From education to employment

Child’s play at college

some one playing with 2 preschoolers

Childcare entrepreneurs return to college to support students

Sarah Hawkins and Leah Clarke met whilst studying childcare at Barking & Dagenham College (@barkingcollege) in 1996 and eight years later opened their first Barney Bear’s Nursery in Upney Lane, Barking.

The successful entrepreneurs’ have since gone from strength to strength.  They have also always ensured they stay in touch with their former college and supported its students however they can. 

As a result, last week, the current childcare students invited Sarah, along with a group of her Barney Bear’s Nursery children, into the college so that they could explore and experience the childcare classroom. 

The students had spent time beforehand to ensure the space was safe and welcoming for the children and had an amazing day with everyone.  The students got to play with the children all day, having organised fun activities for them designed to help enhance the children’s physical, social and language skills.  They also enjoyed reading to them and helped with the routine care of the children, such as at mealtimes and with hand washing.  It was also a great opportunity for the students to observe child behaviour and learn from each other’s practices.

Opportunities like this are important in helping the students become ready for work once they finish their studies. 

As Sarah Hawkins, owner and co-director of Barney Bear’s Nursery explained:

“The childcare students have all the theory they need through their training and modules at college, which is great, but the practical side of things is super important when they’re going out and applying for jobs too.  Today we took a step back and it was all lead by the students.”

This is not the first time Sarah and her team have been back to the college. 

As Sarah continues:

“My journey with the college started when I was 16 when I was studying here….and we’re still on our journey with the college!  Not only do we have students from the college come and do work placements, we’ve also employed so many staff over our 20 years in business.  We also take part in the college’s recruitment fair, we have apprentices and we do talks for the students about the highs and lows of working in a nursery and talk about the positions we can offer them. I love coming back to Barking & Dagenham College, it just feels like home!”

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