Kidz Kabin

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Kidz Kabin'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 Kidz Kabin 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

Highlighting best practice
Founder Linda Symons
Ice and water sensory play
Kidz Kabin have built a culture of early years learning
inspired by children. Their inclusive, diverse nursery fosters
learning through three central pillars: curiosity, active
engagement and scaffolded activities. They welcome children
from any background and support them through learning and
play experiences, whatever their challenges might be. Owner
and founder Linda Symons prides herself and her team on their
ability to develop fresh, individual and innovative approaches to
early years education.
These approaches are driven by fostering self-worth, self-esteem and confidence in
our children, helping them to believe in their own ability. This also applies for our
staff – we don’t just look for qualifications and experience; we also look for potential.
We invest in staff and children alike and fund development opportunities as much
as possible. We believe this fosters an environment of trust, closeness and positive
wellbeing. This almost-familial environment models a positive way of structuring
relationships that we constantly demonstrate to the children in our care.
How does it work?
Staff attitude and engagement are absolutely key to children’s learning; they are
active participants in the process, there to support children rather than watching
from the sidelines. We do, however, ensure that they don’t “spoon-feed” children –
our learning methods are grounded in staff-facilitated learning, driven by listening to,
engaging with and appropriately scaffolding the experiences that our children have.
»Founder: Linda Symons
»Founded in 2011
»Locations: Muswell Hill and
Wood Green, London
»Services: Early years nursery
»No. of employees: 75
»No. of children: 240
»Features include meat-free
menus, charity partnership
events and flexible drop-off
and pick-up times
Kidz Kabin
Our processes of active learning aim
to make our children evidence-based
“discoverers” – we encourage them
to take part in spontaneous activities
as well as what we have planned for
them. Children follow their instincts
of tangential curiosity and questioning
until they are satisfied with the
answers they have discovered.
It’s a big world out there...
One of our most recent innovations
has been the introduction of forest
school learning. Children are
encouraged to find their voices in
outdoor environments where walls,
tables, chairs or any rigid, man-made
structures do not restrict their play and
learning. The guiding principle of forest
school recognises that surroundings
have an impact on children and their
confidence; we want them to feel as
comfortable in natural environments as
they do indoors.
We have also experienced great
success when teaching life skills using
these methods. We have established a
child-sized garden shop that includes
an allotment-style area where we
grow our own fruit and vegetables.
This helps children to understand how
they connect to the natural world
Our provision has varied greatly over
the years, and we often find ourselves
offering activities beyond the nursery.
Since 2011, we have worked with
professional practitioners to deliver
street dancing, yoga, ukulele and other
sports sessions, to name just a few.
These physical and musical activities
enhance the development of our
children by providing them with a variety
of well-rounded experiences. We also
offer curated outings in our minibus to:
»Westminster Abbey
»Wildlife parks
»Local amenities, such as fire stations,
farms and libraries
Additionally, we have developed
relationships with local care homes to
promote intergenerational interaction,
thus benefiting both our children and
the homes’ residents. This is achieved
through weekly visits, where children
and residents take part in activities
together. These ongoing relationships
are incredibly rewarding; they tie us to
the local community, allowing us to
give back to it as much as we receive.
Striking the right balance
We strive to offer funded places for all
eligible children. We try to meet this
target by taking on as many children
as we can, rather than limiting the
number of places we provide. We
combat cuts to government funding
– intended to cover these places – by
offering parents the option to buy
meals and extra hours when necessary.
This does not close the financial
gap the government leaves, and we
continue to absorb the cost of funded
places at a loss to the business.
One of our biggest challenges has been
balancing our staffing with our cost
base, which is typical in an industry
that struggles with recruitment and
Feeding the animals at a
local farm
Forest school
sessions take us to
Hampstead Heath
Our provision
has varied
greatly over the
years, and we
often find
activities beyond
the nursery
Highlighting best practice
staff ratios. We push to keep our ratios
above the legal requirements, but it
isn’t easy. To manage this, we employ
extra assistants in each baby room.
This allows for staff breaks with no
ratio compromises, but it is a massively
increased cost. We do recognise that it’s
such a valuable investment in the safety
and welfare of our children, and assists
with staff welfare, but it’s a challenge
to maintain without external support.
Outside play areas are one of the most
contentious planning issues, particularly
with residential neighbours, but they
are highly sought after and crucial to
child development and health. The
administrative demands put upon us by
local councils in this regard, however,
mean that any attempts to expand
these areas are disproportionately
expensive and they are often
impossible to acquire or develop.
It’s good to talk
I try to be a visible part of each setting
and make myself available to talk to
parents about any concern, big or
small. We believe that this kind of
leadership sets the tone of accessible
and open communication across the
entire business.
We send monthly newsletters to each
site and post regular blog posts on our
website. We also make use of an app
that allows staff to upload observations
and photos of their key children to a
secure domain where parents can log
in to add their comments.
Our drive for continuous improvement
is facilitated by the daily update books
we use for our youngest children,
which inform both staff and parents
about their development. At the other
end of the age range, we focus on
preparing children to be ready for
school; as a part of this formative
process, we invite parents to interactive
sessions and talks so they are also
aware of what’s required for such an
important transition.
Our continued development
In the near future, we will be starting
free weekly stay and play sessions
in the local community. We are also
expanding the reach of our forest
school provision, offering it to children
of primary school age as holiday
schemes. We will be introducing
woodwork as an additional creative
activity, and also aim to create and
develop further outside spaces in
spite of the administrative challenge
Children are not static in their
learning, and we recognise that our
services can’t be, either. For the
future, we will keep developing and
innovating what we offer to children,
parents and staff.
We strive to
offer funded
places for all
Kidz Kabin visits a local
residential care home
You’ll easily recognise
Kidz Kabin out and about

This article was sponsored by Kidz Kabin. 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