Storybook Montessori

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Storybook Montessori'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 Storybook Montessori 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

Founder Mary Brosnan
A fun, pleasant and
educational environment
Snug Nursery Schools, founded in 2013, has one simple but
important goal in mind: providing the highest quality nursery
schooling to London and the South East. Many schools
will claim this, but Snug puts these words into action with the
Montessori method, an approach predicated on the belief that
children are born hungry for knowledge. This means that great
emphasis is placed by Snug on offering environments conducive
to this trait. The founder of this vitally important enterprise is
Mary Brosnan, who was born and raised in Ireland and opted
to leave her previous role in corporate finance to pursue her
passion in childcare instead. She tells
The Parliamentary Review
how all of this panned out and what liesahead.
Snug Nursery Schools: past and present
When starting in 2013, I dedicated a lot of my energies towards finding a place
that was appropriate for the high standards of childcare I had set for myself. After a
while, I soon decided that Ascot was apposite, on the basis that it contained within
it some of the most outstanding schools in the UK. If this weren’t ideal enough,
there is also the fact that we are situated by the stable entrances of the Crown
Estate, meaning the children can occasionally see the horses parade past.
Before beginning, though, it was also necessary to build an excellent team capable
of realising my ambition. This required first of all employing only those who were
highly qualified. To this end, I have employed predominantly teachers who are
supported by qualified NVQ Level 3 staff.
»Founder: Mary Brosnan
»Established in 2014
»Based in Ascot
»Services: Care and education
for under-5s
»No. of employees: 24
»Situated by the Crown Estate
Snug Nursery Schools
Highlighting best practice
This means we can provide our
children with a genuinely high
standard of education in addition to
care. It’s worth emphasising at this
point that we adhere to the Montessori
approach, which, in essence, means
that children learn principally by
watching others and doing. This is not
only enjoyable in its own right for the
children, but it is also the best method
of instruction.
With regard to the care aspect
of our nursery, we provide an
environment that’s wholly conducive
to the realisation of children’s creative
instincts. For our staff team, we
introduced a set of values that are
encapsulated in the acronym LAUGH
– that is, listening, anticipating,
understanding, going the extra mile
and having fun. In order to ensure we
always keep sight of these values, we
convene a staff meeting on a monthly
basis and discuss examples of how the
team lived the Storybook values during
the month. Depending on whether
or not they have lived up to these
values, rewards and other displays of
recognition are allocated to members
of staff. Aside from anything else, this
is an excellent means of fostering a
team culture.
By combining an educational
environment and a genuinely pleasant
atmosphere in this way, we function as
the bridge between home and school –
which is precisely what the parents and
children want. To give an example of
this, we have outdoor “Village Green”
areas which provide interesting and
stimulating landscapes with which our
children can interact. The children in
this environment receive fresh air and
sunshine, and they get to freely express
their social and emotional selves.
Nutrition as a key component
of childcare
At this early stage, it’s crucial that
children receive only the best nutrition.
To make sure this is the case, we have
in place a philosophy of “balance” –
that is, the commitment to providing
freshly prepared, balanced meals,
which allows those under our care to
receive the fuel needed to flourish.
In doing this, we are also careful to
ensure that children with allergies are
fully accounted for and catered to,
and we make sure that we adhere
to cultural preferences. All of this
is helped by the fact that we had a
professional chef craft the menu.
Challenges and the future
Getting the right staff is always
difficult. Three years ago, the
government changed the rules on who
could and couldn’t go into the field
of childcare. The specific change that
affected us most was the imposed
necessity of GCSEs in English and
maths for those wanting to look after
children in a nursery setting. Of course,
this is in many respects a good thing
Our principle of caring
for the environment,
which children take
pride in
We provide an
that’s wholly
conducive to
the realisation
of children’s
and raises standards across the board.
However, a lot of the 16-year-olds who
had a genuine passion for this kind
of work were now precluded from it.
This meant that there was now a lack
of people we could bring in and train.
It also has the effect of making our
organisation too top-heavy, which has
commercial downsides.
To give an example of how we benefit
from not being too top-heavy, we
currently have an apprentice who is
doing a phenomenal job; our only wish
is that we could have a success story
like this replicated more often, but this
is now made more difficult as a result
of the aforementioned changes. Not
everyone, after all, is academic, but this
shouldn’t stop them from being able
to pursue their passion in childcare.
Since founding Snug, I have believed
that our offering and our idea are
excellent enough to work at scale.
I’m therefore looking to open new
nurseries, not least in the Berkshire
area, which I believe offers huge
potential because of its demographic
composition and its geography. Finding
a suitable building and the right site is,
however, a challenge. Nevertheless, we
believe we will find it in due course,
and I look forward to doing so.
I want to expand our care, educational
services and expertise to as wide a
segment of the population as possible,
and opening another of our nurseries
is the best way to achieve this. As
more and more parents are consumed
by the world of work, the need for
us to take care of their children will
increase. The demand is there; we just
need to fulfil it.
At this early
stage, it’s crucial
that children
receive only the
best nutrition
Cultural events such
as the nativity being
celebrated at Storybook
Children working with
materials during the
morning work cycle

This article was sponsored by Storybook Montessori. 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