Inspiration and Celebration at the Children 1st Annual Conference 2019

Each year staff from the company’s nurseries gather together at the annual conference to set targets, further their professional development, share good practice and reflect on their achievements. This year the main focus was on improving outdoor learning opportunities and interactive story-telling.

Exceeding Expectations, The Challenge for 2019

Success in life is often about taking the first step on a journey and shouldering the risks that are involved. With Children 1st now in its 30th year of business, Margaret Mason OBE, founder and executive chair, launched the conference by reminding delegates of how the business started with a single site nursery in Long Eaton, offering 16 places. The growth and success of the company has exceeded her expectations resulting from factors such as her vision, supportive, like minded colleagues, hard work and attention to detail. Margaret reminded delegates of their responsibility to go above and beyond for the children and the families at their nurseries and in their own small way to ‘exceed expectations’ in 2019.

Championing Outdoor Learning

The Children 1st Annual Conference saw the company in a playful mood as Jan White, the UK ‘guru’ on outdoor learning took to the stage to inspire the 450 delegates from our 24 nurseries to consider how best they can harness the wonderful potential of the outdoors to promote the well-being, play and learning of the young children in their care.

Jan is an independent consultant who supports those working with young children to enable them to provide high quality outdoor provision for children from birth to five.  With over 30 years’ experience of working in education, Jan has developed a deep commitment to the consistently powerful effect of the outdoors on young children and her energy and enthusiasm was an inspiration to all.

Recognising the importance of outdoor play for young children’s healthy all-round development, Children 1st Day Nurseries have been strong advocates of the use of the outdoor environment to promote children’s thinking and their physical, social and emotional well-being. The company has made a significant commitment to improving external environments to complement the well-resourced indoor areas. It was therefore no surprise that Cathy Griffin, Children 1st Director, was pleased to welcome Jan to the conference to share her considerable experience and to motivate everyone by sharing both the theory of the importance of outdoor play and to offer practical examples of how to further raise the quality of its provision.

Fun and Enabling Experiences

 With outdoor learning already being used to complement indoor activities at Children 1st Nurseries, colleagues from St. Peter and St. Paul and from Chesterfield Royal Hospital, were keen to share their good practice in the use of the outdoor environment and their involvement with forest schools. They illustrated how their play activities enabled the children to experiment, solve problems, think creatively, cooperate with others and gain a deeper knowledge about the world.

All About Books

 A cosy corner indoors or out is often a great place to share a good read and make a story come alive. Colleagues from Meir Park shared their thoughts on how to engage children through the use of story boards, story telling and play, whilst Leicester spoke about how they had enhanced their provision by making their story area more interactive. Heather Mayfield and Hugh Mason had the audience rolling with laughter with their presentation of the book, ‘The Wonky Donkey’ by Craig Smith.

Length of Service Awards

Children 1st are fortunate to have many staff who have been with the company for a number of years, some of whom have progressed their careers with the company from trainees through to nursery managers. This year long service awards were presented to 22 members of staff to acknowledge their 5 years of service, 19 for ten years of service, 5 for 15 years of service and to Julie Went and Lisa Parry who have been with the company for 20 years.

You can find the names of all our long service colleagues in the slideshow, as well as some snapshots of the day.

Come along &


We would love to meet you and your child and take you on a tour of your local Children 1st Nursery. Our experienced staff will be delighted to answer any questions you have about enrolling your child in our nurseries.

Our promise to you

We will deliver the highest quality of learning and care to your child