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NDNA responds to ONS labour market overview

Following a period of employment growth and low unemployment, since the start of the pandemic the employment rate generally decreased, and the unemployment rate increased.

However, over the last year, both have shown signs of recovery. The latest Labour Force estimates for June to August 2021 that the employment rate increased by 0.5 percentage points on the quarter, to 75.3%. and the unemployment rate decreased by 0.4 percentage points, to 4.5%.

The economic inactivity rate is down 0.2 percentage points on the previous quarter, to 21.1%. The number of job vacancies in July to September 2021 was a record high of 1,102,000, an increase of 318,000 from its pre-pandemic (January to March 2020) level.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, chief execut of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said:

‘These latest employment statistics show that it’s currently a job seeker’s market with low unemployment and rising wages. Without action from the Government, this will put additional pressure on sectors like the early years where public funded places make up a lot of nurseries’ incomes.

‘The early years sector continues to face really tough recruitment and retention challenges – 90% of providers told us in June that they found it difficult or very difficult to recruit the level 3 qualified practitioners they need. This staffing crisis can only be exacerbated by this growth in employment and salaries where competition from areas like retail and leisure will increase.

‘The government must factor this into its Comprehensive Spending Review decisions regarding its childcare offer. Higher wages must be reflected in the hourly funding rate that providers receive to deliver funded childcare places. Failure to do so will result in yet more qualified practitioners leaving the sector which will mean upheaval for children in settings. Our members told us this summer that their staffing bills have increased by an average of 8.6% this year but funding rates are not keeping pace.

‘Children benefit from having high quality early education and continuity of care. At the same time, providers tell us they want to be able to properly recognise and reward their teams who do such amazing work with our youngest children. It’s time for the government to stop underfunding and truly invest in our children’s futures and those who work to build them.’


New menus launched for early years

A new healthy eating campaign and infant menu, inspired by nutritionist Charlotte StirlingReed and headed by Zebedees, has launched for nurseries.

Baby & child nutritionist and Mum of two, Charlotte, became increasingly frustrated by what she was hearing from other parents about what their babies were being offered at nursery. When Zebedees approached Charlotte to collaborate with them on recommended nutritional changes to their new menus, Charlotte grabbed the opportunity to positively influence meals going onto thousands of little ones’ plates every day.

The outcome is the creation of a modern menu with significantly reduced sugar, more varied and exciting meals, alternative sources of protein and offering ‘second courses’ instead of desserts.

Charlotte said:

‘As an adult, I would not expect to have a sweet or sugary pudding after every meal so it really bothered me that children were being offered this each day (sometimes twice a day) whilst at nursery. The idea of ‘eat your dinner and you can have your pudding’ is incredibly outdated and not in touch with what modern parents are looking for, or what is recommended for developing a positive relationship with food. We now know so much more.’

Children in full-time childcare can receive up to 90% of their daily food intake at nursery, so it is vitally important that children are offered plenty of energy and nutrients via balanced meals throughout the day when they are attending their childcare setting.

Charlotted added:

‘I’ve loved working with Zebedees on their latest menus. They hold such a high standard for creating and rolling out these delicious, hot meals to so many children in the UK. I’ve worked to try and ensure that Zebedees really go above and beyond with these menus – and they really do. Meeting all of the UK government’s targets and then some.

‘Their flexibility, desire to be the best and their real passion for getting it right for children has made this process so easy and I’m so proud to be working for them as their nutritionist. There are other changes we may look to make in the future, but we want to ensure that any changes made are accepted by nurseries and enjoyed by children too – it’s all part of the parcel of feeding children. Huge hats off to Zebedees (especially their head chef, Brendan) who are so willing to really stand out in front to help ensure the foods on offer for nurseries is really the best in terms of quality, nutrition and taste.’

Charlotte has been working with Zebedees offering her advice and guidance on menu development, the first of which is released on 11th October.

