Want to get rich quick? Play elsewhere

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The Independent Online
Entrepreneurs hoping to get rich on the Government's new nursery vouchers may be able to start out with as little as pounds 4,500 in their pockets if they already have premises.

But few people are likely to make their first million through the scheme, experts say. The pounds 1,100 voucher will only cover about one-third of the annual cost of nursery education.

The cost of furniture, coat racks, books, sand pits and toys could be as little as pounds 4,500, according to the Day Care Trust. Computers, which most parents now expect to see, would add to this figure.

Nursery schools can either be registered under education regulations or under the Children Act, with a few holding dual registration.

The first of these is the simplest and cheapest, but only those schools which have at least five children over school age can do so. These schools can set up a nursery unit in an empty classroom provided they have a qualified teacher and a nursery nurse for 26 pupils. Local advisers will inspect the education provision but unless there appears to be a problem social services will not look at the premises.

Those which do not have children over the age of five or do not have a qualified teacher must register under the Children Act. This is more difficult. Social services inspectors will examine the property to make sure it meets health and safety regulations, that it has outside play space and that there is a certain square footage per child, depending on age. They will also require the school to have one adult for every eight children.

While parents will certainly want the best for their children, even the most basic nursery school could attract custom because there is little choice in many areas. However, even the most successful new nursery schools do not usually start making a profit until four or five years after opening, Carol Sherriff, director of the Day Care Trust, says. Most are run for love rather than money.

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