The Early Years Handbook Second Edition: A comprehensive guide to managing provision in the early years foundation stage


The Early Years Handbook: Second Edition
Early years
Jun 2013


"At £89 we thought it was definitely worth the investment."

As seen in Teach Nursery magazine, Volume 3, Issue 7, October 2013

Leading and managing a quality early years setting is a highly complex and skilled role, which ensures everything is in place to enable this quality interaction between adults and children to occur. Attention must be paid to every detail, from establishing the visions and values, to recruiting, managing and developing a skilled staff team, to ensuring your premises are able not only to comply with regulations but foster a positive impact on children’s wellbeing and learning potential.


The Early Years Handbook Second Edition: A comprehensive guide to managing provision in the early years foundation stage will enable you to:

  • provide appropriate and challenging learning opportunities for young children in a setting where they feel safe, happy and confident
  • understand the impact on your setting of recent changes in government policy
  • know what needs to be in place prior to an Ofsted inspection
  • successfully recruit, lead and manage a team to provide high-quality care and development opportunities for your children
  • be aware of legal duties and ensure your setting is operating within the law
  • self-evaluate and create strategic improvement plans.

Summary of contents

This resource includes:

  • sample job application forms
  • sample job descriptions and person specifications for various roles
  • sample questionnaires
  • proforma for recording performance management objectives
  • checklist of questions for developing an outdoor space
  • suggested headings for model business plan
  • examplar profit/loss forecast
  • exemplar monthly budget monitoring report
  • questions to ask when choosing a nursery management software system
  • numerous exemplar policies
  • proforma for parental consent form
  • strategic planning tools.

Chapter breakdown

Chapter 1: Context

This chapter sets out the context for what follows. It briefly discusses the history of services for young children in England, looks at the many developments in early years provision initiated by the Labour government from 1997 to 2010 and introduces current Coalition Government policy from 2011 onwards.


Having read this chapter you will:

  • understand why, where and how recent developments in provision for young children and families have come about
  • build on essential background information that can be used to support a business plan or funding application.

Chapter 2: Vision, values and marketing an image

This chapter looks at how to establish the vision and values of a setting in order to create a focus and reference point for future development. It highlights the values which underpin quality provision for young children and their families and gives examples of vision statements which can be constructed to encompass these values.


Having read this chapter you will:

  • understand why it is important to be explicit about your views and values from the outset
  • learn how to translate this founding vision into marketing for your setting.

Chapter 3 – Choosing a business model

This chapter covers the different legal frameworks under which a childcare business can be developed. It considers the advantages and disadvantages of different structures and signposts the reader to up-to-date sources of additional information and advice.


Having read this chapter you will:

  • understand the different legal framework options you have when it comes to establishing your provision
  • ensure that the management and operating structure of your business is correct from the outset.

Chapter 4 – Managing legal requirements

The legislation covering the establishment and running of early years provision is covered here. The information reflects changes in Ofsted’s registration and inspection protocols and in the legal framework under which small businesses operate. The requirements of Early Years Foundation Stage framework are reviewed, explaining the legal requirements governing young children’s learning, development and welfare.


Having read this chapter you will:

  • understand Ofsted registration requirements and what to expect from an inspection
  • know what you need to have in place with regards to employing staff, managing the premises and providing appropriate learning opportunities for young children.

Chapter 5 – Managing people

This chapter looks at a key aspect of effective management – recruiting, training and managing the staff team. It covers writing job descriptions and person specifications, advertising, interviewing and appointing staff, induction procedures, supervision, performance management and professional development. The information fully reflects the new EYFS Framework requirements on the safe recruitment of staff and the safeguarding and protection of young children.


Having read this chapter you will:

  • know how to recruit, motivate and build a high-quality staff team
  • be able to develop effective systems to manage staff performance and develop the expertise of your team.

Chapter 6 – Managing the environment

This chapter looks at the physical spaces in which childcare and early education services are delivered. It covers the up-to-date legal requirements governing the use of premises and also gives advice and guidance on how to create high-quality indoor and outdoor spaces which will fully support young children’s learning and development.


