We are the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) the largest charitable childcare social enterprise in the UK and provide outstanding care and education for up to 4500 of London’s children. We also employ 800+ staff and train 60 EY apprentices each year.
Our social purpose is driven by our ability to redistribute our income from parent fees and Government childcare grants in order to subsidise children from poor and disadvantaged families who would be unable to attend nursery without this support. This is critical in light of the research that shows the continual benefit to children from attending high quality nurseries.
Over the past 10 years we have worked hard to research and create the seven strands of the LEYF Pedagogy, each one integral to the overall delivery of an outstanding Early Years provision. Each strand is designed to strengthen our social pedagogical approach.
LEYF is a child centred social enterprise; we put today’s child at the heart of all we do, not a child of yesterday or yesteryear but today’s child. We see the whole child and value their wider world experiences. This enables our teachers to recognise and build upon each child’s cultural and social capital. We see children not as citizens of tomorrow but citizens of today, and at LEYF children’s voices and opinions are both heard and respected. We include children in the planning process and in decision making, to ensure children’s participatory rights are not just understood but embedded into everyday practice.
Our pedagogy is relationship centred; we encourage our teachers to view themselves as equal to the children in the co-construction of learning and our learning spaces belong to the children as much as the adults. Our teaching approach is non-didactic and teachers often utilise the common third approach, where learning comes from a shared experience which is enjoyed by both and strengthens the trusting and harmonious relationships between children and their teachers.
We recognise that care and education are integrated; children learn from every experience throughout all parts of the day. All decisions from routines to transitions are informed by our pedagogical rationale. For example, we respect the importance of meal times as a valuable shared experience.
Our leadership model recognises that everyone who works with children is a leader of learning (pedagogue). This model highlights the importance of reflective teaching as we encourage teachers at all levels to carry out action research to challenge and enhance their provision. Some of our most recent action research has explored the role of men in the early years, boys preferred learning styles and social enterprise leadership.
At LEYF we view our nurseries as playing a central role within their local communities. Our children’s social capital is developed through the social networks within and around the nursery. We recognise the extensive diversity of a city such as London and exploit this to benefit our children and families, which helps mitigate discrimination and leads to reduction in social problems.
To assess the social impact delivered through its nurseries, LEYF developed a measure that focuses on key drivers of childcare that directly benefit the child, this is known as the LEYF Magic Sum.
The social impact delivered by LEYF is not limited to high quality early years provision as it includes increasing positive social mobility, reducing child poverty, supporting parents to seek further education or employment, multigenerational engagement with the community and enhancing social cohesion.
Each strand of the LEYF Pedagogy is strengthened by a thousand threads. All LEYF nurseries follow the same pedagogy but choose the best delivery approaches that work for their children and their families. Therefore the individual threads that one nursery weaves to deliver their Home Learning strand may be quite different to another, and so they should be.
Because our social pedagogical approach puts the child at the heart of every decision that we make it can be delivered to the wide array of communities and families that we serve across London. We strongly believe that when a pedagogy places the child right at its very heart then it can be successfully applied in any setting, city or country.