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NMT News: 22nd May 2020

Top stories for nurseries and early years organisations.


Headlines at a glance


Managing the risk while re-opening the sector

Ready to open? Key points to get there

Early Years Alliance criticises lack of government support

Childcare market report points to a resilient sector for the future

Christie & Co: Covid-19 – Guidance for Early Years Settings



Managing the risk while re-opening the sector

Many providers are extremely keen and ready to get their settings back up and running. However, it’s crucial to carefully manage and mitigate the risks while slowly easing out of lockdown.
Following on from several commentaries and reports over the weekend, including the survey and report from the Children’s Commission for England, NDNA’s Chief Executive Purnima Tanuku OBE said that there was no such thing as zero risk.

Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, asked the Government and teaching unions to work together constructively to get children back into education.

Longfield pointed to the overwhelming evidence that showed children particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds were at risk if they were not being supported to learn. The pandemic will also potentially widen this gap, putting more children at risk in the long term.

NDNA’s chief executive Purnima Tanuku OBE, said:
‘There have been several commentaries and reports over the weekend both questioning and defending the wisdom of sending children back to nursery and school, including a report from the Children’s Commissioner for England.

‘Following our meeting with scientific advisors on Friday, whose evidence is now published, we know there is no such thing as a zero risk scenario but it’s about minimising any risk and taking control of managing that risk.

‘Lots of nurseries are already doing sterling work looking after around 76,000 vulnerable children and critical workers children since the lockdown – they are clear about how best to manage those risks in their own particular settings. According to the Children’s Commissioner’s own survey, three out of 57 hospital nurseries reported a confirmed case but none reported transmission within a nursery.

‘We hope this will give confidence to parents. Nurseries and their practitioners will have to make their own judgements on whether or not to reopen and parents will also have to make that decision having discussed any concerns with their child’s nursery.

‘NDNA will continue to support nurseries with comprehensive guidance and advice on safe working, updating policies and procedures and carrying out appropriate risk assessments. We have urged the Government to make sure nurseries are financially supported and are able to access the necessary amount of PPE they need.

‘The sector, parents and the Government should all work together to do the best for our children’s health and education.’

NDNA has created a hub of ‘Get back on track’ resources to support you in reopening your nursery.


Ready to open? Key points to get there

With the announcement that schools could re-open in phases from 1 June, many early years providers are planning ahead to meet the date fully prepared.

The Covid-19 Response Group has been working tirelessly since the closures to give the sector the relevant information and guidance needed to cover all areas of concerns.

The group put together a list of its key talking points and information:

  • Like schoolteacher colleagues, a number of Early Years sector employers have had reservations about opening their settings to all children and staff, where there may be a risk of Covid-19 transmission.
  • Many of us are parents and are torn to make the right decision. Schools and nurseries are all wanting to ‘do the right thing’ and have been incredible already at finding solutions to operate during the crisis.
  • Our teams have been providing care to keyworkers children for past 2 months. On May 16th, the Children’s Commissioner quoted a survey of 62 nurseries attached to NHS trusts, that have been open throughout the crisis and of the 57 managers surveyed, they found:
    • there was an average operational capacity of 46%.
    • 3 cases of Covid-19 in children, with no transmission in nursery; and
    • half of the managers said staff had reported cases, but again, found no transmission in nursery.
  • A short survey of providers within the Covid-19 response group found: –
    • we have collectively cared for 3,339 children each day
    • there have been just 3 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in children
    • there have been just 2 confirmed cases in adults (employees)
    • that none of these have been traced to transmission in the nursery
  • We need to better understand the risk: Professor Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University, indicates that only 2 out of 10 million pre-school age children have died from Covid-19 to date.


On balance we believe it is in society’s best interests to slowly open up the education and childcare sectors.

  • We need to support the children in our care; many vulnerable and disadvantaged children will benefit from being back in nursery.
  • Parents cannot get back to work without good childcare. We therefore need to open to support our families.
  • In April, the Covid-19 response group developed a set of ‘Safe Operating Procedures’, using our collective experience, knowledge, and practise, with an emphasis on creating sound Risk Assessments and rigorous control measures, including but not limited to:
    • Practical realistic solutions to social distancing measures.
    • Managing logistics of parent/children and employer in/out.
    • Reducing access to the nursery facilities.
    • Safe use of nursery resources.
    • Frequent thorough handwashing and good hygiene routines; and
    • Enhanced cleaning and sanitising measures.
    • Management of suspected case of Covid-19.


