Category Archives: news

On the back of a partnership with one of Europe’s leading manufacturers, a business specialising in children’s furniture and play equipment has been born

Creating Classrooms, based in Northumberland, is bringing Haba furniture to the UK market after being approached by the international company to distribute its goods.

Haba is a leading manufacturer in its native Germany as well as other parts of Europe and America, but has yet to make its mark in the UK.

The company approached Matthew and Colette Giaretta who had worked with Haba on a number of projects across the globe through their successful design firm, Feelgood Designs.

“It feels like a great time to bring this range to the UK and a wonderful opportunity to build on experience we have from project work with our sister company Feelgood Designs. We have some really great projects coming up and are hugely focused on improving spaces for children in the UK” said Matthew, Managing director, who himself is a former primary school teacher.

The HABA name stands for quality, product reliability and concern for our environment. The products are made using real solid wood, carefully selected from sustainable approved regional forests in Germany. Complying to the highest standards of quality and safety, HABA furniture is warranted against manufacturer defects with a 10 year worldwide warranty.

Colette said: “We are delighted to represent the fantastic HABA name in the UK. The furniture range is huge, with options for every style and setting. What the partnership between HABA and creating classrooms allows us to do is present something for every budget. Every nursery can afford something.”

Within the HABA range there is everything from tables and chairs, play houses, changing tables, cots, room partitions and library storage. Active play, gym and outdoor equipment are also available.

Jade Hunter, marketing executive said “It’s really exciting for us to be able to offer something new, enabling schools and nurseries to differentiate themselves. The majority of the HABA range can be customised, allowing companies and nursery chains to apply their branding and create something very special.”

The Creating Classrooms team is a group of Early Years and interior experts with a real passion for creating beautiful, flexible learning areas for children throughout the UK. With in- house room planning and over 13 years of design experience, their friendly team are happy to share ideas to make spaces for education settings and public building, now backed by the experience of one of the worlds market leaders in design for children.

PurpleBee takes off nationwide

PurpleBee announce the launch of their award-winning online leadership, mentoring and  PANCo training programmes for Early Years Professionals.

Following on from the successful pilot of PurpleBee online leadership and mentoring training programmes across the east of England, PurpleBee are  now launching their award-wining courses to Early Years settings nationwide.

Each of the PurpleBee ILM Level 3 and CACHE Level 4 accredited and CPD courses have been specifically designed by experienced Early Years professionals to meet and exceed Ofsted’s expectations around the health and wellbeing of children and families.

In response to Ofsted’s raised expectations regarding health and wellbeing PurpleBee offers the gold standard in training for the nationally-recognised role of PANCo (Physical Activity and Nutrition Co-ordinator).

A PANCo is a champion for change; having a PANCo in your setting gives you the in-house expertise to get a headstart on your health and wellbeing initiatives and build a reputation for being an employer that cares about the health and wellbeing of their team, children and families.

PurpleBee online learning provides busy Early Years Professionals with a cost-effective and flexible way to support their development and apply practical learning to their settings.

Early Years Professionals who enrol on to a PurpleBee course can expect to be proactive – improving their own practice, sharing new knowledge and skills and finding ways to enable others to learn and grow.

Nicole, Deputy Manager, The Old School House. ‘The PurpleBee course was extremely easy to use and is accessible to all. I completed the programme on my phone and found I could flip between my work book and browser easily. I genuinely found the content interesting, and a brilliant balance between, audio, visual and interaction catering for all learning types. I would use PurpleBee Learning again, and thoroughly enjoyed this course finding it extremely relatable in my role’

PurpleBee CEO, Linda Baston-Pitt explains, ‘continued, individual development, positive organisational change and workplace wellbeing are all interlinked. By investing in an organisation that actively supports, nurtures and cultivates strong teams and leaders Early Years employers will naturally create an environment in which staff are happy and children thrive’.

