Who are second steps?

Second Steps is an established childcare provider, we commenced our journey in 1994 and have provided high quality childcare for many families in Essex over this long period of time.

We pride ourselves in providing a bespoke approach towards working in partnership with parents and embrace children’s interests and home life experiences so to offer the best starting points, we support a natural progression towards play and learning.

Imagine Believe Achieve

Our Philosophy

Our philosophy is that a child should be happy, safe and healthy. A stimulating and educational environment. We aim to work in partnership with all parents to provide a service that will reach their individual needs.

Our Approach

“Children always learn, but not necessarily what you want them to learn.”  Dr.Lillian Katz, University of Illinois.

At Second Steps, We understand that children’s individual experiences and interests will be at the heart of their play each day.

We acknowledge that children’s interests may change, but also understand that if we tune into their play, expand, and introduce new interests that they will feel included, valued, and thrive within the spaces we create for children each day.

The statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards for ‘Our Approach’ to curriculum and is echoed throughout the environment we provide for children and their play.

‘Our Approach’ identifies children’s interests, their Characteristics of Effective Learning (COEL) and praises individual achievements discovered through meaningful play. We do not ‘set’ pre-considered Next Steps each term for children attending the nursery, we embrace children’s interests and celebrate their achievements and learning day to day.

Skilled practitioners observe and identify emerging learning, they provide teachable moments and secure children’s achievements unobtrusively. We consider ALL children as individuals that will learn in different ways and at different speeds.

Children enjoy learning through ‘Our Approach’, they develop and achieve within a safe, secure, relaxed, and stimulating environment of which captures their interests with opportunities to discover and remain curious through their play.
Children achieve………


We are registered with Ofsted and have strong links with them to help us be the best in our field that we possibly can.


We are members of the Early Years Alliance, who are also a great source of information and knowledge to help us to succeed.

Meet our expert team

At Second Steps we pride ourselves on not having a high staff turnover rate, so your children bond and grow up with familiar carers.

AlthorneBurnt MillsColchesterHanningfield

Check Availability

We’re looking forward to meeting you and answer any questions you might have.

Even if you’re not looking to arrange child care for a while yet, it’s usually best to inquire early as spaces can be booked months in advance! Don’t hesitate to give us a call & book in a visit now!

Our Leadership Team



I knew early by the age of 14 I wanted to work with children. Babysitting for neighbours to earn a few pound and studying hard at school for the only subject I had interest in ‘childcare’! This was the start of my journey, leaving school I went to college to study child and community care, part of my course was in a primary school learning about how to support children and help them learn and grow. The following few years I had a variety of jobs both in and out of childcare.

My first job came as a live in Nanny, I was located in Danbury, Chelmsford. A family with 2 children gave me the opportunity and valuable experience’s I needed. I become home sick and eventually moved back home and found a daily nanny post.

When I was 19 my mum passed away of a brain haemorrhage. I found a nursery assistant job at a day nursery in Southend and I was promoted to Manager within a year! “I loved it, I found my passion, my family”. I moved closer to my job and brought a a flat and married at 20. A year later I had my first child Ebony. I soon realised I missed working, so took a part time nursery nurse job in Rochford Hospital. I then fell pregnant with my second daughter Holly.

One afternoon my Dad and step mum came to visit and had explained they had some money to invest in a business and asked how I would feel about helping them to open and run a day nursery for them, as you can imagine I was very excited an grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

Holly was diagnosed with global development delay at 4 years old, she went to mainstream school for a year then was transferred to a SEND school where she flourished and eventually went on to college and now lives independently with daily support. During this time I wanted to support other families and opened a charity called SNAKE which provided support play sessions for family’s in Essex, I run these in the play centre I opened in 2007 called Stay and Play.

First Steps Day Nursery was opening in 1994 where i had some amazing staff members and students. One of these staff members was Lorraine Griffith, she was hard working and keen. Who would have guessed 28 years later we would have become business partners and would go on to open 10 more nurseries!

Our group now consist of 3 Second Steps Day Nursery settings providing childcare for families.

I am excited to continue our journey as Second Steps and see what the future holds.



