Diana Lawton

Managing Director

Diana Lawton

My Journey...

I began my journey with Our Monkey Club as a volunteer at a local Play'n'stay group and playgroup and became chair on the committee. Since then Our Monkey Club has been my life's work and I love my role being part of the lives of so many wonderful families. I became the Managing DIrector and we created the first full day care setting in 2010 as a Community Interest Company. I had worked in psychology for years but had become tired of only seeing people who had hit crisis point. While I loved being able to help, I wanted to try to stop people getting to that point.
I moved into Early Years to try to help our children develop a sense of agency, self-confidence and resilliance that would allow them to manage lifes ups and downs and be protective for their long term mental health. My vision for the service was focused on enabling children to develop a clear sense of self and the ability to problem solve, make choices, embrace learning and feel strong in the face of adversity, This meant we built a setting that supported all children together of all ages, understanding that as a social species we learn best from our interaction with others. We built a service that celebrated the individual child with no uniforms, genuine choices about their play and routines and a wide range of opportunities and experiences to understand what they like and don't like. I have taken pride in watching the children grow into incredible people who feel capable of anything and are ready for any challenge.
Kindori
Kindori
Kindori
Kindori

While I love being with children, I found my role often focused around the development of my team as they are the companies biggest asset. I can have a centre that looks like it jumped out of the pages of a catalogue but without the right practitioners it will fail. Instead I can have an empty room with a few boxes and the right practitioner and the children with thrive and this is always my choice. Therefore I have spend the last ten years focused on being the best leader I can be. I have completed postgraduate degrees including a Masters in Intergrated Working with Children and Families in the Early Years and my dissertation examined the experience of practitioners stepping up to leadership roles in early years. I have used my leadership skills to support our practitioners to progress and improve as they move their way through their qualifications and gain experience with us and become amazing partners in play for our children. For the past 3 years I have also offered my services as a Senior Consultant to Inspired Children (an award winning training provider) and support settings throughout the country to improve practice through training and support.

Currently I am focused on building our in-house training program with our Training Manager, Melissa Hitchman and this will strengthen our teams understanding of applying psychological theory into practice.  I am also finalising the National Standards for the Apprenticeship programmes for the Level 5 Lead Practitioner and the Level 6 Pedagogic Lead which will allow the Early Years sector to upskill our practitioners and improve our chidren’s outcomes nationally.  I am also a consultant on the new Birth to Five Matters guidance being produced by the early years coalition to provide an evidence-based guidance document for the sector. While doing all of these projects, I remain focused on making Our Monkey Club the best possible place we can for our children and since our ‘new normal’ I am not in the centres but I speak to staff and management daily and ensure the business contrinues to thrive.