As the name Back to the Garden Childcare suggests, one Altrincham nursery is leading the way in apprenticeships, nurturing individuals, helping them build new skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career in childcare.
‘Build the Future’ is the theme chosen for this year’s National Apprenticeship Week (8 – 14 February), and Back to the Garden, located in Altrincham, very much champions this theme, having supported a total of 14 apprentices and trainees since it opened just over two and a half years ago.
For 2021, with a second nursery ready to go on site, the company aims to appoint six apprentices, further enhancing its commitment to assisting individuals with a desire to work with babies and young children in a bespoke setting.
In 2020 alone, Back to the Garden employed four apprentices, despite the pandemic, including Tori Stuart, Madiha Khan, Aisha Barker and Eleanor Evans, all of whom are working towards NVQ Level 2 or Level 3 qualifications.
Eleanor, from Altrincham, the most recent apprentice who started in November, is keen to learn more about supporting care and education in the early years.
She says: “I had originally enrolled on a health and social care course as I wanted a career in the caring profession. Part of that course included work experience at a nursery, which I loved and clarified my desire to work with young children.
“Joining Back to the Garden and working with the children has been fantastic and I am learning so much. My ideas and contributions are welcomed by the team and I am determined to work my way up through the NVQ qualifications, further developing my learning and knowledge.”
Apprentices have been very much a part of the nursery since it opened its doors in June 2018, with the company appointing two apprentices in just six months. A further three joined in 2019. Eight of the nine total apprentices employed remain at the nursery and are each successfully carving out areas of specialism which appeal to them individually.
One of the very first staff members at Back to the Garden is Jenny Carmichael, from Urmston, who started as a chef at NVQ Level 2. Last year, she achieved Level 3 in Catering & Hospitality Management and has just been awarded Apprentice of the Year (Catering & Hospitality) by Trafford College. Jenny is looking to start her NVQ Level 4 in the coming weeks.
Jenny says: “My career has gone from strength to strength at Back to the Garden. They really do encourage and support career development, so much so, this year I plan to undertake specific training regarding vegan diets. I am personally interested to learn more about this aspect and as we have a few vegan children in the nursery, it is important on that level too.”
Another Back to the Garden apprentice who has achieved a great deal in under 18 months is Rimini Legge. From completing a team leader training programme in retail, Rimini quickly achieved her NVQ Level 3 qualification in early years and, aspiring for a leadership role at the nursery, she self-funded her Level 4 qualification and realised her goal. She is now the Unit Leader for Under Twos and was recently awarded Apprentice of the Year (Early Years) from Trafford College.
Lorraine Webb, manager at Back to the Garden Childcare, concludes: “Our apprenticeship offering is second to none and we really value the input, fresh perspective and individual ideas from each apprentice. We provide comprehensive training and support for all our apprentices in all areas, and our track record speaks for itself. We have achieved impressive outcomes for all of our apprentices, and this is something that we will continue to build on in the future.
“In addition to some of our apprentices winning awards from Trafford College, the nursery itself has also been recognised and rewarded for its commitment to training receiving the Employer of the Year award.”
Situated on Sinderland Road in Broadheath, Back to the Garden is an innovative child-led, active learning environment with an emphasis on outdoor play in a stunning garden setting. Its philosophy of allowing children to be children to explore their environment, experiment with the outdoor playscape and harness their own imaginations allows for a natural approach where each child develops at their own pace.