How to Open a Nursery: Your Complete Guide

Learning Environments

Girl running through nursery hall

If you are looking to become a business owner in the childcare industry, this guide on how to open a nursery could be very useful for you.

There is a lot to consider during this process ranging from budgeting and building up your team of staff, right through to opening your doors.

During this process you can’t leave steps out as you need to ensure that your establishment is a safe environment where children can grow and develop with trained, qualified staff, and the right equipment.

In this post we will be looking at how to open a nursery whether your establishment will be state funded, private, or not-for-profit, as these steps remain the same for any type of nursery.

We explore the initial steps of making the decision and considering costs, right through to marketing and opening for business, so you know exactly what should be on your checklist for opening.

In order to give children the best possible start to their individual learning journeys you can use this post as your guide to opening your own nursery business.

1. Ask Yourself “Is This the Right Decision for Me?”

Before you can even consider starting the process of opening a nursery for yourself, you need to ask yourself if the decision works for you.

It may be that you have naturally progressed through the stages of your nursery career, from a nursery assistant, to practitioner, to nursery manager, so the next step on your path may be to open a nursery of your own.

On the other hand, you may work elsewhere in the education sector or perhaps in a different field altogether and instead you bring the knowledge to make the business a success.

Regardless of this, you need to be sure that you are passionate about educating children and supporting them in their learning and development.

If you make the move from nursery manager to opening your own nursery, you are no longer just supervising your team and working with young children in their early years, you are a business owner.

You will need to adapt to a range of different roles as you will most likely be involved in tasks across the board. One day you may be a practitioner caring for children, the next you may be managing the financial side of your business.

Possessing competent management skills is vital if you are going to run a nursery business as you will likely be managing a diverse range of people and need to be able to communicate and build strong working relationships.

Ultimately if you are considering opening a nursery your goal should be to provide children with the best possible start in their learning journey, while remembering the nursery is a business and must make profit.

nursery teacher with children

2. Check That You Have the Right Qualifications

Once you have decided that opening a nursery is for you, the next step is to check you and your team of staff have the relevant qualifications and certifications.

Technically as a business owner you don’t need specific qualifications however it may make life more difficult. Therefore it’s useful to have previous business experience whether that’s from a management role or a qualification in business management or business studies.

However, for this post we will focus on nursery practitioners or managers who are looking to start a nursery business of their own.

Therefore, it is expected that you will work as a manager, practitioner and owner rolled into one, so it is essential to have experience in a management or supervisory role as well as a childcare qualification at Level 2 or above.

If you don’t have this experience or a relevant qualification it is important that you employ a full team of staff who do.

Check Your Staff Are Qualified

Both you and your team should, at the very minimum, have DBS checks, a Level 2 qualification in the day-care setting, and Pediatric First Aid certifications.

These certifications provide evidence that your staff have no previous convictions, are safe to work with children, have relevant experience, and are equipped to handle first-aid incidents.

These are essential for nursery assistants and practitioners, but nursery managers need even more. These roles require at least 2 years of experience working within a nursery staffing team and they need to have experience in a supervisory role too.

3. Consider the Costs

We have gone into depth on nursery setup costs in a dedicated post on the blog, as there are several financial elements to consider.

Overall you need to be prepared financially for the opening of your nursery and this includes both setup and running costs.

Generally speaking, the top costs will be:

  • The premises you purchase
  • Any renovations and refurbishments to the premises
  • Staffing
  • Consumables (Food, cleaning equipment, medical supplies, arts and crafts or creative materials)
  • Insurance policies

Of course the list is not limited to this as you will need to consider marketing your business which may involve hiring a creative agency to create a website or advertisements for you, and purchasing equipment and paying for repairs.

Decide on the Type of Nursery You Will be Opening

The type of nursery you plan to open will have a direct effect upon your financial plan, as you may receive funding or you may have to fund the entire business yourself from scratch.

