Frequently Asked Questions

Yes you are more than welcome to have a look around any of our nurseries. Ideally we ask that you ring to make an appointment to view so that a manager will be available to take you round and answer any questions you may have. If you turn up without an appointment, we will do our best to show you round the nursery, but please don’t be offended if we turn you away, as the needs of the children in nursery will come first. You will then be given an enrolment form to complete and return.

Our nurseries are popular and there is a demand for places. Our main intake of children takes place in August and September when vacancies are created by our older pre-school children leaving us to start school but vacancies can occur throughout the year.

The nurseries open from 8.00am until 5.30pm Monday to Friday. There is also an 'early' and 'late' session available for an additional charge between 7.30am to 8.00am and 5.30pm to 6.00pm.

The nurseries are closed for all Bank Holidays. Unlike some nurseries, we do not charge parents for the 8 regular bank holidays per year.

The nurseries close at 3.00pm on Christmas Eve and reopen after the New Year bank holiday. We do not charge fees over the Christmas period.

We require four weeks’ notice to reduce your child’s days of attendance or to terminate your child’s place at the nursery. Increases in attendance will be accommodated as soon as possible. Changes to booking patterns must take place at the beginning of a week of attendance. Please complete a ‘Change of Attendance Form’ and hand it to a member of our management team who will process it for you. These forms are available from the office and dispensers on parent/carer noticeboards.

The vast majority of our team are qualified in childcare, holding NVQ L3 and L2 (or equivalent) and many hold higher qualifications including NVQ L4, foundation degrees in early years and the early years professional/teacher status. A large number of our team are working towards higher qualifications and are supported in this by the nurseries. All of our team are trained in safeguarding children, food hygiene certificate and all team members hold a paediatric first aid qualification.

We have a very thorough recruitment process before anyone joins the Mulberry Bush team. We always send for two references and all team members must receive an ‘enhanced’ clearance through the Disclosure and Barring Service (D.B.S.) and complete a thorough induction period.

All our food is healthy, tasty and cooked on nursery premises in well equipped kitchens using fresh, wholesome ingredients. All of our nurseries have a dedicated professional chef who is well trained in producing the excellent standards of food required, using only fresh ingredients. We provide breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea for the children and believe that meal-times should be a happy, sociable time where different, healthy foods are tasted and eating skills can be developed. As well as our excellent Nursery Menu, we offer a Vegetarian Menu, a Vegan Menu, a Dairy-free Menu, a Baby Menu and if necessary, we will devise an Own Menu for individual children so we can cater for all children regardless of their religious beliefs, stage of development, food allergies and intolerances. Milk and water is available for the children throughout the day. All of our nurseries are nut free, peanut free and egg free. We use the long established, Village Butcher in Tottington to supply all our nurseries with fresh, high quality, locally sourced meat and local dairies to supply our milk. Environmental health inspectors have always awarded all of our kitchens the top 5 star grade.

In line with government guidelines regarding passive smoking we have a very strict ‘No smoking’ policy that states employees may not smoke or vape at all during their working day including during their lunch break, and should not smoke or vape at all when wearing uniform, i.e. when travelling to or from work etc.

We supply formula for your baby and we will of course be happy to use expressed breast milk provided by parents in accordance with your instructions.

For our babies, solid food is prepared to suit the individual needs of each child. Weaning starts with freshly prepared vegetables and fruit purees and gradually the introduction of meat and fish in accordance with the latest health advice. We are not able to accommodate baby-led weaning in our group childcare environment because of the associated risks of choking. However, finger foods such as the toast and garlic pitta can be served alongside the main meal from 6 months old and we will work with parents to ensure that children develop healthy appetites and interest in food.

Yes, each of our nurseries have a pram store where parents can leave prams / car seats in the morning.

Yes we have a mobile phone policy (which also covers handheld computers such as ipads) which states that they must not be used on nursery premises other than in the nursery office or team areas. We ask that parents and visitors to the nursery keep their mobile phones switched off or on ‘silent mode’ in their bag or pocket and do not remove them whilst on nursery premises. Team member’s mobile telephones and computers are locked in their own locker during working hours and not kept in their coats or jackets which may then be worn whilst supervising children during outdoor play. Under no circumstances are mobile phones or computers ever brought into children’s rooms or areas.

