The Wendy House Day Nursery

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by The Wendy House Day Nursery'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 Wendy House Day Nursery 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
Owner Wendy Powell with
Manager Julie Semourson
One of the five gardens at
the nursery
The Wendy House Day Nursery is driven by its dedication to
“developing the mind through play” for every child that
attends. The nursery is set in the quiet Holywell countryside,
where it provides full-day, wraparound and holiday care for as
many as 90 children at once, up to the age of 11. Owner Wendy
Powell oversees a dedicated team of 22 staff and is assisted by
manager Julie Semourson. She tells
The Parliamentary Review
about The Wendy House’s journey and how their ethos of “the
child first and always” drives everything they do.
The Wendy House journey
Following maternity leave from my original career in banking, I wanted my two
young children to be cared for in a healthy rural environment. I set about using a
briefcase full of ideas and business plans to realise my vision.
At that time, planning restrictions meant that many day nurseries were located on
industrial estates. Not wanting to follow suit, I set up the original nursery in 1990
by converting a 1970s police station. We subsequently registered the property for
24 children. I went on to obtain qualifications in play work, childcare management
and advanced practice. In the years that followed, we saw the nursery move from
strength to strength.
Where we are now
The Wendy House has expanded over the years and, since 2003, has been situated
on a new single-storey site in the village of Brynford. We are proud to be caring
»Owner and Founder:
»Established in 1990
»Based in Holywell, Flintshire,
»Services: Provision of full-day
and holiday care for children
aged up to 11
»No. of employees: 22
The Wendy House
Day Nursery
for our second generation of children,
welcoming former attendees back as
parents. We believe that quality practice
encompasses the close involvement with
families that we prioritise; our education
regarding child development, behaviour
management, diet, dental care and
school readiness is of paramount
importance for parents and guardians.
We also have a full training programme,
which supports the development of our
staff while offering work experience
placements for local schools and
colleges. We work closely with our
local community and liaise with primary
schools while supporting other charities,
clubs and groups in the area. The nursery
now holds many awards and was a
national finalist in the Outdoor Play
section of
Nursery Management Today
Over the years, we have strived to
continually exercise best practice
and have invested significantly in
the nursery itself. We now have five
gardens, all-weather play and climbing
areas, a mud kitchen, builders’ yard,
vegetable garden and even our own
chicken coop. We have regular sessions
led by a drama teacher, and ZooLab
often visit with a variety of animals.
The sector, 30 years on
Now in my 30th year at nursery, I
have witnessed many changes in the
childcare sector as it became and
continues to be at the forefront of
the government’s agenda; in 1998,
we saw the launch of the childcare
strategy, with the Sure Start and
Neighbourhood Nurseries initiatives
being put into place. This allowed the
steady growth of nurseries throughout
the 1990s, helping the country to
reach government targets for early
years education.
With the introduction of substantial
government investment in the sector,
it was important that the welfare of
the child and parental choice were
not compromised. Around this time, I
became involved in the National Day
Nurseries Association to ensure that
parents and the non-maintained sector
retained a voice. I have now been the
chair of the Flintshire network for 23
years, meeting with and representing
the views of nurseries in the county
on a national stage. During this 23-
year period, I have also worked as a
voluntary counsellor with the NSPCC
atChildline; I also spent four years
as a co-opted governor at a local
The role of a day nursery for
the families who attend is often
underestimated. With years of
experience behind us, we help and
advise families daily. We provide
support through difficult times and
often find ourselves taking on the
role of extended family where there
I continue to be involved with the
sector and ensure that we have full
inclusion with the local authority. I sit
on the local childcare development
group – the Foundation Phase
Development Group – and also work
with the Flintshire Task and Finish Isaac watering the
vegetables grown in the
nursery garden
We also have a
full training
which supports
development of
our staff while
offering work
placements for
local schools
and colleges
Highlighting best practice
group to co-ordinate the delivery of a
30-hour childcare offer. In my role as
chair of the Flintshire network, I also
attend the NDNA Policy Committee
Wales with other chairs across the
country, feeding back to those relevant
and appropriate ministers who attend
our meetings.
Remaining sustainable
The last few years have seen real
challenges for day nurseries trying
to remain financially sustainable.
Increases in the minimum wage,
the introduction of pension auto-
enrolment, continued exemption from
the registration for VAT, increased
business rates and higher training costs
have all contributed to the constant
rise in nursery fees. In fact, across
Wales, nurseries reported a 6 per cent
average fee increase in 2018.
The introduction of the 30-hour
childcare offer will assist parents of
three and four-year-olds to meet fee
costs. It will not, however, directly
benefit the nursery financially, and
may even cause cashflow problems
for some. Generally, it is welcomed
by Welsh nurseries as a positive step
in the right direction, but funding
must be kept in line with costs
Funding for three-year-olds in the
foundation phase for day nurseries
in Flintshire has decreased markedly
over the past nine years. When we
consider this alongside local authority
agreements that prevent us from
topping up fees to meet our costs,
our model becomes dangerously
unsustainable. In the NDNA 2018
nursery survey, 82 per cent of Welsh
nurseries confirmed that foundation
phase funding from their local
authority does not cover their costs.
Reduction in Flying Start funding in
some authorities has also meant some
nurseries have lowered their capacity
and lost places for children.
To meet the eligibility for foundation
phase education, day nurseries like ours
have had to make substantial capital
investments, such as building additional
classrooms or extensions to their
premises, yet the year-on-year cuts by
the local authority make projects like
these wholly unsustainable. To resolve
this, 97 per cent of Welsh nurseries
feel that the government should
bring this funding in line with the
30-hour offer with the same system of
payments in place. This would mean
that nurseries are paid enough to meet
their costs, on time, and would also
enable them to fully consider parent
choice for placement of the child.
The last three years have been the most
financially challenging of my entire
30-year career. It has not been an easy
journey. I nonetheless look forward to
the positive changes to this system which
will arise as a result of the close working
relationship that has been established
over the years between the NDNA and
both the Welsh and central government.
Funding for
in the
phase for day
nurseries in
Flintshire has
markedly over
the past nine
Teddy and Sam “on
duty” in the police station

This article was sponsored by The Wendy House Day Nursery. 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