Early Years Alliance criticises lack of government support

As early years providers move towards re-opening, the Early Years Alliance has called out the Government for failing to financially support the sector.

The Government has not helped cover the additional costs of operating during the Covid-19 outbreak, despite pledging between £25,000 and £75,000 to schools.

In a letter sent to education secretary Gavin Williamson and children and families minister Vicky Ford, the Early Years Alliance has called for the government to end the unfair treatment of early years providers, arguing that financial support for the steps childcare providers need to take to keep their settings safe – such as additional cleaning and the purchase of PPE – is likely to be “critical” at a time when one in four providers fear closure in the next 12 months.

On 7 April, the DfE published guidance that stated that schools could apply for additional financial support to help with the “exceptional costs associated with Coronavirus for the period of March to July”. This included increased premises related costs and additional cleaning costs.

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

‘We know that many providers are still reviewing whether or not they will be able to open on 1 June – but for those that intend to do so, the government must commit to providing the funding needed to meet the additional costs of operating during this period, just as they have already done for schools. 

‘Infection prevention is rightly a key consideration for providers planning for the reopening of their setting, which in practice will mean additional cleaning, the purchasing of PPE, the replacement of some equipment and resources, and the additional staff time required to carry out this work – all of which will come at no insignificant cost to providers. 

‘It beggars belief, therefore, that while the government has already ensured that extra support has been made available to schools to help meet these costs, no equivalent financial commitment has been made for the many thousands of nurseries, pre-schools and childminders operating around the country. 

‘Early years providers are already facing significant financial difficulties as a result of inadequate government support during this period. The government must act urgently to address this disparity and ensure that no provider is financially disadvantaged for trying to ensure that their setting is as safe as possible for their staff, families and the children in their care.’


Childcare market report points to a resilient sector for the future

LaingBuisson’s 16th report details the market outlook of the childcare sector. Although written before the outbreak of Covid-19, the report highlights areas of support needed for the early years market.

The report was authored by Cairneagle Associates and led by the head of childcare practice, Arun Kanwar. Further support on the report was given by Ina Todorova, Pierce Hickey and Sean Cornell.

Arun leads Cairneagle’s childcare practice. Prior to joining Cairneagle, Arun was head of UK Acquisitions at Bright Horizons.

The report looks at private, voluntary and independent group-based (PVI) registered settings that are open for business throughout the year.

In addition, for the first time the report also covers school-based providers that deliver full-day services.

Despite the impact of Covid-19, the childcare market remains a resilient one where both private equity and larger international corporates are increasingly active.

The report highlights that over the last two decades the UK day nursery sector has continued to grow in real market value at c.7% p.a. and has proven to be an attractive place for investors, driven by:

  • Favourable socioeconomic trends (including maternal workforce participation and age of parents giving birth) and financial backing from the government (in particular funded hours for over-threes) – which together have contributed to enrolment growth at levels greater than underlying demographic trends.
  • A higher degree of recessionary resilience than many other sectors (because spend is increasingly ‘nondiscretionary’), demonstrated through sustained real market value growth during the 2008 downturn.
  • High fragmentation, with a wide range of business types and sizes offered for sale.


Each nation in the UK supports free hours for nursery aged children. In England, In September 2017, the free early education entitlement for three and four-year old children of 15 hours per week was extended to 30 hours per week (subject to certain eligibility criteria).

In 2019, the DfE estimates that some 328,000 children aged three to four benefitted from the extended 30 hours entitlement, an uplift of 11% from the year before.

LaingBuisson points to the fact that the 30 hours funding has proven to be one of the most imperative issues in the sector.

Funding for the early years sector has faced criticism for years as the Government continually ignores the sector’s crucial need for additional funding.


Arun Kanwar, partner at Cairneagle stated:

‘In a way the timing of the report being completed then was very helpful, as it highlights that once we get through these exceptionally challenging times, nurseries are one of the most fundamentally resilient and investible sectors in the UK – over the last 20 years they have moved from being ‘discretionary’ to increasingly social infrastructure to both help parents to stay in the workplace and to give children the best start in life. In fact, the funded offer to help parents to get back to work will need to be a key tool in the government’s strategy to get the country back to work once the lockdown lifts.

‘The Covid-19 crisis – not covered in our report – will no doubt have some lasting impact on the sector including potentially more funding austerity and a difficult employment market for parents. There are always some ‘silver linings’ in that there is increasing recognition of what our incredible sector does in helping parents working in essential sectors to support the country, and that operators of all shapes and sizes are removing their barriers and co-operating much more closely for the greater good.’


Key findings

  • 14,750 settings, providing a total capacity of 872,500 places for children from birth to four.
  • 254,300 care staff employees.
  • £6.7 billion 2018/19 market value.
  • 609,948 full-time equivalent childcare places taken up in full daycare settings.
  • 378,800 children in a 30 hours place.
  • For-profit operators £5,500 million.
  • 52% of childcare employees are NWQ 3 qualified.
  • Not-for-profit operators £1,200m
  • £900m Voluntary
  • £300m School-based
  • Market growth 6.2 per cent


Christie & Co: Covid-19 – Guidance for Early Years Settings

Christie & Co continue to work with a number of buyers and sellers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the sector is under immense strain, there is still opportunity for growth.

While we await a more clear timetable post June 1, Christie & Co remind the sector of the guidance out there to support them.

‘At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic a wide range of Early Years organisations came together in an unprecedented way to support and share guidance, expertise and practice, in order to ensure a continuation of the very high standards of Early Years Care and Education, being delivered.

‘This Early Years Covid-19 Response Group includes the major sector representative groups alongside national, regional and smaller local multi-site providers. As a combined group of 70 major providers, amid lobbying and other activities, the group have collated guidance on COVID-19 site operating procedures for early years settings.

‘These guidelines are intended to assist early years providers in implementing precautionary measures to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 disease in childcare settings. This information has been created with the intention of sharing so that providers may start to consider and build on some of the guidelines to form Site Operating Procedures (SOP), suitable to their situation. The guidelines are based Guidance published to date, 6th May 2020, as published by Public Health England and Department for Education for educational settings and their key workers. The COVID-19: Operational Procedures – Guidance for Early Years Settings is available here.

‘Areas as detail herein, provide content for consideration associated to children, welfare, visitors, hygiene, health and safety. In addition, the guidance provides areas for consideration in relation to premises, including the legionnaires checks. Specifically, on this matter employers, or those in control of premises have a duty to understand and manage legionella risks. Further information is available here.

Amidst this uncertain and challenging time, it is clear that many operators are now looking ahead to getting back to business safely and securely.

NMT News: 7th May 2020

Top stories for nurseries and early years organisations.


Headlines at a glance


Covid-19 Response Group details guidance for a safe re-opening

Open letter to the Government and Local Authorities

Survey: A quarter of childcare providers fear permanent closure within the year

Play at Home Fest announces lineup

CMA investigation will focus on childcare providers among other sectors



Covid-19 Response Group details guidance for a safe re-opening

For nearly two months the early years sector has tried tirelessly to navigate through the uncertainty caused by Covid-19.

However, despite changing regulations and an unprecedented situation, the sector has continued to pull together to support each other and share guidance in order to move the industry further towards a safe re-opening.

The Covid-19 Response Group is made up of the main industry membership organisations, who represent several thousand members and over 70 childcare groups.

A sub-group from the Covid-19 Crisis Response Group has created an in-depth proposal for safe reopening which is being sent to local MPs, Local Authorities and to the Treasury and DfE.

The proposal carefully details how the group is proactively supporting the Government, families and employees as they step towards implementing solutions to come out of the lockdown.

Guidance points for
a safe re-opening are
detailed here


Open letter to the Government and Local Authorities

An open letter from a sub-group from the Covid-19 Crisis Response Group is being sent to local MPs, Local Authorities and to the Treasury and DfE.

The group understands how crucial it is for the early years sector and the Government to work together to bring about the solutions that will enable settings to safely come out of the lockdown.

Please see the full letter below:

To whom it may concern,

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, a wide range of Early Years organisations have come together in an unprecedented way to support and share guidance, expertise and practice in order to ensure a continuation of the very high standards of Early Years Care and Education, being delivered.

