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Versatile software systems are enabling nurseries to fine tune their services and sharpen their marketing strategies. Karen Faux finds out about the capabilities of the latest systems and talks to one nursery about the benefits of an app which has been tailored to the needs of its business

The extension of the free entitlement to around 40 per cent of all two-year-olds from 2014 will need a significant increase in the number of places so that approximately 260,000 children will be able to benefit. James Hempsall urges childcare providers across all sectors to look at the opportunities this will bring

Manager's dilemma: Our parents have very firm ideas about the amount of sleep they want their children to have at nursery, often because they do not want to be kept up all night by wakeful children who have slept during the day. We've heard of nurseries which have been downgraded by Ofsted for not putting the child's needs before the wishes of the parents, and we are finding it very difficult to strike a balance.

For your guide to the who, what and where of nursery chains, our directory gives you all the information you need.

You'll find some new names in our Top 25 table of nursery groups this year, and in the directory too. Catherine Gaunt analyses the ups and downs in both size and quality of the chains.

For your guide to the who, what and where of nursery chains, our directory gives you all the information you need.

How sticking to a goal of graduate leadership is helping one nursery group in Yorkshire to grow and prosper.

Seymour House won a top accolade at this year's Nursery World awards. But what is the secret to its success? Katy Morton investigates.

Gayle Goshorn talks to nursery groups that have seen good times and bad times over two decades or more. How does today compare - and is there still a sense of fun in the nursery day?

A series of large-scale acquisitions suggests the big players are thriving, but what will this mean for the coming year? Mary Evans takes a look.