We choose not take our children out of nursery for outings. Our priority is always to keep your children safe and in our own nursery environment we are confident about our ability to do so. Trips out to the local swimming pool, museum or even nearby parks have an element of risk which we feel is too high. We know it is important that we provide opportunities for our children to learn about the world and community around them and whilst we ensure there is a lot of variety to the routine of the nursery week, we know that our children look forward to something special happening at nursery. We therefore make a massive effort to invite as many special visitors into our nurseries as possible. We include all children in these additional activities and do not pass any of the cost to parents.

We offer a significant discount for parents who pay by Direct Debit. If you choose to pay fees other than by Direct Debit, your fees will be at a higher rate. Direct Debits amounts are taken on either the first, second or third working day of every month depending on which nursery you attend. You will receive an invoice detailing the amount to be taken ten working days beforehand.

We try to make life as easy as possible for our parents by providing everything children need at no extra cost, so we provide:

  • all nappies and wipes
  • Sudocrem and Bepanthan
  • all baby milk formula
  • Calpol, Nurofen and Piriton
  • sun cream and sun hats
  • for colder weather our baby rooms have snowsuits and we have spare raincoats and wellies for our older children
  • nursery hats and scarves in case they get forgotten by busy families 

We know this these items are not included at most other nurseries so nursery fee levels need to be examined with that in mind. No expense is spared in our nurseries, we provide high quality food produce for our children, we invest in excellent resources and creative activities for our children - every request from units or room are fulfilled. 

The other side of the all-inclusive nature of our fees is that we want to ensure that nursery experiences include all of our children. Our many visitors and experiences (French lessons, mindfulness, dance & football sessions and theatre shows) are provided for all children. We would never dream of separating off children whose parents haven’t paid for ‘extras’ as is the case in other nurseries and we really feel this approach sets us apart. 

All children deserve to be included in all elements of nursery life and we are proud that is the case at Mulberry Bush. We truly believe that we provide really excellent value for money and the very best environments and resources for our children.

We will try our best to accommodate your preferred start date and booking pattern. You will not be required to make any payments to nursery until we can guarantee a place, at which point we will ask you for a non-refundable registration fee, together with the equivalent of one week’s fees in order to reserve your child’s place (reserve payment). This reserve payment will be applied as your child’s first week’s fees. It is refundable provided you give us four weeks’ notice prior to your child’s agreed start date that you no longer require the place.

Since our first nursery opened in 1990, we have NEVER used agency staff. Not once. 

Many nurseries rely on agency staff to provide over 30% of their workforce. Agency staff would not know our settings, our policies or your children! Agency staff have obviously not been through our rigorous training and recruitment processes and will usually not meet our high standards. Agencies are expensive, eating into money which would otherwise be available for nursery resources and the inflated rates of pay cause resentment amongst permanent team members. 

We operate in excess of statutory ratios in all of our nurseries, giving us a substantial buffer zone in the case of unexpected team members absence. If, notwithstanding that buffer, one of our nurseries is struggling with team sickness and absence, our five nurseries look after each other, our team work together beautifully and support each other – helped by their easy commuting distance from the other nurseries. 

This means that we are lucky enough to always be able to provide a nursery which is struggling with team members from one of our other nurseries. Those team members are of course Mulberry Bush trained and experienced, they will know the nursery, policies, the other team members and very often lots of the children! 

Being able to use only our own team members means that the consistency of our high quality of care is not compromised. We are very proud of this aspect of our business and we believe that it is one of the (many) reasons that set us apart from other nurseries, and allows us to provide that exceptional consistent care for our children.

Nothing matters more to us than the safety of the children in our care. When new team members join Team MB and we train/induct them, we are very clear that children’s safety is our absolute number one priority. We wonder how many people realise that the only legal requirement for nursery first aiders (from Ofsted) is to have one first aider on shift in a building (of any size) at any time. It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to see why that minimum requirement should be a problem and a worry for parents.

