Princess of Wales: Pandemic highlighted importance of early-years education

The Princess of Wales holds a mask to her face as she interacts with children during her visit to Foxcubs Nursery in Luton - Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images
The Princess of Wales holds a mask to her face as she interacts with children during her visit to Foxcubs Nursery in Luton – Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

The Princess of Wales has said the pandemic highlighted how important early-years teaching is for children’s development at a visit to the Foxcubs Nursery in Luton on Wednesday.

The mother-of-three joined children learning through play during the visit by making masks, digging in the sand and learning Chinese letters with the youngsters.

It comes ahead of a major announcement from the Princess about a multi-year programme aimed at improving the first five years of a child’s life.

During the visit, she made a point of highlighting the importance of nurseries and their staff in a child’s development, telling one of the educators that “we really saw that highlighted over the pandemic”.

The Princess told Rachel Swain Marsh: “When they [nurseries] were closed down, people realised how vital they were not just for the communities they serve, but for the individual families and children in their care.”

The mother-of-three toured the Foxcubs Nursery in Luton - Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images
The mother-of-three toured the Foxcubs Nursery in Luton – Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

She added that it is important to have a “holistic network surrounding our children” in their most formative years, particularly during challenging times.

On arrival at the nursery, the Princess was introduced to Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance. “Thank you for having me, I was just saying it’s such a beautiful day, a lovely cold, crisp morning,” she said.

“Is it busy for everybody? Is everybody back in? There’s been lots of illnesses going around, hasn’t there?”

She then sat down with some of the children, joining them at a sand tray and a craft table, asking what their names were and what they were up to.

During the visit, the Princess was expected to meet staff and discuss the role nurseries play in shaping a child’s development.

She was also due to join a talk with parents about the support the nursery provides on a day-to-day basis and for the long-term social and emotional development of their child.

Sporting an orange wool Gabriela Hearst dress with a Massimo Dutti cashmere camel coat, she told one of the nursery staff: “They are such great children. I’ve had a nice little chat with a few of them and they are so sweet.”

The Princess joins children at a sand tray and a craft table - Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images
The Princess joins children at a sand tray and a craft table – Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images
The Princess wore an orange wool Gabriela Hearst dress with a Massimo Dutti cashmere camel coat - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP
The Princess wore an orange wool Gabriela Hearst dress with a Massimo Dutti cashmere camel coat – JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP

Remarking on their development during Covid, she said: “I suppose the children here were the babies born during the pandemic. They seem super chatty, you are clearly doing an excellent job.”

Afterwards the Princess spent time with a small group of parents to talk about the provision offered by the nursery and asked them how it was to raise children during Covid.

She asked: “I was just saying that all of you must have had young children during the pandemic. It must have been really difficult. How was that for you as parents?”

One of the parents, Susmita Dhaubhadel, told her how difficult it had been to have a baby during lockdown but said that she appreciated the “precious time” she had with her child at the start of her life.

The Princess agreed that “life is so busy”, saying: “There are always so many distractions. You probably all missed having those connections with other parents and your children enjoying their milestones with other children and enjoying social interactions”.

She added: “I was saying to the educators next door how vital their role is with your kids.

The Princess warned last year that 'not enough is being done' to nurture Britain's youngest children - Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images
The Princess warned last year that ‘not enough is being done’ to nurture Britain’s youngest children – Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

“They are nurturing them in this school environment but also having such a good relationship with you as parents so that they can pass the baton to you when your child comes home.”

As she left, she was given a “bouquet” of tissue paper flowers made by the children. She said it was a “lovely” nursery and that the children “seemed really happy”.

She posed for selfies with parents and told them: “They looked after me very well. It was good fun.”

The Princess warned last year that “not enough is being done” to nurture Britain’s youngest children, as she vowed to use her role to do “everything she can” to protect the next generation.

Writing in The Telegraph, she said she was determined to “shine a light” on the “crucial” early years.

Rated “outstanding” by education watchdog Ofsted, Foxcubs Nursery is run by the Early Years Alliance, which offers 70 places for local children aged between two and five years old.

With a focus on learning through play, the centre offers places to families eligible for free childcare and early education and encourages parents to become involved in the life of the nursery.

Meanwhile, the Queen Consort carried out her first public engagement since the explosive publication of Prince Harry’s memoir.

On Wednesday morning, the Queen visited the University of Aberdeen to open its new Science Teaching Hub, beaming as she received a bouquet of flowers and delivered a speech praising the institution’s achievements.

The Queen Consort, Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, speaks to local school children looking at dinosaur fossils - Andrew Milligan
The Queen Consort, Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, speaks to local school children looking at dinosaur fossils – Andrew Milligan
The Queen said she was 'very proud' to be Chancellor of the university - Andrew Milligan
The Queen said she was ‘very proud’ to be Chancellor of the university – Andrew Milligan

She said she was “very proud” to be Chancellor of the university, adding that she had taken “the greatest interest in all your work and have sung your praises at every given opportunity”.

Also on Wednesday, the King attended a reception for Muslim faith and community leaders at Dumfries House in Scotland.

It was held to mark the completion of the inaugural Mosaic leadership programme, which was initiated at the request of young faith leaders to the then Prince of Wales and the Prince’s Trust in the aftermath of the Finsbury Park terror attack of June 2017.

It was created to provide training and guidance on community leadership and skills.

Published by anthonyhayble

I AM A PROFESSIONAL BLOGGER WHO BLOGS ON EVENTS, NEWS AND CELEBRITY ACTIVITIES. YOU WILL GET THE LATEST BLOGGING UPDATES WITH UP TO DATE NEWS AND EVENTS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU. COMMENTS AND LIKES ARE ALSO WELCOMED. I AM STILL IN THE PROCESS OF BUILDING AND UPDATING MY BLOGS AND IT WOULD BE UP AND RUNNING SHORTLY. THIS IS STILL A NEW SITE AND WILL GREATLY IMPROVE WITH TIME

%d bloggers like this: