Twizzle Tops Day Nurseries is a chain of six nurseries in Basildon, Stevenage, Lakeside, Wembley, Oxford, and South Woodham, which prides itself on putting the needs of children first, and working in partnership with parents to give the best care and education. The nurseries are uniquely situated within Partyman World of Play, a soft-play centre and party venue, offering children in their care access to the amenities and opportunities on a day-to-day basis.

Here, Mandy Davies, nursery manager of the Wembley setting, talks about Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) funding and how Twizzle Tops plans to invest it. Mandy believes that around 25 per cent of the children in her care, aged three and four-years-old are eligible, although so far she has secured funding for closer to eight per cent. Wembley is a built-up and diverse area of London, and most eligible children live in flats without an outside space and do not speak English as a first language, so these are the challenges that Mandy and her team plans to tackle first.

‘I absolutely love working in Wembley and the challenges that it brings. Our children and our staff are from a wide range of different backgrounds and cultures, and we encourage families to share their experiences and beliefs. In my job, I am often more than a nursery manager and find myself supporting the whole family, including daily calls to social workers and outside agencies. One of the ways we plan to invest the EYPP funding will be in supporting the children’s English language ready for their next step in going to school.

‘Most of our children live in high rise buildings, and so giving them opportunities for physical development is also a priority for us. Having the soft-play facilities is a huge advantage and means they can be physically active every day. We also have a small garden with a decking area and I
plan to invest some of the EYPP funding in a canopy, so that the children can also be active outside, whatever the weather.’

Twizzle Tops has also recently introduced Kinderly, the online web and mobile app that makes it quick and easy for practitioners to securely capture and share children’s learning journeys against the Early Years Foundation Stage, without the need for paperwork. ‘Introducing Kinderly
was like a breath of fresh air for our staff, it enables them to spend more time with the children, having cut their paperwork by up to two thirds. Our parents absolutely love it – there’s something very special about switching on their phones during their lunch break and seeing a photograph of their beautiful, happy baby splashing in water in their nappy – and getting to understand all of the learning benefits of that sort of play too. By sharing updates with parents, it helps them to understand and continue both structured and unstructured play at home – and it also makes the face-to-face conversations we have with parents more meaningful.’

Twizzle Tops is supporting Kinderly in its planned development of a resource bank of creative and educational play ideas within the app. Games and ideas can be shared by experienced childcare professionals with colleagues and parents, helping to support and reinforce learning, both within the nursery setting and at home. Kinderly’s reporting will make it easy to track children receiving EYPP funding and to compare their development to the overall progression trend of children of a similar age, which will make it easier to see the impact of each initiative – not least, how the new canopy has given children who do not have outside space at home, the chance to get outside and get active!

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