A RECRUITMENT campaign has been launched to attract new and returning early years and childcare practitioners to the profession in Essex.

Those who have left the profession are being asked to return and new entrants are being encouraged to undertake relevant training or apprenticeships.

Libby Houston was recently promoted, at age 24, to area manager of Munchkins Nursery, an Essex-based chain.  

Libby saw an apprentice vacancy at Munchkins Nurseries, in Wivenhoe, and after completing the 12-month apprenticeship was offered a full-time position.

She said: “My apprenticeship involved gaining the essential skills in early years and making sure you’ve got English and Maths at a Level 2.

“I love working with babies, plus their families, there’s a lot of trust given to early years workers when children are so small, and I find it a privilege to be a part of their life.”

Libby also praised the apprenticeship system and said: “I’ve gained such great experience from people around me; they have a wealth of knowledge.

“I also think I learn best by doing something, rather than in a classroom environment, so I loved my apprenticeship.”

Linsie Dare, who works alongside Libby, trained over a ten-year period, learning at night as well looking after her own family.

After training, Lindsay then worked for Essex County Council as an area special education needs co-ordinator (SENco) but missed being around children.

Linsie said: “What I loved when I returned to an early years setting was the freedom of play. There’s so much learning that goes on for a child between 18 months and two years old, so to help provide a setting that caters for that, and puts child-led play first, felt amazing."

Gazette: Variety - Every day is different for Operations Director Linsie Dare (left)Variety - Every day is different for Operations Director Linsie Dare (left) (Image: Munchkins Nurseries)

Linsie “jumped at the chance” after government reform meant she could create her own curriculum.

Linsie, who would like to offer a training centre in the future, said: “I trained to become a facilitator when I worked for Essex County Council, so I would love to offer a Level 3 qualification and train up new practitioners.

“But I am really happy and fulfilled in my role for now – although my Masters is definitely calling.”