Settings: 38 Places: 1938 Location: London Used Green bottoms since: 2012
Multiple award-winning nursery group London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), who scored an impressive double by following Nursery World’s 2014 Nursery Chain of the Year award with the NMT Award’s 2015 equivalent, have a long and rich history indeed. It’s hard to fathom in this day and age, but as an organisation they are actually 45 years older than another great British institution that we all know and love – the NHS.
Founded in 1903 as the Westminster Health Society, what is now LEYF helped to introduce the first health visiting programme in London and their clinics for maternal and child welfare were largely responsible for such personal health services being introduced into Central London at a time of poverty and high mortality. Their first nursery was opened during the Second World War to support mothers working in the war effort.
As health conditions improved and the needs of the population changed, LEYF’s focus evolved to services based on Early Years education and care through their growing network of nurseries and in 2006 they began the journey to become a charitable social enterprise. Today they are one of London’s largest and most successful organisations of this type and have grown to 38 nurseries, marking them as one of the capital’s – and the UK’s – largest nursery groups.
Such storied history and growth didn’t come without challenges, however, and a particular challenge for LEYF was taking over the operations – and supplier contracts – of existing nurseries as they grew their number of settings from 24 in 2014 to 38 in 2016. “As a growing organisation we have had difficulties with inherited contractors not delivering the service expected” says April Rawlings, who is the Property & Facilities Manager at LEYF. April has solved this problem, at least with regards to nappy and sanitary waste disposal, by transitioning their nurseries to Green Bottoms. She explains how they stand out from other suppliers: “Nothing is ever too much trouble – Green Bottoms are always there to support and assist where possible” adding “Green Bottoms have come through for us”.
“Nothing is ever too much trouble – Green Bottoms are always there to support and assist where possible… Green Bottoms have come through for us”.
As well as issues with suppliers, managing quality across a large number of settings is another challenge which will be familiar to nursery groups of all sizes. This critical aspect of operating multiple nurseries is something at which LEYF have excelled according to Nursery World. In their most recent edition of Nursery Chains, LEYF rose from 5th to an impressive 4th in the ranking of Ofsted reports of the 25 largest UK Childcare providers, with over half of their nurseries judged as Outstanding and all of the remainder achieving Good.
Given such remarkable consistency in quality across their 38 settings, there’s little surprise that LEYF’s staff training and development programme is itself award winning, as they also scooped the top prize in the Training & Development category at the 2015 NMT Awards. LEYF believe deeply in the importance of their people; so much so that they feature a video in their recruitment process called “The Most Important Job in London”. They also acknowledge, however, that working in a nursery can be exhausting and challenging and that’s why it’s essential to ensure that nursery teams are well supported, allowing their valuable time to be devoted to providing outstanding childcare. Happily for LEYF, their focus on recruiting, training and retaining quality people is shared by Green Bottoms and the results are felt at nursery level. “The service is great” explains April, on how the two organisations interact at this level, “the collection team are very friendly and have good relationships with the nursery teams”.
“The service is great… the collection team are very friendly and have good relationships with the nursery teams”
Striving for excellence in everything they do, sustainability and environmental issues are also high on the agenda for LEYF and they have previously been honoured with a prestigious ‘Good Food on the Public Plate’ award, in recognition of their commitment to buying seasonal fruit, vegetables and meat, buying only organic milk, using only free range eggs and training their chefs to make best use of sustainable, healthy and fresh food. Environmental concerns were also key for LEYF when considering nappy and sanitary waste disposal and for the first year of their partnership, all the waste collected from LEYF nurseries by Green Bottoms was recycled at the UK’s first ever specialist nappy recycling plant. Following the closure of that facility, Green Bottoms have since transitioned to Energy-from-Waste (EfW) as the most environmentally-friendly treatment method for nappy and sanitary waste currently available and that is clearly as important to LEYF now as it was at the outset. “Our waste becomes a source of renewable energy” says April, adding that this is “one of the selling points for LEYF”.
Of course, a vital aspect of sustainability that no organisation can afford to overlook is long term financial sustainability and for LEYF this is a crucial underpinning to its mission, as all profits are reinvested into scaling up their social impact. After analysing the structure of the costs that LEYF were facing for nappy and sanitary waste disposal, Green Bottoms delivered simplified pricing, a cost saving of over 15% and subsequently more than five years of stable and competitive costs.
All in all, it’s a partnership which works for LEYF and April sums up her feelings on the relationship: “I would highly recommend Green Bottoms – they are professional and we wish them continued success”.
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