How to start a nursery

Ever considered setting up your own nursery? Carlo Pandian gives you some tips on how to start a nursery.

Nursery worker with children


Starting your own nursery can seem like a daunting prospect. There are many things to consider, but working with children can be enormously rewarding and many people make a successful business out of running nurseries.

A nursery school does not just provide childcare. As a pre-school establishment, your nursery resources will be expected to provide a structured environment with an aim to achieving education through play.

You do not need any formal qualifications to start a nursery as the proprietor. You do need a qualified manager however and appropriately skilled staff.

Do your research

As with any small business you will need to draw up a thorough business plan and the first thing to consider is whether there is actually the demand for a nursery in your area.

You can canvass parents informally, through friends, family and social groups to get a feel for what is needed and what is already available.

For a more detailed overview you can request to see the childcare audits carried out by local authorities  identify what type of early years resources are present in the local area and what funding is available.

Finally, don’t be afraid to contact existing nurseries to ask whether they are over-subscribed and have waiting lists.

Find your premises

This can be easier said than done depending on your exact requirements. These requirements will of course be shaped by the number of children you propose to cater for but sometimes you will have to strike a balance between the ideal premises and what is actually available.

Location is of prime importance but so is generally suitability of the building and any potential health and safety issues. You will need to undertake a risk and safety assessment as set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and it will also be your responsibility to get the premises insured.

You will also need to register with The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), who are responsible for inspecting and regulating the provision of care for children.

What to teach

A nursery school should be far more relaxed than a primary school but, as a provider of key early years resources, you should tailor activities towards an educational outcome. In England these goals are set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage.

They are not too rigorously defined but include the following areas:

  1. Personal development
  2. Language and communication
  3. Mathematical development
  4. Knowledge and understanding of the world
  5. Physical development
  6. Creative development

Find the right staff

No business can operate without the right people and when dealing with children it’s even more imperative that your staff are up to the job.

A nursery should have a full-time manager who oversees the day-to-day running of all nursery resources and he or she should have at least an NVQ level 3 in childcare and appropriate experience in a daycare environment.

Ideally, other staff will also hold childcare qualifications (including NVQ, BTEC and CACHE qualifications) and should have the patience, care and discipline required to help make your nursery a success.

*Carlo Pandian is a freelance writer based in London and blogs about food, technology and education covering everything from organic food to nursery resources. When he’s not online or cycling around town you can’t get him out of the kitchen for his love of food.

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