Apple Tree Day Nursery

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Apple Tree Day Nursery's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Apple Tree Day Nursery is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Head of Nursery and Director
Lesley Thompson
Fostering a love for the
outside space
Founded in 2002, Apple Tree Day Nursery is a private
nursery providing care and education for children
aged three months to five years. With two locations in
Northamptonshire, Apple Tree is a nursery rated “outstanding”
by Ofsted that has a small and homely feel, while the staff have
all been chosen for their caring dispositions and their ability to
provide quality education. Head of Nursery Lesley Thompson
and Head of Finance Rick Thompson expand.
What have you done to make a difference for the children today? This is the
message on the staffroom door to remind staff members of the responsibility we
have towards the children in our care. Everyone employed by Apple Tree knows
and understands our core vision of security, love, caring and kindness towards
others. This vision formed the foundations of the business.
We both have a background in childcare in various forms over the years and we
wanted to incorporate all the knowledge we had developed into a setting where
children are valued and respected as individuals. We opened a second nursery
in 2006, and we became recognised for our excellent practice, with our children
noted as high achievers. We hold “outstanding” grades at both nurseries and we
have been working as part of the Mentoring Partnership for Northamptonshire
County Council, offering advice and support to settings to enable them to raise
their standards and gradings. Between 2011 and 2017, we also supplied a pre-
school and out-of-hours provision for the local town school, which was also
awarded an “outstanding” grading.
»Head of Nursery and Director:
Lesley Thompson
»Head of Finance and Director:
Rick Thompson
»Established in 2002
»Location in Burton Latimer and
Kettering, Northamptonshire
»No. of children: 140
»No. of staff: 24
»Ofsted: “Outstanding”
»Aim: To provide quality care
and education aged 3 months
to 5 years
Apple Tree Day
Highlighting best practice
Quality of teaching, learning
and assessment
The children are encouraged to
form strong attachments to key
staff from induction. The carefully
carried-out settling-in sessions form
the relationship between the parent,
carer and the child’s key person, and
children are able to access as many
settling-in sessions as they require.
Information is shared at this important
time, which forms the basis for the
ongoing sharing of information and
assessment, which has a vital impact
on the child’s learning.
Highly qualified, motivated and
experienced staff provide quality
learning opportunities for all children.
Expectations are high, and children are
encouraged to explore, take risks and
expand on their own ideas. All children
are involved in the everyday planning,
with the older children holding
a forum each week where their
contributions are listened to, valued
and incorporated. Our nurseries work
to the early years foundation guidelines
and support children towards the early
learning goals. Written progress checks
are carried out for all two-year-olds
and the reports inform the integrated
review alongside the health visitor
Inclusion and diversity
Evidence gathered from observations
and assessments highlights gaps in
children’s attainment, particularly
when supporting children with
English as an additional language or
special educational needs. Parents
are involved with every aspect of the
child’s progress. If needs are identified,
parents are supported by the nursery
during the initial difficult conversations
and referrals. Children with English as
an additional language and children
who are disadvantaged are carefully
monitored to ensure they are making
good progress. The nursery uses a
translation app to help children feel
safe and secure, particularly during
settling-in sessions. Children whose
development exceeds the level that
is typical for their age are presented
with challenges to further extend their
learning and progression.
The staff team
The staff team across both nurseries is
valued as the most important resource
within the nursery. The management
are aware of the importance of
the personal development of the
staff team and the positive impact
it brings to the settings and the
children’s outcomes. Ongoing
training opportunities form part of
the nursery ethos. Robust policies and
procedures are in place to ensure safer
recruitment of staff, who are carefully
chosen for their caring dispositions
and commitment to our core vision.
Every member of staff adheres to our
safeguarding policies and holds a
paediatric first aid certificate. Parents
have commented on the peace of
mind this gives them when leaving
their little ones in our care.
Exploring textures and
natural materials
are high and
children are
encouraged to
explore, take
risks and
expand on
their own
Partnership with parents
The views of parents and carers are
respected and valued. Parents are
encouraged to come into nursery to
work alongside staff, providing new
opportunities for learning. One of our
parents is a musician and comes into
each nursery for an hour a week. He
brings a selection of instruments for
the children to play and they are able
to sing into an amplified microphone.
Opportunities are available for parent
or carer discussions, with the nurseries
operating an open-door policy.
Parents are able to view nursery
experiences on our secure media
site and can add their own posts,
comments and photographs subject
to approval, which has enabled
parents to feel included in the nursery
routine. Questionnaires are also
linked to the site for parents/carers to
make comments and suggestions for
Challenges for the future
As a small private business there are
many daily challenges. Initially there
were no grants or financial support
available to help set up the nurseries
and many financial risks were taken in
the early years. We have always strived
for excellence and quality, but this
has become more difficult to provide
as pressures have increased year by
year in terms of changing standards
and legislation and the never-
With the closure of the children’s
centres, the nurseries have taken on
a more supportive and advisory role
and we are able to signpost to other
professional services and agencies.
Sometimes, however, parents and
carers just need someone to listen.
There are still many challenges
ahead. The minimum living wage
and workplace pensions together
with increased business rates and the
extended 30 hours entitlement have
had a huge impact on our budget, and
private nurseries everywhere are going
through tough times.
Reflective practice and the collating
of evidence help to achieve the
quality needed in order for our
children to progress and achieve. The
continuous monitoring process to
evaluate the practice contributes to
a culture in which staff are striving
for excellence with outstanding care
The support and mentoring of staff
and their personal development mean
that the nurseries are always moving
and always progressing, which has
an impact on children’s outcomes.
A welcoming environment together
with an experienced, enthusiastic staff
team ensure the children experience
the joy of learning and have the
foundations in place for their future
The nurseries
are always
moving and
which has an
impact on
Showing love and
respect at an early age


This article was sponsored by Apple Tree Day Nursery. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister