Hi, I'm Jane Dyke - founder of Yellow Dot. In 1986, while at Teacher Training college, Trevor gave me a packet of Yellow Dots, he said ‘I’ve read a book that says most people do not fulfil their dreams because they forget about them… life takes over. The book suggests that if you have an icon to remember your dream you are more likely to achieve it.’
He told me to put a Yellow Dot on my credit card, diary, dashboard, mirror etc so that every time I saw the dot I would think of my dream – to open a Day Nursery.
Eleven years after I first had my dream in July 1997 I left Scantabout Primary School, in Chandlers Ford, where I was the Key Stage One Coordinator. I had worked at the School for eight years and developed their Early Years Unit, including policies and procedures. I left Scantabout school to set up my own 'Kindergarten'. We borrowed fifteen thousand pounds and took the plunge to start our own Kindergarten.
Our aim was to provide an educationally stimulating environment where children are valued as individuals and encouraged to develop their potential. In the early years children learn faster and develop more rapidly than at any time of their lives: early learning is the basis for successful future developments.
Surveys have shown that children who attend 'high quality' Nursery Schools are more likely to 'mature into responsible citizens, get well paid jobs, own their own homes, stay married longer'.
We called the Kindergarten ‘Yellow Dot’, because for the last 11 years that is how I had referred to ‘My dream’. The Kindergarten grew from one child to forty within a year and by the second year we were working with over sixty children.
In our third year many Parents were asking me if we could expand and take younger children. This would be a new ‘risk’ and we deliberated long and hard, eventually I approached a Teaching colleague to see if she would take over the Kindergarten for me so that we could open another Nursery.
In May 2000 we opened Yellow Dot Nursery in Cranbury Park, Hocombe Road. This was a larger venture including the full Nursery age range, 4 months to 5 years, starting a new Nursery, watching it grow, whilst providing, as OFSTED put it, 'a well organised, happy and stimulating place to work', was a very positive experience.
The children we have been privileged to work with have more than exceeded our expectations. The demand for our services has also been greater than we had expected.
The increasing local housing developments, as well as a growing number of parents going back to work earlier, has increased demand for Good Quality Nursery Education and Care. The Government have also contributed to child care costs and Nursery Education and these factors have also increased demand.
By 2003 we were ready to expand again and we approached a local Developer to Rent a large Victorian House to provide after school care as well as more Day Care. Unfortunately this proposition was not realised but the Developer offered to build a purpose built Nursery if we could get Planning Permission on a piece of ground that he had. 2 Years later, a refusal, a pending appeal, a total redesign and a letter from John Prescott saw us achieve that Planning Permission and a year later the Purpose built Nursery was standing in North Baddesley.
In the meantime we had the opportunity to buy and refurbish a smaller Victorian double fronted property in the centre of Eastleigh. It was a fantastic opportunity to actually own our own Nursery. We started negotiations and eventually with the help of NatWest Bank and our very friendly Bank Manager, secured the property. Another larger loan saw the building refurbished and in April 2006 Yellow Dot Eastleigh Nursery opened its doors.
An exciting and exhausting year followed - opening 2 nurseries in a year was a ‘busy’ undertaking! We are very fortunate though we have a great team and together we built up 2 more outstanding nurseries.
In July 2007 I decide I needed some Business skills and I started working with Kevin, a Business coach, Kevin helped me to work on our systems and procedures and encouraged me to read more business/coaching type books. I knew we were providing quality care and education but I wasn’t too sure what our ‘business skills’ were like. Our team have always been really important to us as a happy team ensures happy children and I didn’t want to feel I was letting them down by not running the business side effectively.
In July 2008 I enrolled on the Cranfield University, Business Growth Programme and started driving to Bedford to meet with other business owners, who wanted to progress their business’. I really enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot.
Our waiting lists at our nurseries were getting very long and so many parents were ringing disappointed that we had no spaces, so in May 2009 we opened Yellow Dot Ampfield after a quick 6 weeks refurbishment project. We had the best builders ever! Ampfield is our 6th setting and again we have found another great team, people who love children and enjoy smiling...they're the BEST!
After conducting surveys with lots of parents, and potential parents about Southampton Science Park we achieved planning permission and opened a new Nursery at the Science Park in March 2011.
We worked with some super people at the Science park and the architect, Nick, won an award for the building design. Subsequently he designed a fantastic roof top garden for our Nursery in Eastleigh too.
In June 2012 after a year of planning and organizing we opened Yellow Dot Andover in a converted public house we had first seen in 2007. Persistance really does pay off! Thanks to Andrew, our agent, we were eventually able to secure the building and our wonderful builders performed their magic once again.
Talking of long term projects, September 2012 saw the opening of Yellow Dot Otterbourne in that same Victorian house we had looked at in 2003. This is a super building and well worth waiting for! We hope to open a club for parents and children in 2015 offering parent and child classes including messy play, baby massage and sensory play.
In January 2013 we brought the Yellow Dot philosophy to Hedge End having converted our derelict, Grade 2 listed farmhouse. The local early years officer and I first talked about this farmhouse 10 years ago … and 10 years later Debra opened the Nursery for us.
August 2014 saw the opening of our extension to Yellow Dot North Baddesley. We created a new Kindergarten and Team room and opened up the reception area to create a more Parent friendly space.
On September 15th 2014 we opened our Fair Oak nursery. Lots of our families come from this area and have been asking us to open a Nursery closer to home for them. After a number of years of searching and various planning applications we are pleased to have found a site at the entrance to Vicarage Farm in Fairoak.
September also saw the opening of our new Group Office, the Pavilion built in the garden of our Otterbourne nursery! The extension at Baddesley and The Pavilion were managed by Dereck, Stacco's fabulous site manager. On time and in budget...Wow!
In January 2015 we opened a new nursery in Winchester, another location we have been investigating for a number of years due to Parent demand. The nursery in Wales Street has been refurbished from the Ship Inn to a Yellow Dot Nursery. Phil our lovely builder who converted our Ampfield nursery in 2009, Andover and Otterbourne in 2012 and Nick our award winning architect have been on the the case. It's a great location opposite the Winnall Moors and in walking distance from the city, perfect for lots of interesting trips.
We are still looking to grow one Nursery at a time, slowly and organically. If you know of any good sites, please do let me know.
Well Romsey was another 'slow burn'! This site first came to our attention while we were building North Baddesley Nursery back in 2006.
Patience is a virtue and perseverance a strength. We have been lucky enough to design the nursery and are proud to say that all the children can enjoy 'free flow' access to a garden space. The main garden is our most adventurous yet and the Babies have their own roof terrace to enjoy with the Team. We teamed up with LST who had built our extension at Hocombe Road some years before and Nick our lovely Architect from TKL kept us on the straight and narrow path to BREAM and Building control success! Another great location, close to a nature reserve and the Hillier's Arboretum.