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Early years Apprentice Millie is thriving at Shrewsbury Prepatoria

Millie Croft

We visited Millie Croft, a level 3 early years educator apprentice at Shrewsbury Prepatoria, to discuss her apprenticeship is going and what it means to be part of such a prestigious early years establishment.

Shrewsbury Prepatoria is an Ofsted Outstanding-rated nursery and school that promotes the “Reggio Emelia” approach of teaching young children. This encourages a negotiated curriculum between a child, their parents, and teachers, and is designed to maximise potential in the most influential years in a child’s development.

“The Reggio Emelia approach allows us to optimise a child’s learning” explains Millie. “If a child doesn’t want to learn something in a certain way or if there’s an activity they don’t want to take part in, we work with that child and let them explore their learning path to find a way that suits them best.”

“I did not realise how different a two-year-old is compared to a three-year-old. It might only seem like a year, but it is probably the most important year of a person’s life, as the amount of development in that year is massive in the way they learn and grow.”

Originally a pupil of The Priory School in Shrewsbury, Millie comes from a family of teachers and was inspired to take up early years by visiting her mother’s school.

“I originally studied a full-time health and social care course at a different education provider, I didn’t enjoy it and I ended up dropping out as it wasn’t beneficial to me.”

“My mum suggested I looked for an apprenticeship in early years; working with young children has always been a passion of mine. When I left my previous studies, my mum brought me along to her school to help and I realised that this was what I wanted to do in my career. “

“I looked at the government’s apprenticeship website for vacancies and I saw the role at Shrewsbury Prepatoria, I managed to get the interview and I got the apprenticeship.”

“I like the atmosphere I work in at my placement. There is never a day where I dread going to work, I could be in a bad mood before work and seeing the smiles on our children’s faces as they learn and develop always makes me feel happy. I love how much I learn at work and it is amazing to think that I am also getting paid from this experience!”

“I am really liking my apprenticeship so far; I prefer the balance of learning in the workplace and college work. The staff are really nice and my manager is so supportive. I absolutely love working for her and she is lovely.”

Jane Smalley, school principal and owner of Shrewsbury Prepatoria said “Millie is a great apprentice, she is so willing and motivated to learn and succeed. She brings with her some fantastic knowledge about childcare from her experiences with her mother and she knows exactly what is expected of her.”

Jane founded Shrewsbury Prepatoria in 2013, after a career initially teaching early years in further education, before consulting with local authorities across the country to improve the standard of training given to early years staff. She sold her house at the time to fund the opening of the school, using her own chairs, curtains and even a fireplace to furnish the office and waiting area.

All her hard work paid off as she won Nursery of the Year in Central England at the NDNA awards, just two years after opening. The school has continued to grow, attracts children from all over the county and Jane has even written a book, The Definitive Guide to Choosing a Nursery, passing on her knowledge to parents looking to get the best opportunity for their children at a crucial age for their development.

“We aim to provide the best possible care for young children and to bring up all our apprentices with our high standards and philosophies so that we can continue to excel. We hope to hire all of our best apprentices at the end of their course.”

“It can shock a new apprentice coming into the workplace for the first time. After the training she’s had on campus, Millie was well prepared by the apprenticeship team at Telford College for the environment and I was really impressed by that. Instead of just being given names of candidates, the team knew her and gave a detailed reference about her as part of their recruitment process.”

Millie says that her goal in life would be to become a primary school teacher, specifically working with reception and year one classes: “I believe these are some of the most important years of a child’s development and I enjoy working with children at that age.”

If you are inspired by Millie’s story and are considering an apprenticeship, our team are on hand to help you find the right role for you. Email them at