In the second part of her series on opening a new nursery, Purnima Tanuku OBE, chief executive, National Day Nurseries Association, looks at the legal and registration requirements that owners and managers must adhere to…
● Read Purnima’s first article on opening a new nursery business here.
It may not be the first topic that springs to your mind when the inspiration to open your own setting strikes, but ensuring that you are complying with legal and registration requirements is an important and unavoidable part of opening a nursery in the UK. England, Wales and Scotland have government agencies responsible for regulating early years settings: Ofsted in England, Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) and Estyn in Wales, and the Care Inspectorate and Education Scotland in Scotland (see the links given below for details of how to contact these agencies). So, wherever you are thinking of opening your nursery there are standards and legal requirements that you must meet.
Firstly, it is vital that you read and fully understand the relevant framework for your country. These are as follows:
The National Care Standards for childcare in Scotland
The Curriculum for Excellence for children aged three and over in Scotland
The Pre-Birth to Three guidance for children under the age of three in Scotland
In order to use the premises you have identified for your setting for childcare purposes you must also be registered with the relevant body – Ofsted, CSSIW or the Care Inspectorate. You should take into account how long the registration process will take and allow for it in your business plan, particularly your financial forecasts, as your setting will not be able to charge fees until it is complete.
The building itself must also conform to certain regulations before the new provision can be registered. Your responsibilities include ensuring that the premises are safe, secure and suitable for their purpose, as well as warm, welcoming and friendly to children and their parents. Minimum space requirements per child need to be observed, and you must also take into account minimum numbers of toilets and washbasins. Staff facilities, such as a rest room, space for keeping records or holding meetings with parents, need to be available within the facility (and cannot be counted in the minimum space calculations), and outdoor space, where provided, should be safe, secure, well maintained and exclusively for the use of the children.
As well as the legal requirements for early years mentioned above, nursery settings must also adhere to a range of other legislation. This includes the following:
● Data Protection Act 1998
● Health and Safety Act 1974
● The Food Safety Act 1990
● Food Hygiene Regulations 2006 Data protection
As a nursery you will be accessing and storing sensitive information relating to children and their families; you may also be using tools such as CCTV or computer systems. The Data Protection Act 1998 requires every organisation processing personal data to notify with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), unless they are exempt.
You have the requirement under the EYFS/National Minimum Standards/National Care Standards to support the health and safety of the children in your care. You also have the requirement under the Health and Safety Act 1974 to safeguard your workers from harm using suitable precautions and procedures.
As such, health and safety should be a strand which runs through all you do within the nursery, and as owner/manager it is your responsibility to support this culture. Policies, procedures and risk assessments are key to a healthy, safe environment both in the nursery, outdoors and out and about with children. All staff should have a basic understanding of health and safety, so this should be a fundamental element of their induction process. You must consider how you will keep the children safe, for example, by using fire evacuation procedures, safety equipment (such as baby gates, stair rails and fire fighting equipment) and safe working practices.
If you are providing care for children you will be providing some type of nutrition, and therefore you have to abide by the Food Safety and Food Hygiene Acts. You will be regulated by the Environmental Health department and will receive a regular visit from your Environmental Health Officer (EHO) to inspect whether you are storing and preparing food safely.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has produced Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) packs to help small businesses put in place food safety management procedures and comply with food hygiene regulations.
Visit the NDNA website for more support on all aspects of running a successful nursery business.