Nursery Chains: Editor's view - raising standards

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Profit can be a bit of a dirty word in the early years sector. However, without profit no business can survive, and a nursery cannot develop to better meet the needs of children and families.

Profit is good because something positive can be done with it, and I believe that our survey of quality for the top 20 chains highlights just how committed these groups are to ploughing their surplus into raising quality.

In this year's Nursery Chains, we are seeing the largest groups working hard to ensure that size does not compromise quality. And year-on-year, the table highlights how the direction of travel is certainly towards raising standards across all the big players, something that is very encouraging indeed.

It is particularly heartening in the light of the challenges shared by all in the current climate. How to deal with the rising costs of staff wages, utility bills and business rates, while also delivering the free entitlement sustainably and making a surplus, is testing for business skills and creativity.

Lack of clarity around Government funding is also the subject of much debate. How will the sector fare as part of the Government's localism agenda? What levels of funding can it look forward to for the two-year-old entitlement next year, with the move to ring fencing within the Dedicated Schools Grant?

All of these issues and more are addressed in this edition of Nursery Chains. There's insight, comment and analysis along with our updated, comprehensive directory of chains and league table of quality. I hope you will agree that it provides an invaluable package of information.

As one managing director we spoke to said, 'while sector challenges are set to continue, we remain upbeat and prepared to meet them head on'.

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