Category Archives: news

Bright Horizons looks forward with its 2022 graduate scheme

Bright Horizons has today announced that the application process for its 2022 graduate intake is now open.

The programme will kick off in March and will see graduates join the company at its nursery settings across the UK.

This reimagined programme will lead the way in the early years sector, and is here to further enhance its teams of engaged professionals who thrive on empowering children and preparing them to flourish in our ever-changing world.

It is also an integral part of the company’s drive to elevate the status of early years professionals – reinforcing their vital role as key educators and workers in the wider economy; as expert partners to parents; and as important support service providers for employers and organisations who want to nurture fulfilled and productive careers for their staff.

During this two-year programme, graduates will work alongside the fantastic nursery teams at Bright Horizons to see excellence in action by taking on the role of an early years practitioner for the first 12 months. Graduates will gain experience of a variety of roles within the nursery environment, along with attaining relevant qualifications in early years practice through a comprehensive development programme. Within two years graduate recruits could be leading Bright Horizons nursery teams or become early years teachers.

The programme will open a career path for key leadership roles within childcare while offering earning opportunities, as well as providing an outstanding experience to children and parents.

Applicants should have a passion for helping children learn and want to make a difference in their lives. A BA Honours Degree in Early Years/Childhood Studies or similar is required to join the programme with intakes starting in February 2022 and September 2022.

Janine Leightley, HR director at Bright Horizons, said:

‘Our new graduate programme will give aspiring leaders a great opportunity to fast track their careers in early years and Bright Horizons an opportunity to grow and develop our future trailblazers. Mentored by our managers, they will receive the very best support and guidance during their time with us. I am excited to see our own employees get involved with this programme, as well as welcoming new faces to our Bright Horizons family.’

Ros Marshall, managing director at Bright Horizons, added:

‘We are excited to be launching this pioneering programme for graduates who are passionate about inspiring young minds, whilst developing their own knowledge and skills to become the next generation of outstanding leaders of early years Education and Childhood studies. We look forward to creating the best learning environment in Bright Horizons where the children, parents, employers and employees will all flourish.’

FCSS receives £10,000 for play equipment for children from disadvantaged areas

Flexible Childcare Services Scotland (FCSS) has been awarded £10,000 by the National Lottery Community Fund to purchase learning resources and play equipment which will be deployed in four new childcare facilities all based in areas of high deprivation.

Many children living in these areas may have limited access to toys and learning resources and the funding will allow FCSS to provide a wide range of new equipment and experiences for children attending the new services.

According to Susan McGhee, chief exec at FCSS:

‘Our ethos is to encourage a holistic approach where children can learn at their own pace. Throughout the organisation we promote sustainability and are considerate of environmental factors when sourcing play equipment and furnishings for our childcare settings.  We believe that children should be allowed to play with authentic resources such as real china tea sets and natural wooden toys rather than plastic versions. In doing so children learn how to respect and care for the toys they use, as well as learning how to use these resources properly as they grow older.

‘We currently try to repurpose materials that may normally be discarded such as old rubber tyres and cardboard tubing.  These ‘loose parts’ can be used to spark the child’s imagination, transforming seemingly worthless objects into boats, race tracks and telescopes.  This also educates children to look at objects in a new way, helping them to develop and use their imaginations and it allows us to educate a new generation to think about waste the importance of recycling and repurposing resources.’

Unfortunately, many parents and carers, particularly those on low incomes, struggle to afford childcare ,and as a result children may miss out on those key learning opportunities at a young age.

Thankfully, FCSS’s flexible model allows parents to book childcare by the hour and, thanks to support from their local authorities, parents can now use their funded hours flexibly too. This will enable parents be more efficient with their funded hours, saving them potentially hundreds of pounds each month by allowing them to book their childcare at the times when they need it most.

This flexible model will also help parents and carers to find, or continue in, meaningful employment, training and education; further distancing families from poverty whilst boosting their confidence, their aspirations and their mental and physical health.

