Staff at The Old Station Nursery at Heyford Park are happy to be welcoming children back, after being forced to closed due to lockdown.
The popular nursery, which opened two years ago, is a lifeline for working parents and a big part of the local community.
Sarah Steel, the CEO of The Old Station Nursery, said: “I opened the first nursery in the group in 2002 as a parent who thought ‘I could do better’! My own children were two and four and I knew what it was like to be a working parent – to need a nursery to provide care and education as well as support for the whole family. We filled up quickly in Faringdon, our first site, and within two years we were looking for our second. The rest is history!”
The Heyford site came a little further down the line and opened at Easter 2018 after a frantic weekend of unpacking and building furniture. Sarah added: “We were approached by Dorchester Living, as they were constantly being asked about childcare provision for the new houses and they wanted a local company with a good reputation – that’s where The Old Station Nursery came in!”
In common with other businesses and educational settings, lockdown had a big impact on the nursery.
Sarah explained: “We unfortunately had to completely close very quickly after lockdown started, as demand disappeared overnight. As a company, communication during lockdown was our priority. We worked extremely hard to keep up regular communication with both parents and staff. We also created a new parent resources section on our website, offering a variety of activities for parents to do at home with all age groups, which was updated weekly.”
“We opened a couple of our nurseries for keyworkers’ children during May, but we don’t have any nurseries on or near hospital sites, so we saw demand drop off rapidly. We tried to offer as much as possible online in order to help support parents, but we understand that it was very hard for parents, especially with very young children. We are extremely pleased to be reopen now and able to share the load a bit!”
So how are things at the nursery post-lockdown? Sarah added: “We reopened on June 1, following industry Standard Operating Procedures, to keep all our children, parents and staff safe. When we reopened, we operated in limited bubbles; now, although the guidelines are relaxed somewhat, we are minimising group sizes and restricting all visitor access to the nurseries where possible. The industry average for September is about 50 per cent occupancy for nurseries; in some places, we have more children than this, but it very much depends on the local area.”
What makes Heyford’s nursery so special? “Our nursery at Heyford is set among a great deal of open space yet is very convenient for families living in Upper Heyford or neighbouring villages.” Explained Sarah, “we offer a high standard of care and have a great team of friendly staff enjoy making a real difference to children’s development and future. When children leave us and head into school, they are well prepared, both academically and socially.”
Jan Thorp, the Nursery Manager at Heyford Nursery added: “The children are at the heart of everything we do. We are a very friendly nursery, forming strong relationships with not just every child, but with all family members as well. We are very lucky to have an excellent, purpose-built nursery, including two lovely outside areas; situated on the development within easy walking distance of all houses. Our team at Heyford is really what sets us apart from other nurseries. Our staff team are passionate, nurturing and very well qualified.”
Most parents care, above all things, about the staff who they leave their children with. Different skills may be important for a baby and a pre-school child, but the special rapport between the staff and a child is essential – a happy child means a happy parent. And a parent who can go to work or get on with their day, knowing their child is having a great time.
Jan added: “A friendly and happy team who put the children first and foremost is always our priority. Our team plan for activities and experiences that spark imagination and aid development for each child.”
To find out more about The Old Station Nursery at Heyford Park go to www.theoldstationnursery.co.uk/nurseries/heyford/