Julia McNeil, Manager of a day care centre, West Lothian

Julia McNeil

Manager of a day care centre, West Lothian

“I have been working in childcare now for 20 years. My passion was always to be a hairdresser, which I became and was successful. I ran my own barbershop for 10 years, but I left to have my family and that’s when life changed.

I went along to a mother and toddler group, which led to playschool. I was the mum who went on the committee and was the parent volunteer who helped very frequently.

As my girls got older, I became a playgroup leader, which became a wee job for me and fitted in with my girls. I was enjoying it so much that I did my SVQ Social Services (Children and Young People) – which was all hand written then!

I continued working in our local playgroup for a number of years, but when I saw a position for a manager with Highland Pre School Services (Care and Learning Alliance) I applied for it and was successful in getting the job. I then had the opportunity to learn about Out of School Care and Holiday Club Provision.

I travelled a lot, visiting pre-school centres and out of school centres, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was also given the opportunity to increase my qualifications and I accessed a wide and varied range of training.

As time passed, the Early Years sector was finally being recognised as a profession and we had to register with SSSC, which led to me doing a degree. I was fortunate enough to be part of a pilot scheme for a PDA Childhood Practice Degree, which was a practice-based degree and suited my style of learning. With the support of West Lothian College, I graduated in November 2014 – a degree at my age! Delighted!

I am on yet another journey; managing a day care centre, working with babies (a new experience for me) to 5-year olds – what a wonderful job to have. This is the best job in the world. Being part of a team caring for children, watching them grow and achieve, always learning with the children, playing a part with families, helping them on their journeys. Childcare has been the most rewarding job. These past years have been the best part of my working life. I have achieved so much, more than I could have imagined.”

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