This includes the major sector representative groups alongside national, regional and smaller local multi-site providers. With all their backing, we are writing to outline how, as a combined group of 70 major providers, we feel the sector is best placed to support Government and the economy by setting out how we can safely and effectively ‘re-open’ childcare provision across the country which will clearly be needed to support parents who return to work in the months ahead.

In relation to the Statutory Framework for EYFS, current disapplication measures with in Learning & Development requirements and appropriate flexibilities within Safeguarding & Welfare requirements have given providers initial support to deliver ‘emergency childcare’ as part of the initial response to COVID-19. As we move to re-opening/transitioning from ‘emergency childcare’, the sector is well placed to address several matters:

1) EYFS – Safeguarding & Welfare requirements – with current flexibilities in place and the nature of Early Years settings being considerably smaller than schools, with key-groups of children, we are more able to further minimise transmission risks as settings are less likely to have large communal areas such as playground entrances, dining rooms, halls, meeting rooms and other facilities which may more typically be associated with schools and larger educational provision.

2) Training & Regulatory matters – providers have clear guidance and accountabilities from a range of sources including:

a. guidance which has been in place since late February/early March and evolved in response to the pandemic and resulted in dynamic changes to providers Site Operating Procedures (SOPs) being implemented by our workforce
b. Health & Safety at work Act 1974 and related HSE guidance and oversight
c. Ofsted Inspection Handbook and associated guidance
d. A well-established sector-linked range of independent training and support organisations

3) Key Supplies – we have the current ability to build on our emerging ‘ sector procurement strategy’ including items such as PPE, Resources and Educational Materials, Hygiene and Food which will remove any further burden from Government in supporting the sector in transitioning from ‘emergency childcare’.

4) School Transitions – we are very aware of the difficulties faced by young children who will be transitioning back into settings and for some also due to move onto primary school settings in just a few months, having spent in many cases a number of months away from their key attachments and familiar learning environments. To support their wellbeing and social/emotional implications of lockdown, alongside ongoing social distancing demands placing additional pressure on schools, we would require Government to re-enforce the existing mandatory school starting age of five for this cohort of children, allowing them to take up their reception place from either January or April 2021. Early Years settings are ideally placed to support this move, which should remain at parental choice and facilitated by:

a. Schools guaranteeing children their Reception place if entry is deferred by 1 or 2 terms.
b. LA’s funding term time 9-3pm (30 hrs) provision in Good & Outstanding provision using existing mechanisms and current underspends from DSG.
c. EY settings continuing to provide a rich and varied curriculum as per the existing EYFS which already covers the age range up to 5 years (60 months).
d. Parents retaining a choice and also paying EY providers directly for wraparound/out of school hours

Finally, we would welcome supportive guidance from Government in the following areas:

Directives to Local Authorities – a need for both consistency and speed of decision making in supporting providers through this transition phase and beyond
PPE – clarity for both our teams and parents on latest medical advice and requirements
Notice – in relation to effectively ‘re-opening’ and considering the needs of both our teams (furlough status, wellbeing) and the appropriate transition for children into the setting and their emotional and physical wellbeing, we would request that Government supports the sector to begin to open the nurseries in response to local need as and when they are ready.
As referenced above, Appendix I sets out an outline of SOP’s which relate to the key considerations all settings will have in re-opening and/or transitioning from ‘emergency childcare’ operations. These have also been developed with the expertise and input of the aforementioned providers and should serve as a sector-wide reference tool from which all providers can make the necessary arrangements that are appropriate to their individual setting or context.

These views and the SOP’s included at Appendix I are given in good faith and with a collaborative spirit to ensure we can provide the very best level of Early Years Care and Education that the country’s children deserve and that enables families to get safely back to work whilst ensuring all appropriate consideration is given to how we support ongoing measures in the UK’s response to COVID-19 and ensuring that ‘R’ is both reduced and maintained at a suitably low level to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed as part of a second spike.

Your faithfully

Early Years COVID-19 Response Group


Survey: A quarter of childcare providers fear permanent closure within the year

According to a new survey conducted by the Early Years Alliance, one in four nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in England say it’s “unlikely” that they’ll still be operating in 12 months’ time.

