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Education Summit 2023

18th October 2024 Business Design Centre, London



25 Sep 2023

Guest blog: Partnerships are key to building the early years sector

Guest blog: Partnerships are key to building the early years sector
Iain Colledge from Bright Horizons considers the importance of partnerships for the future of the early years sector.

Partnerships are key to building the early years sector

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, it is crucial to prioritise the wellbeing and development of our youngest generation. Early years, the formative years of a child's life, play a vital role in shaping their future.

Partnerships between families, educators, healthcare professionals, policymakers and community organisations are essential to provide comprehensive opportunities for children to thrive and for businesses to succeed.

Partnership with government

It has been encouraging to see the attention given to early years education by the UK government this year and it’s promising to see it continuing to be part of the core political agenda.

We do need to ensure the sector has access to engaged and dedicated practitioners in order to deliver the increase in funded places that the government is introducing. The whole sector knows of the need to create a sustainable and high-quality workforce in early years – and experience with sophisticated parent marketing techniques has shown us that we can be equally innovative in our recruitment of practitioners.

One solution is sourcing talent from abroad. However, the cost of visas can be onerous. We believe that early years educators should be classed as essential workers and provided with lower cost visas. After all, having a successful childcare sector contributes to having a successful wider economy.

With over 35 years in the sector, we know that the conversation cannot be limited to just government policy – that’s simply not enough. What we need is a holistic approach to developing all the factors shaping the childcare system in the UK.

Work-life partnerships for families

Now, more than ever, there is a huge overlap between what happens at home and at work, and greater understanding that challenges with caregiving can have a direct impact on both families and businesses.

To retain talent, companies must support employees with the responsibilities they have at home. We currently work with over 400 businesses in the UK, helping them to bring ‘family-friendly’ policies into fruition.

In turn, employees feel more personally invested and supported in the job, creating a win-win situation. Connecting the two allows people from all backgrounds to flourish at work, and critically, it addresses the urgent need for a qualified and talented workforce.

With access to high-quality care and education, children get the best possible start in life too. At our nurseries and preschools, our enriching and wellbeing-focused Bright Beginnings curriculum is designed to ensure that children flourish. It’s part of our wider vision as an enabler who allows everyone  – from children and parents to employers and employees – to fulfill their potential.

Our data confirms that this positive approach to addressing work and family needs has a significant positive impact on both employer and employee, delivering significant ROI from their investments.

In addition, 89% of employees with a workplace nursery said they were more likely to stay with their employer in the recent Bright Horizons 2023 Snapshot Survey.

Potential partnerships

When it comes to growth, we remain committed to acquiring nurseries and nursery groups that share our passion and dedication to delivering high-quality childcare. A nursery is so much more than the building it operates from or the occupancy statistics it reports  – it’s the people that make it a warm, secure and trusted place for families.

Our role is to create the right environment for the team joining us to flourish. It’s the start of a long relationship and getting it right, before day one, is part of our approach. All acquisitions have a key person dedicated to linking with our specialists from early childhood, HR, finance, professional development and other functions, to ensure that new colleagues and the families they serve have the best support to become part of our family.

Continued investment and partnership to drive real change

It’s imperative that the professional nature of early years continues to be reflected in salary, development opportunities and benefits for practitioners. We’re proud to lead the sector in these fields, helping us to retain excellent practitioners, enabling them to progress and develop within our nurseries and achieving the very best outcomes for our children and families.

We embrace our responsibility to drive advances in our sector. Working together as a community of education and care experts, government and employers, we can pool expertise, resources and knowledge  – increasing the speed of change and bringing the benefits of excellence in care and education to more children, families and practitioners.











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