Sue Jones is the Founder and Managing Director of Kids Academy UK and a firm believer that early years education and nurturing is of crucial importance. After 13 years of success in the UK and on recognising the demand for high quality education in the UAE, she expanded the nurseries into Dubai. With the imminent opening of the fourth branch in Jumeirah, Time Out Kids managed to catch Sue for a chat
Are you still involved in the day to day at any of the nurseries at all?
I am actively involved on a day to day basis with all of my Nurseries. The only way I can guarantee the highest quality care and education is by continually ‘plan, do and reviewing’ every area and process of my Nursery business. It’s essential to be on the ‘shop floor’ talking to your team, talking to your customers and seeing for yourself that high standards are continually being implemented and enforced.
What is your background and experience in this field?
I have a degree in Early Years and Education, I am a qualified NVQ 2, 3 and 4 Nursery Nurse, I am First Aid Qualified, A Safeguarding Children designated person trainer and have just been acknowledged as one of the top 20 most influential and inspiring people in the UK childcare sector - an accolade I am incredibly proud of although my ultimate achievement is being a hands on working parent myself to my three children.
Is there any requirement to register your nursery with any educational body in Dubai at all?
Kids Academy abide by the UK EYFS curriculum and statutory requirement which are compliant with Ofsted, Environmental Health, HSE laws and Fire Safety law we bring together in the UAE these standards and in addition we comply with the Ministry of Social Affairs minimum standards and the Civil Defence regulations.
What are your thoughts on the current regulation process in Dubai?
I have been consistently impressed with how the Ministry of Social Affairs have been continually evaluating and improving the regulation process. Now with the introduction of the regulation compliance grading system they will be able to ensure that all settings are compliant with the minimum standards set and should a setting not comply they will be given an improvement period to demonstrate significant changes or face losing their licences. This can only lead to raising the standards of care and the protection of children’s welfare across the UAE.
In what way does Kid’s Academy ensure high standards of care?
At Kids Academy UAE, we are very particular about selecting trained, qualified and experienced caretakers who uphold our dedication to quality service. In addition, all practitioners participate in our three-month in-house training programme which consists of 45 care modules to reinforce the expected standards of care. All practitioners also receive specialised health and safety training and child protection training. We also ensure topmost security with the issue of key access code controls to parents which allows families to set a personal password that is required for the collection of children by anyone other than their parents.
In terms of staff to child ratios, we strictly follow the British ratios of one childcare practitioner to every three babies and toddlers, one childcare practitioner to four early learners, and one childcare practitioner to eight reception aged children. Each child is also assigned to a key worker who monitors his or her development and progress, and provides parents with regular reports.
So you have kids yourself? Did they attend Kids Academy?
Yes, I have three children Natalie aged 21, Amy aged 16 and Declan aged 13. Two of my three children attended my Nurseries and the only reason Nat didn’t was that she was too old and already at school when I opened my first setting in 1999. I was able to see first-hand how effective an incredibly well trained team are to the development of children. Parents only really judge and see the benefits of excellent childcare when their children leave and go to school.
Can anyone set up a nursery in Dubai? What advice would you offer someone who is interested in setting up a new nursery in Dubai?
To open a Nursery you have a duty of care to protect children’s welfare, to support parents and to fully train and develop a staff workforce so that they can deliver your clear mission statement and company ethos. Childcare is an essential part of a child’s education and not something that can be ‘played’ at. It isn’t just babysitting, it’s a fundamental learning journey that needs knowledge support, training, development and careful planning to ensure each and every child has an individual experience to develop, learn and play in a structured caring and nurturing environment.