The sector has been plagued for decades by underfunding, but on top of that a lack of adequate government support during the coronavirus crisis has really taken its toll.

More than 3000 childcare providers took part in the survey.

  • 25% of respondents felt that it was ‘somewhat unlikely’ or ‘very unlikely’ that they would be operating in 12 months’ time.
  • 74% of respondents said that the government hasn’t provided enough support for early years providers during the coronavirus crisis.

In recent weeks the Government has made several U-turns on the amount of support available for the early years sector including allowing staff to be furloughed and assistance through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Government guidance published on 24 March stated that childcare settings could benefit from both early entitlement funding and the Job Retention Scheme. However, on 17 April, the Department for Education published additional guidance which placed new limitations on how much financial support providers receiving early entitlement funding could receive via the scheme.

The survey found that, of those childcare providers who employ staff:

  • 75% had thought they would be able to access the scheme in full alongside early entitlement funding prior to the new guidance being published on 17 April.
  • 71% had already furloughed staff ahead of the new guidance being released, while a further 11% had informed staff they were going to be furloughed.


When asked what impact the new limitations on furlough funding would have:

  • 47% said they may need to make staff redundant
  • 37% said they may need to retract offers to top up staff wages to 100%
  • 21% said they may need to retract offers to waive or reduce parent fees


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

‘These findings paint a truly worrying picture of a sector struggling to cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, and not getting anywhere near the support needed to make it through this crisis.

‘Many nurseries, pre-schools and childminders were already struggling financially long before the coronavirus outbreak hit as a result of years and years of severe underfunding – and while the government has taken some steps to support providers during this period, as the results of the survey show, they are simply not enough.

‘The recent last-minute U-turn on the support that childcare settings can receive for furloughed staff in particular has had a hugely negative impact on the sector, and if not reversed, is likely to contribute to many avoidable redundancies and, in some cases, permanent closures.

‘Add to this the number of providers that the survey revealed are falling through the gaps of existing schemes – such as settings unable to benefit from business support grants, and newly-registered childminders excluded from the Self-employed Income Support Scheme – and it’s clear that government support for the sector is severely lacking.

‘The government must now accept that it needs to do much more to support early years providers in this country – otherwise, we may not have a functional childcare sector when this crisis is, eventually, over.’


Play at Home Fest announces lineup

Dr Gummer’s Good Play Guide has announced a lineup of household names that will take party in the not-for-profit Play at Home Fest.

The digital festival will take part between May 23 and 24.

Included in the lineup is stand-up comedian and author, Shappi Khorsandi, who will headline the main stage to entertain families.

Mum of two, Shappi, is a well-known name having appeared on shows including Live at the Apollo, Mock the Week, 8 out of 10 Cats and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

It’s a great opportunity to get the family together for a virtual day of fun and entertainment.

Headlining the Time To Create Stage and bringing a model making workshop to the festival is Merlin Crossingham from Aardman, the world-famous animation studio. Merlin is creative director of Wallace & Gromit and Morph, but also directs commercials, short films and was Animation Director on the recent feature film ‘Early Man’. Merlin will share tips and tricks with budding animators.

Maggie & Rose, the global family members’ club, has teamed up with classic children’s character, Miffy, to host a very special session for little ones filled with Miffy-inspired Maggie & Rose art, craft, cooking and story-time classes. The instantly recognisable rabbit, created by Dick Bruna, is an evergreen brand with a multigenerational appeal, and this year celebrates her 65th anniversary.

For the evening story time performance, the award-winning makers of the Toniebox, tonies will take the main stage to read to children.

Amanda Gummer, Founder and CEO, Good Play Guide, comments: “The lineup for Play at Home Fest is phenomenal already and we are just thrilled to be able to bring this level of play, fun, and excitement to families at such an uncertain time, while raising funds for the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal.”


CMA investigation will focus on childcare providers among other sectors

The Competition and Markets Authority has pointed to the nursery and childcare sector as one of their areas of concern.

In a new investigation of cancellation and refund practices, the CMA highlighted three sectors of concern:

  • Nurseries and childcare.
  • Wedding and private events.
  • Holiday accommodation.

