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In July 2010, Claire Hatton opened a nursery in her grandparents’ old home. Only four years on and she has won top recommended nursery in the UK.
The awards run by daynurseries.co.uk, leading online guide to nurseries, saw parents and relatives rate nurseries all over the UK in terms of quality of care, activities, safeguarding, learning, value for money, management, outside space, staff, nutrition and ICT.
Kendor Day Nursery in Croydon, South London, received overwhelming praise for being a ‘warm and friendly place’ and for the staff having a ‘wonderful rapport’ with the children.
Parent Trinity Oladapo called the care ‘second to none’ with staff always going that ‘extra mile to cater to the children’s needs’.
Happy, safe and educational
While Katy Roach, an aunt of a child who attends the nursery says ‘At three years old, I am still shocked at times when he tells me what he has learnt, things he has made and all the fun he has with his friends at nursery! It's a fabulous platform to help launch him into school and it’s evident that Kendor have all the knowledge and resources needed. Recommend this nursery to anyone who wants to give their child a happy safe and educational environment!’
For owner and manager, Claire Hatton, the news that her nursery won was “amazing”.
“It is amazing to win top recommended nursery. I am just an average girl and I just work hard. I am just myself. Winning something like this has been great. The parents and staff tell me I don’t give myself enough credit for what I do so this has been lovely.”
Kendor is named after her grandparents
Ms Hatton named Kendor Day Nursery in tribute to her grandparents, Ken and Doreen Roach. Doreen Roach died from kidney failure at the age of 79 in 2008, two years after Ken, who had Parkinson's disease.
The nursery building is their former home. “My mum grew up in this house and a lot of my memories are bound up in this house. When I originally applied for planning permission it was refused so I went and spoke to my MP and he supported my application and it got accepted. “I was so determined as I knew I could turn the house into a lovely nursery.”
Ms Hatton has always been passionate about working in the childcare sector. Sadly she found it wasn’t the case with everyone. I have worked for agencies in nurseries and I found it wasn’t always as nice as it should be. I knew if I set up a nursery it could be one of the nice ones. I feel I can give so much and I really believe in mentoring my staff.
Kendor Day Nursery takes children from birth up to the age of five. For her, giving babies the care and comfort they need is vital. “I know there are some nurseries where the staff are told not to cuddle the babies for too long as it will make them too demanding and they will expect it all the time. We strongly believe in giving the children cuddles. But I think it doesn’t matter if you have to cuddle a baby a hundred times a day if that is what they need.”
Strong work ethic
Her belief in her nursery is demonstrated by the fact that both her daughters attend the nursery. She has a very strong work ethic and was back at work just weeks after her daughters were born.
“When I opened the nursery in July 2010, I was only 26 and I didn’t have the girls then. I never expected it to be such hard work as it was initially. It has been easier as we have gone on.”
A key element for Ms Hatton is getting the right staff. “Staff are a major part of a nursery. I am extremely thorough in terms of recruitment. I look to see if they have a passion and enjoy working with children and I look for friendliness and warmth. Some people look fantastic on paper but they are no good at working with children.
“I also look at how the children react to them. I usually get them to work a day in the nursery so I can see how they perform and if I employ them, they are always on a probation period for three months.
“Since I started the nursery I have taken on three apprentices and they have now completed their level 2 and level 3. One is now even a room leader. I like to give people a chance and if they haven’t got the right qualifications at the beginning, mentor them and help them achieve those qualifications. It is more important to look at what they can give to the children and how they can help them learn through fun.
Development is about learning through play and having fun
“In terms of development, I like to see young children learning through play. I don’t like to see them pushed. They have so many years of school. I like to see them laughing and having fun.”
Ms Hatton is keen on introducing nature into the children’s lives. “We grow vegetables in the garden and we also keep caterpillars and watch them grow into butterflies which the children love and they learn so much from this process. We are thinking about getting some chickens.”
In terms of the future, she would like to expand the nursery but as far as opening another nursery goes, “I am not sure. I put all my time and energy into this nursery and I wouldn’t be able to do that if I had two as you can’t be in two places at once. I don’t think being bigger is necessarily better”.