THERE could be no doubting for the judges the massive emphasis that The Big Blue House Nursery Group in Stamford Bridge places on developing staff.

Many of the 90 people employed at its three children’s day nurseries were trained at the organisation’s very own NVQ assessment centre, which opened in 2005.

Judges were impressed with how the Big Blue House had risen to the challenge of engaging all 90 staff in the vision of the business and allowing them all opportunities to develop.

The group has even appointed a business development manager, a professional workplace coach with the responsibility of building not only staff skills but also team spirit and a common ethos. There are paid staff development days on Saturdays, with 100 per cent uptake, and regular Best Practice Forums for managers.

The assessment centre has enabled staff to take their NVQ Level 3 qualification in childcare. The courses have led to internal promotions for some and a few have gone on to take an Early Years Foundation Degree and NVQ Level 4 in Management. Three staff members have now completed their Early Years Foundation degree and two of them are going on to take an Early Years Professional Status course.

Another two staff members are studying towards the National Vocational Qualification NVQ level 3 in management and five are trying to attain Level 4.

As well as individual annual Planned Performance Reviews (PPRs), staff meetings are held every eight weeks to share best practices and ensure policies are reviewed and updated and that effective communications are maintained. A senior management meeting is held every six weeks to discuss strategy.

Next step at the Big Blue House is to develop a training academy to deliver a wide range of internal courses, as well as a management training programme tailored specifically for senior staff such as room leaders and managers.

Progress Through People

Winner: The Big Blue House Nursery Group

Finalists: The Royal York Hotel & Events Centre and the Dean Court Hotel and Restaurant