Interview with: Samantha Beere, Director at Morton Michel
22nd July 2016
Morton Michel have supported Childcare Expo from the beginning. As our Headline Sponsor for all of our Childcare Expo events, Morton Michel have provided us with ongoing support throughout the years and the working relationship has gone from strength to strength as both businesses grow.
For those that don’t know, Morton Michel are childcare insurance specialists who insure thousands of childminders and nannies, nurseries and pre-schools, out of school clubs and holiday play schemes, as well as numerous other groups connected with the childcare sector. The company was founded in 1964 by David and Kathy Beere and has remained a family run business up until the present day with the children of the original entrepreneurs, Samantha, Jerry and Nick, now driving the business forward with the Morton Michel brand we know and love today.
In addition to insurance, Morton Michel launched the ChildCare Club that offers a wide range of benefits to their policyholders such as free downloads and guides for the early years professionals to benefit from.
Childcare Expo spoke to Samantha to find out her opinions on the biggest challenges that face the sector along the apparent changes to the industry over the last 50 years…
Firstly, can you give us a brief overview of how Morton Michel started?
Morton Michel is the market leader in childcare insurance in the UK. Founded in 1964 by my parents, David and Kathy Beere to provide insurance to the nascent playgroup movement, we currently insure over 40,000 childcare settings, including 9,000 playgroups and nurseries; 23,000 childminders and nannies; 4,000 out of school clubs and holiday play schemes; and 4,000 community groups.
What is Morton Michel’s most recognised achievement to date?
This year we won the Specialist Broker of the Year Award at the Commercial Insurance Awards. This is a fantastic achievement for us as it shows that even after 52 years we are continuing to grow, innovate and evolve!
Now that the company is over 50 years old, what’s the biggest change you have seen in the sector?
The biggest change in the sector is hard to say as there have been so many! The overall theme though is the increasing recognition of the importance of childcare and early education both to parents and children. It has gone from something to give stay at home mums a bit of respite, to a crucial component of a child’s education.
What are the biggest challenges facing the childcare sector today?
Continuing to increase both the quality of childcare and the quantity available is a big challenge within the sector. It is too tempting to treat these as a trade-off – that you can either have high quality available to a few or low quality available to many. We have consistently seen that that is not true, but it is not easy.
What skills would you say are absolutely necessary for a childcare practitioner?
I think the skills a childcare practitioner should have are conscientiousness, patience, energy and drive. They should also be able to see the world through a child’s eyes.
In your opinion, what should children learn and discover from their time in early years care?
Over the years we have seen many ‘trends’ in early years education but overall I think it’s important for children to learn through play. Children develop rapidly during the early years – physically, emotionally and socially and should be allowed to develop their learning, building on what they can already do.
How do you think technology will influence the sector over the next 5 years?
Touch-screens are being increasingly used by parents and apps are being developed just for young children. The Early Years sector will have to adapt to this, both by incorporating touch screens into their settings and by showing children there is more to the world than tablets!
If you could make one change in the early years sector, what would it be?
Right now nannies do not have to be registered or regulated, despite being in close contact with children. We are part of the Regulation Matters campaign which seeks to bring nannies into the regulated childcare sector.
What is the best professional advice you have been given during your career?
“If you’re not moving forward, then you’re going backwards.” You have to keep trying to improve in business – to innovate, to try new things, and to continually aim to deliver a better service to your clients.
Which 3 people, famous or otherwise, would you invite to a dinner party?
Theresa May – as our new Prime Minister, I’d like to hear what her ideas are for the childcare sector and how her new government can help to encourage and support the sector.
Emma Barrett – she set up the Childcare Expos at a time when there were no exhibitions for the sector and she’s created an innovative, consistent, solid brand with a reputation for quality. She’s also a lot of fun!
My mum – for 25 years she worked part time as a senior play leader at a One O’ Clock Club in a deprived inner city area whilst also working part-time at Morton Michel – as well as raising three children. She is an inspiration to me for what a hard-working woman can achieve, as well as being a truly lovely person.
Morton Michel will be returning to Childcare Expo Midlands to offer our visitors advice and support when it comes to all things insurance – be sure to say hello and to high five Morton the bear!