St Bernard's Prep is a place to grow

We get to know Laura Druce, Early Years teacher, a person whose passion for play is apparent the minute she begins to speak. Her face lights up as she describes bringing her favourite toys to share with her class, but also as she outlines the way that her teaching degree boosts her understanding of the best learning methods. 

“I’ve been at St Bernard’s Prep for seven years now. I can’t believe it really, as the time has flown by. I’ve got a big family, and grew up surrounded by cousins. I always loved playing dollies and babies, and in fact I still have some of my Barbies and I brought them in the other week to show the children when we were doing our ‘history of toys’ project. You could see that it really got their cogs turning to imagine me as a little kid like them! Empathy and imagining are an important part of understanding the world, and developing emotionally and socially.

They all brought their favourites in to ‘show and tell’ and stood up in front of each other to explain why they liked the toy they’d brought in best. One little boy brought a hoover as he loves to pretend that he’s cleaning the house with his parents! This kind of activity is not only great fun, but also supports our children in their ability to vocalise their thoughts. It’s one of the key areas of learning - communication and language that we really like to encourage.   

I’m currently halfway through a degree in Children’s Development and Learning with the University of Reading, and being able to apply my theoretical learning to the real-life scenarios I see in the classroom is really exciting to me. St Bernard’s Prep has been hugely supportive to me in allowing me the time I need to study. I also love working with my mentor, Maria Biscardi, our Head of Early Years, who has more than 22 years of experience under her belt.  

My own career in childcare began in 2011. After going to Langley College and completing my Level 3 in Childcare and Education I went straight into working in a daycare setting. It was very busy and quite wonderful – I was a baby room leader for about five years and I loved it, but the time came for me to seek a bit more structure and progression and that’s when I came to St Bernard’s.

I wanted to gain experience somewhere that I felt comfortable. Having been to Catholic School myself, St Bernard’s Prep offered something familiar in terms of the values and ethos that I had been brought up with. I started in Pre-Early Years and very quickly progressed from practitioner to key worker. At the time I was apprehensive about making the leap, but my colleagues and managers were incredibly encouraging about my ability to learn on the job – and it seems that they were right. I really do feel that this school has helped me grow into my role, as the children grow alongside me!

St Bernard’s Prep has such a positive working environment, every day is different and I love that we follow our children’s ideas to flex the curriculum. For example, we have one little boy who is fascinated by space, so recently we built in painting, role play, playdoh, and singing songs about planets that are still stuck in my head into our weekly agenda. It was so satisfying to see how proud and thrilled he was to have shared something he loved with us.

To be honest, that moment sums up why working in Early Years works for me – and why I’d recommend it for others. In some jobs I feel like it must be hard to see progress, to see evidence of why what you do matters. But sitting watching the Year 3 / 4 performance the other day almost brought tears to my eyes. Those big boys and girls, now aged 8 or 9, who spoke their lines so confidently and sang their hearts out, were the same little boys and girls who started nursery on the same day as me, hiding behind their parents’ legs and hardly able to even hold a brush or pen. I helped make them who they are today, I helped grow them and nurture them – and that is a wonderful feeling to have."

St Bernard’s Prep is currently recruiting for a Level 3 Early Years Practitioner. We welcome applications from recent graduates or those seeking placements – why not come and see if you could grow with us? Working hours are 8am – 5pm with lunch and breaks included, pro rata, term time working only. [Approx 33 weeks/year]. To find out more, give us a call on 01753 521821 or email