How To Set Up a Private Nursery


children painting at nursery

If you’re considering setting up your own nursery, then you’re not alone.

According to a report by the Department for Education, there were 24,000 group-based nursery providers in 2019, which comprises 14,700 private nurseries and 8,600 voluntary nurseries.

Nurseries are also in high demand and there is a shortage of nursery school places.

As more parents now work full time, they rely on nursery school services to look after their children during the day.

Attitudes to working patterns have changed, and parents can’t afford to take time off work during early years to look after their children full time. There aren’t always family members to rely on either, making nursery schools even more important.

If you’re thinking about setting up a nursery school, there are lots of things to think about to ensure you’re providing the best quality of care.

As a business, this is more than just finding a place to set up your nursery but covers a whole host of requirements.

What Are the Different Types of Nursery?

There are different types of nurseries depending on how they have been set up.

Each slightly differs in how they are run and how they contribute to the wider community, but each provides care and support for young children.

Private nursery – These types of nurseries have been set up by individuals, companies, or organisations.

They are privately/ independently owned and can offer sessional or full day care. Some private nurseries offer a specific educational approach such as Montessori.

Non-profit nursery – These types of nurseries are usually attached to a community or religious centre. Unlike a private nursery, all profits are fed back into the community.

State funded nursery – These types of nurseries are usually attached to schools and will offer part and full time education to young children during school hours. A child can either attend for a full day or a half day depending on the needs of the parent.

Regardless of the type of nursery, it must meet national standards and be regulated by the relevant authority.

For this blog post, we’re going to concentrate on how to set up a private nursery and what’s involved in the process.

How to Set Up a Private Nursery

Setting up a private nursery can be an exciting process as you begin starting your own business.

However, there are lots of considerations that need to be taken into account first to ensure the nursery fulfils different requirements.

This includes legal and social obligations to ensure each child in your care receives the correct level of learning and development.

Any nursery school setting is important due to the young age of the children who attend. In these precious early years, parents need total reassurance that their child is being looked after as it makes the detachment process a lot easier.
woman holding books

Do You Have the Correct Skills and Qualifications?

This depends on whether you simply want to set the nursery up as a business, or be involved in the day-to-day teaching and activities.

If your intention is to only run the nursery as a business, you don’t need the same level of experience or qualifications. However, it’s still good practice to familiarise yourself with the different areas of a nursery so you have knowledge of the overall process.

If you plan to be involved with teaching, you will require certain qualifications. For example, a nursery manager must have at least 2 years prior experience as nursery practitioner, 1-2 years in a supervisory role, and hold a relevant nursery qualification.

At least half of the staff at a nursery must hold an NVQ in childcare education, to ensure they can deliver the right quality of care and support.

For more information on what qualifications are required to be a nursery manager, take a look at the nursery manager job profile. This outlines the different skills required to fulfil this post successfully.

What Type of Nursery Do You Want to Set up?

As mentioned, this post concentrates on what it takes to set up a private nursery. But there are still different options within this route.

For example, you need to consider if you want to go it alone or become part of a franchise. There are various advantages and disadvantages to both options.

If you decide to stay independent, you are responsible for creating your own brand, sourcing your own funds, and setting the overall targets. You will also be able to keep all of the profits generated from the nursery as it is solely your business.

If you decide to become part of a franchise, this means you can join an existing brand and have access to franchise funding. However, when it comes to profit, the franchise will be entitled to a certain percentage.

You need to consider these pros and cons of each and decide which route is best for you.

Do You Have the Budget?

This is a huge consideration when setting up a private nursery, as like any business, you need to have the money to sustain it.

There are lots of areas to think about aside from just the initial set up cost.

It can be difficult to pin down an exact budget as lots of factors come into play such as how many children you plan to cater for, and the size of your premises.

Below are some initial set up costs to consider before starting your own nursery:

  • IT equipment – Computers, interactive whiteboards etc.
  • Furniture – Tables, chairs, bookcases, storage units.
  • Playground equipment – Adventure trails, play areas, sand pits etc.
  • Kitchen – If you provide food, you will need a kitchen set up.
  • Risk Assessment – You will need funding to cover this process.
  • Corporate set up and inspections – This ensures your nursery fulfills legal requirements.
  • Marketing – Leaflets, website, flyers, and resources produced to promote your nursery.
  • Training – Initial training for yourself or staff members.

This list will vary depending on how you choose to set up and run your nursery. You might not require some of the points above, for example if you choose to do your own marketing rather than outsource it.

Once your nursery is set up, there are ongoing costs that will need to be paid.

These include:

  • Cost of premises – This will vary depending on the areas and size.
  • Staff – Consider wages, sick pay, training etc.
  • Utilities – This covers wate rates, electricity, gas, and council tax.
  • Insurance – To fully operate as a business, you will need to check your level of insurance cover.
  • Cleaning – The cost of keeping the nursery clean and tidy.

