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10 Feb 2023

Spotlight on Leah Dyer, Kids Inc Crowthorne

Spotlight on Leah Dyer, Kids Inc Crowthorne

Leah started her career 12 years ago with Bright Horizons, working in client nurseries and rising through the ranks to become manager before joining Kids Inc.

What would you do if you didn’t work in EYFS?

When I was growing up, a lot of the children in my class had additional needs, so I always thought I’d be good at working with children and especially children with additional needs. My mum always says, you have a way with making sure people are included, it doesn’t matter what ability they are.

I don’t think there was much else – when I was younger, I did a lot of dancing and gymnastics, so I had an idea that I could go down the dancing route, but apart from that, I knew working with children was what I wanted to do.

Did you ever see yourself becoming a manager?

No – when you first start your career, you meet all these people, managers and deputies, and you think, gosh, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get to that point. It was never something that crossed my mind.

When did that change?

It was when I became a room leader many years ago and I was leading a team of around seven, and I started to really thrive on helping others, playing everyone to their strengths. My manager at the time pulled me in and said, I can see this is what you like to do, and she got me more involved to become a third-in-charge and a deputy after that.

What are you most proud of during your time as a manager?

I was at Bright Horizons for 12 years and didn’t know anything else – and I left and joined Kids Inc just over a year ago, so I’m very proud that I took that jump. But also, I see all the things I’ve been able to achieve with my staff members for our children and all the experiences we’ve given them. It’s amazing, and I’m definitely proud of that.

Tell me about working in client nurseries

Bright Horizons have a cluster of client nurseries [which are in-house for companies or organisations]. I worked at Microsoft first and then the University of Surrey for about five years. Client nurseries are similar to community nurseries but they have a lot more targets you have to meet.

Because it was a workplace nursery, people travelled to work from different locations, so it was a bit trickier to get that community together. Coming to Kids Inc, I can definitely see more of that community feel – we’re able to go on outings to the local library, the post office, the shops. There’s an elderly home just across the road that we network with, go and visit, and they come and take part in our events as well. It’s a different feel.

What have you learned in your time working in the early years?

So many things! I think it’s really important to reflect, not only on yourself but on the team you’re working with. I write a lot of things down; getting things on paper does help me. And I think positivity is a huge thing, but it’s ok to have down days – reach out to your colleagues and pull on their strengths. Learn from each other – every day is a learning day.

What is your take on the government considering relaxing the ratios of staff to children?

It’s a good question. It is a bit of a worry – some parents have even been talking about it. I hope that they don’t [relax the ratios] because you have to have the staff to get that quality – and if they lower the ratios, there’s a fear that the quality could go down.

What is your favourite mid-shift snack?

Shortbread – my chef here makes the best shortbread! Sometimes I come into the office and there’s a little plate of it for me with my name on it. It’s a quick sugary snack to get you going for the rest of the day.

If you could go anywhere on holiday, cost no issue, where would you go and why?

I love animals – we’ve got chickens and rabbits here at the nursery and I’ve got a rabbit at home. And I’ve always wanted to go to South Africa on safari, to see giraffes and elephants.

What would be your message to nursery managers across the UK reading this?

Keep going and remember that you’re doing your best every single day and that you’re making a difference. Find that thing you’re most passionate about, and be with the children – that’s my passion, I’m in the rooms 90% of the time!

What question would you like to ask other managers?

We have a great training academy here and I love developing people. But how do you embed training in your teams and ensure your team members are reflecting on it and putting that training into practice?

 

 


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