My journey in childcare started as a teenager, earning pocket money ‘babysitting’ for local families. Praised in my abilities by these families, I enrolled on a 2-year NNEB childcare course in 1993. One of my college placements was at Sharon’s nursery!

After finishing the curse, Sharon offered me a position at her nursery whereby i worked my way up to manager within 6 years. We have become firm friends and business partners over the years, opening our first nursery together in 2011, then another in 2018, relocated the first nursery in 2019 and now opening our third this year! Along the way we met Louise whilst doing our Early Years Foundation Degree, who has so much enthusiasm and passion for childcare we were delighted that she accepted our offer to be the manager of our first nursery! The three of us made a great team which shows in our three very successful nursery’s!

Personally, I am happily married with two wonderful daughters, who have grown up in our nurseries making them both the happy, sociable, independent young adults that they are now; having been cared for by amazing staff and given space to grow, learn and develop individually. I love to walk and explore the countryside with my two ‘lockdown’ dogs! Watch this space for more ‘Second Steps’ nurseries over the coming years, our passion to build a setting and environment for children to thrive is addictive!


Group Operations Manager

When it was time for my son to embark on his pre-school journey I decided to volunteer and help within the environment he then frequented. It was at this time I knew my future was to be in the childcare sector.

My dream growing up was to embark on a career in the arts and design sector of which led me to study and achieve a diploma with merit. My journey took me on many adventures of which included window design for John Lewis in London, and an interior design role that permitted me to implement my creative side.

In 1995 I became a mummy with my direction and focus immediately changing. With this little bundle of joy in my arms I looked upon him with awe and wonder. As my son grew, I observed how he became his own person, with interests and a personality that showcased his individuality. Then along came my daughter and again her very different character to my son ignited my passion to learn more, with the possibility of becoming a nursery practitioner.

When it was time for my son to embark on his pre-school journey I decided to volunteer and help within the environment he then frequented. It was at this time I knew my future was to be in the childcare sector.

In the year 2000 I returned to college and studied early years education and gained a level 3 qualification in childcare. I became a full-time practitioner at what was then my sons pre-school and with hard work, continued studies, and recognition I was promoted to become the manager in 2011.

It was in 2011, at the age of 46 I decided to take on the challenge of further studies and applied for a place on the open university of Hertfordshire Early Years Educator course in order to research and learn more about the development of children. I qualified with a distinction and degree in 2013.

It was during this period that I met Sharon and Lorraine with my career pathway taking a very different direction than the one I had ever imagined. We became friends during the two years we studied and our passion for high quality childcare became apparent. At the time I was aware that they owned a group of childcare settings, however it had not crossed my mind that I would leave my managers position at the pre-school.

Sharon and Lorraine encouraged me to consider joining their team with the promise of an exciting career in childcare. 11 years later I can honestly state that I have had a privileged career, one that has put me at the forefront of opening 7 nurseries. With promotion within a year of joining the team and the title of Group Operations Manager I have found myself merging my creative and childcare knowledge to design and establishment nursery environments that offer families a personal approach towards childcare.

Parents are recognised as their children’s first carers and educators and our team embrace this fact. Our nursery environments incorporate relaxed yet stimulating surroundings that encourage children to be curious and make discoveries whilst feeling supported, safe, and secure.

I continue to learn as I visit the nurseries, meet with management, practitioners, observe children, and discuss what steps can be taken to enrich each and every child’s individual needs and interests each day. I am very lucky to have such a special role to play in children’s futures

What you need to know

At Second Steps, We’re here to make this decision as easy as possible for you. We will answer any questions you may have, give you peace of mind & help you find the perfect nursery for you and your child.

General information

As a full day care setting registered with Ofsted we must follow the guidelines set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage. This ensures we are running our establishment correctly to these guidelines and giving our best skills and knowledge to the children that attend.

All nurseries are open Monday – Friday from 7am to 7pm.*

*Closed bank holidays.

All children’s dietary needs are taken into consideration when planning our weekly menu.*

A vegetarian alternative is always available, as are specific requirements, for example, allergies or religion. The nursery has set meal and snack times during the day for the 1 – 5 year olds to help them establish a healthy routine to feel safe and secure.

