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What makes a good practitioner?
Est 2009

What makes a good practitioner?


Hello! My name is Emma and I am one of the Lead Practitioners at WOK southside. After a wee break I am happy to be restarting the WOK blogs! These blogs are intended to provide the children’s ‘grown ups’ with an insight into daily life at the kindergarten, in addition to offering relevant (and hopefully interesting!) information regarding various theories and practices surrounding Early Years Education and Childcare.

I thought we would kick off this blog series by asking the question ‘What makes a good childcare practitioner?’....

At WOK, we understand the importance of your child’s care and how it can sometimes be daunting leaving them for a whole day at nursery. I hope this blog will allow you to understand the type of care that we provide and the values which underpin our practice.

We have a fantastic staff team of over 20 practitioners here at WOK Southside. This includes the management team of Dougie, Jenn and Rose (Rose is currently on maternity leave - welcome to the world baby Seth!), my fellow Lead Practitioner Claire and our amazing administrator Nikki. You may have noticed that your little ones only tend to talk about a handful of our staff members, this is because, aside from management, each practitioner tends to work exclusively with a specific group of children (Red, Blue, Green or Yellow). This is beneficial as it provides children with continuity and reassurance and provides practitioners with the opportunity to get to know the interests and needs of the individual children in their group. This in turn creates space for meaningful and trusting relationships to be formed between the children and practitioners. Staff at WOK treat the formulation of these relationships with the utmost importance, as we recognise how it is essential for children to feel safe, secure and, above all, content in the presence of the adults who are caring for them.

What makes a good childcare practitioner?

So what makes a good childcare practitioner?... All members of our staff team have undergone essential training in child protection, first aid and food hygiene and have either obtained, or are working towards, a SVQ Level 3 qualification in childcare. In addition to this, our staff team have a multitude of other qualifications relating to Early Years including; managing challenging behaviour, gender awareness, Makaton, and additional support needs, alongside their various university and college degrees and postgrads in education and childcare. Whilst we are incredibly proud of our practitioners achievements (what a brainy bunch!), I wanted this blog to focus not on qualifications….but rather on the values, principles and behaviours that informs our professional practice.

In order to achieve this, I posed the following question to the staff team “what makes a good practitioner?” Fiona, from the blue group, said “I think being a practitioner is like being a parent - you need to find what works for you and that will be different for everyone…but what’s most important is love.” Whilst all of our staff team share the same core values, Fiona’s point about the benefits of diversity is significant and is corroborated by education academic Jo Warin. In 2017, Warin undertook an ethnographic case study to investigate what makes an effective staff team. Warin promoted gender diversity within an Early Years staff team (currently 40% of our staff team are male!) and concluded it was essential to have an adaptable and diverse staff team that incorporates practitioners who can occupy a variety of roles in order to meet the differing needs of individual children. This is something I feel we do very well at WOK – not only is there valuable diversity within our staff team, all our practitioners at WOK are adaptable to enable them to cater to all children’s needs.

Daisy (yellow group) offered her opinion of what makes a good practitioner and emphasised the importance of modelling positive behaviour, with the intention of children observing and adopting this behaviour. This approach is consistent with pedagogue Bruner’s famous scaffolding theory. The theory states that when children are provided with active demonstrations of how to do things, they are well equipped to learn how to do thigs independently. Independence is a value we very much strive to promote at Woodland Outdoor Kindergartens.

Ruth from the green group feels that in order to be a good practitioner, it is essential to have patience and empathy and to understand that every child’s learning and development journey is on an individual path. Ruth’s views are reflective of Froebelian principles. Friedrich Froebel pioneered the concept of the kindergarten in the 1700s and was a huge advocate of outdoor learning. According to the British Association of Early Childhood Education, practitioners who embody a Froebelian ethos will “focus on what children can do rather than what they can’t do. The tone and atmosphere should be encouraging and not judgemental or critical.” At WOK we feel it is vital for children to be nurtured and for every achievement and stage of development to be celebrated and encouraged. In this aspect, and many others, we strive to follow a Froebelian ethos.

I thought I would conclude this blog by stating what being a good Practioner means to me. Working in education and childcare has been my lifelong vocation, and whilst it may sound obvious, I think the thing that feeds my passion is simply the kids. In the past six years I’ve spent at WOK, I don’t think there has been a single day where a child has failed to put a smile on my face. So ultimately, I think the most important thing you can do as a childcare practitioner is to let children know how wonderful they are! Be a friend, be smiley and compassionate and offer them the same level of enthusiasm that they are frequently giving to you. Thank you so much for reading and if you have any further questions please feel free to contact me.

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