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In the first of a four-part series on different regions, Gabriella Jozwiak discovers how some well-judged schemes and plenty of hard work are supporting Liverpool's early years sector network.

With the Government making plans to create a more flexible and responsive childcare market, Karen Faux asks professionals for their suggestions for improvement on provision.

Historically the sector has worked hard to embrace flexibility when it comes to offering early learning.

The Netherlands experiment with childminding deregulation lauded by some MPs here, has in fact led to more expensive childcare and a drop in quality, say Eva Lloyd and Anand Shukla

The expansion of the free entitlement for disadvantaged two year-olds will require new solutions to meet demand for places and new relationships between providers. James Hempsall describes how this has been the case in Stockton-on-Tees, where a holistic family approach has focused on providing continuity between a specially created playgroup and the children's centre.

Ofsted is carrying out a review of how it regulates and inspects providers on the early years register, to tie-in with the revised EYFS.

As nurseries are having to tighten their belts like everyone else, Mary Evans outlines some ways that managers can take firmer control of their business finances while keeping the staff happy

Employment law has changed this year and other new legislation is on its way in 2012. Jacqui Mann, managing director of HR4 Nurseries, reviews the important developments and urges employers to keep their policies up to date

Supporting Families in the Foundation Years sets out proposals for parents to access their free entitlement at the earlier time of 7am, or later at 7pm. James Hempsall outlines how one nursery is already meeting the challenge of these extended hours.

Sure Start has achieved a lot in the deprived area of Great Yarmouth - and despite drastic funding cuts, it is hoped that this good work will continue. Mary Evans reports.

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