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First-ever early years practitioner graduation at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms

First-ever early years practitioner graduation at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms

The nation’s leading nursery group, Busy Bees, started the month with a buzz as Scotland’s first graduation ceremony for early years practitioners was held at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms.

On Saturday 1October the qualification provider, Busy Bees Education and Training, invited 37 practitioners from across Scotland to don their gowns in celebration of achieving their Social Services Children and Young People SVQ 3 and SVQ 4 qualifications.

The ceremony comprised presentations of the graduates in front of their families and loved ones, as well as addresses from Yvonne Smillie, Busy Bees Scotland Managing Director; Cheryl Creaser, Group COO and Marg Randles, Busy Bees Co-Founder.

For some, the occasion was extra special, signifying the first member of their family to have achieved a higher qualification. Among those celebrating was a mother and daughter team from Dunfermline Castle View, Andrina June and Andrina Becky Francis, 58 and 21 respectively, who supported each other throughout their journeys to achieve their SVQ3.

Caroline Black, Childcare Assessor and Trainer at Busy Bees Education and Training Academy, said:

“Andrina June was an amazing practitioner and her rapport with the children, staff and parents shone through. During the training programme she gained more confidence in her abilities and technology skills.

“Her daughter, Andrina Becky, was a committed learner from day one, she always used her initiative and was a super role model for other colleagues”, Caroline added.

Many graduates also conquered personal battles while studying for their qualification, with others continuing to provide the highest early years education and care for the children of key workers during the pandemic.

One graduate, 19-year-old Ailey from Edinburgh’s Newhaven centre, felt she didn’t have the confidence to undertake her SVQ3, saying “I didn’t do well at school; I was rubbish at everything!” Ailey thought there was no chance she could complete a qualification, however, Caroline Black, saw great potential in her. She said: “Ailey was doing so well practically in the nursery, and had super knowledge of the specific needs of the children in her care.

“You wouldn’t believe her transformation! Going from a young girl who needed a boost in confidence to believing she is really good at what she does. She has gained much more experience in a variety of different areas, is now Room Manager of the Baby Room and has now started her SVQ4.”

In July 2022, Busy Bees was named one of the top 100 apprenticeship employers in the UK and since 2001 has offered additional support for those who want to earn early years qualifications. The apprenticeships help their teams across the country reach new heights and give children the best start in life.

Speaking at the event, Marg Randles, who co-founded Busy Bees nurseries nearly 40 years ago, said:

“It is fantastic to recognise the achievements of all our graduates, especially in such challenging circumstances over the last two years. For many, this is their first formal qualification, and it means a lot to be able to support them on their learning journey.

“There is something special about seeing early years education as a profession with the opportunity to progress and develop. Many of us within the Busy Bees’ leadership team have followed that journey, and I’d urge anyone with a genuine passion for children to consider it as a profession.”

The graduation event celebrated 37 learners from Busy Bees’ 20 centres across Scotland, including 21 colleagues who achieved SVQ3 qualifications in Social Services (Children and Young People) SCQF Level 7. A further 16 completed a Leadership qualification at SVQ4 (SCQF Level 9), many of whom have progressed through various roles within the nurseries to take on leadership positions, including becoming Centre Directors.

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