The babies have their own routine set by you from what they are used to at home to help them settle easier into nursery life.

Breakfast time is from 7.30 am – 8.00 am this meal consists of a variety of cereals, toast, fresh fruit, yoghurt and a drink.

Morning snack is at 10.00 am the children will have a drink of milk/water with a healthy snack.

Lunchtime is at 12.00 noon the menu for this meal is enclosed within the prospectus, and changes throughout the year depending on likes/dislikes of the children and the availability of the product.

Afternoon snack is at 2.00 pm the children will have a drink of milk/water with a healthy snack.

Tea time is at 4.00 pm the menu for this meal is enclosed within the prospectus, again this will change
throughout the year.

Evening snack is at 6.00 pm the children will have a drink of milk/water and a biscuit or piece of fruit.

Water is available throughout the day for children to access freely.

*Sample menus can be found on our nursery pages.

Our procedures

You will find the nursery policies and procedure located in the foyer of our nurseries, however if you wish to have a copy the procedures e mailed to you, please indicate to the nursery manager and we can highlight key policies that you may wish to have to hand.

Settling in

To ensure your child’s happiness and well being on his or her first day, we encourage you to spend time settling them into the setting, this process can be as long or short as you wish, depending on your child’s individual needs.

In this time you and your child can establish a relationship with your child’s key person, whereby you will spend time completing your child’s All About Me booklet.

During this time we will establish your child’s starting points of development, discuss your family culture and background, including languages spoken at home. We will share with you information relating to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which is our guidance in completing your child’s learning journey.

On this visit you must return your child’s registration forms if you haven’t already done so along with the registration fee. (if applicable).

We value you as parents of the children we care for, and understand that leaving your child with us may be a major step to you and your family;  therefore  feel free to phone during the day to speak with a member of staff to find out how your child has settled.

Local offer

We are a fully inclusive nursery and are able to meet all the needs of children with SEND.

At Second Steps we follow the key person approach. On the child’s initial first day of settling in the nursery, they will be allocated a key person who will work closely with them and the parent/carer to ensure that a bond is built and that the child’s individual needs, abilities and interests are recorded.

An All About Me booklet will be completed with the parent/carer and the key person. This is the initial opportunity for parents to discuss their child’s starting points and any concerns or worries they may have.

Once this information has been compiled then the key person and the parent/carer will set the child’s first set of development targets (next steps) to work towards.

On a daily basis observations and activities are carried out by the key person to support each child’s development needs. We use the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework as a guideline to help ensure children are developing in all seven areas of learning.

From this information, the key person may find that additional support is needed.

Parents/carers will be informed and the next stage will be discussed together.

We have a nursery SENCO (Special Educational Needs and Disability Co-ordinator) and ENCO (Equality Named Co-ordinator) who have been trained to support the key person, parent/carers and children to meet each child’s individual needs. This could be by offering advice or putting strategies in place to ensure that every child is able to access the same experiences.

We have a close relationship with outside agencies that we may need to liaise with to help support the child’s individual needs, this includes:

Health visitors
Speech and Language therapists
Local Children centres

Not only will these people support the nursery they are also here to support families. Any information recorded whilst in the nursery will always be shared with the parents/carers.

We will not contact outside agencies or disclose any information without the permission of parents/carers first in regards to SEND.

Parent partnership and the key person approach is an important part of a child’s development.

From the first initial day the child settles the key person will work closely with the parents/carers to ensure that the child feels comfortable and secure within the nursery environment, this includes ensuring their interests are taken into account.

We work closely with the parents/carers to set development targets for the child to achieve. Their first targets will be set from the All About Me booklet completed by the parents/carers. We will provide the parents with a report which outlines the activities we will carry out within the nursery to help them to achieve their targets and also ideas that parents/carers can do at home to also support them.  All reports, where possible, will be translated into the home language to ensure that all parents/carers are included in their child’s development.

Every child has their own learning journey that will incorporate a mixture of observations, pictures and videos to evidence their journey throughout their time at nursery. This is compiled via the EyLog app. Parents/carers can have an input in their child’s learning journey by downloading the EyLog parent app on their mobile telephone or tablet/iPad. The app is always accessible for those parents that have downloaded it, meaning that they can look at their child’s learning journey at any time. We do arrange parent/carer evenings for all ages to give extra opportunities for you to discuss your child’s development with their key person.