The PurpleBee Training team is a group of Early Years professionals, experts and academics who have come together to bring you the latest and best in Early Years practice. Key members of the team have worked in an award-winning nursery, so their training is rooted in the real world of Early Years childcare and education.

For more information on PurpleBee Leadership, Mentoring and PANCo courses, contact:

CEO – Linda Baston-Pitt
PurpleBee Learning
St Johns Innovation Centre
Cowley Road

t. 01223 421745

Co-op Childcare shining spotlight on child nutrition with new health and wellbeing programme

Co-op Childcare has launched a pioneering new health and wellbeing programme that will teach young children about healthy eating and food provenance, based on research that shows nearly all parents want more education on nutrition in nurseries.

The initiative has been led by research and insight sourced from parents, which shows that 98% would like their children to understand more about where food comes from. Parents also rate a nutritionally balanced menu second only to Ofsted ratings in the most important factors considered when choosing a nursery for their child.

Nutritionally balanced, traceable menus have been launched across all 44 of its nurseries, which have been created with and accredited by the child health charity Startwell and endorsed by celebrity doctor, Dr Hilary Jones. As part of the design of the menus, parents, children and colleagues were asked which foods they’d like to see included, with the final menus incorporating the findings of the survey.

Each setting has also received a growing package from Rocket Gardens for their nursery garden, complete with vegetable patch, strawberry planter and organic herb garden. Enhanced growing areas will be rolled out across the group, to encourage children to interact with nature on a daily basis, planting, tending, picking, and maintaining the plants to improve their knowledge of the journey from earth to plate.

As part of the new programme, colleagues, including nursery staff and chefs, are undertaking specialist nutritional training. This will ensure colleagues are equipped to support parents with advice on nutrition, and chefs can apply their training when developing new recipes.

The new menus will be delivered by food wholesaler Brakes, has rigorously tested accreditations in place to mark the high quality of its food, and ensures all meat and fresh produce is fully traceable back to the supplier.

Rachael Escott, Sales & Marketing manager at Co-op Childcare, said: “We know that children who understand where food comes from are much more likely to have a positive relationship with healthy eating, so it makes sense to start education around this topic early. Many healthy eating programmes start a school age, but we want to encourage good food habits from a much younger age.

“We’ve been working closely with parents, colleagues, and children, to make sure we help the little ones in our care lead the healthiest lives they can.”

Dr Hilary Jones, GP, Medical Broadcaster and Author, said: “Co-op Childcare has committed to delivering healthy, wholesome, varied meals to ensure all the children in its nurseries are getting all the nutrients they need, and the education to understand why nutrition is important.

“With this strong foundation, they can continue on to grow, learn, and flourish and maintain a lifelong, positive relationship with food.”

GECCO Real Nappy campaign

GECCO is a registered charity, established to promote sustainability in Early Years childcare and education. GECCO’s Real Nappy campaign aims to promote reusable, washable nappies to reduce plastic pollution.  GECCO is going to do this by providing information and support, and cloth nappies to staff working in day nurseries, enabling them to support parents to make the change.

Chairman of the GECCO Board, Cheryl Hadland, is passionate about a cultural change towards sustainability, through those responsible for the education of our youngest citizens.  She is also Founder and CEO of Tops Day Nurseries (group of 30 day nurseries in the South and South West of the UK as of May 2019) and of Aspire Training Team – described as a world class training organisation by DfE in the training of Early Years personnel.

Cheryl explains, “There needs to be a behavioural change away from plastic, disposable single-use nappies, towards reusable nappies. Every child has about 6500 nappy changes, generating 1 tonne of plastic waste each. Damage is caused by nappies disintegrating into the environment, forming microplastics which can maim and kill fish, mammals and birds, and filter into the food chain for humans.

Every householder in the UK has about 3% of their domestic rates bill spent on getting rid of single use nappies.  This is whether you have a baby in nappies or not.  It costs around three times the cost of a disposable nappy to get rid of it and unfortunately most go to landfill. Using just one reusable nappy a day for 3 months will stop around 90 single use nappies being thrown away.

