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After leaving school, 17-year-old Craig MacIntyre from Kilmore, near Oban, took up an apprenticeship at the Stramash Outdoor Nursery.
Throughout his training, Craig will undertake written and practical assessments, which will ultimately lead to an SVQ3 Social Services (Children and Young People) at SCQF Level 7.
Craig’s mum, Katy, is a childminder, and so Craig has grown up with young children at home and he always enjoyed spending time with them. His mum’s influence, coupled with his little brother attending the outdoor nursery, are what inspired Craig to go for the apprenticeship.
With outdoor play being the focus of Craig’s nursery, he can be creative in his work and embrace the adventurous side of play, as he describes: ‘Our nursery is full of all sorts for the children to play with. For example, we have baskets and containers full of stones, shells, ribbons and seeds that we’ve collected.
‘The nursery site is among the trees so there are lots of leaves, twigs and branches too.
‘We encourage the children to freely develop their ideas with everything we have here and if they have an idea of something they want to create, we try as much as we can to help them to do it. Recently they wanted an obstacle course for the nursery, so we have created one with their help, using logs, tyres, rope and other pieces – they love it!
‘Being an outdoor nursery, we’re usually playing outside for most of the day and that’s what I love most about my job. Only on the wettest and windiest days do we use the huts for some shelter.
‘I think it makes a huge difference in a time when technology is being used more and more in education – with no electricity, wifi or running water, the children are challenged to learn how to make things with little help.
‘I love seeing it when the wee ones learn something new or master something they’ve been trying to do for a while, like climb that little bit higher in the tree. It’s also really rewarding when the children see me outside of work and they run over to talk to me.
‘If I was to say one thing to somebody considering a career in early learning and childcare, I’d say go for it! It’s a great job and you really feel you have made a difference in a child’s life.’