McGhee added: ‘This move will mean families can maximise the benefit of their funded entitlement, reducing the need for them to purchase wrap around hours. It will help families to save money, it will allow parents and carers to continue working which in turn will mean that children are more likely to attend and experience the benefits that high quality early learning and childcare brings.

‘Children benefit hugely from peer-to-peer social interaction and our approach to resources is to aid children’s imagination and curiosity through play, developing healthy social outcomes such as confidence, creativity, playfulness, and positive emotions.  Improved family finances due to reduced childcare costs, aids improved wellbeing for the whole family.’


New partnership boosts access to high quality, flexible childcare

Parents and children have welcomed a new contract secured by the council with Flexible Childcare Services Scotland (FCSS) ahead of the opening of Tillydrone and Cummings Park Nurseries.

The news comes after a video showing the benefits of the expansion of funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) across Aberdeen was released earlier in the week.

The two nurseries, Tillydrone and Cummings Park, will open in the new year accommodating 56 and 80 children respectively.  Thanks to Aberdeen City Council’s commitment to continue with the roll out of 1140 hours, FCSS is offering fully-funded, flexible early learning and childcare to eligible 2-5 year olds.

FCSS, a national charity who already manage settings across Scotland, was created after it was found that parents were unable to accept offers of employment due to a lack of high quality, flexible, and accessible childcare services.

Susan McGhee, chief exec at FCSS said: “We are extremely excited to be working with Aberdeen City Council within these two new sites.

‘By offering a flexible model, families can maximise the benefit of their funded entitlement, reducing the need for them to purchase wrap around hours.

‘It will help families to save money, it will allow parents and carers to continue working, and therefore children are more likely to attend and experience the benefits that high quality early learning and childcare brings.’

The council is committed to delivering 1,140 hours of ELC every year to eligible pre-school families up from 600 hours. This equates to 30 hours per week during the school term for families.

The expansion of hours will help support child development through the provision of high-quality services. The programme will also help parents and carers return to work or study, as well as supporting child development through the provision of high-quality services.

Families have the choice to access 1,140 hours of ELC at school nurseries, as well as private nurseries and childminders in partnership with Aberdeen City Council.

Councillor M. Taqueer Malik, convener of the Educational Operational Delivery Committee, said: ‘We are delighted to be in partnership with Flexible Childcare Services Scotland to help transform young lives and support the development of our city’s youth to give them the best start in life.

‘Children can have the opportunity to make new friends and learn together through these centres, and by doing so are able to enjoy themselves and have fun, making it a great environment to learn in.’

The council will further welcome the opportunity to participate in the Scottish Government’s project to pilot an additional year of funded ELC for children who defer their primary one start.

From August 2023, all families will be able to access a further year of funded ELC if they wish their child to defer entry to primary school.

Outdoor nurseries are also due to be completed in December at Hazlehead and Duthie Park, subject to weather. The council will be one of only two authorities’ delivering a full outdoor ELC, the other being in Midlothian.

Winners of the 19th annual national NMT awards

On the 20th November, NMT hosted its 19th annual national NMT awards at the Hilton London Metropole.

For nearly 20 years NMT has come together to award those in our nursery community whom so many depend on. This year has still been a challenging time for many but the awards showcased the very best of the community and the innovation across the sector.

Our Gold Sponsor, Hope Education and category sponsors supported NMT in making the awards possible and helping recognise the achievements of our finalists and winners.

