Willows Pre-school: Achieving Advanced Status

It is a pleasure to see Willows pre-school in Wimbledon and Colliers Wood achieve their advanced accreditation with the Early Years Nutrition Partnership (EYNP). They were one of the first nurseries I worked with when I joined the EYNP and their passion for health and nutrition was evident from the word go. Despite being a small chain of 3 nurseries, Willows has a great family feel to the company. Everyone from the owner, managers, room staff, kitchen staff and housekeepers have been involved in their EYNP journey and brought the programme to life through their joined-up approach.

Staff recognise the benefit good nutrition can have upon on growth, learning and future eating habits and are innovative in the ways they incorporate food and health into learning activities as well as the food served. The chef and kitchen staff are equally passionate about the nutritional quality of the food they serve and work hard to create menus which not only meet the advanced criteria of the quality mark but that are also appealing to the children and are inclusive of many dietary requirements

Beverley, the head chef, takes pride in the food she prepares for the children and does her upmost to ensure food is not only of high nutritional quality, but also appetising, palatable, varied and suitable for all dietary requirements. She makes her own muesli, porridge, and pancakes for breakfast and varies these items with eggs, beans or poached salmon on toast throughout the week. At mealtimes Beverley takes pride in introducing the children to new dishes or ingredients on the menu and plays an active role by joining the children for lunch, asking them what they like and if they know how it was made.

The staff have embraced the nutrition training provided by the EYNP and have developed and enhanced their daily practice as a result. Staff have also shown innovation and initiative in the ways they work with the parents and families on food and nutrition, by offering parent workshops where families are invited to sample food from the menu, and take part in cooking demonstrations lead by the nursery chefs. I have also attended several parent events at Willows to extend the partnership and support parents who may have specific questions or require more support with their child’s eating at home. This has been a helpful way to raise the awareness of the importance of good nutrition, answer parents’ questions and demonstrate how Willows are proactive in prioritising nutrition and health for the children in their care.

It’s taken us a couple of years to get there but all the hard work, passion and enthusiasm of Willows has paid off. I knew they wouldn’t rest until they had achieved the advanced level award and they are already talking about how the can continue to improve to achieve the specialist level! Watch this space.