Zebedees founder Philip Oates said:

‘Our new menu exceeds current government guidance for menus for early years settings and enables nurseries to demonstrate to parents that they are achieving a standard of excellence in early years nutrition within their setting.

‘The new menu also supports nurseries to meet the new requirements under the Early Years Foundation Stage, which emphasises that meals provided must be healthy, balanced and nutritious. We feel really satisfied that we are fulfilling our responsibility to the young people we feed and that we are able to reassure parents that their children are being fed a balanced diet at nursery. This is an exciting breath of fresh air for the meals of children in early years settings and we are incredibly proud to have worked with Charlotte on our new menu development.”

The Zebedees x Charlotte Menu is available from 11th October. For more information visit


Kids Inc Day Nursery Clarence Avenue launch day

Following the opening of the Clarence Avenue September, Kids Inc team held an official Clarence Avenue launch day earlier this month.

The day was organised to celebrate the new setting, welcome the new staff team and finally open the doors to children, parents and visitors.

Kids Inc Nurseries were lucky enough to greet the Mayor of Redbridge as their guest of honour.

The Mayor was interested to hear the story of the nursery’s journey and the building challenges we have experienced along the way.  The Mayor officially announced the nursery open and thanked the Kids Inc team for their work over the last 18 months, for keeping ‘hub’ nurseries open during the first lockdown last year and for contributing so much to the local community in Redbridge, from supporting key workers to making donations to local hospitals and key workers.

Mayor of Redbridge said:

‘It was a pleasure to open the fourth Kids Inc nursery in Redbridge.  I enjoyed a great welcome from the friendly staff and a wonderful tour of this purpose-built nursery.  I wish you all the very best of luck with the nursery.’

Senior Manager, Stevie Deeble, added:

‘It is great to see this nursery open again, as it was only open for a matter of weeks before Covid struck.  We are ready to serve the community and assist local families with their childcare needs.  Well done to the Clarence Avenue team for hosting such a memorable launch day.’

Vacant Angus nursery up for sale

Specialist business property adviser, Christie & Co, has been appointed to sell a vacant former nursery within the David Lloyd leisure club in Monifieth, Angus.

The former nursery site, which has excellent purpose-built facilities and previously operated with a capacity for up to 58 children, is located within a desirable David Lloyd leisure club and provides childcare services for both club members and the public, alike.

The club is located in the town of Monifieth in Angus which has good access into Dundee along with a number of nearby suburbs of the city.

This sale offers an ideal opportunity for an existing operator who owns nursery settings in the Dundee region to further establish their portfolio and brand with the addition of a high-quality facility.

Rosie Adlem, director at Christie & Co who is handling the sale, commented: ‘

‘This is a superb opportunity for a nursery operator to take advantage of a fabulous site and re-establish a nursery provision in a popular location. When previously in operation, the nursery was highly thought of by club staff and members alike, and the landlords are eager to bring this additional club provision back into action.’

This David Lloyd nursery is available as a new 10-year lease with a mature annual rent of £45,000.

East Yorkshire nursery sold to Muddy Boots Nursery

Specialist business property adviser, Christie & Co, has announced the sale of Kiddies Corner Day Nursery in East Riding, East Yorkshire.

Established in 2010, Kiddies Corner Day Nursery is a purpose-built children’s day nursery with a large outdoor play area to the rear of the property. The business is located in the residential village of East Riding in East Yorkshire, and benefits from its close proximity to major commuter routes. The setting sits in a densely populated residential area with easy access to both local amenities and public transport links.

The nursery was previously owned by Ms Catherine Hyde, and has been sold to Mr Andy and Mrs Anna Nimmo of Muddy Boots Nursery Ltd. This is the pair’s third setting in the Yorkshire area, their other businesses are located in Acomb and Poppleton.

Managing director at Muddy Boots Nursery Ltd, Andy Nimmo, commented:

‘Muddy Boots really is a dream come true for us and we are so proud of our team and grateful to every family who entrust their child to us. We have a vision for dynamic, full of life, standard setting nurseries and this will help us expand our services to more families across York and the surrounding areas.