NMT national winners

After a rigorous judging process from hundreds of entries, our 2021 national winners were announced:

Nursery Training & Development Award 2021

  • Jamie Atkins, Fennies Day Nurseries

Individual Nursery Award 2021

  • Watermead Day Nursery

Nursery Indoor Learning Environment Award 2021

  • Hitchin House Day Nursery

Nursery Team Award 2021

  • Naturally Learning Truro Forest School, Naturally Learning

Community Nursery of the Year Award 2021

  • Townhouse Nursery, Village Nursery Group

Nursery Manager Award 2021

  • Hannah Jennings, Tops Day Nurseries – Newport, Tops Day Nurseries

Nursery Business Development Award 2021

  • Family First Day Nurseries

Nursery Room Leader Award 2021

  • Georgina Lyon, Stepping Stones Nursery, MiChild Group

Nursery Operations/Area Manager Award 2021

  • Michelle Gascoigne, Tynemouth Nursery Group

Nursery Chef Award 2021

  • Sarah London-Smith, Growing Places @ Oakmeadow, Growing Places

The SENCo Award 2021

  • Lauren O’Brien, Elmscot Woodlands Day Nursery, Elmscot Group

Nursery Outdoor Learning Environment Award 2021

  • Stables Nursery, Stables Daycare

 Parent Engagement Award 2021

  • Toad Hall Nursery Group

Nursery Childcare/Practitioner Award 2021

  • Lydia Evans, Old School House Day Nursery, Cresswell Nurseries (part of ICP Education)

Forest or Beach School / Kindergarten Award 2021

  • Kidzrus Forest School Swinton, Kidzrus Private Day Nursery

Nursery Personality of the Year Award 2021

  • Catherine Luxford, The Nursery Family Lancing, The Nursery Family

Nursery Group (Under 10 settings) Award 2021

  • Little Inspirations

Nursery Group (Over 10 settings) Award 2021

  • Hungry Caterpillar Day Nurseries

 Nursery Product of the Year Award 2021

  • The Investigative Play Table, Millhouse

NDNA’s chief exec Purnima Tanuku OBE attended along with director of policy and communications Jonathan Broadbery and director of business development Cara Brundle:

Purnima Tanuku OBE, stated:

‘It was a truly special awards night and so good to see many familiar faces there.

‘Congratulations to all the winners and finalists on the night who all showcased some of the amazing work that is happening in nurseries across the country.

‘We continue to be very proud of how brilliant and dedicated early years practitioners and managers are in giving all their children such as good start in life and are delighted this was recognised and rewarded at this fabulous event.

‘It was also fantastic to be able to celebrate the sector’s achievements in person, and hear examples of the wonderful work you are doing, you are all winners in our eyes.’






Kids Planet acquires first Yorkshire nursery setting

Specialist business property adviser, Christie & Co, has announced the sale of Rainbow Private Nursery School near Tadcaster to Kids Planet.

Established in 1992, Rainbow Private Nursery School is an exceptional 227 place day nursery and out of school club. This popular childcare setting is located in Barkston Ash, a small village close to Selby and Tadcaster in North Yorkshire. It is uniquely set within circa six acres of land with the children’s areas placed across three extensive buildings and with impressive landscaped outdoor play areas.  


The nursery has historically benefited from having a mixture of clients, both residents and commuters, due to its location close to excellent road links. Locally, there has been significant investment into new housing which will continue for the foreseeable future, creating an exciting opportunity for an experienced operator.

Previous owners, Mr Karl and Mrs Harriet Shields, acquired the business through Christie & Co back in 2007, and recently decided to sell to allow them to take a well-deserved retirement from the sector.

It has been purchased by Kids Planet, one of the largest day nursery groups in the country. This marks the group’s first acquisition in Yorkshire and represents its continued growth across the whole of the UK, establishing a strong position firmly within the North East region.

Mr and Mrs Shields comment, “The childcare market continues to develop at a pace and, when we decided it was time to retire, we knew we needed specialist advice to find the right buyer for our nursery. We were determined that the new owners would share our values and would continue to build upon the excellent reputation the nursery has, so we are delighted that Kids Planet has purchased the nursery and we know it will flourish under their ownership.”

Clare Roberts chief exec of Kids Planet commented: ‘We are delighted to have completed on the acquisition of Rainbows, our first in the Yorkshire region. We look forward to working with the team over the coming months.’

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

‘It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Karl and Harriet during this process and I’m pleased they are now able to move on to their next chapter after almost 15 years in the sector.