We encourage all parents/carers to complete weekend sheets so that we can see the child’s interests at home and even extend any activities or outings they may have enjoyed to incorporate into the nursery routines and topics.

From the day that your child enrols they will be designated a key person. They will support the parents/carers and child to settle into the nursery and out of school club. They will be responsible for monitoring and tracking your child’s development.

As your child progresses through the nursery the key person will ensure a smooth transition into each room. They will provide the new key person with a detailed handover as to where the child is developmentally and also their likes and dislikes. These transitions will take place on the days that the child is in and will be supported by their key person. Parents/carers will be notified when these settling session will take place.

When the time comes for your child to start school their key person will fill out a school transition report. This will give an overview of your child’s development, interests and abilities. This will be shown to parents/carers prior to being passed onto the schools. If any parents/carers have any concerns that you wish for us to address with the teachers then it will be added to the report.

We advise the parents to attend all transition meetings at the school where their child will be attending, if they cannot we will send the child’s key person who will pass on all transition reports with your permission. We actively seek out your child’s friends from nursery that maybe going to the same school as this will also aid in the transition to talk about ‘big’ school as a group leading up to their start date at school. We invite teachers to visit our setting to see how the child interacts with others and also to get to know each other in an environment where the child feels safe.

On some occasions there may be extra settling days needed for school and again we would offer for the key person and the child to attend the school during the time that they are at nursery if you could not attend these sessions yourself. This is dependent on the schools policy and on the child’s need for extra sessions.

We have a close link with all local schools and every year we liaise with them to gather spare uniforms for dress up and also photos of the school so that the children can familiarise themselves with the surroundings. On the last term of the children being at nursery we do focus on preparing them for school.

Colchester please contact Megan on 01206 545 671
Burntmills please contact Caroline on 01268 729 729
Althorne please contact Ebony on 01621 838 482

Other Important Contacts:

Essex County Council
Tel: 0333 013 0304

Information Advice and support service helpline
Tel: 0333 013 8913

Inclusion Partner Ruth Glendennan
Essex County Council*
Tel: 03330 134736

*Burnt Mills Only


We’ve put together a list of questions we’ve been asked – please don’t hesitate to get in touch if there’s anything else you need to know.

Our outside area is a good size to cater for all ages within the nursery and schools out club. We have a variety of resources and equipment and staff will also involve the children in group games like parachute play and ball games.

The children go outside in all weathers if they have the appropriate clothing for example, sun hat and sun screen or wellies and raincoat. We also take the children out for walks around the local area if the weather permits (with parental permission).

Yes, we are registered with Ofsted and have strong links with them to help us be the best in our field that we possibly can. We are also linked with the Local Children’s Centre and our members of the Pre School Learning Alliance

We have a nursery SENCO (Special Educational Needs and Disability Co-ordinator) and ENCO (Equality Named Co-ordinator) who have been trained to support the key person, parent/carers and children to meet each child’s individual needs. For any other questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

If you have a family emergency, please don’t hesitate to let us know and speak to your nurseries manager.

Colchester please contact Ebony Bowen on 01206 545 671
Burntmills please contact Caroline Fenton on 01268 729 729
Althorne please contact on 01621 502 258

All children’s dietary needs are taken into consideration when planning our weekly menu. A vegetarian alternative is always available, as is specific requirements, for example allergies or religion.

Yes, we give discounts for siblings, NHS workers and military personnel but proof is required.

Each child has a learning journey which is compiled using various methods of observation and tracking.

Practitioners are able to add observations and photos of the children. These will be added primarily by each child’s key person who will be following their progress and development.

The government offer additional funding to help support children within a nursery setting.

To see what you could be entitled to please see www.childcarechoices.gov.uk and speak with the manager for further information.

Get in touch

Have any questions? We will be happy to provide further details and answer enquiries.

01621 502 258

Burnt Mills:
01268 729 729

01206 545 671

01245 914847

Book your nursery visit now.

We are happy to email our prospectus for your perusal, or you can collect one when you visit, just let us know below.

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