GECCO’s Real Nappy campaign has been supported by funds raised by leading whisky auctioneer Whisky.Auction, in partnership with retailer The Whisky Exchange, who hosted an auction of one-off bottles of whisky and rare spirits in November 2018, to raise funds for sustainable ventures and charities battling plastic pollution around the world.

A generous donation of £5,000 has been used to launch the campaign and buy real nappies, which are reusable and washable, and replace plastic disposable nappies.

GECCO, in partnership with Tops Day Nurseries, is giving a pack of reusable nappies to early years professionals with babies and toddler in nappies, so that they can support local parents to use the same, as well as leading by example.

Every Tops Day Nursery across the South of England has a hamper of reusable nappies to loan out to parents to try for free and will be encouraging parents to move to reusable nappies, at least while children are at nursery.

GECCO will also be supporting other day nurseries around the country to support parents to use reusable nappies and is looking for donations of nappies and funds to buy nappies in order to spread the word as quickly as possible – and to help save the planet from plastic waste.

Reusable nappies can be made of bamboo and hemp rather than cotton or microfiber, they are soft and comfortable, don’t cause nappy rash if rinsed normally, are easy to fit with velcro, poppers or clips (no safety pins) and are easy to wash.  They are the responsible, sustainable way to parent, and even the new baby son of Prince Harry and Meghan will be wearing reusable nappies.


A message from The Harvey Group



Dear Fellow Nursery Owner,

I write to you as part of a close-knit family business that has been involved in the care sector for three decades, and as owners and operators of a 60-child, fully occupied, Ofsted rated ‘Good’ nursery in London.

Our mantra
It’s simple: we treat the children we look after as if they are our own, with the wellbeing of our staff, the quality of education we provide, and our adherence to extremely high standards of safety all being paramount in what we offer. We view our nursery and pre-school as a place of education, rather than a glorified crèche, where we teach our children the ability to have confidence, be independent, and to pursue whatever drives them as individuals. We believe passionately in looking after all our of nurseries, ensuring that we invest money, time, and effort, into supporting, maintaining and improving all new additions to our group.

Growth goals
To continue growing our vision, we are actively looking to acquire leasehold nurseries and pre-schools registered for 55 children or more, that have either a ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted rating, within London and the surrounding home counties.

The advantages of dealing with us are:

  • We are a cash buyer.
  • We will pay a competitive price.
  • You will NOT need to pay agency fees, as we will deal directly with you.
  • We will keep your name and preserve your heritage that you have worked so hard to build.
  • We are very hands-on nursery operators, with all the directors themselves working with children on a daily basis; we are NOT private equity, venture capital investors, or a corporate group.
  • We always aim, to the fullest extent possible, keep existing staffing teams in place, we know they are the heroes of your nursery.

I am always available to speak, whether for an informal chat over the phone, or to meet for a coffee. I understand that confidentiality and sensitivity are critical, and therefore all conversations are treated with the strictest confidence.

All correspondence may be directed to me at 07867 50 55 66 or I look forward to hearing from you.


Yours sincerely,




Daniel Harvey

Children First – politics in the best interests of the child











Will your organisation endorse the following statement?


‘What sort of society are we becoming when four and five year olds are starting school unable to utter more than a few words, understand basic instructions or even use the toilet?’ (‘The Daily Mail’, 1st June, 2018).

Ofsted Head, Amanda Spielman, categorises children as either born ‘lucky’ or facing ‘disadvantage right from the start … unable to follow what’s going on. Unable to keep up with their classmates. Unable to reach their potential.’

Menaced by five 21st century ‘evils’

  • obesity and physical inactivity
  • adverse childhood experiences
  • rising mental health issues
  • dominance of social media and screen time influence
  • socioeconomic disadvantage and cultural/ethnic divide

our children may become the least healthy adult population in living memory.

