Nursery’s teachers must pass pupils’ own tests

Kids at Victoria Quay have been involved in helping to hire a new teacher. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Kids at Victoria Quay have been involved in helping to hire a new teacher. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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WANTED: One lovely teacher who is kind, imaginative and good at playing games. It may sound like an extract from the children’s tale Mary Poppins, but one city nursery is inviting nippers to help recruit would-be staff.

Dutiful teachers don’t have to be “practically perfect in every way” like the ­no-nonsense fictional nanny –the young headhunters at Victoria Quay Nursery have instead demanded “a nice and kind person” and someone “who is good at playing” when asked to choose the qualities they wanted in their ideal member of staff. Their ideas were even incorporated into interview questions for the selection panel and the children were filmed reading their requirements aloud so they could be put to prospective interviewees.

Beth Pearce, nursery manager, said: “It was all from the children, which was great, and we thought it lifted their confidence and made them feel valued. It makes them feel very important, the fact that they feel they have contributed when the new member of staff starts.”

One of the most ­taxing of the children’s queries was: “We like group time. What would you bring to our group time?”

The youngsters also asked which stories the teacher would tell to them or what they would bring in for show and tell.

Ms Pearce added: “I really think it was wonderful.

“Children’s rights are so important these days and we want to put them at the forefront.”

Pupils at the North Edinburgh Childcare-run nursery also put pen to paper to sketch their dream teachers.

The idea has been hailed by Education Scotland as an “innovative and forward-thinking” move and the national body singled out the centre’s work as an example of effective practice for a feature on its website.

Lesley Brown, strategic director of families, inclusion and local authorities at Education Scotland, said: “It is great to see such an innovative approach to early years practice. Having children involved in the recruitment of staff is innovative and forward-thinking.

“Not only are the children growing in confidence they are also involved in making important decisions about the future of their setting and about the staff that will work with them.”

Allowing the children to play an active role is “a fabulous example of great practice”, said Claire Schofield, director of membership, policy and communications at National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), which has an office in the New Town. Ms Schofield said: “The best nurseries involve children in how their nursery is run in lots of creative ways, encouraging them to participate and ­listening to their views.

“That’s the way it should be, it’s their nursery after all.

“Whether it’s equipping children with clipboards to help with health and safety inspections or getting them involved with the chef, planning healthy and delicious menus, this sort of practice makes children feel empowered and involved.”