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

‘The government has asked that childcare providers are ‘reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents’ during the coronavirus outbreak, and we are proud to see that this has been the approach taken by the vast majority of nurseries, pre-schools and childminders to date. We know that many early years providers are waiving parent fees during this crisis regardless of the terms of their parental contracts, and despite the negative financial impact this is likely to have on their settings.

‘Any instances of settings taking an unreasonable approach to parental fees would be likely to represent a tiny minority of the sector as a whole. What’s more, it is important that the CMA takes into account the fact that, unlike the holiday and wedding industries, the childcare sector is heavily dependent on government funding, and this funding has been inadequate for years. This has put a huge pressure on providers trying to remain sustainable, and especially during this incredibly challenging period.

‘It is vital that any review of childcare practices takes these factors into consideration, and the Alliance would be very happy to support the CMA to gain a full and comprehensive understanding of these issues to ensure that the upcoming investigation is balanced and well-informed.’


Purnima Tanuku OBE, chief executive of NDNA, stated:

‘Nurseries are being put between a rock and a hard place during this crisis. They are being asked to remain open and run at a loss to provide emergency childcare, while those who can’t open still face staffing and other costs which the Governments support doesn’t fully cover.

‘As a result of a lack of insurance cover, delays to Government support schemes and chronic underfunding of childcare places we know that some nurseries have asked parents for contributions to keep their businesses afloat.

‘Nurseries as consumers have their own concerns especially about how insurance cover is working for them as this is leaving them exposed to losses. We have also raised concerns with the CMA previously about how Government funding is affecting the childcare market which is already pushing them to the brink. Before this crisis more than half were only breaking even or running at a loss.

‘If nurseries don’t have the income to cover their ongoing costs then they won’t be able to re-open when parents come to going back to work. If these measures – combined with a lack of Government support – force more nursery closures it will be the families and children who will suffer in the long term.’


NMT News: 16th April 2020

Top stories for nurseries and early years organisations.


Headlines at a glance


MarcoPolo Learning offers 60 days free home learning

Play at Home Fest 2020

Nursery group secures £1.6m loan to remain open during the pandemic

Shadow early years minister reappointed

Stepping up in a crisis: chefs feeding the community

Bristol-based nursery to remain open


Half of UK nurseries remain open for key workers

Covid-19 Business Hub


Editor’s note
NMT, in partnership with MarcoPolo Learning is sharing the top stories across the early years sector. We are living through unprecedented and worrying times, but those still working have been doing an enormous amount to ensure that this period is as easy and stress-free as possible for parents, children and nursery employees.

At times of great uncertainty, we have seen communities, schools, nurseries and businesses come together to support each other. We’ll be sharing fantastic stories and surveys from some of the top industry experts.

Of course, we can’t ignore the impact that Covid-19 is having on the sector, but it is vital to keep up-to-date with Government announcements and follow the guidelines.

Making sure that children still have access to education and learning is absolutely essential during this crisis and you’ll be hearing much more in this newsletter about what MarcoPolo Learning has to offer to make learning at home fun, easy and free.


MarcoPolo Learning offers 60 days free home learning.

With nurseries and schools nationwide closing to stop the spread of Covid-19, parents are facing a new challenge of creating a learning environment at home every day. While some nurseries and schools are staying open to help key workers continue to travel to work, many parents now have their children at home while trying to balance their busy lives; many of whom are still working full-time from home.

Therefore, to ease the burden, MarcoPolo Learning is offering an extended 60-Days FREE, unlimited access to their award-winning early-learning platform for 3-5 year olds. With over 3,000 STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, Maths) video lessons and learning activities, MarcoPolo World School will enable children to learn everything from Literacy, English, Maths and 21st Century skills (problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, teamwork) from the comfort of their own homes.

MarcoPolo is doing everything it can to help at this time, so the offer can be personalised for different nurseries, so please get in touch for more information at:

Check out the fantastic offer here:


Play at Home Fest 2020

As families across the UK face nursery and school closures, lockdown and social distancing, Dr Gummer’s Good Play Guide has launched an online family festival to put play and fun back at the heart of the home.

The Play at Home Fest will offer families at home themed virtual stages with activities, entertainment, competitions and play. From 23 to 24 May the home-based festival aims to help parents and children have fun together while coping with the disruption that Covid-19 has caused.

