Donna Mooney, Nursery Manager at Tops Efford, has been working in the Early Years Sector for 23 years. During her time working in the sector, Donna has been an accredited childminder, a chairperson of a nursery and a school governor. We asked Donna some questions to find out more about her time working in the early years, check out her answers below…
When did you join Tops and what made you want to work for the company?
I started at Tops Efford in March 2021 and have loved every single second. The company is so dedicated to helping children become the best person they can be. The ethos of the company and inspiring children and giving them life skills to live in a modern day world is what inspired me to apply for a position within Tops.
What past experience have you had in the Early Years? Have you worked anywhere else, if so, what was your position?
I have been in the early years for 23 years and in many different roles. My career started off with me volunteering at a local community run play school where I went on to become the chairperson of the play school. It is there that my love and passion for early years began. I then applied to become a childminder where I became accredited and went on to achieve my NVQ Level 3. I then moved on to becoming a pre-school assistant and soon worked my way up to become a manager.
I am very passionate about giving my best to the children in my care and started to get a love of research into the early years so I then decided to apply for my BA (hons) in early Childhood studies at Marjon. This gave me so much knowledge around early years so to extend my knowledge and help gain further experience I applied for a teaching assistant job at Widey Court Primary School in the Foundation class. This is where my passion for speech and language and SEND was born. I became dedicated in ensuring that no child would be at a disadvantage because of their needs. I trained in Makaton and British Sign Language and basically did every available course around SEND.
After three years I applied for a Higher Level Teaching assistant post at High View Primary School in Efford. The skills and the knowledge I gained there was amazing and I was lucky enough to have been given the opportunity in becoming an UQT and began covering for teachers that were in meetings, training or out supporting other schools. That experience me an insight into school readiness. I again looked at doing some research within early years around school readiness and that was what enticed me into pursuing a Master’s in Education. My Masters research was an absolute joy into listening to the children’s voice within this subject and is something that is really important to me. Children give us a real insight into subjects if we really listen and with their help I went on to gain a distinction within my research.
The knowledge around school readiness then inspired me to manage a nursery and help children to develop the life skills they need to be school ready and go on to achieve all that they wish. I then applied for my current position of Manager of Tops Efford where the child, staff and parents inspire me every day.
What do you love the most about your job?
I love how I can be singing, dancing, laughing, cuddling and just having fun with the children. They never ever fail to put a smile on my face and I absolutely love my job. No two days are ever the same, childcare has it’s challenges but the rewards of helping children to develop is second to none. The privilege of caring for someone’s child is something no-one working in our industry ever takes lightly. We are often underpaid and over worked, but we would never change what we do because when a child reaches their development milestones and you have worked as a team with their parents in achieving that, there really are no words for how proud you are in having a helping hand in that.
What has been your biggest achievement in your role?
My biggest achievement within my Early Years career is without a doubt my Masters in education. People ask “was it hard?” I always answer, yes, of course but it helps when you are doing something you love and are completing the qualification to help children be the best person they can be.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to work in the early year’s sector?
It is the most rewarding yet challenging job but the bonds you form with the children and parents make it all worth it. When the parents thank you for doing an amazing job and the children run to greet you mornings there really is no other job I would ever consider.
To find out more about Donna and Tops Efford, check out their webpage here!