Daintry Hall Day Nursery Ltd.

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Daintry Hall Day Nursery Ltd.'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 Daintry Hall Day Nursery Ltd. 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
Owner Wendy Atherton
Our setting in North Rode,
near Congleton, Cheshire
The idea for Daintry Hall Day Nursery was born at a time
when founder Wendy Atherton and her former business
partner worked together in social care. Their children were
in local childcare, and Wendy experienced how difficult it was to
balance full-time work while making use of high-quality childcare
that could be flexible and respond to parents’ needs. In 1999, they
acquired a Grade II listed building with several outdoor areas and
opened the nursery. Wendy discusses her journey in the childcare
sector and the funding challenges she and her team face.
My journey in childcare began when I was 18 years old. After acquiring a
qualification from the National Nursery Examination Board, my passion for
development only continued. I now have further formal management and childcare
qualifications, and have since gained my assessors’ qualification alongside my
Certificate in Education. During this entire process, I have worked in settings
including nurseries, pre-schools, child protection in social care, colleges, training
companies and, finally, Daintry Hall.
Creating the perfect environment
From the beginning, we wanted to create a loving, homely and nurturing
environment that offered the children in our care stimulating play while
encouraging exploration of the world around them. We believe that children
achieve more when they feel happy, secure and valued.
We push to care for and educate the whole child. We want our children to enjoy
their learning, and we have high expectations for their academic, creative and social
»Owner: Wendy Atherton
»Founded in 1999
»Based in North Rode,
Congleton, Cheshire
»Services: Day nursery and
»No. of employees: 20
»Ofsted: “Outstanding”, 2014
»Setting is based in a Grade II
listed building
»Early years funding framework
»Proud to offer a flexible service
for parents
Daintry Hall Day Nursery
and Preschool Ltd
Highlighting best practice
progress. Team spirit is a massive part of
what we do, and we ensure that all staff
work co-operatively to give their best.
Our children come from all around
the Macclesfield and Congleton area,
many from a number of villages that
surround the setting. As such, we treat
the Daintry Hall community as one big
family; some members of our team
even babysit the children, working
closely with families and carers.
Developing forest school
Over the years, we have adopted in
part the forest school “ethos”, and all
children who attend the setting take
part in our natural play sessions. All
preschoolers at Daintry Hall have the
opportunity to experience forest school
sessions first hand with our qualified
forest school leaders.
This style of learning very much
complements the way we approach
learning; we believe that every child
should be able to play and investigate
outdoors, solve problems and gain
independence. This is a process that
allows all learners to achieve and
develop through regular hands-on
experiences in a natural environment.
Continually developing staff
Owning and running a childcare
setting has been the most rewarding
area of my working life, but it does not
come without its own challenges. One
of the biggest factors contributing to a
successful setting is the staff team, and
with the ever-changing expectations of
a nursery practitioner’s role, criticism
of nurseries in the media, low wages
and long hours, the amount of people
choosing to enter the profession seems
lower than ever.
In our setting, we have a dedicated,
passionate and motivated team who
work hard to ensure that the children
who attend Daintry have the best care
we can offer. Our business has to work
for all stakeholders involved; parents
need to feel safe and secure in their
choice of setting, and we endeavour
to provide outstanding care and
education for their children.
It is essential that we ensure that the
members of our team stay motivated,
feel appreciated and continue to
develop themselves. As such, we place
serious emphasis on training at Daintry
Hall, and I personally encourage my
team to continue to develop their
own skills through the opportunities
Our natural play sessions
allow preschoolers to
experience forest school
first hand
We push to
care for and
educate the
whole child
open to them during their time here. I
myself have just embarked on a Level
5 course in coaching and mentoring;
this will ensure that I am appropriately
equipped to support my team, and
that I am the best leader to them I
possibly can be.
Funding shortfalls
The new early years funding
programme brings with it a different
sort of challenge. It is imperative that
we manage parents’ expectations of
what is advertised as free care; we
have to cover other costs, such as
food and extra hours, which are not
covered by the framework. Although
it has been a huge boost for working
parents, there has been a shortfall in
income for the setting.
The hourly rate awarded by the
government does not equate to
the hourly cost, and we are unable
to charge the difference in fees.
Unfortunately, this can impact our
finances, especially alongside grant
payments which do not sit in line with
the rising costs of our overheads.
When we also consider salary increases
and changes to the pension scheme,
we have to be inventive to continue
offering such a flexible service to
Next steps of the journey
In January this year, we
commemorated our 20th anniversary
at Daintry Hall, and I hope to continue
celebrating in style with parties,
fun days and a family festival in the
summer. It has been an incredible
journey from those new beginnings to
where we find ourselves today.
I’ve met some outstanding
practitioners and fabulous families
along the way, all of whom have
brought something new to us at the
setting. Each new challenge has made
the team stronger and enabled me to
grow and develop as a leader. It’s a
journey I’m very proud to have been
part of, and one that is by no means
finished yet. I’m sure there will be
more challenges to face in the years
ahead, and I’m looking forward to
meeting them head on – as we always
have done.
Owning and
running a
childcare setting
has been the
most rewarding
area of my
working life, but
it does not
come without
its own
Our loving, homely and
nurturing environment

This article was sponsored by Daintry Hall Day Nursery Ltd.. 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 Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy