Monkey Puzzle Glasgow Central

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

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 Monkey Puzzle Glasgow Central is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Owners Brian Doherty and
Della Martin
Our historic Grade II
listed premises
Brian Doherty and his mother, Della Martin, started their
journey in 2013 after settling on a career change. They
recognised the need for quality childcare in the area
that could be flexible and relied upon. Both of them had
backgrounds in education and, in line with that, they chose
to enter the nursery sector above all others they considered.
After an 18-month journey, they opened Monkey Puzzle
Glasgow Central on September 1, 2014, keeping in mind two
key philosophies: that memories are made from moments of
interaction, and that children are the most valuable part of
We looked at nurseries to buy, refurbish or start from scratch, and examined
different models before choosing to work on a franchise. We had no in-depth
knowledge of the complexities of both governance and legislation, and knew it
would very much be a learning process.
The next stage was acquiring the right property. We saw and fell in love with a
Grade II listed building, standing resolute over an 18-month period to drive through
the deal. This historic building, and the work we carried out on it, served to
reinforce our views on delivering a high-quality service from the outset. From over
30 applications, we chose a manager, and subsequently a staff team who bought
into our ethos.
»Owners: Della Martin and
Brian Doherty
»Founded in 2014
»Based in Glasgow
»Services: Day nursery
»No. of employees: 27
»When we were first established,
we had just 3 members of staff
and 2 children; 4 years later, we
have nearly 10 times as many
staff and make a small profit
Monkey Puzzle
Glasgow Central
Highlighting best practice
Great staff culture
We developed our culture through
discussion with our manager, Lorraine
Kirkwood. After her initial interview,
we decided she would match not
only our philosophy and vision, but
could also add her skills to set the
foundations for quality service from
day one. She then built her team from
scratch, using many different ideas
and methods to ensure that the right
people were matched with their roles.
As the team grew, we began to embed
the building blocks that would form
our company culture.
A selection of techniques, spanning
from our six-month induction process
to just making use of our team’s
enthusiasm and skills, ensure that all
children receive experiential learning
on a daily basis, rather than just
on special occasions. Our team are
more involved in our business as a
result and give that little bit more;
they enjoy both being active and
actively imparting their knowledge to
strengthen each child’s learning. We
have also worked to enhance this by
hosting international students from
Germany and Denmark, providing
cross-cultural learning which was great
for parents, staff and children alike.
Cultivate your people
Along our journey, we have worked
hard at developing great community
links, including local doctors, libraries
and even a dentist’s surgery. We are
now well integrated into our local
area and participate in festivals,
parades, fun runs and visits to parents’
workplaces, which have included
banks and police stations.
We are an organisation led by our
people; they are passionate and have
bought into who we are, where we
are and what we strive to achieve. We
made the informed decision to employ
a qualified and quality staff team from
day one; whereas most services in the
sector have a 50/50 split, of our 27
employees, only three are apprentices.
Although we are providing young,
local people with experience, with
a majority of experienced workers,
we can ensure that our service is
of a consistent quality and that our
apprentices learn in a positive and
responsive environment.
This has proven to be a massively
successful decision; we have alleviated
the pressure of building a successful
team and are able to provide an
excellent level of care. We are now
Community engagement
Big Scottish Breakfast
with Lorraine Kelly, 2018
A selection of
spanning from
our six-month
process to just
making use of
our team’s
and skills,
ensure that all
children receive
learning on a
daily basis
well embedded within our community
and have raised our standards to
achieve multiple award status, in both
Scotland and the UK.
Logistical and material
As a new business, we experienced
a number of challenges, including
logistical issues with the delivery
of materials and resources; our
refurbishment took place amid the
Commonwealth Games in Glasgow,
with four separate event venues within
a one-mile radius. This resulted in
road closures, restricted access and
increased foot traffic, which added
to the stress of having to turn the
building site into an operational
nursery within a seven-week deadline
set by the Care Inspectorate.
We experienced some negativity from
existing services in the community,
which took a while to break down.
We only achieved this by joining in
local groups and offering to become
involved in forums over a three-year
period. One such example of our work
was the organisation of an after-
school fun day in Pollok Country Park,
where over 140 young people from 12
Financial challenges are often
monumental for nursery businesses,
and our case was no different. The
biggest investment is the setup phase,
where building work, resources
and wages prove to be a serious
operational expense. To date, we have
had no partnership funding for our
three to five-year-olds, as Glasgow
City Council believe we aren’t a viable
business. This judgment has been
made in spite of the fact that we
are now turning over a small profit
in three full years of trading. It’s an
ongoing challenge, not only for us, but
for the parents and children who use
Our strategy was simple: we wanted
to start a nursery with well-trained
and registered staff, to develop
standards and practice which would
lead to enrichment for our families
and to embed our ethos and culture
into every operational aspect of our
business. By connecting these three
strands, we have seen the education
of children at Monkey Puzzle Glasgow
Central become enhanced, enjoyable
and engaging. On the back of our
recent success, we now outsource
our HR and work with a renowned
accountancy firm to ensure quality
in every possible area. Although we
are presently somewhat held back
by financial restraints, we look ahead
eagerly to our next venture and what
the future holds.
To date, we
have had no
funding for
our three to
as Glasgow
City Council
believe we
aren’t a viable
»Nursery Management Today awards,
where individual staff have won Most
Inspirational and Most Influential
»National Day Nursery Association
»Nancy Owen Awards
»Two Green Flags
»Woodland Trust
»NHS Pilot site
»Care Inspectorate Hub Healthy eating from
Healthy Choices’ Happy
Children Programme,

This article was sponsored by Monkey Puzzle Glasgow Central. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.