‘We believe in the best for every child, and that every child should be given the opportunity to flourish into their full potential. The name ‘Muddy Boots’ really sums up our whole ethos – to not be afraid to let children learn by getting muddy, exploring, going on adventures, and getting out there and having a go!

‘From the moment we stepped into Kiddies Corner, we felt that it would be a fantastic fit – it’s a nursery that has so much potential, and we are absolutely thrilled to welcome the team into the family. We are planning on commencing an extensive refurb throughout, further investing into the site and the team as much as we can.’

Vicky Marsland, senior business agent at Christie & Co, who handled the sale, commented:

‘This is a beautiful nursery and a perfect fit for the buyers as they continue to expand in the local area. The nursery is purpose-built with a spacious layout and exertive outside space, which fits in very well with Muddy Boots’ two existing settings in York.  It’s been a pleasure working with the operators in finding them the right buyer for their business and I wish Andy and Anna all the best in their future endeavours.

‘Buyer demand is stronger than ever in the sector and, as more and more businesses bounce back to pre-COVID levels, we are seeing many operators resume their exit strategies after holding off on decision making over the past year.’

Kiddies Corner Day Nursery was sold for an undisclosed price.

What to expect from an Ofsted Learning Walk

When nursery settings receive a visit from Ofsted, it can often lead to panicked feelings about the impending inspection and a sense of unpreparedness. However, it’s important teams feel confident throughout.

Beth-ann Sher, product marketing manager of nursery management software organisation Connect Childcare, explains.

An Ofsted inspection is inevitable within the education sector, and yet there are still so many practitioners who endure sleepless nights at the thought of it.

The thing is, settings that are providing children with the best possible care, needn’t worry. Of course, an Ofsted rating has a huge weighting on an early years business, but to alleviate some of the stress, taking a step back and remembering why they’re in the job in the first place, can pay dividends in the long-run.

So, before exploring the elements of the ‘Learning Walk’, first let’s debunk a myth. Ofsted inspectors don’t ‘need to see’ documentation in a specific format. However, what is important is that record-keeping is managed effectively to help identify patterns in children’s attendance, accidents and what their mealtimes look like, so professionals can respond swiftly to any concerns.

Additionally, the team’s designated lead practitioner for safeguarding should be armed with evidence so they can keep on top of any issues, and discuss them with the team. Plus, it’s vital the setting keeps relevant policies and procedures up to date anyway, but especially because an inspector will likely ask them to explain how they’d handle different safeguarding scenarios.

Moving on to the Ofsted Learning Walk

Introduced as a new feature of the Education Inspection Framework (EIF), this requires an inspector to invite a senior member of staff to complete a Learning Walk. During this activity, they must be able to demonstrate how the setting’s curriculum supports every child’s development.

To be as prepared as possible for this, questions that come up are likely to include, ‘what skills do you want babies to develop in the baby room?’ and ‘what progression will there be in the toddler and preschool areas?’

And although Ofsted doesn’t have any preferred pedagogy, the EIF refers to the ‘intention’, ‘implementation’, and ‘impact’ of the curriculum, which Jo Caswell – an Ofsted inspector of more than 20 years – explains below.


For example, ‘what do you want children to learn?’ By demonstrating high expectations, that are age-appropriate, an inspector begins to build a bigger picture as to how the team can support a child’s development.


Covering the activities that are being provided and the learning environment created, the inspector wants to understand how the setting ‘teaches’ children every day.


Are the children making progress and meeting typical development milestones? If there are any gaps in learning that are closing too, these are all vital pieces of information to be discussed during the Learning Walk.

Don’t be afraid, be proud

And finally, Jo recommends that when an inspector is being shown around, practitioners should display how proud they are of their team and setting – so don’t shy away from speaking about important achievements.

