We are truly delighted that Family First has once again been named the ‘Nursery Operator of the Year’ by EducationInvestor.
This incredible achievement marks the second consecutive year that we have received this award and it is a testament to the hard work, dedication and outstanding early years care and education provided by each and every member of our team. We are so proud of everyone’s contributions.
Expanding a business presents significant challenges, particularly in a post-Covid era and increased cost of living which affects everyone, but through our strategy of growth via acquisition we now have 102 nurseries in the group, up from just five when we started in 2019.
Despite our growth, we endeavour to maintain the local, friendly feel of our settings, as well as invest in areas that support every team member, child and parent. Our intention is to enhance and grow each setting, as they come onboard, by building on the legacy and excellent reputation already established in the community.
When new nurseries are brought into our network, our teams conduct a full review to ensure they reach the levels of quality childcare and compliance we expect for our families and a development plan is implemented to address any immediate or longer-term actions which might be required.
Family First chief executive Ollie Humphries said: “When Family First was established in 2019, it was with the clear ambition of being the number one childcare provider in the UK.
“As our name suggests, we are always putting our families first. The safety and wellbeing of all our children, colleagues and parents is our number one priority.
“Our commitment to high standards ensures that our fast growth does not impact our childcare, safety and quality standards.
“Our second priority is our commitment to growth via acquisition and we are proud to have become the fourth-largest nursery operator in the UK according to Nursery World rankings.
Our significant growth also provides opportunities for personal growth for all our team members and in 2022 and into 2023 we significantly invested in our people including:
- Establishment of Future Leaders programme
- Continued investment in our apprenticeship scheme and optimisation of the recruitment process to make it more candidate-friendly
- Bringing compulsory training in-house ensuring a fit-for-purpose set of programmes
- Estate wide 7.7% pay review, delivered two months ahead of schedule, to support our people with the cost of living increases. Plus, a further pay review for Level 3 qualified practitioners, initially impacting 45% of our estate.
We recognise the importance of strengthening our support team structure to ensure the smooth transition of future acquisitions and have a dedicated team working hard to find the right nurseries, meet the potential vendors and understand what is important to them.
Throughout 2023, we continue to grow our family, invest in our people and continue with our ambition to be the number one UK quality childcare provider.