Zara Watkinson

If it wasn’t for an unexpected work placement in a children’s nursery, High Bank Manager Zara Watkinson may well have now been playing professional sport or certainly employed somewhere in a sporting capacity.

So, we’re obviously glad that she took a different career direction.

When she was at school, Zara played cricket, swimming and football and made representative level for all three sports.

Having completed a BTEC in sport at college she went onto university to do a degree in sports science and it is at this point that her projected career path turned drastically.

Zara explains: “I was always very sporty so I was sure that I would end up working in this field, then as part of our work experience at university we were required to work at a primary and secondary school.

“One day, I was asked to also go into a nursery to do sports with the children and I just knew then that this was the place to me.”

After successfully completing her degree, Zara started working at a nursery in her hometown of Stockton. Having the degree meant she could work towards her Early Years Professional Status, which she achieved.

She then moved to High Bank as pre-school room leader in 2011, before being appointed manager in January 2020 – three months before the Covid-19 pandemic!

Zara says: “As manager I have gone from looking after just the children to also know looking after the staff and parents too, that’s the big difference.

“My deputy Jackie and I started at the same time and whilst working through Covid-19 has been very challenging we have managed to get through it as a team and that will make us even stronger in the future, after all what could be worse than a global pandemic!”

Zara says she is glad that she took to the decision to move into nursery care rather than hitting a six, scoring a goal or swimming 100 metres.

She adds: “Seeing a child develop from the time they join us a baby to the time they leave us to go to school and knowing you played an important part in this development is amazing.

“I don’t think there’s anything better than that.”

In her spare time, Zara, 34, enjoys spending time with her partner and their two children and her hobbies as a child have now become her children’s hobbies.

“Now it’s me taking them swimming or to football,” she jokes.

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