In recognition of its work to provide training, progression and career opportunities to the childcare and early years workforce in Scotland, Busy Bees, the UK's leading childcare provider, celebrated its Queen's Award for Enterprise: Promoting Opportunity at an exclusive event at Holyrood Palace.

Busy Bees, which has 21 nurseries in Scotland and 352 throughout the UK, was announced as the recipient of the Queen's Award for Enterprise: Promoting Opportunity on the Queen's 92nd birthday in April this year. It is just one of six businesses and the only early years provider to have received the award, which recognises its commitment to providing apprenticeships and courses to help more people realise their ambition of working in childcare.

The event took place on Wednesday 12 December, where the Busy Bees founders, nursery staff, apprentices, sector leaders and MSPs gathered to celebrate and discuss the importance of giving people in Scotland from all backgrounds access to top quality training.

These sentiments were echoed in speeches delivered by Shadow Health Minister, Miles Briggs MSP and Minister for Children and Young People, Maree Todd MSP. Both spoke about how crucial ongoing training and education like that provided by Busy Bees is to the early years workforce in Scotland and the impact it has on ensuring all children in Scotland have the best start in life.

To date, Busy Bees has provided a pathway into childcare for almost 100 practitioners in Scotland and 95 per cent of its nurseries in the country have one or more apprentices.

Amid such growth from its very first nursery in Lichfield, England in 1983, to 500 settings worldwide today, Busy Bees established sister company BB Training Academy to deliver management qualifications and apprenticeships to all its nurseries.

Co-founder and Chief Academic Officer of Busy Bees, Marg Randles, attended the special event at Scottish Parliament, Holyrood. Marg said: "We wouldn't be able to provide exceptional care for the children in our nurseries without a dedicated, passionate and highly knowledgeable team. It's why training and career development are so important to Busy Bees.

"We want to support the careers of as many practitioners as possible and give them the opportunity to provide outstanding care to young children. We have enthusiastic, intelligent and most importantly really caring apprentices who are making their way in their childcare career. Seeing our team succeed is what winning the Queen's Award for Enterprise: Promoting Opportunity is all about."

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Fay Gibbin, CEO of BB Training Academy, said: “For any practitioner working in childcare, having access to training and qualifications that boost their knowledge, skills and behaviours, is so important to the outstanding care they provide.

“We have always held the belief that if a person has the passion dedication and nurturing nature to work with children, then training will provide them with all the skills they need alongside these to be an outstanding practitioner. It was great to be able to celebrate the award and the achievements of all our apprentices in Scotland at such a special event.”

The first Busy Bees nursery – The Rocklands in Lichfield - was opened in 1983, by three couples who were dissatisfied with the childcare options available to them. Two of the founders, Marg Randles (chief academic officer) and John Woodward (president), are still working full time in the business.

Today, Busy Bees is the UK’s leading provider of quality childcare, looking after 50,000 children across the country, in 352 nurseries. Committed to providing quality care for every child in a safe, caring environment, Busy Bees meets each child’s individual social, physical and emotional needs.

Recently is was recognised for its social mobility programme and dedication to quality training for its early years apprentices, receiving the Queen’s Award for enterprise: Promoting Opportunity 2018.

As well as 352 nurseries in the UK, Busy Bees also operates two children’s centres and an independent primary school. In 2013, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan invested in the business, enabling Busy Bees to expand internationally.

In early 2015, 83 nurseries across Singapore and Malaysia joined the Busy Bees family, followed by 89 BrightPath nurseries in Canada in 2016.

Busy Bees has also launched a 200-place nursery in the city of Harbin, China in 2017. It plans to create a total of 33 nurseries in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Xiamen by 2023. 

In May 2018, Busy Bees entered into a contract for the acquisition of Foundation Early Learning, a leading Australian provider of childcare for 3,500 children across 42 settings.

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