Early Years Handbook provides a complete guide to establishing and running high quality, sustainable early years provision which provides good outcomes for children and meets the needs of parents and carers

The Early Years Handbook is designed to help you to carry out the duties and responsibilities involved in running early years provision for children under the age of five, whether you are working as part of a school, children’s centre or an independent nursery.

It combines information on legal responsibilities with advice and guidance on how to plan and manage the wider aspects of running an early years setting. It includes a range of sample templates and proformas which can be used as starting points for developing the paperwork, policies and procedures which underpin good quality early years practice.

This comprehensive guide will enable you to:

  • Understand the impact of recent provision developments on young children and families
  • Support you to make an application for funding and write a business plan
  • Understand the values that underpin quality provision and learn how to project your vision to those who are going to use it
  • Be aware of legal arrangements to avoid problems and pitfalls and learn how to manage and monitor budgets efficiently
  • Provide appropriate and successful learning opportunities for young children and the right setting for them to thrive in
  • Successfully lead and manage a team to provide high quality care
  • Grow and develop your business for continuous improvement in the quality of services provided.

There are many challenges involved in establishing and running successful high quality, sustainable early years provision which provides good outcomes for children and meets the needs of parents and carers. The management of an early years setting, in the maintained, private, voluntary or independent sectors requires a wide range of skills and experience. Expertise is needed in childcare and child development, learning and teaching, managing premises and personnel, business planning and budgeting and in marketing and promotion.

The Early Years Handbook review

Nursery World, 6 November 2008:

After my initial confusion, caused by a rogue set of duplicate dividers finding its way into my handbook, I settled down to plough my way through this 338 page document – and was glad I did.

The ‘Context’ section offers a whistlestop tour through the evolution of childcare in recent years. However, I was less keen on ‘Vision, Values and Marketing an Image’ as I feel these things should be intrinsic and not learned. But it helps one to consider the whole package and provides a reference point and basis for ‘brainstorming’.

The skills, experience and personal qualities lists share the things you need to know about such a venture. The explanations of different types of companies and their structure is useful and the website links provide a starting point.

The legal requirements section is excellent and the description of the recruitment processes is thorough, combined with useful forms that would serve as a basis for forming the setting’s own.

I found myself making notes of useful websites linked to current ideas and plans I had for my own nursery – however good a setting is, it can always be improved. This handbook is a useful toolkit for existing nursery managers and an invaluable resource for those starting a nursery. The handbook and CD-Rom provide value for money.

Chapter summary

The nine chapters in the Early Years Handbook cover all these different aspects of setting up and managing effective early years provision. Each chapter deals with one specific aspect, but wherever possible cross references have been included to indicate how different aspects of management link together and are mutually dependant.

Chapter 1: ContextProvides essential background information on recent developments and changes. This is useful for those already practicing or to support a

business plan or funding application.

Chapter 2: Vision, values and marketing an image
Learn how to turn your values and beliefs into a bold positive image which can be understood and appreciated by parents, carers and the local community.

Chapter 3: Choosing a business model
Particularly important for those establishing new early years provision, this chapter provides guidance to optimise the chances for successful long term development.

Chapter 4: Managing legal requirements
Provides an overview of the legislation covering the employment of staff, the management of childcare premises and the provision of appropriate learning opportunities for young children.

Chapter 5: Managing people
Find out the difference between leadership and management, how to motivate and build an enthusiastic staff team and gain an insight into the different roles and responsibilities involved in running high quality provision and the importance of establishing an effective management structure.

Chapter 6: Managing the environment
Useful for those considering new provision or to review how existing space is utilised and how it could be improved to facilitate young children’s learning and well being.

Chapter 7: Managing money
Useful advice for those putting together a business plan or for existing providers who want to look at more efficient ways of managing and monitoring their budgets and keeping their finances under control.

Chapter 7: Quality provisionAn overview of all the different aspects involved in the day to day running of an early years setting, the problems and pitfalls to be avoided and the

importance of ensuring that all policies and procedures support, rather than conflict with, one another.

Chapter 8: Managing change
How to put the vision and values of a setting into everyday practice and how to plan for continuous improvement in the quality of the services provided.

The Early Years Handbook is intended to be a useful and practical guide to addressing the everyday challenges of running high quality early years provision. In writing the handbook the authors have drawn upon their wide ranging experience of developing childcare and early years services for young children and their families in the public and private sectors. Operating at both strategic and operational levels the authors have encountered most, if not all, of the challenges which the Early Years Handbook seeks to address.