Providing examples of where practices have been altered and improvements made are key too, and if any plans are already in place to address weaker points, they’re worth flagging rather than glossing over. After all, any professional worth their salt will always be striving to improve.

Overall, an inspection shouldn’t be feared. In fact, it’s an ideal opportunity to underline the hard work that’s gone into making the setting the best it can be, and provides the chance to highlight any exciting elements that are in the pipeline.

To ensure admin tasks are streamlined and regularly updated – without impacting on child development – discover what Connect Childcare’s nursery management software can do. Book a demo today.

Member of parliament, Will Quince, visits local nursery

Sunhill Day Nursery in Colchester, part of The Old Station Nursery Group, welcomed member of parliament, Will Quince, into the nursery this month.

Sarah Steel, chief exec of The Old Station Nursery Group and NDNA Chair of Trustees, invited Will Quince to visit the nursery following his recent appointment as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families.

During his visit, Jo Head, deputy nursery manager at Sunhill Day Nursery Colchester, Penny Ainge, quality and training manager at The Old Station Nursery Group, and Tracy Berry, area manager at The Old Station Nursery Group met with Will Quince.

They shared with him the current challenges in the early years sector for children, staff and families; as well as their suggestions as what they felt was needed to shape the future of early years. To congratulate Will on his new role and to welcome him into his new position, the children used their expressive arts and creativity to make him a card.

Commenting on visiting Sunhill Day Nursery in Colchester, Will Quince said:

‘It was an absolute pleasure to visit Sunhill Day Nursery; to meet with the fantastic staff members and to see the children having the best time getting involved with all of the different activities the nursery has on offer for them – including creating such a lovely card for me, complete with all of the children’s handprints and handwritten names.’

Sarah Steel, chief exec of The Old Station Nursery Group and NDNA Chair of Trustees, added: ‘We really appreciate Will taking the time out of his busy schedule to visit us and welcome him back to visit at any time. We look forward to seeing lots of positive changes within the sector.’

Established in 2002 by Sarah Steel and named as the 19th largest nursery group in the UK (Nursery Chains league, March 2021), The Old Station Nursery Group comprises of 36 nurseries providing 2410 places across Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Berkshire, London, Kent, West Midlands, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Essex. To find out more about The Old Station Nursery Group, please visit

NDNA comments on the LGA submission and Petitions Committee report

The Spending Review submission has been split across six categories that highlight where local government intend to act on.

The government has pledged to ‘level up’ the entire country and reiterated those promises during the Conservative Party Conference.

Local government will have to play a vital role in supporting communities to thrive.

The Spending Review priorities:

Commenting on the LGA submission, Purnima Tanuku OBE, chief exec of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said:

‘NDNA has been campaigning for years for funding rates to reflect actual costs for providers but it’s now clear that local authorities are also extremely concerned about this worsening situation.

‘We welcome the LGA’s submission and recommendation that there should be a significant increase in funding rates to allow nurseries to offer places to all children.

‘Our research and evidence clearly shows the impact of underfunding childcare places which results in struggling nurseries reducing the numbers of funded places they offer, increasing fees for additional hours, increasing charges to parents or sadly having to close their doors for good.

‘The worst affected nurseries tend to be those in areas of disadvantage where parents are less likely to pay for additional hours or send their child to nursery before they can receive entitlement funding.

‘The entire funding system needs urgent reform. NDNA has found significant underspends of early years entitlement money of £62m in 2109/20 which was used to offset other deficits or carried forward.  This is unacceptable. Local authorities must pass this on to the early years providers it was meant for. The government must look at our Childcare Passport suggestion in which all funding streams would be placed in each child’s online account.’


Government set to relax childcare rules to lower costs for parents

Childcare costs will be relaxed in order to lower costs for parents and increase the number of children that a childminder can look after.

The plans would mean that one member of staff could look after and supervise five children under two. Currently, one staff member can look after a maximum of three children.

The average weekly cost of a part-time nursery place for a child under two has risen by a third in the past decade, according to the Family and Childcare Trust. It was £102.05 in 2012 but is now £137.69.