The festival also has a line-up of children’s favourite characters, celebrities and brands. Moreover, Play at Home Fest will also enable businesses in the children’s industries to get involved and raise their brand profile. Raising funds for the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal is also at the heart of this event.

Activities and performances will be live streamed via as well as across Good Play Guide social media channels. Across the two-day event virtual attendees can expect to sing, dance, create and relax, with a huge variety of performers lined up.

Dr Amanda Gummer, founder and CEO, of the Good Play Guide, commented: ‘We’re thrilled to be able to bring together children’s industries to provide an action-packed, fun-filled play festival during such difficult times. Play at Home Fest enables us to support the trade and consumers at a time where we all need to pull together.’

For more information, email


Nursery group secures £1.6m loan to remain open during the pandemic

Children 1st, one of the UK’s largest nursery groups has secured a £1.6 million loan in order to keep business running to support key workers and vulnerable children during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The loan was agreed by Lloyds Bank and brokered by Goodman Corporate Finance. It also received a 12-month capital repayment holiday on its existing borrowing. Like many nurseries across the UK, Children 1st has faced a fall in revenue since the lockdown was announced.

The group has 24 sites across the Midlands and South Yorkshire, 5 sites of which are in Nottinghamshire. Since the Government announced school and nursery closures, Children 1st has continued to provide care for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.

Adrian Mason, managing director at Children 1st, said: ‘It’s really important that we keep our nurseries open so key workers can continue with the vital work that’s keeping the country safe and working, but a huge drop in attendance numbers after the lockdown was announced meant that cashflow was becoming a problem.
‘Not only will this new funding mean we can carry on supporting key workers and vulnerable children, it also means that we can retain our amazing team of employees and ensure the long-term future of the company.’

Jon Saltinsall, senior healthcare banking consultant at Lloyds Bank, said: ‘The finance secured by Children 1st will act as a much-needed buffer to the company as it, like many other firms, overcomes unprecedented challenges in the weeks and months ahead.

‘It’s a fantastic example of a strong-willed firm that’s fighting through the crisis so it can continue to play support the UK’s essential workforce.’

Paul Goodman, managing director at Goodman Corporate Finance comments: ‘Children 1st Day Nurseries undertook prompt strategic planning to guarantee its future in these unprecedented times. The funding agreed by Lloyds Bank will reassure both Children 1st and the thousands of families it supports that the company will not only survive the current crisis, but can look forward to a bright future.’

Children 1st was founded by Margaret Mason in 1988. In 2017 she received an OBE for her services to early years education.


Shadow early years minister reappointed

New Labour leader, Keir Starmer has reappointed Tulip Siddiq MP for Hampstead and Kilburn as shadow children & early years minister.

There has never been a more vital time to be holding the Government to account on how it will continue to support the early years sector. Even prior to Covid-19, the sector had called on the Government to drastically increase funding and improve access to it.

Siddiq previously served as shadow children & early years minister from October 2016 to January 2017 when she left the position in order to vote against triggering Article 50. Tulip Siddiq also chairs the APPG for Childcare and Early Education.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:
‘We warmly welcome Tulip’s reappointment as shadow children and early years minister. In this role, and in her previous position as chair of the APPG for childcare and early education, she has demonstrated a clear willingness to engage with the early years sector, and an understanding of the key concerns of childcare providers.

‘With the sector currently facing huge challenges in light of the coronavirus outbreak, now more than ever we need a strong opposition to hold the government to account. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Tulip to ensure that providers get the support they need to get through this difficult period and beyond.’


Stepping up in a crisis: chefs feeding the community

 Led by renowned chef and speaker, Leon Aarts, a group of trained chefs and volunteers have joined forces to support families, the vulnerable and key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Compassion London is an independent charity that aims to tackle food poverty across the capital. The chefs and volunteers have been tirelessly working to prepare and deliver thousands of meals every day to vulnerable groups. The kitchens at the heart of the meal prep are part of The Yum Yum Food Company who are specialists in nursery and school catering.

The charity is also working closely with Westminster Council to support its vulnerable groups, including the homeless.

Annabel Karmel, London-based children’s cookery author and supporter of Compassion London, whose children’s recipes are prepared by the Yum Yum Food Company, said she was ‘hugely concerned’ about the undeniable impact of nursery, school and business closures on the most vulnerable families and individuals.

