Two friends who studied childcare at college nearly 30 years ago returned to meet today’s students on the same course and brought children from the Braney Bear’s nursery that they run.

Sarah Hawkins and Leah Clarke stayed in touch with Barking and Dagenham College where they met back in 1996, and later opened their first Barney Bear’s Nursery in Upney Lane, Barking.  

The current childcare students invited them back with their nursery toddlers so they could experience childcare in the classroom with activities to observe child behaviour and get ready for work placements. 

“The students have all the theory they need,” Sarah explained. “But the practical side is important when they’re going out and applying for jobs.” 

Sarah enrolled at the college when she was 16 and now organises student visits and work placements at the nursery with partner Leah. The pair also take part in college recruitment fairs and offer apprenticeships in childcare.