Sharon McGown joined Colsterworth Methodist Pre-School 20 years ago with no training or experience, but went on to gain her qualifications and build up a successful business. Here she tells the Journal about her journey over the last 20 years.
You started at the pre-school after the birth of one of your children. Why did you decide to join then?
I joined the Pre-school in 1996 after the birth of my second child. The opportunity came up to run the preschool which I took as a job share with my best friend. Although I didn’t have any training in childcare, I used the experience of my first child attending a nursery in Grantham as a starting point for good practice and a family ethos. After having my third child, taking on the responsibility of running the pre-school as sole Leader, I undertook my Level 3 qualification in Children in the Early years in 1999. I thoroughly enjoyed the learning experience and found my new knowledge so valuable in the setting.
Hoe much experience did you have when you joined and what qualifications did you undertake?
The emphasis on childcare was now changing, the focus was much more on education and the government’s drive to raise standards. There was much more focus on children learning through play and having a graduate in the setting with specialist knowledge of The Early Years Foundation Stage. There was also the implementation of early years funding for three and four year olds. All of this led the preschool going from opening four mornings a week to opening five full days.
As my children grew I had more time on my hands, I felt the time was ready to participate in more training and Grantham College had just started delivering the foundation degree in Children, Families and Communities which I completed in 2009. I felt this would be a good starting point with a view to undertaking the BA Hons Degree in Applied Childhood studies followed by my Early Years Professional Status which I completed in 2010.
These qualifications have had a major impact on my practice in pre-school. Not only have they boosted my confidence but my knowledge base has led to high quality care and education in the setting. They have also led to many opportunities outside of Pre-school such as mentoring Early Years Teachers during their training. Not only has this had a positive effect on the practice of others, it has enabled me to enhance practice in our setting.
What have been the highlights so far of your time at the preschool?
In July 2013, the Pre-school setting achieved a Grade of Outstanding from Ofsted. Although this ranks very high in my achievements, my greatest achievements come from the children, watching them grow into independent children who are school ready with a thirst for life-long learning. Yes, there is much more emphasis now on the paper trail of targets and achievements but there is no greater satisfaction than watching a child achieve something no matter great or small. Year on year the preschool has seen rapid progress in children’s learning due to the way we plan learning opportunities to individual children rather than group led activities. My heart is very much in the village community, my ambition remains giving the children in Colsterworth the best possible foundations in their learning, where children are eager to play, learn and challenge themselves.”