The Ark

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by The Ark'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 The Ark 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, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

Highlighting best practice
30 | THE ARK
Founder and Owner Roz Young
Used as an exemplar nursery
by the local authority
It’s not often that one comes across a nursery whose success
is so evident that local authorities use it as an exemplar
for other nurseries – but that is exactly the status that The
Ark, a Shropshire-based nursery, currently occupies. Located
just eight miles southwest of Shrewsbury in Pontesbury, this
centre of childcare provides both loving care and genuinely
formative learning experiences for its children, and it has
been rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted for the last ten years.
However, TheArk doesn’t plan on stopping there; its journey
will continue with further improvements, says Roz Young, the
Procuring the best possible environment
As a nursery with an “outstanding” Ofsted rating, we are committed to providing
continuous outstanding care for all the children who come under our care. With
our joyful, loving and interesting environment, the well-being of every child is
always at the forefront of our considerations. Key to providing this wonderful
environment is making sure that we treat and know every child as an individual,
ensuring that everyone feels valued and cared for and that no one feels left out.
Those to whom we provide this care are aged anywhere from two months old to
four years old – meaning we can guide our young ones all the way through to
the early years of school. This continuity is a source of comfort for both children
and parents, who can often be coping with new and unfamiliar life experiences.
»Founder and Owner: Roz Young
»Established in 2006
»Based in Pontesbury,
»Services: Childcare
»No. of employees: 22
»Ofsted: “Outstanding”
»Used as an exemplar nursery
by their local authority
The Ark
It alsomeans that parents can rest
more easily in their daily life, focusing
their efforts instead on providing for
their children. To help parents further,
we also provide the convenience of
breakfast, afterschool and holidayclubs.
We have three rooms that are specially
designed to foster every aspect of
development. We also have two large
outdoor play areas and a woodland
area so that the children can explore
and nurture their creative abilities.
Ultimately, it’s important to provide
a genuinely stimulating environment
for the children, as these are crucial
years for their cognitive development.
Getting things wrong at this stage
could stall their progress considerably.
Staff morale and ensuring no
child is left behind
Behind all this activity is a team of
experienced and highly qualified
nursery teachers, all proficient in early
years learning. Indeed, it’s true to
say that our staff are our most prized
and irreplaceable asset. Staff morale
here is exceptional and they’re always
inspiring one another to do more. On
top of this, we ensure that there are
always opportunities for our employees
to develop, with a strong, nursery-
wide commitment to continuous
professional development being in
place. It’s for these reasons that our
staff turnover rate is so low.
Due mention here should also be given
to apprentices, whose role in helping
The Ark has been valuable. They are
encouraged to continue improving
their professional development by
undertaking courses and training
packages that can lead up to and
include university degree-level
qualifications. All of this feeds into our
goal of being the best organisation
we can be, one that is always self-
reflecting and looking at what we can
do to improve.
A capable and
committed team
We have three
rooms that are
designed to
foster every
aspect of
Highlighting best practice
32 | THE ARK
Our process of improvement is centred
on the skill of our staff at ensuring
that all children reach their own
individual potential. We do our best to
ensure that no one is falling behind,
something we achieve by engaging in
cohort tracking, regular assessments
and working in partnership
In summary, to retain our status as an
outstanding nursery, everyone has to
be involved in the process of self-
improvement. This commitment to
excellence in all areas is something that
I am very passionate about.
Issues facing the childcare
One issue is how we go about
incorporating the new “free hours”
initiative from the government.
The funding that we get from the
government in this regard is actually
lower than our hourly rate. In light
of this, we have had to manage the
initiative as best we can, making sure
that there is no impact on the quality
of care we can provide. For us to pay
our staff to the degree we want to
(and that they deserve), this funding
needs to increase – something,
perhaps, for the government to bear
in mind.
Another concern for us is the talent
pool. This nursery is fortunate to have
a talented and dedicated childcare
team, but whether this will remain so
depends on the skills that are available
in the future. One of the reasons
for this concern is that many do not
regard childcare as a lifelong career,
feeling that there are not enough
opportunities for them in this part of
the job market. To combat this, we
have done our utmost to steer people
away from these perceptions by
encouraging continuous professional
development and promoting the
importance of our roles within our
chosen profession. Nevertheless, it
would be helpful if the government did
more to promote childcare as a long-
term career.
Plans for the future
Despite these challenges, the future is
something to which we look forward.
As an exemplar for other nurseries to
emulate and being rated by Ofsted as
“outstanding”, this does not mean
we have achieved all of our goals. We
are currently building a brand-new
replacement nursery, so that we can
spread our principles of childcare to
even more children and their families.
Indeed, this new nursery will take
about 40 per cent more children.
Whatever challenges we face, though,
we will never slacken on the quality
of our care, staff or environment. For
as long as we commit to this, I firmly
believe that exciting times lie ahead
for us all.
At The Ark, learning and
care go hand-in-hand
It would be
helpful if the
did more to
childcare as a

This article was sponsored by The Ark. 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