Claire joined Jancett Childcare in 2001. Claire found out about Jancett when a member of staff visited her school for a careers day. She had known that she wanted to work with children since the age of 11 and that she wanted to work with pre-school age children. When Claire joined Jancett she was undertaking her childcare qualification with JACE and she learnt about all the different age groups but quickly she realised it was the Rainbow age (3-5 years) that she loved working with the most.
While she was studying for her childcare qualification she was interviewed by the founder director and offered a place at Sunbeam day nursery in Croydon which as contractors, Jancett operated for the home office from 1990 to 2002. Claire achieved her NVQ level 2 and Level 3 in childcare with JACE.
In January and following Sunbeam’s closure, 2003 Claire joined Jancett Day Nursery and Baby Unit in Wallington and went from looking after 24 children in total at Sunbeam to 16 children in each of her two Rainbow rooms at Jancett. Claire thrived under this new challenge and carried on with her training, gaining her level 4 and level qualifications next.
Claire relies on her wheelchair for mobility and her motto to ‘always take on a challenge’ means that Claire refused to listen to her initial hesitation – that she might not be able to work in a nursery due to wheelchair access. Instead she told herself this was another challenge and boundaries can always be got around. Claire is a strong believer in finding solutions by herself but explains that Jancett have encouraged and supported her in her career from day one. For instance, when founder director Chris Pritchard would organise taxis to work when Claire first joined, or, when attending workshop at the Graylaw House centre became prohibitive due to its staircase-only access, Claire was able to attend workshop at Jancett House head office instead, whose training room was on the ground floor.
In 2003 Claire was made staff and promoted to Nursery Nurse (now called a Childcare Practitioner). Claire was further promoted to Lead Childcare Practitioner in 2005, and 12 years later leads her Rainbow Room team at Jancett Day Nursery in Wallington.
Claire has successfully managed to balance her work-life with studying for her early years qualifications and is a big advocate of continuous professional development.
Having worked with many families over the years and seeing the children leave to move on to school, Claire admits it can be hard to see them leave, and to say goodbye to the parents she has worked closely in partnership with over the years but jokes that as the company approaches its 50th year in 2019, she regularly meets Jancett babies – now all grown up – when she is out and about.
When asked what advice Claire would give to someone thinking about entering the childcare profession and what skills they would need, she says being patient, caring, understanding and having time for the children is essential. Claire can apply the same skills to her own role as room leader. Claire is extremely supportive of her room team and leads 3 staff at Jancett. Her team are fully committed to watching and helping the children grow and develop and it is at the heart of everything they do in Rainbow Room.
Claire meets with her team once a week and they plan for the children together, in accordance with the Early Years Foundation Stage. Claire says when she first began in 2001, the room planning was done for her by head office, but now, childcare practitioners are increasingly responsible for implementing the planning themselves.
As a result, a desire to keep up to date with the latest early years guidelines is also an important quality to have. Above all, Claire says having fun and enjoying what you do is key to working with children.
When asked what she feels is most important to the children at nursery, Claire answers “Consistency. Children need you to always be consistent with them.”