When Kelly completed her degree in 2012 she expected that to be the end of her formal education, but since then she has completed The Early Years Teacher Training programme and an MA in Early Childhood Studies.
Kelly started her role as Early Years Coordinator at Little Learners Day Nursery in 2010 and enjoyed working with others who shared her passion for supporting the learning and development of children in their Early Years. Kelly quickly acquired the role of Senior Early Years Coordinator which enabled her to support the wider team in developing their practice and provision and working more closely with the Senior Management Team. Discussing with staff theories of children’s development, schemas and leadership theories Kelly built relationships with her colleagues enabling them to develop their own practice. Currently Kelly is now an Assistant Early Years Manager, SENco and Forest School Practitioner for the setting. Kelly has tutored and mentored students through their foundation degree with Doncaster University Centre and the EYITT programme for Best Practice Network.
Attending Early Years Conferences at High Melton has enabled her to stay up to date with current practices and liaise with other professionals to bring back to her team to further develop, reaffirming the knowledge she had acquired throughout her degree.
Having had tastes of the Scandinavian ethos at High Melton woodland Kelly began her Forest School adventure and soon fell in love with the feeling of achievement and fun the opportunity gave her.
2015 brought about the dissertation, the word Kelly dreaded the first time around in her BA, however this time she felt different, she already had an idea in mind of developing the ‘Outstanding’ provision she worked in by giving the children something different, Forest School. Kelly knew there were many barriers to Forest School with different groups of people, parents and practitioners. Kelly needed to remind the parents and the practitioners of their childhood and how that was more likely to have been based more around outdoors than their children’s today. Kelly studied Richard Louv’s thoughts about nature deficit and Tim Gill’s views of our safe environments for children we provide and she knew there were going to be some challenges between what parents would like for their children and what they could achieve.
Kelly’s dissertation was ‘Would the introduction of a Forest School provision in a private day care setting positively impact on the emotional wellbeing of the children and practitioners?’ Carrying out a small scale research project required a number of questions to be asked to parents, practitioners and children via questionnaires. Kelly was also able to obtain an interview with Richard Louv and Archimedes CEO Sarah Blackwell.
The findings illustrated that 35.7% of parents said they spent less than half the day outside when they were young, the highest figure of 42.9% of parents felt their social development was enhanced due to their experiences outdoors, playing games such as building tents and dens, playing rounders and being with friends. Children’s responses indicated they enjoyed being outdoors too, and practitioners could see the advantages to the development of children particularly Personal, social and emotional development.
Through this study and upon her successful completion of her Level 3 Forest School Practitioner Kelly put together a proposal to the setting and the Trust to develop our own Forest School Provision. With the support of the Chair of Trustees, Principal and the nursery management team we moved forward with acquiring funding to develop our provision. The setting received funding from the Tesco’s ‘bags for life’ scheme and we began building our new venture. Through the knowledge and information gathered on her training, Kelly was able to share the vision and the ethos with the Trust to ensure the project was designed to meet the needs of the children and the communities who would share this provision with her. The provision will be available to hire to schools and community groups and there will be sessions for the local community to come and get involved in as families.
23rd June brought about the opening day of Little Learners Forest School, with pride Kelly was able to share this special occasion with a number of family, friends and acquaintances. The new adventure sees the provision available for the children of the setting to access under the close supervision of Kelly and developing knowledge and understanding in a different area for practitioners.
Kelly who is currently completing her Level 5 in Business and Management, begins training for her Level 4 forest school teacher come September 2017, where once qualified she will be able to train other professionals to support learning of children in a different way, a way the suits the needs of the child.
Kelly whole heartedly agrees with Margret Mcmillan’s 1925 quote that
“The best classroom and the richest cupboards are roofed only by the sky.” Kelly hopes this to be true of the newest provision provided by Little Learners Day Nursery.