Zoe was working at Liverpool Day Nurseries in Crosby before it was taken over by Kids Planet, and once it was acquired by the Kids Planet Group, Zoe began her level two apprenticeship, as the first apprentice.
“I absolutely loved it. I never wanted to go into childcare; it was never something I’d considered. I was having a tough time at home and I was studying at University, and just needed to find a job that was suitable for my study hours and would pay the bills.
Being young, I thought, let’s just give this a try! I fell in love with it after a few years of being there, it was just meant for me. It’s definitely my calling.”
From apprentice to Nursery Manager in just five years, and still continuing to develop, Zoe reveals her journey at Kids Planet:
Having started her first few years with tots (under 2’s) at Kids Planet Crosby, she adored being with the younger children and began her training with Kids Planet.
Zoe then went straight onto her level 3 whilst still enjoying her time in the tots room at Crosby.
When Zoe finished her level 3, she was put straight to a room leader position with the ‘Rising 3’s’. She initially hadn’t wanted to move, but now says she couldn’t imagine working with under 2’s!
With the Rising 3’s for about six to eight months as Room Leader with a team of 5/6 staff, Zoe was told she was doing really well and was asked if she’d like to lead the toddler room as it was without a Room Leader. Feeling ready, she moved to the bigger and busier toddler room.
Then, a Deputy Manager role came up in the Fazakerley setting. She was initially was anxious about leaving her team and the new challenge but Kids Planet truly believed in her, telling her to go for it as she would be fantastic.
Zoe was also a preschool lead there, gaining a lot of experience. Soon after she moved over, the nursery was due an Ofsted visit, and she worked hard with the team to prepare – being awarded Ofsted Oustanding in May 2017, which she reflects was “a proud moment, it was absolutely amazing.”
Zoe had become a bit of a third in charge at Fazakerley, helping with emails, taking phone calls, ultimately heading for that more senior role. When the Manager stepped up to Area Manager to cover maternity leave, Zoe became Acting Manager.
She did a year as Acting Manager before being made permanent as a Nursery Manager at Fazakerly, saying: “I’ve always been someone who strives to bigger and better challenges and responsibility. I always want to show that I want more so becoming Nursery Manager was a total no-brainer.”
That was all going well for Zoe, and then a position came up for Nursery Manager at Greenbank. Whilst happy with her team and not planning on moving, her Area Manager was positive that this would be a good and exciting move for Zoe.
“Fazakerley holds 89 children a day and 35 staff, Greenbank was 141 per day and more like 60 staff. So on that scale, it’s a bigger challenge and one that I’m embracing. I’m currently in my first week and it’s totally different. Everything is on a bigger scale and you have to have a different way of managing things.
The manager before me had been here for ten years, so I know I have big shoes to fill. I’m gaining more and more knowledge and I didn’t even know I had space for more knowledge. I’m enjoying the challenge of it,” said Zoe.
Zoe feels that some people might find it daunting to try and progress in such a big company, but says that she finds that is in fact a benefit: “The growing group means there are always opportunities. If you’re giving back to the company, you can pretty much go where you want to within Kids Planet; they invest in you if you are good at what you do.
There is a brilliant, dedicated Training Academy and they’ve invested so much into me personally. The countless amount of training they’ve paid for me to go on, and they are never short of advice either. There is always someone to reach out to; you can pick up the phone and someone will talk you through whatever concerns or questions you have.
I have learnt so many skills from the people I’ve been around that have just made me who I am. I have always openly wanted more and more challenges, and they have always done their best to give me the opportunities.
I recently got involved with a team of us in setting up one of our new settings, in Cambridge and saw a side to the nurseries I’ve never seen yet. So even though I’ve moved over, I still want to keep doing other things that expand my knowledge.”
Zoe says that no two days are the same in a nursery setting, but she rather likes the hustle and bustle of it all: “I do some office work throughout the day, but as a whole I like to be very hands-on and on the floor as much as I can. I like to do a daily walk-in, find out what children are doing and getting out of activities, and when needed, give advice too and suggestions for what staff can try in certain situations.
It’s the children for me that I enjoy the most about the early years sector, yet the higher up you get, the less you see the children, so I like to be present with them as that’s a part of the job I’ve got a passion for, and it enables me to keep that connection with the children.
I’m glad that in my position I’ve also got that ‘power’ to change things, introduce new ideas, and to make things the best things they can be for the children. I love it, it makes me so happy when I see it in practice – going from a concept on paper to seeing how the children respond in the nursery.”
If you are wondering about the opportunities that could be out there for you within early years, whether that’s a practitioner, manager, or even a chef or a sports coach, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Training Academy website to enquire.