Together with Leon Aarts, she urges the public to help play a prominent role in ensuring that regular nutritious, hot meals are provided during the crisis.

Founder of the Yum Yum Food Company, Abigail Simon, said that its premises have the capability of producing up to 5,000 meals a day, but that the initiative relies on funding and support:

‘We can do this, but we can’t do it alone. Teams of volunteer chefs and delivery workers are working around the clock, but we need more help. Whilst we need more on-the-ground support to reach as many areas as possible, we are also reliant on donations. Getting a meal to someone in need costs about £2. One donation of just £10 enables us to provide 5 meals. £100 will help us feed at least 50 children a hot delicious meal.’


Bristol-based nursery to remain open

Charlton Nursery in Bristol has announced that it will remain open for children of key workers throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

A team of staff will continue to keep the nursery open every week day from 7.30am to 6pm with breakfast, lunch and tea provided. Furthermore, it has a capacity for up to 78 children and the team are welcoming children who have key worker parents or carers, both new and those who normally attend either the Imperial or Flax Bourton branch, which is based in North Somerset.

The team are rotating where possible and management staff are working from home where it’s practical to do so to ease the impact of Covid-19.

In addition, non-key worker families who cannot send their children to nursery are receiving regular updates from staff on the Famly app, such as videos of staff reading stories and leading activities, ideas for things to do, links to other activities and learning resources.

CEO and co-founder, Helen Nott, stated:

‘We’ve had a lot of enquiries recently and we are keen to support in any way we can. These are unprecedented times and having childcare in place can make the difference between being able to perform a critical role or not. We hope by committing to staying open we will be able to make a difference.’



Half of UK nurseries remain open for key workers

New research from National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) has revealed the strain that Covid-19 has had on nurseries across the UK.

Across England, Scotland and Wales, 2570 nurseries responded to the survey. It revealed that half of nurseries are managing to stay open for children of key workers and vulnerable children.

Usually these nurseries would be taking in almost 140,000 children. Now they are looking after 16,236, which is around 12% in total.

Main findings from the survey:
• 1309 separate responses representing 2570 nurseries.
• 50% of those who responded said they were currently open.
• These nurseries currently look after 16,236 children, which is 12% of those they usually care for.
• Nurseries in the UK on average receive only 38% of their income from government funding, however 70% have said they are not charging parents for children’s places which they are unable to take up.
• 17.5% are charging parents up to 25% of their normal fees; 9% are asking for 26% – 50% .
• 1.5% said they were charging parents between 51 and 75% and 1.9% were charging more than that.
• The responses came across nearly all local authority areas in England, Wales and Scotland.

NDNA chief executive, Purnima Tanuku OBE said: ‘Our new research illustrates how difficult life is for our nurseries in the UK as they try to help the national response to Covid-19.

‘Different UK governments have pledged to maintain support through the usual funding for childcare places but our survey shows that this only makes up 38% of their regular income on average. It does vary widely from nursery to nursery with some relying completely on parental fees. All nurseries still have fixed overheads even with a fraction of their usual income.

‘It’s time the government acknowledged this and put their backing behind nurseries to make sure they are in a position to fully re-open when the country gets back to business as usual. Nurseries need to be able to access more support from government such as the £10,000 small business grant and the £25,000 retail business grant.’


Covid-19 Business Hub

The Government have published a new Coronavirus business hub which aims to deliver support for businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The hub will allow nurseries to access all the business information needed about the virus and the financial support available. This also includes information for those who are self-employed.

The hub states that:
• Loans, tax relief and cash grants will be available.
• Employers can apply for staff to get up to 80% pay if they can’t work.
• Self-employed people will receive up to £2,500 per month in grants for at least 3 months.

Job retention scheme update
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme to be open to all UK employers for at least three months. Employers can use a portal to claim for 80% of furloughed employees’ (employees on a leave of absence) usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month.

According to the first permanent secretary and chief executive of HMRC Jim Harra, HMRC are working to have the portal open on 20 April for employer submissions, giving a 10-day window to month end for PAYE payroll reporting.

Find out more about the scheme and check if you’re eligible here.