There are 4 main types of nursery you can open in the UK:

  • Privatethese nurseries are privately owned and usually open during term time with a trained teacher in charge.
  • State-funded – these nurseries are usually attached to a school and funded by the local authorities, therefore they follow the same rules as schools in terms of opening times and employ trained teachers.
  • Independent – independent nurseries can often be attached to independent schools and offer extended hours to accommodate families.
  • Not-for-profit – these nursery schools are often attached to a community centre or religious establishment and often offer more than just a nursery setting, such as post-natal classes.
  • If you’re starting your own nursery it will most likely be private or independent and this will have an effect upon your budget, as it is unlikely you will receive funding from another source.

    This means it is your responsibility to ensure you can afford to run the nursery in the first place with the funding you already have access to.

    nursery teacher playing with child

    4. Find a Premises

    Finding a building for your nursery isn’t always an easy task as there are several things to take into consideration when choosing your premises.

    There are areas that your nursery should include such as:

    • Indoor and outdoor space
    • Space for a quiet area
    • Space for tables and chairs
    • An open area to play

    Alongside this you need to consider that you may need to make renovations to the building and possibly refurbish certain areas to make it safe.

    This includes making sure your building allows enough space per child according to government regulations as each child under 2 should have 3.5 square metres of space, and children aged 3-5 should have 2.3 square metres of space.

    It may be that you find a premises that is appropriate for your nursery business but location is even more important, as you need to ensure the premises is located in a safe environment that works for your target market.

    You need to ask yourself:

    • Are there transport links nearby for families using the bus, tram or train?
    • Are there plenty of parking spaces on site or nearby?
    • Is there demand for a nursery in this area?
    • Is the neighbourhood suitable?

    If the answer is yes to all of these then your premises are probably a great choice for setting up a nursery!

    However, depending on renovations and changes that need to be made to the building, this will have a knock-on effect upon costing.

    Hence why it’s essential to plan out finances at an earlier stage, in order to accurately determine how much money you are able to allocate to your premises and refurbishments.

    5. Licences, Legal Cover, and Regulations

    If you feel confident that opening a nursery is the right decision for you and you have the appropriate funding behind you to get you started, it’s time now to ensure that your business adheres to the legal standards.

    This includes registering your business as a nursery with the relevant institution in your country, gaining relevant health and food safety certifications, and purchasing insurance policies.

    It is your responsibility to take care of children and provide a safe environment for them to learn so you and your team should be legally covered as well as prepared for any potential risks or accidents.

    Register Yourself as a Nursery

    First things first you need to register yourself as a nursery with the regulator to ensure you meet the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework.

    Before you register, is it worth double checking that your entire team has up-to-date DBS and health checks and has certifications as evidence so it doesn’t delay the registration process.

    Whenever you are in the UK the regulator you need to contact will be different:

    Registering with the relevant board means that you are officially a nursery and your entire team is signed off and ready to get to work.

    This registration process allows the regulator to conduct any checks and ensure that you, your team and your premises are suitable to accommodate and care for children.

    Take Out Appropriate Nursery Insurance Cover

    As we have mentioned in previous blog posts there are several insurance policies you can take out, some of which we would certainly recommend when opening up a nursery.

    They are as follows:

    • Public Liability Insurance – this policy covers the cost of injuries or sickness within the public while on your premises.
    • Employers Liability Insurance – this policy covers the cost of injury or sickness within your team of staff while on your premises.
    • Commercial Property Insurance – this policy will cover your property in the event of a fire, flood, or theft.
    • Professional Indemnity Insurance – this policy covers you if you happen to give out the wrong advice to either parents or children.

    Therefore, these 4 policies alone cover you for a variety of issues and ensure that your staff, children and parents are safe when on your premises.

    Equally, taking out these insurance policies ensures that if you are required to pay out due to any accident or event your insurance provider will cover it for you so you avoid any surprise invoices that may cause an issue for your financial plan.