Before setting up a nursery, make sure you have considered all of the points above. This will help ensure that your business is a success and that you can afford to cover the different requirements.
nursery teacher holding childs hand

Do You Understand Nursery Regulations?

As you’re providing a service for young children, there are different regulations that need to be adhered to.

You must read and understand the regulations before starting any nursery as they ensure children are kept safe and secure while they are in your care.

Registering Your Nursery

The legal cover you require when starting a day nursery depends on whether you’re based in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, or Wales.

However, there are some core principles that remain the same regardless of your location. Your nursery practice must fulfil the 14 national standards which provide a baseline of the quality of care that you, your staff, and the premises uphold.

Before stating your nursery, you will need to register with the relevant regulator. These differ depending on where you are in the UK:

Nursery Insurance Cover

As a business, you will need to make sure you’ve covered for public liability and sickness.

There are a few different things to consider in terms of insurance cover:

  • Public liability insurance – This needs to be in place to cover the cost of possible injury or sickness while the public are on your premises
  • Employer’s liability insurance – This will cover the cost of injury and sickness happening to staff members while they are on your premises
  • Professional indemnity insurance – This type of insurance covers you if you give out the wrong advice to parents, carers, or children
  • Commercial property insurance – This covers your property if there’s any damage such as flooding, fire, and theft

Food Hygiene

If you plan to prepare and serve food in your nursery, then regulations must be followed to ensure this is handled safely.

If you’re directly responsible for managing the food in your nursery you’ll need to have qualifications as outlined by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

This enables the handling and production of safe food and instills good hygiene practices.

Where is Your Nursery Going to Be?

The location of your nursery is important as it can affect how parents view your nursery and whether or not they would want to send their children there.

There are various things to consider when choosing your premises including the area, the size, transport links, parking, nearby facilities, safety, and customer demand.

Reviewing these points before choosing your nursery can be very beneficial as it helps you weigh up what you want from your premises.

In terms of the size of your nursery building, there are certain requirements that must be met. As a strict rule, there are square metres of space you’re required to have per child, depending on their age.

In England and Wales:

  • 0-2 years old – 3.5 square metres per each child
  • 2-3 years old – 2.5 square metres per each child
  • 3-7 years old – 2.3 square metres per each child

While in Scotland, more space is required:

  • 0-2 years old – 3.7 square metres per each child
  • 2-3 years old – 2.8 square metres per each child
  • 3-7 years old – 2.3 square metres per each child

Understanding these criteria beforehand will help you make the best decision when securing the premises for your nursery.
woman writing in notebook

Do You Have a Business Plan?

Having a business plan helps set different objectives and drives the business forward.

This helps you to stay on track and stay within your budget.

As we’ve outlined, there are lots of different areas to consider when setting up your private nursery. Putting these into a plan and deciding how you want to move forward will give your business a sense of direction and ensure it’s a success.

Especially if this is your first time setting up your own business you will need a plan to refer to. This will act as your central point and will ensure you have all bases covered.

Do You Have a Brand?

After you’ve secured your funding and found your premises it’s time to let people know about your nursery.

You need to build a strong brand and encourage parents and carers to send their children to your nursery over somewhere else.

Your brand goes beyond your company names and logo, but is focussed on the relationship you build with other people. Think about how you communicate with parents and carers and instill a sense of trust that their child will be looked after.

They need to have trust and faith in your nursery, and believe that you are genuinely passionate about providing their child with the best possible care. During these early learning stages this is critical, as the experiences children have at nursery will shape their future development.

Every means of communication from your website, to leaflets, to how you speak to parents on the phone, should convey your brand message and make parents feel confident in your services.
nursery teacher sitting with children

How Can Learning Journals Help?

Learning Journals is a platform built by a nursery, for nurseries.

We understand how busy nursery owners and practitioners are in the day-to-day running and upkeep of their nursery.

We want to make life as easy as possible for you.

When it comes to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), observations are key as they help keep parents informed and up to date with their child’s progress. Our platform offers a great collaboration tool where practitioners and parents can easily share observations and monitor a child’s development.

From a nursery school owner perspective, the Learning Journals platform helps your business run smoothly.

From providing you with an overview of each staff member and their schedules, to easily monitoring sickness and absences, you can concentrate on the running of your nursery without any hassle.

Take a look at our free demo to see the benefit of the platform for yourself!

Alternatively, hear from some other nursery school owners who are already using the platform and enjoying the benefits it offers.

How To Set Up a Private Nursery

When it comes to setting up a private nursery, there are lots of factors that need to be considered first.

Do you have the budget? Can you secure the right premises? Do you understand the regulations?

Understanding these factors is critical to making your nursery a success and ensuring you deliver the right standard of care.

You can’t cut corners when working with young children and it’s pivotal that you instill a sense of trust in parents. You need them to believe your nursery environment meets their child’s needs and follows the correct legal obligations.

You’re responsible for shaping a child’s future learning, so these early years are crucial.

Make sure you have read through and understood all of the points outlined above before setting up your private nursery.

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