Meet … Victoria Welsby

4th October 2018

Victoria has just joined Chichester College as our in-house Forest School trainer. Her role includes leading our First Steps Forest School sessions, working with children at each of our nurseries. We decided to find out a little more about Victoria and why she is so excited about the challenges her new role brings.

Welcome Victoria! You only joined Chichester College recently. Where have you come from?
Hello! My previous role was teaching in an Independent Prep School near Horsham. I am a qualified teacher with a great love of the outdoors and a passion for nurturing young people.

What is your role here?
I am a full time Forest School trainer and will be taking groups of learners of all ages into the outdoors to take part in a range of experiences which will build confidence, independence and communication skills. We will be using the outdoors as our playground and will use the natural environment to inspire us.

How will you be working with us at First Steps?
I am thrilled to be joining the First Steps team to deliver Forest School sessions to the children. Over the course of the year, all children in Step Three (and Butterflies at First Steps Bersted) will be given the opportunity to take part in a six week programme in which they will be invited to attend a Forest School session once a week. At Forest School, they will be given the opportunity to play in the natural environment, will be taught to use some basic tools, will have the opportunity to use natural resources in craft projects and will enjoy time around the campfire, eating some delicious food and singing campfire songs.

Why do you think Forest School is so important?
Forest School allows children to grow as individuals; at their own pace and following their unique interests and needs. In the busy and pressured world that we live in nowadays, I think it’s vitally important that children are given space to just ‘be’. Experiences at Forest school help children to become confident and resilient and prepare them for taking on the world outside the woodland.

What’s the funniest thing that has happened whilst you’ve been teaching?
It’s hard to narrow down just one funny moment. Working with small children is a laugh a minute job; from listening to them play with the nativity figures at Christmas with the Angel Gabriel declaring, “Flipping Heck, Mary’s laid a baby,” to a child loudly asking a parent volunteer, “Why do you have such a small head and such a big body?” Then there was the time I accidentally cut a blind in two during my first week of my very first teaching post, having been told that the cleaner had put some lovely rolls of material in my classroom that I may wish to use as backing paper for a display. I was most bemused when the caretaker started tearing through the corridor shouting “STOP! What are you doing?” ….Not funny at the time, but looking back I can see the funny side.

What are you most looking forward to in your First Steps forest school sessions?
Getting to know the children and having lots of fun with them in the woods. I’m also excited about cooking a range of delicious campfire snacks.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?

I’m very sporty and like to keep fit. I do a silly exercise club where we play lots of children’s games like Bulldog, Dodgeball and Frisbee. I also love adventure sports like surfing and skiing.

Your best ever holiday … where did you go?
I spent a year travelling around Australia, New Zealand and Bali. My boyfriend is a wildlife photographer and we planned our travels around finding unusual animals such as platypus, echidna and red kangaroos. I’m a real animal lover and so it was an amazing experience for me.

What’s your favourite snack/treat?
I’m a bit of a chocaholic and a parent at my old school used to make me the most delicious chocolate brownies. My best leaving present was the recipe so that I can make them whenever I wish.

Bicycle or motorbike?
Bicycle! I like to cruise along at a gentle pace and take in the views as I go.

Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol?
Paw Patrol- I love an adventure and I’m also quite fond of puppies!

Favourite season and why?
As a child, I always loved Winter as I love the excitement of when it snows. As an adult, I’ve become disappointed by how infrequently it snows and I’ve decided that early Summer is my favourite because I love the long days, the warm weather and spending lots of time outdoors in the sunshine.

Spider or snake?
Tricky question! I don’t mind small spiders but I’m not keen on big ones! Similarly, I don’t mind a harmless snake but I’m not sure I’d want to go too near to a poisonous snake. If I had to choose though, I think it would be a snake as they usually slither away fairly quickly once they know you’re coming!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Happy! I don’t have set ideas about where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing, but I’d like to think I’ll be doing things which make me happy with people who make me happy and in a happy place!

Thank you Victoria. Everyone at First Steps is so excited to have you on board and we can’t wait to get going with Forest School. Our First Steps Families – keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates and pictures as our children begin Forest School.

First Steps Villages To Launch this May!

25th April 2018

Our team at First Steps Childcare are thrilled to be launching First Steps Village this May – an exciting new play destination for children under 6 in Chichester and the surrounding area.

Following a successful trial of the concept last summer at Chichester College, we are launching our first permanent, self-contained, First Steps Village within our Ofsted Outstanding Nursery on the Chichester College campus on Saturday 12th May. We will then be launching our second First Steps Village on our Brinsbury campus at the annual Brinsbury Show on Sunday 20th May.

Parent feedback following our trial was overwhelmingly positive and so we are delighted to now be able to deliver not just one but two First Steps Villages!

We just wanted to say that we felt the First Steps Village was wonderful! Our boys had a brilliant time exploring. There was so much to interact with which kept a 4 year old and 1 year old very happy for the whole session. I feel that the Chichester area really needs something like this and I know that families, like us, would use it on a regular basis if this was available permanently in the future.”