    Adhere to Food Safety and Health and Safety Requirements

    There are a few certifications that are necessary if you are going to successfully run your nursery day-to-day, as you are responsible for the health, wellbeing, and safety of the children when they’re in your care.

    It is certain that you and members of your team will be handling and preparing food for children, whether that is for mealtimes or snacks throughout the day. Therefore, it’s important that you meet the standards of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and your kitchen staff are trained in Food Safety Level 2 as a minimum.

    This ensures that hygiene standards are met when storing, preparing, handling, chilling and cooking food for the children at your nursery.

    Equally important is health and safety within the nursery setting in order to avoid accidents and risks in and around your premises.

    You will need to consider putting specific policies in place for when you need to conduct:

    • Risk assessments
    • Fire safety and risk assessments
    • Reporting of injuries
    • Maintenance
    • Evacuation procedures

    This way you and your team know the rules to follow in the event of any accidents on site. This equally means you can extend information to parents for example in the event of a child injury.

    person writing in notepad

    6. Write Up Your Nursery Business Plan

    At this stage you should have your premises, a rough idea on costing, and a fully trained team.

    This means you are almost ready to open your doors!

    However, it is important to incorporate all of the research you have collated into one document that acts as your overall nursery business plan.

    Before you can start marketing your business to your target market and start filling positions, it’s essential that you have covered everything in your plan.

    The purpose of this business plan is to establish exactly how you plan to open your nursery from start to finish, starting with your passion for the business, and ending with your opening day plan.

    If you are opening up privately or independently you may be in a situation where you need to consider a loan or lending money, and without your business plan this won’t be possible.

    It may be that you need a loan for renovations only, however if you don’t outline your insurance policies and legal requirements for the space, the company you are loaning from may be unlikely to sign the deal.

    Your business plan must provide a realistic detailed plan of how the business will work financially as well as day-to-day operations in order to keep things running smoothly.

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    7. Build Your Nursery Brand and Create Awareness

    Now you have everything in place and your nursery is ready to open, you need to market your business to ensure that your positions are filled before your opening date.

    You should create branding that embodies your entire business and incorporates all elements of your brand strategy and identity, for example, how you look, the tone of voice you use, and the purpose of your business.

    This should be extended onto your social media channels and company website, as this can help keep your branding neat and tidy and equally spread the word about your business at the same time.

    With your branding and marketing you need to showcase why you are different to other nurseries in the area and communicate your offering to prospective parents.

    Therefore, it’s worth holding open day events so families and children can come and visit your premises and see what your nursery can offer for themselves.

    This helps parents see your brand for what it truly is and they are free to explore and ask questions directly to you, and even sign their child or children up on the day!

    8. Open for Business

    Now it’s time to open for business, so don’t forget what you have outlined in your nursery business plan.

    At this stage in your journey to opening a nursery, you should be prepared for any eventuality.

    Whether that’s accidents on site, responding to parents via your website or social media, or accommodating a full class of children 5 days a week.

    The rest is up to you and your team, as once the children have arrived all of your time should be devoted to supporting their learning and development through a variety of activities suited to an early years setting.

    How to Open a Nursery: Your Complete Guide

    We have outlined the essential steps for opening a nursery in this guide, helping you to go from start to finish, keeping the wellbeing of children in mind at all times.

    In order to provide the best support, care, and education for each and every child it’s essential that you open a nursery on the right foundations of a suitable team, safe and appropriate premises, and a detailed business plan.

    When opening a business there are so many things to consider from costs, to insurance policies, to registration, and before the doors are open and children begin to attend.

    As a nursery business owner you will be required to adapt to a variety of different roles and therefore you will have multiple different tasks and responsibilities to take care of every day.

    In order to assist you with these tasks, purchasing a software such as Learning Journals can help, as every job such as storing child information, tracking progress and communicating with parents can all be done within one platform.

    If you would like more information about how the platform works, request a free trial today!

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