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Stephanie’s Story

Nursery Manager Stephanie found her way back to her dream career post-pandemic, and thanks to Truro and Penwith College's REACH Cornwall project, discovered a course perfect for her to develop her skills and expand her knowledge.

“I felt at that point that it was just what I was meant to do."

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Learner name: Stephanie Thompson

Employer:  Minibugs St Austell

Job title: Nursery Manager

Course: Leading Education and Aspiration Programme (LEAP), with ILM Level 3 Leadership and Management


Navigating the world of management in a new setting post-pandemic, Stephanie Thompson was grateful when an email for the Leading Education and Aspiration Programme (LEAP) arrived at the perfect time for her.

Faced with the challenge of needing to find a new role – and quickly – during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stephanie had to put her 14-years of managerial experience on the shelf and take up a role in a less senior position, as a Nursery Practitioner at Minibugs, a day nursery for children aged 0-5, based in St Austell.  Stephanie quickly grew to love the nursery and felt very supported by the management team there.

Luckily, Stephanie had only been working as a practitioner for a few months when a managerial role opened up at the nursery, which she immediately applied for. Stephanie said: “There were several people that went for the job, but luckily I got it, and I felt at that point that it was just what I was meant to do.”

It was at this time that an email came through advertising LEAP – a pilot course being delivered by Truro and Penwith College’s REACH Cornwall project. It incorporates the ILM Level 3 Award in Leadership and Management alongside several bespoke sessions developed in conjunction with Cornwall Council to ensure the content is tailored to the needs of early years providers operating across the county. Participants will gain a recognised qualification to further support career development and retention with additional opportunities to widen their professional network.

Stephanie states that she felt very supported by the REACH Cornwall team and the staff at Truro and Penwith College while undertaking the course. “From the moment we opened the door at the college, whoever was on the [reception] desk that day was really positive and was really lovely, pointed us to the right room and showed us where to sign in.”

Stephanie also felt that the group of learners on LEAP were very supportive of each other and bonded over the duration of the course, and still keep in touch on a WhatsApp group chat and on Facebook.

Stephanie believes that the combination of the ILM Level 3 Leadership and Management Award along with the various bespoke sessions was incredibly valuable.

Stephanie said: “At the time I struggled to implement any new formats or tools or anything like that, but now I have to say it’s a different story. It’s working really well.”

Going forward, Stephanie is committed to maintaining the nursery’s ‘Outstanding’ rating which they were awarded in their last Ofsted inspection in 2019, along with ensuring that all the staff are feeling supported while using the techniques and strategies she learned from LEAP.

In terms of her professional development, Stephanie is becoming a more confident manager who is recognised across the Minibugs chain. She is continuing to grow and beginning to offer advice and guidance to other management teams within the company.


Stephanie (pictured far right) and the other LEAP learners after completing their course.



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