Many years ago we made the decision that we wanted ALL of our team members to be trained in first aid, including our chefs, maintenance team, central support team - everyone who works in our nurseries. Not only that, we wanted to ensure that those first aid skills were refreshed frequently, so we run face to face first aid training sessions every year and monthly first aid refreshers on our private Facebook group.

Our 5 nurseries were amongst the first 25 to be given the Millie’s Mark award for first aid provision in nurseries. Millie’s Mark is a quality mark set up by the NDNA in conjunction with a family whose daughter tragically lost her life when attending a nursery having choked on food. 

We ensure that our team knows that they are all empowered to make immediate decisions to call 999 in the case of emergency and they can look to their fellow first aid trained team members for informed opinions and sensible decisions which might be needed in an emergency situation. Our team are calm and brilliant when first aid is needed, and we make sure that we take care of them afterwards too, appreciating how stressful that can be. We have never regretted our investment in first aid training and we know it’s a huge priority for our parents and team members too. 

Colleagues in other nurseries are always amazed by the number of supernumerary managers we have in our nurseries. This is perhaps because Ofsted’s minimum requirement is just one manager in a nursery, who doesn’t have to be supernumerary (i.e. can spend all day counted on ratio) and need only have minimal practical experience and qualifications - and that is exactly how many nurseries run.

Across our nurseries we have at least two supernumerary, well qualified and experienced managers per nursery, in some cases three. Whilst providing that level of management input isn’t easy or cheap we know that our fantastic management teams are how we maintain our nurseries’ high standards.

Our managers have a really wide ranging role, concentrating on our parents, our team members and of course, our children! They are amazing at the difficult safeguarding elements of the role, providing support to families as well as liaison with social services where appropriate. Every single manager has valuable experience with the SEND needs of our children, and are used to dealing with outside agencies where appropriate in order to ensure the best outcomes for our children. They provide supervision and mentoring for our team members, ensuring that they are able to deliver our high standards.

Most importantly, each one of our managers constantly spends time in the units with the children, working alongside our nursery practitioners, deputies and heads of unit, ensuring that they know what is going on in our units and with our teams. Obviously there’s also the administrative side of the management role - fee collection, liaising with voucher companies and local authority early years team and other important and time consuming activities required to make a nursery run smoothly. Whilst these admin tasks have to be are carried out, in our view they are secondary to our managers focussing ensuring on the quality of provision. We focus on ensuring that there are always managers available to work on ensuring high standards and fantastic outcomes for our children.

We wouldn’t be without our supernumerary managers - they are amazing and critical in maintaining the high quality childcare we strive to provide every day.

We are sometimes asked by prospective parents why we don’t have a system in place whereby they can get daily feedback/photos of their children, in the form of an interactive app and also why we don’t use online learning platforms. We know that lots of other nurseries do use such apps and platforms and we wanted to explain why we have chosen not to go down that route. 

Over the last ten years, we have consistently tried to reduce the amount of admin work away from the children that our team members have to undertake, so that their time, energies and focus can be on the children in their care. This overall approach meant that when the apps etc. were launched some years ago, we decided that we did not want our team members spending valuable time entering data into them on a computer or tablet when they could be spending that time building and strengthening relationships and providing fantastic learning experiences and activities for the children. 

In relation to feedback from nursery, we use the MySchoolApp and our social media accounts to give you a taste of what is going on at nursery with your children and all of the important information that you need to know. We are always happy to provide face to face feedback from your key person, or via phone. Should you ever feel that you want more information, or would like some photos sent to you, please just speak to our managers and they will more than happily ensure this. 

When it comes to tracking children’s development, we have brilliant, concise and straightforward paperwork which gives us insight into our children’s development without taking up disproportionate amounts of time from our key people. We really don’t believe that our children would benefit from their key people spending time away from them with an iPad completing online learning platforms.

Our decision is certainly not because we haven’t considered the options, or are unwilling to invest in the technology, instead we really feel that the interests of our children at nursery are best served by the adults who spend time with them being able to do so with as few distractions as possible. Hence freeing them up to build gorgeous relationships with the children in their care, allowing them to be mindful of the children’s needs and not focussed on tablets and computers instead! 