Early years organisations and leaders have responded to the plans.

Commenting, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: 

‘We are dismayed by reports that the government plans to relax childcare ratios, and will fully oppose any attempts to do so.

‘Let’s be clear: if the government does attempt to relax ratios, it won’t because they want to help providers or parents. It will because ministers see doing so as a shortcut to fixing the childcare crisis that they created without having to actually invest in the early years sector.

‘Existing adult-child ratios in early years settings are there for a reason: they safeguard young children’s safety and wellbeing, and ensure that they get the best possible care and education. For the government to even consider making such a change would speak volumes about how little they value quality early care and education.

‘When ministers tried to make this change eight years ago, parents and providers united to oppose it. We hope the government isn’t planning to make the same mistake twice.’

Purnima Tanuku OBE, chief executive of NDNA, said:  ‘This is not the first time that relaxing ratios has been proposed when talking about the cost of providing high-quality childcare, however we have not seen anything official along these lines. We are talking about nurseries and childcare providers who are critical to starting children on their educational journeys. Policy decisions affecting children’s early learning and development have to be evidence based, not done by soundbites.

‘Cutting down on staff to child ratios is not the answer to reducing the cost of childcare at a time of staffing crisis and underinvestment from the Government. We can’t fix the challenges faced by the early years sector just by asking staff and nurseries to do more with less.

‘The government’s funding of childcare places has never met the true costs for nurseries and 95% of our members say they are underfunded. This means more costs passed on to parents to meet the government’s shortfalls. That is the area Ministers and officials should be focussing on.’

June O’Sullivan CEO of  the London Early Years Foundation added:

‘In essence, the government wants to “level up” by cutting its spend and find ways of reducing costs to voters. If this means increasing the adult to child ratios then, without doubt,  it  will significantly reduce the time available for staff to spend with each child.

‘This is particularly important for the youngest children, our little babies and two year olds whose welfare and development are closely linked to social interaction and forming secure attachment relationships with adults. I urge our new Education Minister, Will Quince to get to grips with why thoughtful ratios are critical for the wellbeing of children and the ability of staff to really support their learning and development.’



Goldcrest Nurseries sold to Tender Tots Childcare

Goldcrest Nurseries, a group of two nurseries in Essex, has been sold to experienced operators Tender Tots Childcare, with Redwoods Dowling Kerr advising the sale.

The nurseries, located in Billericay and Stanford-le-Hope, have a combined registration of 62 children from birth to age 5. Since being acquired by the current vendors in 2005, the settings have gone from strength to strength.

Located just 10 miles apart, Goldcrest Nurseries’ two settings have established an excellent reputation in their respective local areas due to the high levels of expert care provided and the accessibility of both settings. The settings are located in well-populated, affluent residential areas in the Billericay and Stanford-le-Hope areas.

Ofsted has also recognised the superb levels of care performed at the settings, with the Stanford-le-Hope setting receiving an ‘Outstanding’ assessment from Ofsted and the Billericay setting assessed as ‘Good’.

After cementing the group’s reputation, the vendors wished to retire and instructed Redwoods Dowling Kerr in the sale. There was substantial interest in the setting due to our unique buyer’s intelligence, with 11 viewings conducted.

The buyers, Tender Tots Childcare, are registered childminders with 15 years of experience in the sector. They were drawn to the settings due to their excellent locations and plan to further grow the group with new acquisitions.

Tender Tots Childcare said:

‘We have had a great experience and found the RDK team to be very experienced and informed on the childcare market. Natasha was brilliant and provided regular updates, ensuring all parties were informed of the progress. We have and will continue to recommend RDK as the level of customer service is outstanding.’

Expert sales negotiator Natasha Satterthwaite said:

I’m so pleased that we have managed to complete the sale of Goldcrest Nurseries. I’d like to wish the vendors the very best of luck in their retirement and the buyers every success moving forward with their new business.’