If you want to combine working with children with the flexibility of working from home, setting up a nursery could be right for you. But, like any new business, you need to carefully plan if you want it to be a success. To help, we’ve written this guide to tell you everything you need to know about how to start a nursery in your own home.
How to start a nursery in your own home
To set up a nursery at home, you’ll need to follow the same basic planning process as you would when you start a nursery on separate premises.
Who can start a nursery in their home?
You don’t actually need to have any formal qualifications to start a nursery business as long as you have staff who meet the required criteria. But it can be helpful to have:
- Good business sense.
- Strong attention to detail.
Every nursery needs a nursery manager. To work as a nursery manager you need a nationally recognised level three qualification in childcare. For example:
- HND in an early years related subject.
- Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce.
- A degree in early years.
To be a manager you’ll also need to have experience in a supervisory role. You’ll need to have a clean and up-to-date Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check in place.
When you run a nursery at home, half of your staff or more need to be qualified nursery workers. To become a qualified nursery worker you need at least a recognised level two childcare qualification, and you’ll need a clean and up-to-date Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check in place too.
Registering your nursery
To register your nursery, you need to be able to prove that you meet the 14 National Standards. You must also be 18 years old or over and have a clear Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS). If you’re only going to have children aged three years or older at your nursery, you should apply to the Childcare register. If you only plan to have children three years and younger, apply to the Early Years Register. Or if you’ll have both age groups, make sure you apply to both.
You’ll have to pay a fee to register and make this payment annually. The current cost is £220 to apply for both registers. You can find more details here.
Other practical considerations when starting a nursery in your own home
Setting up your nursery in your own home gives you the flexibility of working from home, which can help you to achieve a good work-life balance. It can also help you to save on running costs as you won’t need to pay rent or purchase separate premises. However, there are some essential factors that you’ll need to bear in mind.
Do you have a suitable space?
The first thing to ask yourself is: do you actually have a suitable space for a nursery in your home? You’ll need to think about essentials, like access to suitable toilet and washroom facilities. There are also minimum space guidelines for nurseries. These are:
- Up to 2 years old: 3.5 square metres per child
- Aged 2-3 years: 2.5 square metres per child
- Aged from 3-7 years: 2.3 square metres per child
Also think about other practicalities, such as are there lots of families in your local area? They could be your customers. Is your home easy to get to, and is parking available for drop-off and pick-up times?
Do you own or rent your house?
If you rent your home, you’ll need to ask your landlord first for permission before you set up a nursery. If you own your home with a mortgage, you’ll need to let your provider know your plans.
You’ll have to apply for planning permission
Before you can open a nursery in your home, you’ll need to apply for planning permission. Find contact details for your local council here.
Remember, if you’re using part of your home for your nursery business you’ll need to let your home insurance provider know. If you don’t, your insurance may be invalidated. You’ll also need to take out specialist insurance for nurseries. This will include essentials like:
- Public liability insurance to cover you if anyone is injured or property is damaged by something connected to your business.
- Employer’s liability insurance, which is a legal must-have if you employ staff.
Can you make a profit when you run a nursery in your home?
One of the obvious benefits of using your home for your business is that there are no extra costs associated with renting or purchasing premises. You also won’t need to worry about the cost of commuting. You will need to pay out extra for things like insurance, but these costs also apply if you set up a nursery elsewhere.
Is now a good time to start a nursery?
Changes in the last couple of years mean pre-schoolers are now eligible for twice as much free early education as before. As you’d expect, demand for places has risen, which is good news for anyone already running a nursery or thinking of setting one up.
However, on the flip side, many running costs have increased, including the rise in the minimum wage. At the same time, the amount the government pays nurseries for each free child place has been frozen. It’s vitally important to consider all your outgoings and potential income before taking the plunge.
What is the government free early years education scheme?
Parents receiving some form of support can access 15 hours of free childcare each week for 38 weeks per year for their children aged from two years old. All families receive up to 15 hours a week for 38 weeks a year for children aged three to four years old. Working families with three- and four-year-olds can access up to 30 hours a week (or 1,140 hours a year) free childcare.
Parents can also access other government schemes to get help with paying for childcare. This includes the Tax-free Childcare Scheme, which pays parents £2 for every £8 of childcare paid to a registered provider up to a maximum of £500 every three months. Childcare vouchers are available through employers for anyone who joined the scheme before October 2018. This scheme is currently closed to new applicants.
If you love working with children and have a suitable space in your home, setting up a nursery could be a great career move for you. Follow our guide above to see if it’s right for you. Good luck!
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