Are you looking for that extra ingredient or specialism which will set you apart from other local childcare settings?  Very often, businesses focus on price to gain a competitive advantage over their rivals. Whilst price is important, it may surprise you to learn that factors such as supporting healthy behaviour can also play a significant role in influencing parents’ choice of childcare provider. Here are some examples to get you thinking about what your nursery’s specialism could be:

1.Providing healthy food and snacks

A survey by the Soil Association Food for Life has revealed that 90% of parents think that providing healthy food to children is an important factor when choosing a childcare provider and that supporting healthy behaviour is even more important than a setting’s Ofsted rating!  Over 50% of parents who participated in the survey said that an independent endorsement of food quality and food education would be ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to lead them to choose one provider over another, if they were similar in all other areas.

2.Supporting a charity or good cause

Supporting an organisation which works to improve the lives of disadvantaged children, such as the Parenta Trust, is not only rewarding but will also help to foster a sense of community amongst staff, parents and children. Building this kind of relationship with a child-centered charity will give you opportunities to talk about the differences between the lives of youngsters living in Africa compared to those in the UK. Another benefit: imagine how wonderful it would be for your setting to exchange drawings and letters with children living on a different continent!

3. Investing in staff development

To deliver outstanding childcare, you need to invest in your staff and ensure they’re well trained and motivated. “Investors in People” is an internationally recognised standard which celebrates businesses who empower their staff, support high performance and deliver continuous improvement. There are 4 awards you can work towards – Accredited, Gold, Silver and Platinum. Littletown Junior, Infant and Nursery School have been accredited by Investors in People since 2000 and currently hold Gold status. Read more about how they found the process here.

4.Ensuring all staff have paediatric training

Millie’s Mark is a voluntary quality mark in paediatric first aid, launched recently at the NDNA awards with the help of former childcare minister Sam Gyimah. The standard came about following the campaigning of Joanne and Dan Thompson, who tragically lost their daughter in 2012 after she choked on food at nursery. Millie’s Mark is awarded to settings who train their staff in paediatric first aid to a standard which is above that of the minimum legal requirements.

With so many different childcare options available to parents, it can often be the little things like an accreditation, award or involvement with a charity which persuades them to choose one provider over another. Do your research and find a specialism or award which really resonates with the aims and values of your nursery.  It could be the start of a very exciting and rewarding journey!

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