories and learning reading basics – e.g. story-times, a dedicated space for books and areas that children can retire to, to read undisturbed. Teaching the alphabet and phonics also comes under the remit of the EYFS.

Show that reading is a part of everyday life

Try to make reading an essential part of the children’s everyday lives by letting them read a variety of things: this could be street names, road signs, book covers, posters and menus for example. Model good reading yourself by pointing out new words and spelling things out.

Set up a book club

Book clubs give people a chance to share their ideas about a particular book or article and to learn about new books. It’s a great way to not only encourage reading, but to help with comprehension and self-expression too and you’ll be surprised at how much children can say about things they’ve read.

Have a book of the week/month

One easy way to encourage more reading is to have a book of the week/month. You can incorporate some craft activities into this by making a display in a corner of your setting, and getting the children to draw certain characters or situations from your chosen book to display.

Explore different genres

We are all different, so why not encourage your young readers to firstly read books on a genre that they enjoy, and secondly, try something new. We’ve created a table of book genres that might interest some of your children, but you could always add some genres of your own.

Start a lending library or book swap

Books can be expensive, so think about setting up a lending library in your setting. Ask the children to bring in any books that they no longer read or like, and to leave for others to borrow and enjoy.

Run a competition or reading challenge

Everyone likes a challenge, so consider running a reading challenge in which children are encouraged to read different things over a certain period of time. Local libraries often hold reading challenges over the long summer holidays, giving out badges or bookmarks to those who complete the challenge, and you could offer something similar in your setting to your oldest children. It doesn’t have to be whole books, but could be a series of words, phrases or letters.

Encourage children to write/tell their own stories

Reading about different topics can stimulate young minds and inspire new ideas. You can help their creativity by asking questions about books they’ve read (or listened to) and help them explore alternative endings or what they think could happen next in the characters’ lives.

Get the parents on side – encourage bedtime reading

Encouraging reading in your setting is one thing, but getting the parents of your children to help and continue reading at home, is another. You could produce an information sheet with tips to help them encourage reading, which could include many of the items on this list for starters.

Use technology to help – e-readers

Get your children off their tablets and into some books – that’s usually the advice we expect to see to encourage reading! Equally, you can help encourage young readers by using specially-designed apps and services to teach reading skills. There are some great e-readers which can help children begin their journey to independent reader status, by reading words aloud that the children get stuck on, or that they’ve not seen before.

Choose age-appropriate books

Help students access reading by making sure that you have plenty of age-appropriate books in your library. Age-appropriate means that not only are topics relevant to a young person’s understanding of the world, but also that the balance between words and pictures is fitting, and the text size is large enough.

Encourage acting-out and dressing up!

Everyone loves dressing up, so you could easily invite your children to dress up as their favourite character to celebrate World Book Day. Be prepared for lots of Postman Pats, Fireman Sams, fairies, princes and princesses – and don’t forget to get your staff to dress up too!

Visit your local library

What better way to encourage children to read than taking them on a visit to your local library? You could research times when they have ‘parent and toddler’s’ reading sessions or story-times.

Sing songs and nursery rhymes showing the words as you go

Think about other ways that you can help children read – you could find some karaoke words to nursery rhymes on YouTube for example, that will highlight the words of your favourite songs and rhymes as you sing along.

Whatever you do, find time to encourage this most basic communication skill and you will be opening the minds of your young people to a whole world of opportunity and wonder.

How can you educate children through gardening?

How can you educate children through gardening?

Technological advances mean that children are spending more time indoors. However, it’s still vital that we inform them of the enjoyment that can be found outdoors….and you don’t have to go far! It doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter, there are plenty of opportunities to get children out into the fresh air.

Play bark suppliers, Compost Direct, have come up with some tips for childcare providers on how to educate children through gardening.

Early years development

Playing in the garden is a great way to develop the early years skills in younger children. Messy play aids their sensory and cognitive development, while allowing them to have fun. Research shows that there are many advantages to messy play and that this form of activity, albeit unstructured, can help a child develop immensely. It’s possible to do this in the garden by using water, sand and mud. You must break down the usual rules that may face a child, including being solely restricted to a play mat. You should encourage them to draw shapes using a range of child-friendly tools. This aids the development of finger and arm muscles which can help when it comes to tasks such as holding a pen.

