A NURSERY school in Old Basing has been awarded a prestigious accreditation in recognition of its quality of childcare.

Old Basing Village Nursery School, based at the Old Basing Village Hall, was opened in September 2018 by Victoria Grayson and her husband, Andy, and has around 60 children from babies to pre-schoolers attend each week.

Victoria and Andy were both previously assistant headteachers, and had also both taught in Old Basing earlier in their careers, at St Mary’s and Great Binfields schools.

“We are a new site. We are a team of quite experienced practitioners from a variety of different backgrounds,” Victoria told the Gazette.

“We wanted a way to pull everyone’s experience together to create a setting that is unique and different. In our second year we wanted something to focus on and to help support the staff in their development.

“The drive was to be the best we can be for the children in our care.”

The team of eleven staff members began working towards the Early Years Consultancy’s Just Quality platinum award in September 2019, and Victoria said it has involved a lot of “self reflection”, including regular assessments over Zoom and keeping a “floor book” of evidence.

“It’s a bit frustrating, because it would have been nice to show off in person!” she said. “But in a way the evidence had to be even more explicit.”

Reflecting on the success, she added: “It’s lovely. I’ve always felt a strong belief in the team and that they are capable of providing exemplary care. I could see the potential, but it’s given them another recognition, rather than it always being me saying it."

In March, when schools and nurseries closed, Old Basing Village Nursery joined with another business to form a key-worker hub, which Victoria said took its toll financially, but was an important community service.

In June, they were able to partially open, and local business Staged Events built a temporary partitioning wall in the village hall, allowing the nursery to operate two completely separate bubbled groups.

Victoria said it’s been a “turbulent year” but added: “It’s been challenging but rewarding!”

“We gave children the opportunity for normality at that time,” she said.

With nurseries allowed to stay fully open in this third national lockdown, Victoria says that she is pleased to be able to open and offer children vital education, but would like to see the sector made a priority for the coronavirus vaccination.

“This week we have had a tremendous amount of support from parents, saying they feel safe sending their children in.

“[Our staff] have to still go to work and put on a brave face. The biggest challenge for us now is not being a priority for a vaccination."

She continued: “We are not afraid of being open. We want to carry on providing the care and quality education for the children. We saw a massive change in children settling in after the closures in March. Education falls at the bottom of the list a lot of times, and it feels a bit of a shame.

“Getting this award has this week has really boosted the team.”

Moving forward, Victoria says that she and the team hope that this achievement will set them in good stead for facing any challenge that comes their way.

“We see a little hitch or niggle and seeing that as something we can do something about, improve and learn from. Seeing everything as not a problem, as something we can work on,” she said.

“Our staff are good at thinking outside the box. We were ready for our first inspection - we were hoping to really showcase the setting to Ofsted. We are not the kind of people who hang about waiting to be told what to do, that is exactly why we wanted to be on a very progressive journey.”