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Staffordshire-based regional chain Footsteps Day Nurseries has acquired Lollipops Day Nursery in Stafford, bringing the company’s nurseries to 10 settings in total.

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I have decided to create an outdoor nursery. As a dad of two, I understand how important it is for children to be able to play and express their imagination, risk take and build on self-esteem in an relaxed and natural environment.

A nursery in Widnes has expanded with the opening of a second setting after receiving a £75,000 grant from the Merseyside Jobs and Growth Fund (MJGF), which has more than £2m of funding available still for established businesses from the Liverpool City Region looking to expand.

Settings wishing to become more environmentally-friendly can now access an early years themed eco pack with resources on sustainability.

Ofsted is to collect additional evidence on behaviour as part of inspections to find out how the early years affect later attitudes to learning at school.

Nurseries across the country are being hit by cuts to funding and increased costs, leading many to close ahead of the introduction of the 30 free hours.

In the final article of this series, Gabriella Jozwiak hears about life at the helm of the country’s oldest nursery school

A course in outdoor learning helped play leader Charlie McNair to think more deeply about how children learn. By Hannah Crown

Charlotte Goddard finds out how the 30-hour pilot in Swindon is being extended to offer flexible childcare to shift-workers