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starting up a setting


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Lots of people have a desire to start up their own early years setting but don't know where to start. This section would be ideal for helping each other along the path.

From my own experience, finding the right property which included suitable accommodation for my family in a town that I liked was the first step. Then I found out if the other nursery settings in the area were full with waiting lists (very important as I didn't want to set up in competition, fighting for each other's children), and then I contacted the local inspector from the then Inspection Unit in Eastbourne. That department doesn't exist now, so I think the best first contact would be your local developmental officer in the EYDCP.Who would like to take it from here?! :o

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I've bought an excellent book called 'Starting and Running a Nursery' by Helen Jameson and Madeline Watson. ISBN: 0-7487-3347-7. It was published a few years ago so doesn't include the new Ofsted requirements and guidance, but certainly still full of relevant advice I think. The first thing it's advised me to do is market research. I've had a needs assessment done by the CIS which cost me £50 but worth it I guess because it lists all the nurseries my area, opening hours, cost, and in some cases how many vacancies they have. I'm still going to have to phone a few of them to find out about their vacancies. It also gives figures of population and percentages of enquires made from parents wishing to find a nursery.

The book suggests running 'test advert' for the nursery-has anyone done this before they started up? I guess it would be useful to know if many parents are interested so early on. What does anyone think?

The development officer from EYDCP is visiting me at home next week, so that will be good. The next step is getting finance- the horrible bit. Our current home is for sale at the moment and were looking to buy a bigger one, which is why I've had to do the research and get the business plan done first. A bit hard when you don't have a specific property in mind for numbers of children and staff etc. How do I get round that one? I've seen a house and I'm viewing it on Wednesday. I've worked out the floor space of the 3 reception rooms and it would probably accomodate 20 children (ie 2.5 sq m per child) so it's a possiblity. I'm planning on writing my business plan with 20 children in mind and employing 3 members of staff. I've found out that the average hourly rate here is £2.50, but the 3 newest nuseries all charge over £3. Again I need to work out how much I will charge before I even know what I will be offering parents. See what I mean now by the chicken and the egg? I'm supposing that the sensible thing to do is work on averages- what does anyone think?

Anyway, this is as far as I've got along the journey, but I have at least made a start.

Sorry for rambling on guys!

Jen

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Hi Jen,

I think your next move is to put lots of figures into a spreadsheet, (numbers of children, staff, session rates and hours, salary costs, NI contributions, electricity/gas/water bills estimates, snack costs, additional resources and replacements, etc.) and see what sorts of combinations come out. It will be fairly straightforward to see the best scenario, e.g. three staff, 20 children, 3.5 hour session @ £11, or whatever. Are you going to be open all day, all year, or are you keeping to term-times? Are you planning to be supernumerary on each day or can you include yourself as a member of contact staff on one or two days? Are you hoping to employ qualified staff or train them up yourself? All these factors will affect the hourly rate of pay for your staff. I remember this being one of the most difficult decisions to make!

Keep up the enthusiasm :o

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Hi Helen,

This is so good! Your reassurance is excellent. My next step is the figures etc and I've already begun. I've just made an appointment with the bank for Thurs to sort out the financing. I'm hoping to have all this done before then. I'm working on the idea of opening 50 weeks a year offering full day care which will benefit working parents. I thought about planning for employing 3 people: 1 fully qualified Deputy Manager, who can supervise in my absence and 2 others who are maybe working towards level 2/3. Yes I will certainly be in contact with the children myself-that's the best part. But under Ofsted requirements ie. 1:8, I would be surplus. This way I would be freed up for paperwork, banking, covering for staff absences and holidays, which means I wouldn't have to worry about bank staff too often. I aim to play a main role in what happens day to day ie, planning with the team and teaching groups of children, but at the same time be able to delegate rather than direct everyone in what they are doing. I want my team to feel motivated and empowered rather than just being told what they are going to do. So yes I will be training staff too. I'm hoping to find a really good deputy, with whom I can work very closely with- that's the hard part I guess, finding someone I immediately get along with and I can rely on and trust in my absence. Being open 50 weeks a year will mean taking time out for my own family while the nursery is still open. There must be lots of people out there though.

The other factor which I'm puzzled on is opening hours. If I open 8am - 6pm will this mean I need more staff working shifts? A full-time member of staff would end up working a nine hour day. On the other hand if I open for less hours it might mean losing a placement of a child who has full time working parents. Some nurseries here open 8:30 to 5:30, but I'm not sure if this would leave mums/dads time to drop off and get to work on time. I noticed that some nurseries run an additional 'breakfast club' from 8am so this might be an option. Oh what a tangled web!

Jen

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Phew, Jen, you've really got me going on this one....I woke up this morning thinking about you; how obsessive is that?!!!!

Lots of other points have come to mind as I was reading your last posting, so here goes...They're not in any particular order.

* Have you got an Early Years qualification yourself? I was in the unusual position of being a qualified teacher who was able to set up a nursery school with a teaching assistant and ratio of 2:20, but could not set up a registered pre-school without a NVQ 3 or NNEB qualification! I employed an NNEB to be the nursery supervisor whilst taking the NVQ3 myself during the first year. In fact, Mandy (the supervisor) was my classroom assistant when I was a primary teacher, and we get along great. This brings me to my next point!

* Have you got anyone in mind yet for the supervisor/deputy manager's role? I have been SOOOOO lucky with Mandy; I can leave the place entriely in her hands with no worries at all. I think that finding the right person is THE most important decision you'll make, so I would start putting some feelers out as soon as you have the premises sorted.

* 1:8 is the Ofsted requirement for 3-5 year olds, but if you have any 2 year olds it is 1:4. Most parents will want to start their children at nursery sometime between 2 and 3, so you'll need extra staff for this.

* The legal amount of time you can expect staff to work without a break is 5 hours, whereupon they must have at least 20 minutes. I don't know what the regulations are for 8.00-6.00, but I would suggest that you'll need to build in shifts, maybe 7.30-1.30 and 1.00-7.00, to give you scope for staff breaks, setting up in the morning, and clearing up and cleaning afterwards.

* When are you going to do the planning? Making sure you have at least one staff meeting each week to do curriculum development, planning activities, delegating stuff is, I would say, crucial.

* Good luck with the meeting today; keep us up to date!

:o

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