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Finding support in the early years sector

In September 2022 Ofsted started their new blog aimed at early years providers with a welcome blog and a number of posts aimed at covering some of the key topics and requirements for early years. 

Within this blog they provide a list of what they mean by ‘early years providers’ which includes:

  • childminders
  • nannies
  • nurseries
  • pre-schools
  • playgroups
  • kindergartens
  • before- and after-school clubs
  • crèches
  • holiday clubs
  • sports clubs

This list highlights one of the key challenges for the early years sector as it covers so many different types of settings. Within each type are further subsets of course – school based nurseries and private settings. City-based providers and countryside providers. Sole childminders and those with assistants. The small settings and the large and everything in between. The new blog from Ofsted will hopefully keep providing lots of useful information for the sector which is relevant to all – if not in every post then overall as a catalogue of useful support which builds over time. As this is led by Ofsted then there will no doubt be a leaning towards providing succinct posts which help to navigate the requirements and any changes to Ofsted’s inspection frameworks amongst other more general topics. 

Where else do you go for support? 

If you Google* ‘early years blogs’ then you will find lots of companies (us included!) who provide services and products to the sector and who write blogs to offer further support and value to their customers. You will also find countless – and we mean hundreds if not many tens of thousands (+?!) – of blogs written by individual childcare providers, early years practitioners, consultants and settings. Surely a wealth of knowledge? Well known publications such as Nursery World are a trusted voice in the sector and also publish blogs and articles on their website. 

Wading through the cornucopia of choice online for support can be as overwhelming as no help at all, sometimes. It generally helps to narrow your Google* search wherever you can and be specific, and add quotation marks around your search for a specific term or phrase. For example, a search for early years blog yields a staggering 1,410,000,000 results, whereas a search for “early years blog” with the quotations slims us down to a mere 14,200 results and “hygge in the early years” gives us 6,270 results which are much more likely to have more specific information in them rather than the much broader search terms. 

As well as internet-based options, for childminders there are many local organisations which are often, but not always, set up with the Local Authority and which offer everything from Paediatric First Aid courses, through to advice and days out to give childminders a chance to meet others in the area at child-friendly locations and cafes. 

For before- and after-school activities there is the  Institute of Children’s Activity Providers (ICAP) who offer support to providers and have an annual conference where members can get further support and inspiration as well as the opportunity to network. 


Playgroups seem to be an especially diverse range from volunteer-led, informal playgroups through to more formal providers with purpose-built settings. It can be a real postcode lottery for these groups to find others to learn from, network with, and share the load with. During COVID lockdowns many had to shut down never to return again – even their hired rooms not being available again as small local churches and community centres shut their doors and have struggled to reopen them again since. Faith-based settings may find their support through a diocese or similar community even if that might involve sharing ideas with less local peers.

As Ofsted note in their blog – In terms of number of providers, the early years sector is by far the biggest of our remits. Around 70,000 providers deliver early years provision to children aged 0–5.

This wide range and large number of providers means that the sector can feel both packed to the rafters, and lonely and isolating all at once. Whatever your setting type, do find your community and keep sharing your amazing practice and gathering ideas, support, and guidance from those you can. We hope we can continue to be one of your trusted partners and provide that connection for lots of our customers, and anyone who wishes to visit our blogs.

*other search engines are available!

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