‘Being part of the Kids Planet group will offer a fabulous range of opportunities for the nursery’s staff whilst they continue to provide high-quality childcare and support for the children and the parents. I’m very excited to see what’s next for them within the region and moving into the new year.’

Legal advice for the sellers was provided by Julie Hughes and her team at Cripps Pemberton Greenish.

Rainbow Private Nursery School was sold for an undisclosed price.

Fennies announces partnership with leading early years expert

Fennies Nurseries has announced its partnership with child psychologist and developmental neuroscientist, Sam Wass.

Wass will be working closely with Fennies head of education as their child development expert.

This fantastic partnership will provide further insight into early years education and build on Fennies current stream of advice, content and insight for registered parents, potential parents, existing staff members and potential recruits.  


Sam Wass shall provide cutting-edge research into child development from his own research group – covering a range of topics including how different types of home environments influence children, how different early years nursery settings affect children and how children’s brains engage with learning tasks differently when they are doing tasks on their own compared to with other people. 


There will also be an emphasis placed on the effects of digital media on children, how children are affected differently by stress, as well as a range of other topics on the themes of early years learning, concentration, language development and other relevant and crucial topics.  


Rageena Tahir, head of education at Fennies, commented on the partnership:

‘We are delighted to be working closely with Sam Wass; his expertise in child development will have a profound impact on the educational offering, staff training, and overall learning journey at Fennies.’


In addition, Sam Wass shall summarise new research from other groups, so Fennies can provide a section in the MIR about the latest updates. Sam Wass will also be contributing and generating ideas around content relating to sleeping patterns, tantrums, to child media (books/TV/games etc), feeding, and various other essential topics within early years.  

KiddieRail launches to protect children

This month will see the launch of KiddieRail. It is an innovative child friendly handrail for staircases (see attached image).

Most items of furniture are scaled down to fit the small size of toddlers and young children. Chairs, tables, beds, scooters, even umbrellas are made small so that young children can use them easily. However, handrails for household stairs are still designed to fit adults and not children. Young children have a struggle going up stairs and even more of a struggle coming down. One of the biggest concerns of parents with young children is that a child may fall down the stairs and be seriously injured.

We have a product, known as KiddieRail, to help small children negotiate the stairs; a handrail for the house to suit a small child’s height and hand. The height of the handrail is adjustable so that as the child grows the rail can be raised to the optimum height. There are 58,000 under 5s each year having accidents on stairs.

This valuable safety product is being brought to you by Cardea Solutions which has spent a lifetime protecting little ones, originally from its invention Fingershield which prevents finger-trapping incidents. KiddieRail has already won the Baby Products Association prestigious Innovation Award. Furthermore, it has just been recognised by MADE in Britain.  Cardea Solutions (and KiddieRail) is exceptionally proud to have joined Britain’s best manufacturers in using the protected collective mark, “MADE in Britain”.

Made in Britain is a growing community of manufacturers applying the distinctive mark to products, packaging, websites and social media. By joining its organisation, our business is making it really clear to buyers, specifiers and consumers that we’re manufacturing in Britain, and to the very highest standards.

The product has ease of self-assembly and comes in versions to fit every staircase.

Readers who want to be one of the first to take advantage of this KiddieRail launch are further rewarded by a 10% discount by using code ‘saferstairs2021’ in the online shop at

Bright Little Stars boost wellbeing through workshops for parents

Bright Little Stars Nursery Group, based in North-West London are providing extra support for parents and carers by running a program of workshops that offer up to date advice and guidance on how they can assist their little ones in areas regarding their wellbeing.

From keeping children safe online to integrating mindfulness into family life, the workshops are led by a variety of external providers who are experts in their field. The workshops are run throughout the year over zoom, which enables parents to join from the comfort of their home. They offer guidance and support to parents and carers on many aspects of parenting that they may not have come across before, when raising a child under five.

Bright Little Stars head of teaching and school relationships, Gill Baldemor explained:

‘Whilst BLS traditionally run workshops that support educational learning at home, wellbeing is equally important and comes with many difficulties that parents are often unaware or unequipped to deal with.

