Manager, Donisthorpe

Kirsty Staley

My Journey...

I joined Our Monkey Club in 2014 after completing my teacher training and deciding I wanted to dedicate my career to working with children in early years settings. I started at the Donisthorpe setting and found the practice very different to my training. I was used to leading children’s learning and providing activities that has set outcomes and teaching goals. I had to adjust my approach to supporting children within their own play and their self-set goals. This was new but it was refreshing and I could see the difference it made to the children’s confidence and independence in their learning. I then had my first son and as I watched him learn and grow I was amazed at his autonomy, even at this age. I returned to Our Monkey Club when he was 9 months old and loved working alongside him and watching him grow up. The OMC approach started to make more sense to me as I watched him take charge of his own learning and saw how little he needed me to lead him.
I started working with our children under two years old and enjoyed focusing on children as they built the basic skills they need for life including movement, speech and basic self-care such as feeding and drinking. The experiences children have with their close relationships at this point are key to long term self-esteem and confidence and I loved that I could be the person that helped them feel safe and secure. I was able to empathise with parents as they returned to work and ensure that I worked closely with them to support their family during this transition.
I completed my Early Years Teacher Status, which is the gold standard for early years practitioners, and took part in projects around the centre, applying theory into practice and sharing this with our parents. I then had my second son and adjusted to having two young boys. In the centre I started to focus on literacy and how long-term literacy success could be underpinned by effective early years opportunities. We re-examined the national strategies for the Letters and Sounds program and looked at mark making opportunities throughout the centre. I started to work with the leadership team and focusing on how to lead the implementation of the new strategies throughout our centres and with all practitioners.
I really enjoyed developing my leadership skills and taking a lead role with the other practitioners. I found it rewarding to see the strategies I implemented supporting their practices and the outcomes of children. I started to take on some mentoring responsibilities and seeking opportunities to make improvements to practice and procedures. The in 2017 the directors team decided to create opportunities to enhance my leadership and management skills and in 2018 I became the manager of the Donisthorpe setting. We have worked hard to build up an amazing team and the centre is growing year on year. I love the opportunity to shape our practices and watch my team members become amazing practitioners. I am continually excited by the chance to support our children and welcome new families to the centre and am so proud to watch our children move on to school or leave our out of school setting to go to senior school. This year I said goodbye to some children I have worked with for 6 years and watching our children grow into amazing individuals motivates me to always seek ways to make our service the best it can be.