We need an authoritative voice within the Cabinet to bring all these issues together and devise solutions that will be more than just firefighting on an individual policy front and so we call upon Government to appoint a Cabinet Minister for Children and Young People.

Need to know more? A full supporting document is available from

Please let Phil know by email if we can add your name to the list of endorsements.

ITS Group Appoint New Commercial Director

ITS Group have appointed a new commercial director to further develop and drive forward their business activities. Peter Lawrence has joined ITS Group bringing 25 years + experience in commercial and educational roles, gained within the UK and Europe, with organisations such as Experian and Barnsley College.

Throughout Peter’s career, his commitment to helping individuals to enhance their lives, developing local communities and supporting employers in achieving sustainable, organisational growth has perpetuated. With his new role, Peter is looking to develop and integrate ITS Group’s training and development portfolio to meet the Group’s growth ambition, supporting local employers’ future workforce skills and fulfil their commitments as a charity.







Peter Lawrence (left), new
Commercial Director and
Dr. Chris Payne, CEO (right).


Peter Lawrence will work alongside ITS Group’s Leadership Team. When asked to comment on the new appointment, CEO, Dr. Chris Payne highlighted, “We are thrilled for Peter to be joining the ITS team. We are firmly pursuing our growth strategy and Peter will be integral to achieving our ambitious vision. Peter was an obvious choice for us with his extensive experience and positive, can-do approach that inspires and encourages others”.

ITS Group’s vision for developing and delivering outstanding training, education and lifelong learning opportunities results in innovative solutions and dedicated support for both learners and employers alike. During the last year alone they have opened a new centre in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, have achieved Centre of Excellence Status from Skills For Care and maintained their ‘Good’ Ofsted grading.

The ITS Group is a registered charity (1091711).

Bright Horizons Family Solutions acquires Yellow Dot Nurseries









The 12 Yellow Dot day nurseries have been bought by leading childcare provider, Bright Horizons Family Solutions, whose offer was accepted as a result of the companies’ shared visions and cultures of promoting exceptional and high quality childcare. 

The portfolio has a  combined operating capacity for 794 children mostly in central Hampshire The addition of Yellow Dot brings Bright Horizons’ total number of nurseries in the UK to more than 320 and more than 1,000 worldwide. The sale was handled by business transfer agents Christie & co.

Founded by Managing Director, Jane Dyke in 1997, Yellow Dot has an excellent reputation and benefits from a locally renowned and very highly regarded brand. The business comprises impressive childcare settings including purpose built nurseries and converted residences, former public houses and commercial properties. Each setting has been purposely designed to provide start of the art facilities and many of the children’s rooms provide direct free flow access to exceptional outdoor children’s play and activity environments.

Christie & Co’s Managing Director – Childcare & Education, Courteney Donaldson commented, “Last autumn, Jane and I discussed the buoyancy of the UK and the scope to achieve a premium price in the event of a professionally executed sale process. Following weeks of preparation, the opportunity to acquire Yellow Dots nurseries was introduced to a carefully selected pool of potential buyers in early December who were invited into the confidential sales process. In early February, we received multiple offers, over the asking price, from a wide variety of trade operators and investors alike, with deliverable offers being presented by both UK based and overseas parties. Due to the amount of pre-transaction works which were undertaken prior to the commencement of the sale, the period from the deal being agreed through completion took a mere seven weeks.”

An upward trend











During 2017 Britain’s childcare property market continued to exceed expectations and deliver asset value growth in excess of forecasts. Demonstrating the resilience of the sector, the growth has come at a time of significant political and macro uncertainty.

Appetite from investors, corporate groups, regional groups and first-time entrants is healthy and at the corporate level the market has witnessed the sale of Magic Nurseries (a group of 16 nurseries) to Les Petits Chaperons Rouges (LPCR) and also the sale of Kiddi Caru (a group of 20 nurseries) also to Les Petits Chaperons Rouges (LPCR).