‘After receiving feedback from parents, we came up with a program of unique workshops to each cover a specific area that not only can improve the quality of children’s home lives, but increase educational attainment and support good mental health. These ultimately improve their child’s wellbeing to live happily and healthily.’

As well as wellbeing workshops, Gill herself provides additional talks to guide parents with school applications. Choosing a school that is the most appropriate for a child is not an easy task and Gill works particularly closely with local independent schools to share her knowledge to all parents to help them make an informed decision.

Gill also assists learning room practitioners in providing high quality learning experiences and to ensure children are ‘school ready’ when it’s time to move on. Gill’s ‘school ready’ workshops give parents the skills and confidence in supporting their child’s learning at home, with the aim of working together to give their child the best possible preparation for ‘Big School’. This is provided in conjunction with conversations in person and information sharing, that helps prepare both child and parent for this important next step.

To further support children’s wellbeing inside their nurseries, BLS run weekly Young Mindfulness Extra-Curricular Sessions for pre-schoolers and toddlers, as part of the bespoke Bright Little Stars Learning Programme. The aim is to provide children with vital coping mechanisms as they grow and develop. Sessions include mindful activities and games, exploring emotions to develop emotional intelligence and creative activities. These are all delivered in a fun and engaging way.

By investing in children’s physical and mental health, a lifetime of benefits is brought to themselves, their families, communities, and the economy as a whole and BLS are proud to be assisting parents and carers in these areas.

Connect Childcare announces sustainability push to help futureproof UK childcare sector

Nursery management software specialist Connect Childcare has announced a sustainability drive, seeing the firm commit to planting 250 trees to help futureproof the early years learning environment for upcoming generations.

Having signed up to THG’s (more:trees) scheme, the technology firm will plant a tree in Madagascar for every Connect Childcare software demo booked, and is aiming to have a ‘Connect Forest’ by July 2022.

To launch the new pledge, Connect Childcare has already donated 57 trees, offsetting its carbon footprint for a full year and more, by removing over 17 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere – the equivalent of over 42,000 miles driven by the average UK passenger car or the amount of energy it takes to charge 1,702,997 smartphones.

Chris Reid, chief exec and founder of Connect Childcare, explained:

“While empowering nurseries to operate efficiently and successfully is at the heart of everything we do, environmental sustainability is also a core value for us.”

“Our technology has already helped thousands of nurseries across the UK to ditch their paper-based systems and take a greener approach with digital processes, but we want to go one step further and help to safeguard the physical learning environment for centuries to come.”

Once Connect reaches the 250-tree milestone, the company will have offset the CO2 emission for its HQ in Lancashire for the next five years. The firm also aims to start offsetting the carbon footprint of its employees too.

Cheryl Hadland, founder of the Green Early Years Choices Champion (GECCO) and MD of the Hadland Care Group – comprising Tops Day Nurseries – added:

“Investing in the education of our children is the most effective way to provide a sustainable environment well into the future.”

The Hadland Care Group conducted a survey of parents and asked whether the nursery being eco-friendly was important to them or not – 86% said ‘yes’.

Cheryl continued: “It’s vital that we leave our world fit for the next generations to enjoy a healthy life, and sustainability should be embedded into every element of the early years environment where possible – from segregating waste and upcycling resources to growing produce in the gardens – to help make this happen.

“This commitment from Connect Childcare is just one of the ways organisations within the sector can help to support and prioritise child development – not only in the short-term but for many years to come.”

Summing up the sustainability in early years conversation, June O’Sullivan, chief exec of LEYF, also said:

“Teaching about the Sustainable Development Goals makes us realise that sustainability addresses huge issues – from poverty to climate change – that impact children. To make the world a better place for children, we must put the right foundations in place now and the early years is the best place to begin.”

