NMT News: 16th April 2020

Top stories for nurseries and early years organisations.


Headlines at a glance


MarcoPolo Learning offers 60 days free home learningPlay at Home Fest 2020Nursery group secures £1.6m loan to remain open during the pandemicShadow early years minister reappointedStepping up in a crisis: chefs feeding the communityBristol-based nursery to remain open


Half of UK nurseries remain open for key workersCovid-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: [email protected]

Check out the fantastic offer here: https://www.marcopololearning.com/special-offer/MPL60


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 www.PlayAtHomeFest.com 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 [email protected]


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.

Date published: April 16, 2020