Overseas investment is being driven by a combination of the excellent reputation of the UK childcare sector and the good value represented by the current weakness of sterling. During 2017 we launched our highly successful online platform which was aimed at expanding our buyer reach to a global audience. Through the website statistics we can see strong international buyer appetite particularly focused in Asia and the Middle East.

In addition to the overseas investors we have been actively working with a number of regional and local operators who are pursuing their own ambitious strategies for growth and who can see the opportunities which are arising in the market place. We expect this trend to continue.

Providing  evidence of the strength of the market, Redwoods Dowling Kerr have enjoyed success throughout 2017 with both group and single site completions. For 2017 we have seen an outstanding growth of 200% in group completions compared to 2016 and an impressive  30% growth in childcare completions overall compared to 2016. What is even more interesting to note is that of the group completions 50% have sold to regional operators while  40% have  sold to new entrants to the childcare market.

The outlook for the UK childcare sector in 2018 is extremely positive and we very much look forward to working with owners throughout the remainder of the year to deliver on their exit and growth strategies.


Redwoods Dowling Kerr have enjoyed success with our Corporate Sales Service in 2017 year which  has included the sale of:


  • Project Apollo – a Montessori group in London sold to a new entrant
  • Project Martha – a nursery in the South West sold to a national group
  • Project Cortez – a group of Nurseries in Yorkshire sold to a regional operator.
  • Project Honey – a group in the North East of England which sold to a regional operator
  • Project Jake – a leasehold nursery in Kent sold to a private equity backed regional operator

We also have a number of corporate sales due to complete H1 of 2018 which include:

  • Project Eden – a leasehold nursery in London sold to a regional operator
  • Project Daisy – a group of nurseries in the South West sold to an overseas investor
  • Project Susie– a group of nurseries in the South West sold to a new entrant
  • Project Lilypad – a group in the South West sold to a regional operator
  • Project Oliver – a freehold nursery in South East sold to a new entrant

Recognition of the importance of early years education drives growth in childcare market

LaingBuisson has launched the 14th edition of its Childcare UK Market Report. According to the Report there are currently 4.9 million children aged five or under in the UK today, 17% of whom are in formal childcare, with demand growing year-on-year. This is driven by more mothers of young children working (70% with children under 4 in 2017) and by growing recognition of the role receiving the right education during early years is to child development.

While the market still has a ‘long tail’ of small providers, the growth in popularity of formal childcare is increasing demand for childcare places, attracting investment in the sector, and there are now 2 ‘super groups’, around 23 mid-small sized groups. A number of investors and providers from North America, Asia and Europe have entered the market, among them Les Petits Chaperons Rouges, the number 2 in France and now number 7 in the UK market, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (“OTPP”) and Temasek, the National Government of Singapore’s investment fund.

The market is not, however, without its challenges. Other successful markets like France, have experienced similar challenges and it is expected UK operators will adapt to them and move forward providing stronger businesses, offering better care and support for children, parents and staff.

Dominic Barrett-Evans, report author, said:

“All of the indicators point to formal day care services for children under the age of 5 being attractive for investors taking a long-term approach and with a willingness to evaluate each acquisition on its own merits. With many more mothers of young children working and parents recognising the value of good early years education and care, childcare has now become a vital part of everyday life, this will only continue to grow, and the quality of managers and staff are being recognised now more than ever before. We expect continued steady growth, with increased demand for more specialised childcare services and eco-nurseries providing operators with innovative, practical and cost-effective solutions to extend capacity if needed.

“Moreover, the childcare sector has shown its resilience in the face of economic downturns and Government policy changes over the years. However, the sector has always come back stronger and a very real opportunity exists if the Government settles on the correct childcare strategy soon. It is too early to judge the impact of most recent 30 hours policy’ but it is likely that operators will be able to adapt and find solutions to make it work. Getting the funding right is also fundamental to making sure well-trained and good-quality staff continue to be attracted to the sector.”


For further information please contact:
Heidi Nicholson, Head of Business Development, LaingBuisson. Tel: 020 7833 9123