The South London women tackling childcare crisis by opening own nurseries

Budding entrepreneurs across South London are taking a novel approach to tackling the childcare crisis – opening ‘micro nurseries’ in their own homes.

Thanks to an initiative called ‘tiney’ which was launched by the founder of Teach First – an education enterprise –  women are retraining as childminders and opening nurseries at home.

This is helping to provide early years education for children, while offering better childcare options for families at a time when nursery closures are rife, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Tiney hopes to recruit and train hundreds of new childminders in the area over the coming months to meet the demand for high-quality childcare services. And many of these early recruits are early years professionals who will bring their wealth of experience to the role.

Mother-of-four and former early years teacher Aimee-lee Costen is one of these entrepreneurs. In September, she opened her own micro-nursery in Wandsworth.

She said: “I opened my in-home nursery in September after working in early years education for more than 15 years. When I had my fourth child, a year ago, I knew I couldn’t go back to working in a nursery because the salary just wouldn’t cut it for my family.

“I’m passionate about what I do, so becoming a childminder felt like the best way to continue in my career with the added bonuses of allowing me to spend more time at home and save on childcare costs. I heard about tiney from a friend and then did a lot of my own research before signing up.

“Ever since I opened my nursery, I have been inundated with demand from local parents. I have loved creating a nurturing space where every day feels like an adventure, full of opportunities to learn and grow.”

Unlike in a nursery, at tiney children of all ages get to spend time together, which has huge benefits developmentally. The younger children pick up language and other skills from the older children. On the other hand, older children learn to nurture and care for the little ones. It’s lovely to witness.”

Tilly Ash (right) and an image of Aimee-Lee’s in-home nursery (left) (Picture: Crest Comms)

Former nanny and mother-of-one Tilly Ash, from Bromley, opened her tiney home in August. She said: “When I had my daughter, three years ago, I was a full-time nanny, but I decided I wanted more flexibility to be at home with her and see her grow. Becoming a childminder felt like the best of both worlds and a natural next step.

“It has been lovely getting to know local families and nurturing their little ones. We love to keep active and do lots of fun activities. You’ll usually find us baking, dancing, or going on adventure.”

The number of nursery closures in England increased by 35 per cent during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nurseries are still shutting their doors at an alarming rate, with closures increasing by 50 per cent in the last year alone. And a recent survey found 83 per cent of nurseries either make a loss or break even.

Teach First and tiney founder Brett Wigdortz said: “Childminders present a vital solution to our childcare crisis, providing desperately needed high-quality, affordable, and accessible childcare.
“Childminding also ensures its practitioners receive the fairest wage in the early years sector, while granting them greater flexibility and autonomy. Tilly and Aimee-lee are two perfect examples of how impactful this can be.
“For many parents, the cost and inaccessibility of childcare have become a huge professional obstacle, with women in particular shut out of the workforce as a result. We desperately need more people to train for careers in childcare and we’re so pleased that the tiney community continues to grow to help redress this balance.”

Pictured top: Aimee Lee Costen in child-care mode (Picture: Crest Comms)

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:


If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.