Our story from 1999
Hempsall’s was established in 1999, when James Hempsall began working on a freelance basis to provide training and consultancy in early years and childcare. This was at the time when local Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships (EYDCPs) were being developed in all English local authorities. The aim of EYDCPs was to create an infrastructure to deliver the first National Childcare Strategy.
Over the following few years, Hempsall’s grew to a team of around 25 staff, delivering new childcare places, business support, childcare audits, and a growing range of training courses. It wasn’t long before the government announced the creation of Sure Start local programmes, so our team supported their development, in particular through training and consultancy in embedding multi-agency working and colocation of services. We also worked with several programmes as their local independent evaluators, helping them with reflective and engaging evaluation to shape innovative practice. Alongside this work, we supported international tour operators to develop quality childcare practice, and to introduce the industry’s first child protection and safeguarding policies and procedures for the millions of children who travel with them each year.
As a team, a huge focus on our work was helping local authorities with their strategy, partnership working, commissioning, and effective and efficient delivery, across all aspects of our delivery: training, research and consultancy. During this time we developed quality assurance schemes, workforce strategies and recruitment campaigns, employer engagement and business support, and created hundreds (if not thousands) of childcare places.
When Sure Start local programmes were tasked with converting to children’s centre, with ambitious expansion plans, we worked on this growth. Since then we have delivered local projects including parental volunteering and employment development work. As a result of the Childcare Act (2006), we were commissioned by DfE to facilitate local authority networking, and to support and challenge the delivery of their new sufficiency and information duties.
After the 2010 general election, and a change in how local authorities were funded, we restructured to develop a larger associate trainer and consultant base. We started working on a more national footing. In 2012, we won the national DfE support contract for the implementation of 15 hours for least advantaged two-year-olds, with Mott MacDonald. And in 2016, Hempsall’s were awarded the national DfE contract for 30 hours, extending our partnerships to include Action for Children for the first time. We became the 'go to' recognised experts for local implementation. After that, in 2021, we became the national support and challenge contractor for DfE's Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme that provides free school-holiday activities and nutritional food for children and young people in receipt of benefits related free school meals. We also became DfE's EY Covid recovery training partner equipping mentors, experts and area leads across the country to support settings and their work with children's learning impacted so profoundly by the pandemic. HMRC also commissioned us to look at ways in which the take-up of Tax-Free Childcare could be improved. Our national focus has since stretched across the UK, and in a typical month we provide consultancy and advice to several governments across the globe.
Click here to view our 2020-2021 annual report.