We pride ourselves on the inclusive nature of all of our nurseries, and this inclusivity extends to ensuring that all of our children with allergies are able to enjoy their nursery experience. Many of the allergies experienced by our children are really very significant, and in some cases, life threatening. 

It’s therefore crucial that we have good systems in place to ensure that our children are kept safe. We have a detailed and thorough dietary requirements policy which sets out our multi layered systems for ensuring that our children with dietary allergies and intolerances do not receive food they are allergic to. Given the importance of this, we do not very often accommodate ‘preferences’ as we would not wish to dilute the steps taken for our children with really life and health threatening allergies.

Our nutritious menu has been carefully designed to limit certain life-threatening allergens. We have numerous measures in place to keep children safe, including a traffic light system, individual dietary cards and a detailed dietary requirements sheet completed daily by the chefs and actively checked by each senior team member. Each team member undergoes thorough training in relation to our systems for allergies. Whenever team members join us from other settings they are always astonished at the thoroughness and effectiveness of our dietary systems.

We have always really prioritised the physical environments our children experience at nursery, the fabric of our nurseries buildings and equipment, and their resources and outdoor play opportunities. This is a big job given our 7 large buildings, all very different to each other, with different issues and advantages. 

Our two person full time maintenance team, work really hard to ensure that all of our buildings and play areas look their best at all times. As always, safety comes first, and our maintenance team are able to respond immediately to problems, such as broken keypads locks or finger guards. 

They are also brilliant at implementing new ideas for our outdoor areas, designing equipment and maintaining the equipment we already have. They are always busy with something and we are very grateful to them and know that our managers rely on them to ensure the highest standards for our children.

Our first nursery was established in Tottington in 1990, and since then we have slowly grown to a small group of five nurseries, all in one town. 

During that time, we could obviously have expanded further, further afield and in size.  However - our approach to running our nurseries is to be very involved at every level of their operation, to ensure the very high standards that we insist upon.  

The directors and owners of Mulberry Bush are siblings Jo, Paul and Andy.  They all live locally and are active members of the Bury community.  They all carry out different roles in nursery and remain heavily involved on a daily basis.  We feel this is an important part of our success and ability to maintain quality, and would not want to dilute that involvement. 

There are huge advantages to our five nurseries being located so close together – we have a ‘one team’ ethos, really feeling like Team MB across five nurseries.  Many of our team members and most of our managers and senior team have worked in more than one of our nurseries, plenty have worked in all five.  Five nurseries provide opportunities for career progression, helping us to retain our team.  The nurseries are able to support each other, tying into the fact that we have never had to use agency staff in our nurseries.  

We don’t have plans to venture any further afield, we are privileged to provide childcare for up to 1000 children in Bury at any one time.  

We are so proud to have so many long standing team members as part of our Mulberry Bush family.  By way of illustration, across our management team of 16 managers, we have a combined experience of 237 years of childcare experience and 178 years of working at Mulberry Bush together.  We recently calculated that the small team based at our Whitefield nursery has over 178 years of childcare experience and 155 years of service with Mulberry Bush between them! 

We celebrate long service, we have a system of silver and gold badges for 5 and 10 year experience, and those occasions are a great opportunity for a gift and a chat, we have several team members who have celebrated 15 and 20 years’ service with us, and they are very special too.  

There are lots of reasons that we feel that we have so many long standing team members – we work incredibly hard to provide a positive and supportive working environment, we pay our team well and have an extensive range of team benefits, designed in conjunction with our entire team.  We offer constant continuing professional development and training opportunities, and importantly with five nurseries all local to Bury, we are able to provide real career opportunities and progression.  We promote senior team members from within, home grown talent works best and we are very proud of the progression of our team.

We are very lucky to have our amazing team and we do our best to make sure that we appreciate them. We have a supportive six month induction process, an inspired mentor programme, we carry out peer observations, we offer flexible working arrangements, childcare discounts, a mental health and wellbeing day for all team members, bonuses for commitment and attendance and the ability to use accrued time against absence. Our benefits package was designed in consultation with our team and we feel it sets us apart. 

Mulberry Bush Nursery Group are a group of five family run and owned children’s nurseries based in Bury, Lancashire. Founded in 1990, we are the longest established nursery group in the North West.

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