Having read this chapter you will:

  • know how to use your space for maximum benefit of children’s learning, development and wellbeing
  • know what to look for if you are considering moving premises.

Chapter 7 – Managing money

This chapter provides all the essential information needed to write a business plan for a establishing a new childcare business, taking over an existing business or managing the finances of an operating business more effectively. It includes examples of how occupancy levels and staffing requirements can be calculated to provide essential information to include in a business plan.


Having read this chapter you will:

  • know how to create a business plan, including income and expenditure, profit and loss forecasts
  • understand the relationship between occupancy rates and income and sustainability of your business
  • be able to monitor and manage budgets efficiently.

Chapter 8 – Quality provision

This chapter looks in detail at what is involved in providing high-quality services for young children.  Advice is given on how to draw up a policy document and examples are provided of the wide range of policies and procedures which any setting should have in place. There are new policies on Supervision, Use of Social Media and Whistleblowing and all the policies have been updated to comply with current legislation.


Having read this chapter you will:

  • gain an overview of all the different aspects involved in day-to-day running of your setting
  • have an extensive range of exemplar policies to adapt to your setting.

Chapter 9 – Managing change

The final chapter covers the process of planning for change and development. It looks at carrying out an audit and self-evaluation of current provision and drawing up strategic plans for development in line with local and central government priorities. It covers how to create action plans to address strategic priorities, at establishing success criteria and at how and when to monitor and evaluate progress.


Having read this chapter you will:

  • see how to put the vision and values of a setting into everyday practice
  • know how to create a strategic plan for improvement.


The Early Years Handbook Second Edition: A comprehensive guide to managing provision in the early years foundation stage by Pat Brunton and Linda Thornton seeks to make the complex role of leading and managing a high-quality early years setting a little more straightforward. Offering advice on a wide range of topics, from providing children with suitable learning opportunities, and the latest government policy, to developing your business model, recruitment and self-evaluation.

It's great to find a management resource that does ‘exactly what it says on the tin’! We found this ring-bound format publication an interesting and truly comprehensive guide to managing early years provision. It offers a step-by-step support framework for both new and established settings, and is refreshingly written by early years practitioners with non-experts firmly in mind. Each section is clear, concise, easy to follow with its bullet-pointed information, and rounded off with an extensive list of useful resources and sources of additional information. It has been written in a way that means anyone thinking of setting up an early years setting can pick it up and gain an insight into all aspects of provision, from early years policy to legal responsibilities and on to managing staff and children. It would make an ideal guide for members of voluntary committees who may have less experience of early years or business management. With information on everything from safer recruiting to disciplinary and grievance procedures it covers a lot of bases, and provides a simple framework for setting out a sustainable business model whilst ensuring all of your legal responsibilities are met.

We really liked the user friendly cross-referencing sections in each chapter that explain clearly how one area of provision impacts upon another. This was particularly useful for our management committee, as it helped us to explain EYFS delivery issues in simple and easy to understand terms. Although probably originally intended as a tool for new businesses, this guide would also make a great self-evaluation tool, helping existing management teams to assess and update their current policies and procedures in line with current guidance. The ring-bound format allows for easy updating, too, should there be changes to government policy in the future (there’s room for a copy of the new Early Years Guidelines or Development Matters!)

As if the comprehensive and clearly written nature of this guide were not helpful enough, the whole thing comes with a CD ROM containing templates of all major policies and forms mentioned for easy adaptation in your own setting. We found this particularly useful in helping us to ensure our policies and procedures were up to date.

In summary, then, this is a must-have for most settings, but especially for committee-led early years organisations, where the handbook will help to support committee members in a wide variety of roles – from HR, to finance, through to general early years provision. We will certainly be adding this to our committee induction resources. At £89 we thought it was definitely worth the investment.

As seen in Teach Nursery magazine, Volume 3, Issue 7, October 2013


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