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Case study: Mill Cottage Montessori School

When the student returns as a practitioner, you’ve created something special

Working in an early years setting is fast-paced. No 2 days are the same, routines can go out of the window, and children have their own ways of doing things. So when you find someone who takes all that in their stride and makes the workplace better with their attitude you grab them and don’t let go! That’s exactly what Ailsa Neville has done with Calum Sunter at her setting Mill Cottage Montessori in Brighouse, West Yorkshire.

Woodspeen Training (WT): When did Calum start working with you?

Ailsa Neville (AN): Our relationship with Calum goes further back than his job with us. Calum started at Mill Cottage School the day before he turned 2 and attended until he started school[CB1] . When Calum finished school at 16[CB2]  he asked if he could come and work with us over the summer and he’s never left!

WT: What made you choose an apprenticeship for Calum?

AN: We’ve got other apprentices and know the value of having trained members of staff, so after conversations with both Calum and his parents we enrolled Calum onto the early years practitioner level 2 apprenticeship course with Woodspeen Training.

WT: How has the apprenticeship impacted Calum?

AN: Calum has this natural ability to engage with children, the apprenticeship has given him the knowledge and skills to feel confident he’s doing the right thing for the children under his care. He achieved distinctions in his level 2 course and is continuing his studies on the level 3 early years educator apprenticeship. Calum is an absolute joy to work with, he’s a star in the classroom, and thoroughly brilliant at what he does. At Mill Cottage we have a quite a high percentage of SEN children and he’s wonderful with them. We could do with another dozen more Calum’s working in early years.

WT: Would you employ more apprentices through Woodspeen Training and why?

AN: Yes, we’ve got a really strong relationship. If we’ve ever needed anything all we’ve ever had to do is pick up the phone and you’re there to help. If the answer hasn’t been to hand it’s looked into and followed up, we’ve never had to chase. We feel like a team when it comes to the learners, keeping each other updated on progress and any support needs. Also with the changes you’re bringing with paid DBS checks for new starters and free paediatric first aid for learners, it’s really going to make a difference to us as a setting.

AN: I was talking to Calum this morning and he was saying his friends had asked what he does all day, they assume he ‘watches kids’. They don’t understand the work and dedication that goes into the role, there’s nothing you can’t give Calum to do. No task too big or too small. He’s an amazing early years practitioner and I can’t wait to see how far he can go.

Want to find out more about our early years apprenticeships and how we’re working to support early years settings get ready for the expansion to funded childcare hours, contact the team now.

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