DIrector of PRovision

Michelle Asling

My Journey...

I joined Our Monkey Club while it was still a Play'n'stay at a local village hall 12 years ago and have been the Director of Provision for 10 years since we established the Community Interest Company. I have worked with children for the past 22 years. I started out as a childminder so I could stay at home with my daughter after looking at several nursery settings and realising the traditional rigid settings I had visited were not for my child. I was not sure why I did not like the settings and thought it was more about being a protective new parent however, after years of development as a practitioner I realise the provisions I saw did not work in a way I believed was healthy for my child . The settings were not child focussed and had activities set out for the children to do with no choice and I struggled with the idea of 'doing to' a child.
I spent approximately 12 years as a childminder looking after and caring for young children. During this time I saw many changes within legislation and the structure of the sector and had learned to adapt my approach and administration systems appropriately. More than this, I developed a love for being with the children, supporting them to be unique, confident, capable and to have as much fun as possible doing it. I supported many families and managed a successful service that was always full and cared for children from early years right through to starting senior school.
During this time, I regularly visited Our Monkey Club play'n'stay and this is where I met my now very close friend, mentor and the managing director of the company we built together. Unfortunately, the lady who ran the play and stay became ill and asked for someone to take over. My friend immediately stepped into her place as it would have been heart breaking for the village to lose this facility. I was soon after asked to join her and together we began to build on it. The local parents were crying out for a facility to leave their children, so we decided to become Ofsted registered and offer government funded places for the children. I had to learn lots of new skills to ensure the business could be sustainable and becoming aware of, and able to implement, all legislation for a full day care provision was a challenge in itself but we obtained a good Ofsted rating.
I had not previously considered myself as academic, therefore I had not pursued a educational pathway, but now I wanted to develop myself as a practitioner. I completed my NVQ level 3 in Childcare, Learning and Development and then acheived the NVQ level 3 in management as I found myself stepping in to support our practitioners continual professional development. I also attended many conferences and training courses at the Pen Green Research Base: Attachment theory, Wellbeing and Involvement and a master class with Cath Arnold on schema training. The experiences were based on theory and enabled me to articulate the importance of the changes I made to the provision and the expectations I held and therefore I decided to begin a formal higher education pathway.
I applied to join the Foundation Degree in Children and Young People’s Studies and the course enhanced my view of how children learn through play and the necessity of well-being to learning. I had my third baby in July 2015 and decided to put my studies on hold and returned when she was two years old and settled in the centre. I completed my degree in 2018 and graduated with BA (Hons) WOrking with Children and Families in the Early Years. I am now focused on developing Our Monkey Clubs provisions to create smaller settings focused on childrens choices and the interpersonal relationships the children have with each other and the practitioners. I am currently focused on extending the abiilties of our practitioners to enhance their ability to observe and extend childs motivations to enhance learning opportunities.