Are you thinking about setting up your very own nursery? Caring for other people’s children and watching them grow can be one of the most challenging but rewarding professions there is.
But while you might have the kind of flexibility, creativity and patience it takes to succeed in the day-to-day role, there are a few extras to take care of to get your business off the ground.
Childcare is, appropriately, a sensitive issue. This means there’s a large number of legal boxes you’ll need to tick before opening.
The Children Act of 1989 sets out that you need to be registered with the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted). To do this, you’ll need to complete a DBS check, which reviews your criminal history, and fill out a health declaration booklet, which details any health problems you’re affected by.
You’ll also need to show you have suitable experience and qualifications and demonstrate that your nursery will meet guidelines on staff-per-child and space-per-child ratios.
Health and safety
Unsurprisingly, health and safety is a key priority for nursery owners. Your premises, policies and processes should combine to create the safest environment possible, as set out by the early year’s foundation stage (EYFS) statutory framework.
The EYFS requires that you have robust health and safety policy in place, which includes procedures for identifying and dealing with hazards, and reporting accidents.
Practical precautions include using anti-slip floor plaint to prevent slips and falls, installing strong lighting, storing food safely, and checking the condition of toys and equipment.
Location, location, location
There are various considerations when choosing where to base your nursery. You’ll want to find somewhere close to family homes to attract customers, ideally with convenient parking areas and transport links for parents, children and staff.
Safe outdoor space is a plus, as is a relative lack of competition nearby. If local nurseries are full, however, this points towards an opportunity.
Nursery can’t be all spontaneous fun and games, and you’ll need a working knowledge of the early year’s curriculum to make sure you’re helping your children develop.
Encouraging learning through play is essential, as is updating parents on their children’s progression. The EYFS has clear guidance on how to judge early years development in preparation for children entering primary school.
While childcare might be your passion, a nursery is a business, and you’ll need to find a way to turn a profit or at least break even. This can be challenging with child numbers fluctuating throughout the year, as you’ll need to maintain appropriate staffing levels.
Your fees will need to cover your rent, staffing, and other running costs, so research what similar nurseries are charging in your local area.
If you can cover these points, your dream of opening a nursery will be within your reach.