Top Resources For Starting An Early Years Business

Starting a business in childcare can be a daunting prospect. You know you want to work with children and you are passionate about the positive difference you can make, but when you start to think about and research it, you soon realise that running a childcare business is not just about spending time with the children. There are risk assessments to do, curriculums to design, and many policies to write. And when the big ‘O’ (Ofsted) is mentioned, it can feel as if the ‘to do’ list becomes almost impossible.  

Navigating this ocean of paperwork, administration nightmare and never-ending list of ‘dos and don’ts’ can be off-putting to even the hardiest of would-be practitioners, but don’t despair; there is a lot of useful information, training courses and toolkits out there to help every size business – as long as you know where to look and how to use them. So, in this article, we’re going to sign post you to some of the most useful ones, and let you get back to the thing you love most, being with the children.  

Statutory Guidance And Requirements For Early Years

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the main source of guidance and information for the early years in England and should be the starting place for all practitioners and pre-school settings. However, there are different standards for different parts of the UK:  

  • See for standards in England 
  • See for standards in Scotland  
  • See for the Foundation Phase Framework in Wales for ages 3-7 and  
  • In Northern Ireland, funded settings are required to follow the Pre-school Curricular Guidance at  

Resources and toolkits are available from all of the main education websites for each devolved government, so these are great places to look for help and advice. Even if your setting is in the UK, you may find some useful resources on another country’s website so have a look around all of them to see if there are things you can use.  

Most of the government sites define a curriculum and offer advice and guidance as to how to practically implement that curriculum, but the main emphasis is that the practitioner and setting should adapt the requirements to suit the children they have in their setting.  

Some of these resources can be found at: 

DfE England 

This site includes a lot of information and resources related to the 7 EYFS curriculum areas and also details of a mentoring programme which is available in England for settings, practitioners and childminders. The English government also publish “Development Matters” which gives practical guidance on many early years activities.  

Other devolved government help and resources can be found at: 

  • Education Scotland – 
  • Wales early childhood website –  
  • Northern Ireland –  

Where information is defined as “non-statutory”, it means that the information is advice or guidance only and is not a legal requirement. However, a lot of this information is very valuable and will help you make your setting the best it can be.  

Local Government And The NHS 

Local Authorities (LAs) and the NHS often publish resources and advice to educational settings and institutions, and it is worth contacting your own LA or local NHS service provider to see what they have on offer. Local Authorities can often offer free training on things like safeguarding and child protection as well as other toolkits and ideas for activities. LAs may also be able to help with funding or grants for specific projects too.  

Below are some examples from a few authorities which are aimed specifically at early years, which can be useful whether you live/work in that authority or not:  

  • Oxfordshire –  
  • NHS Shetland –  
  • Worcestershire –  

Industry Advice And Other Free Resources For Early Years

There is a myriad of advice from the early years industry itself and this is sometimes easier to digest and understand as it usually written by the sector, for the sector. You can often find bitesize information and advice on individual matters, such as how to develop fine motor skills, or how to undertake a risk assessment, with examples and case studies. The industry includes industry associations, training providers, settings, childminders, consultants, as well as individual bloggers who can help you make sense of the information in practical ways. Some of the best information can be found at: 

  • Birth to Five Matters – 
  • Parenta –  
  • Children in Wales website ( 
  • PACEY –  
  • Early Years Wales –  
  • Early Years Northen Ireland –  
  • Education Endowment Foundation – 


Charities are also a good source of resources, especially lesson plans and projects, and you can search for these on a need-to-have basis. For example, if you want some nature-based ideas for early years, look at charities such as the Woodland Trust of WWF.  

Paid-for Services 

Finally, there are also many experienced consultants and ex-nursery leaders who can help settings get set up, or help with an improvement programme, but these usually carry a cost. It will be up to the you to determine the cost benefit analysis of employing a consultant, depending on your needs and your resources.  

Inspections In Early Years Settings

At some point in a setting’s life, all settings will be inspected by the local inspecting authority to ensure that they comply with statutory requirements. Ofsted operates as the inspection body in England, however, other agencies are responsible for inspecting other areas of the UK. They publish their own information about what will be inspected, and how inspections are carried out. Most also publish blogs and articles to help settings prepare. If you are anxious about an inspection, you can always speak to the people concerned or seek advice from any of the sites and organisations listed above.  

Debunking Ofsted Myths 

Occasionally, there is misinformation on the internet so be wary and check facts. Ofsted have published their own site debunking some myths about inspections that you can read at 

Work Systematically 

The sheer amount of information available may be overwhelming, but start with the basics – the statutory guidance and work through those. Then you can identify areas where you need more information, for example, the next step may be to identify broad curriculum areas such as maths, literacy, health and well-being etc. Then break these down into things you will do for each age group. Then break these down into individual activities.  

Once you have done one area, move on to the next one. That way, the ‘information mountain’ can be conquered in a series of small and manageable steps!  

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