First Steps Village is a purpose built ‘village’ where young children can have lots of fun exploring, interacting and playing in a safe and stimulating environment. First Steps Village Chichester will feature a vet’s, café, village shop, mechanics workshop, picnic area and outside farm, whilst Brinsbury will also have ‘First Snips’, its very own hair salon. There will be costumes for the children to really get into character, a baby’s corner, changing facilities and self-service kitchen. First Steps Village Chichester is within walking distance of the town centre and there is parking available on both sites.

Launching First Steps Village has been a natural development for our childcare team as imaginative play has long been a key part of our children’s learning experience at nursery. In each of our nurseries, we have a role play area that changes regularly to reflect the children’s interest and support key learning themes. Role-play provides children with the opportunity to explore their imaginations, enabling them to learn about themselves, others and the world around them. Within First Steps Village, children will be able to take on a familiar role to them – such as shopping or visiting the café – or they can try out a new role such as a vet or mechanic.

Positioned as we are on both the Chichester and Brinsbury College campuses, we have always been able to offer our nursery children fantastic learning experiences, from visiting newborn lambs at Brinsbury, to experiencing fun games and obstacle courses in our state of the art sports centre at Chichester. First Steps Village Brinsbury will be adjacent to the Animal Centre where the children already enjoy visiting the fantastic range of animals cared for from rabbits and tortoises to ferrets and ducks! We look forward to collaborating further with college staff and students at First Steps Village, delivering new experiences and further enhancing the children’s learning.

All of our nursery children will enjoy access to First Steps Village with days set aside each week for our team to incorporate role-play into the children’s activities. These days will vary each month to ensure all children, no matter what day they attend nursery, will get to visit at least once a term.

Both First Steps Village Chichester and Brinsbury will be open to the public on a pay as you go basis and we will be running sessions throughout the week, both during the day and after school, on Saturdays and during the school holidays. Each session will last for an hour and a half and refreshments will be included. Entry price will be £6 per child with an accompanying adult receiving free entry. Additional adults will be charged £3. First Steps Village is also available for private hire and we have a party package for anyone looking for a birthday party with a difference!

For further information, to be added to our mailing list, to discuss private hire, find out more about our launch plans or make a booking, please contact us on email: firststepsvillage@chichester.ac.uk or call: 01243 530247 . Please also keep an eye on our Facebook page where both launches will feature as events with further information on timings and how you can book in.

We hope you are as excited as we are and look forward to welcoming you to First Steps Villages in May!

A trip of a lifetime

13th September 2017

Last month two members of our team visited Nakuru in Kenya, home to the school The Big Build Kenya, in partnership with Chichester College, have been building. For Lauren, from our Bersted nursery, and Elora at our Brinsbury nursery, it was an experience of a lifetime.

Thanks to all of our fantastic children, their families, our staff and friends, we have raised a huge amount of money towards this project over the last year and whilst Elora and Lauren were in Kenya they officially opened the new school and the First Steps Classroom on behalf of us all.

We wanted to find out more about their experience …

 

Was the trip what you expected?

Lauren: “As much as you prepare yourself for the trip by attending the college meetings and researching websites, you’ll never know what to expect in Kenya until you are there and actually experiencing it.”

Elora: “The trip was more than I expected, I would do this trip a million times over! We saw some great sights and it was amazing to see the classroom that the money we all raised built. For me the trip was extra special as I was with some amazing people.  I shall hold these memories forever.”

 

 What was the highlight for you?

Lauren: “My highlights were being greeted by the happiest group of children and seeing the excitement when we arrived every day at the project! But there were so many more – finishing the school and classroom ready in time for the opening ceremony,  getting to experience teaching in class, stepping over the equator and going on safari.”

Elora: “The highlight of the trip for me was seeing the children every day at the Walk Centre and how happy they were to be there. It also made me realise what we all have at home and how much we take for granted.”

 

 What did you find hardest?

Lauren: “Going to the rubbish dump was the hardest bit for me, knowing that the majority of the children from The Walk and Prisons Primary lived there was heart breaking. Even then, they were still so happy to show us where they lived though. Although it was raining, we all wore sunglasses to hide our emotions – because to them, it’s their everyday life.”

Elora: “I think I found the toilets one of the hardest things…. boy was I glad to get home and use a toilet properly and not have to remember to take tissue with me or hold my nose!!

“I found the rubbish dump really challenging – the children were so happy to let us in to their homes and show us where they lived, yet they have nothing. Often 7 to 10 people live in a tiny shack they make out of the rubbish around them or whatever they can find. This is why the walk centre is so good for the children as 70% of them live on the dump and when they come to school they get a hot meal every day.”

 

Would you do it again?

Lauren: “Would I do it again? Most definitely, yes!! It’s a totally different way of life and I loved every minute (even though we had stew for lunch and dinner most days!) To be able to step outside the world of normality into a whole new culture and way of life was just an incredible journey! It was a once in a lifetime trip and I have learned so much from it!”

Elora: “YES I definitely would go again!!!!! I think everyone should experience it as I have got memories that I shall cherish forever. I can’t put into words what the experience meant to me and I’m sure everyone will have a difference experience but I am so pleased I had the opportunity to go.”

 

If you could sum up your experience in one line, what would it be?

Lauren: “The most overwhelming, eye-opening, emotional, amazing, funny, stew-filled journey!

Elora: “An amazing experience and one that I shall never forget, there will always be a piece of me there!”