The garden also exposes a child to many new textures. It allows them to get used to handling solid objects and if you let children be around mud, they will also get used to softer materials which in turn will help them compare and understand new textures.

General learning

If the weather allows, why not complete tasks outside? Children often spend all day behind a desk when they’re at school, so change the environment and head outdoors wherever possible. A gazebo or table and chairs can be a great investment. Eighty-five percent of teachers stated that teaching lessons outdoors led to a positive behavioural impact, while 92% of pupils also said they preferred lessons that were held outdoors.

About healthy eating

According to studies, if a child embarks on the ‘grow your own veg’ journey, they are more likely to eat fresh fruit and veg later in life. This means that getting kids outside can improve their diet. A selection of simple fruit and veg you can grow include strawberries, cabbage, potatoes and radishes. Select a size of patch you can use and ask the children to keep an eye on what is growing.

Jobs for little helpers

Children love to be in charge, don’t they? Give them some responsibility and set them tasks to carry out each day. Doing this should see them become excited to spend time in the garden.

An easy task could be to get them to grow a sunflower. They would have to check daily how it’s progressing, and it can also help their maths skills as they can measure the growth. Often, a sunflower will grow to be taller than the child, so this will also keep them entertained.

Source: here | Credit: Jamie Roberts – copywriter at Mediaworks

National Apprenticeship Week

National Apprenticeship Week

The 12th annual National Apprenticeship Week (NAW2019) – which runs from 4th to 8th March 2019 – is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate ‘all things apprenticeships’ and how they benefit not only individuals and employers, but communities and our economy as a whole.

It’s a chance to shout about all that is great regarding apprentices and their training providers!

The week brings together everyone who is passionate about apprenticeships to encourage more young people to choose this path as a first step (and often fast-track) to a great career, and for companies to promote growth and personal development.

In a bid to challenge outdated attitudes towards apprenticeships, this year’s theme of ‘blazing a trail’ and ‘fire it up’ recognises and embraces the new changes that apprenticeships can bring: for employers “blazing a trail” to new markets; apprentices to new career opportunities; and for colleges and training providers raising the skills levels for everyone. It aims to raise awareness of the benefits and huge variety of apprenticeship options available for people of all ages, cultures, abilities and backgrounds.

There are so many advantages of hiring apprentices in your childcare setting. You can watch them grow and progress as you mould them into your own style of practitioners, helping you meet and secure your future employment needs.

There are lots of ways to get involved!

  • The NAW2019 events map allows you to search for events happening near you during the most exciting week in the apprenticeships’ calendar. You can also submit your event to be featured too!
  • Keep staff in your setting motivated to continue their learning – talk to them about the benefits that further training can offer them. Parenta offers Level 2 Team Leading, Level 3 and 4 Management and Level 5 Childcare Leadership as work-based apprenticeships, in addition to the Level 2 and Level 3 Childcare. Help your staff and learners know their options and realise their earning power!
  • Encourage your apprentices to get involved with the Young Apprentice Ambassador Network (YAAN) to talk about the benefits of apprenticeships in their local area and give them invaluable skills for the workplace.
  • Encourage your apprentices to sign up for a NUS Apprentice Extra discount card. Not only will they receive loads of discounts at hundreds of shops, they will also receive emails on how they can give feedback and help shape the future of apprenticeships.
  • Ask your Parenta assessor how you can best support your learners in their early career journey.

Useful handles and hashtags for NAW2019:

  • #fireitup
  • #blazeatrail
  • @fireitup_apps
  • @apprenticeships

Useful resources:

Parenta is the UK’s largest vocational training provider within the early years sector, offering apprenticeships at all levels. With 20 years’ experience in the industry, we work in partnership with thousands of settings, supporting them with upskilling their existing staff, as well as recruiting new apprentices to start their career in childcare.

Ask us about our free recruitment service and for advice to help you invest in tomorrow’s generation of childcarers. Our experienced team will be able to advise you on ‘all things apprenticeships’ – from legislation changes to funding, contribution, minimum wage and off-the-job training.

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