Distance learning is proving a lifeline for local day nurseries and childminders by helping their staff to gain access to high quality professional development.
Day nurseries in Nuneaton and Hinckley have praised North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College’s Distance Learning Academy and say that the children in their care are benefiting as staff learn new skills that are available free with government funding.
Improving the quality of early years training and providing access to continuous professional development is an important goal within the Government’s Early Years Workforce Strategy which acknowledges that barriers to training staff include time and the high cost of some course fees.
Nursery staff have completed courses addressing nutrition and health, children’s mental health issues and autism as part of the College’s Distance Learning Academy package.
Melissa Pearson, who looks after more than 150 children at Ashleigh Nursery School in Atherstone and Little Learners Day Nursery at Camp Hill in Nuneaton has been delighted with the impact of the training on her workforce of 40 staff.
Melissa said, “It is so beneficial for our staff to be able to focus on issues affecting children and to get up to date knowledge and information. The training is voluntary and can be followed outside working hours which staff prefer because they have the flexibility to fit in their studies around their job roles and their family lives. We have no shortage of volunteers wanting to take the courses which are easily accessible through simple online workbooks.
“Children have seen the benefits after we adapted our snack and meal menus following the course on nutrition and health. We work in an area with a high incidence of mental health issues and the online training has helped our understanding of children’s behaviour. And the equality and diversity course has made us reflect on any stereotypes and prejudices we might have had.
“Distance learning has been brilliant for us because not only are the courses free for staff, they don’t cost me in terms of lost working hours or cover. With other types of training, this would be a barrier that is hard for a small business to overcome.”
Michelle Sidwell, manager of St Bernard’s Nursery in Hinckley said, “Our staff have taken up distance learning courses in understanding children’s behaviour and food hygiene, plus many more.
“I have worked in the childcare sector for around 20 years and have seen the cost of training rise so that it can become unaffordable. We have to pay for mandatory training such as paediatric first aid and safeguarding so that is where the budget goes first. Having access to these free courses online means that everybody can benefit from the training and I don’t have to pick and choose amongst my team.
“The training has been really valuable and the children in our care benefit from it too, as we get a fresh perspective on issues affecting them”.