As part of its green commitments, Connect Childcare has also revealed it’s looking to partner with sustainable early years suppliers, throughout the festive period to launch a competition to furnish a nursery with eco-friendly equipment. In a bid to help make sustainability and eco-conscious practice a reachable reality for more childcare settings throughout the country. The firm will also be collaborating with wider industry experts to create resources and webinars to help nurseries on their journey to becoming more sustainable.

The news was announced during the COP26 climate change summit, which took place between 31 October – 12 November.

Call to bridge attainment gap in disadvantaged children through reform of 30 hours nursery policy

Learning and development amongst disadvantaged three-and four-year-olds is proven to improve significantly when their funded childcare doubles from 15 hours to 30.

That’s according to new research commissioned by the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF).

The research, which assessed the impact of offering vulnerable children up to 30 hours of learning per week in 12 of its 39 nurseries, compared to the standard government funded hours of 15 per week, revealed an average eight percent improvement in seven key EYFS learning and development areas.

Setting out the case for further improving access to early education for the poorest children ‘locked out’ of crucial early years education, LEYF is now calling on both the government and global investors to provide £165m of urgent funding to bridge the initial shortfall and widen access to the current 30 hours offer. Without this, LEYF warns that progress in closing attainment gaps will diminish, with potentially devastating consequences for the 1.3 million children (aged under 5) who live in poverty in the UK.

When LEYF saw its most vulnerable children arriving at nursery hungry, anxious and developmentally delayed as a result of lockdowns and the impact of living in poverty (exacerbated by the pandemic), it set up the Doubling Down programme in October 2020. Between October 2020 and July 2021, 97 children were offered an additional 15 hours at nursery each week.

Funded by generous donations from Permira Foundation and Barclays 100 x 100 COVID-19 UK Community Relief Fund, analysis from Doubling Down research found:

  • Over 70% of parents and staff saw a positive impact on their child’s communication skills, social development and behaviour.
  • A profound positive impact on the mood, sleep, empathy, school readiness and nutritious eating amongst children.
  • A reduction in the amount of screen time, especially as many of the children had spent months living in high rise flats with no access to a garden or opportunities to play outdoors.

In addition to providing crucial education benefits for vulnerable children, the extra hours at nursery also significantly benefitted parents, many of whom were caring for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). Over three quarters (77%) of parents said their own health and wellbeing had improved, with a further 85% more engaged in at-home learning with their children. Staff morale also benefited because they felt they had more time to support vulnerable children’s learning and development effectively.

The external evaluation of the ‘Doubling Down’ programme conducted by Rocket Science (between October 2020 to July 2021) highlighted improvement across ALL seven areas of EYFS learning and development. The largest improvement was a +12% increase in Communication and Language (from 57% to 68%), followed by +9% across Mathematics (from 52% to 61%) and Expressive Arts & Design (from 67% to 76%).

These findings reinforce the case for improving access to early education for the poorest children recently outlined in the landmark report published by the Sutton Trust, in partnership with the Sylvia Adams Charitable Trust (19 August 2021), which examined the impact of the current 30 hours policy; the evidence behind the need for change; and options for reform.

June O’Sullivan MBE, chief exec of London Early Years Foundation, said:

“This research provides a strong message to the Government and to global investors, demonstrating that we need to think carefully about how we respond to the fast-emerging problems we are seeing across the country as a result of the pandemic. We clearly need to reverse the alarming decline in the health, wellbeing and education amongst our young children. Access to these crucial extra Government funded hours is benefitting children now and can actually help them level up and reduce the attainment gap that emerges from 22 months in children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Doing nothing is simply not an option.”

James Turner, chief exec of the Sutton Trust added:

“Today’s research adds yet more weight to the case for expanding access to 30 hours of funded Early Years education. It’s a national scandal that the poorest three and four-year olds are locked out of these crucial opportunities, simply because their parents don’t earn enough. We wouldn’t accept the state providing longer school hours for well-off families, and we shouldn’t accept it in the early years. If we want to make our school system fairer, it needs to begin with giving every child the foundation to succeed at school.”