Mum and son bring a bit of animal magic to nurseries

Mother and son Lyn Meaden, 66, and Ollie Meaden, 34, from Ophira.''Picture: Sarah Standing (170069-1010)
Mother and son Lyn Meaden, 66, and Ollie Meaden, 34, from Ophira.''Picture: Sarah Standing (170069-1010)
Have your say

A MOTHER and son have teamed up to start a new business bringing education – and fun – to pre-school children.

The duo, from Fareham, are hoping to cash in on changes to the number of free nursery hours people are entitled to, due to be rolled out nationally from September.

The government is increasing the number of hours from 15 to 30, following a successful trial in Portsmouth.

Primary school teacher Ollie Meaden, 34, saw a gap in the market with a lack of high-quality education being taught to three and four-year-olds, leaving them unprepared for school.

He quit his job at a Portsmouth school to pursue his idea, and when his mum Lyn, who used to run an adult social care service, announced her retirement plans, Ollie persuaded her to change direction and set up the early years education scheme with him instead.

Ollie said: ‘The idea is that the children will start school with a higher level of education.

‘Doing this and taking part in our sessions gives them a good standing and the education they need, while at the same time having a bit of fun.’

Lyn said she was delighted to be involved in a fresh project, which is being run under her company name Ophira.

She said: ‘Our idea is ahead of the government agenda. The current free 15 hours of childcare is going up to 30 hours, so nurseries are under pressure to provide better educational services.

‘Our resources and teaching will be over and above what other nurseries are offering. Some places are doing things like yoga or ballet but we are focusing on education such as literacy and numeracy.’

The pair have bought an array of unique and colourful resources, including life-sized farm animal models, boats, dinosaur models, teddy bears, plus much more.

Each section has been designed to provide a changing environment so that young children can be stimulated and enjoy an extended learning scheme that builds on the standard curriculum.

The programme comes with teaching resources, which change every month, plus two support sessions from a qualified teacher, and access to large touchscreen television sets.

It means nurseries with limited space can have an ever-changing educational theme.

Ollie said: ‘The government is saying that they want a teacher in every nursery, but given the growing financial pressures that may not be realistic.

‘This gives the opportunity to have some wonderful resources, which gets the children to learn though fun.’