Social purpose

Changing the world one child at a time.

Together with families and communities, we give London’s children – especially those most in need – the best start in life, by providing access to high quality, affordable Early Years education and care.

History

LEYF started in 1903, a time of poverty and shockingly high mortality, as Westminster Health Society.

Founders, such as Margaret Horn, embarked on an ambitious plan to promote child welfare and family health at the heart of a community in need.

An incredible 45 years before the NHS, we were already pioneers – offering training in professional childcare, outreach and home visits, along with local drop-in sessions and classes in parenting.

In 2006, we began our journey to become a social enterprise, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the high quality Early Years education LEYF provides for our children. We officially changed our name to the London Early Years Foundation in 2009.

We are passionate about the long-term social impact that comes from a progressive and research-based nursery education, underpinned by strengthening social and cultural capital.

Everything we do at LEYF is driven by excellence in teaching and learning, and builds on our pioneering heritage.

LEYF welcomes all children into our nurseries, irrespective of their social background or ability.

At the heart of our communities

LEYF is a family of 39 nurseries across London. We are a charitable social enterprise employing over 800 staff across London. Our socially inclusive approach ensures we make a real difference to the lives of 4,000 children and their families every year, helping them to develop a passion for learning, regardless of their background.

Experiences in early childhood shape lives and are often the root cause of today’s hardest social challenges, such as addiction, poor mental health and homelessness.

Together with families and communities, we enable each child to be the best they can be through wonderful experiences that enrich and extend their learning.

We nurture each child, encouraging them to learn at their own pace within safe and caring settings. Our four core values: inspiring, brave, nurturing and fun, are at the heart of everything we do.

Our values

Our four core values: brave, inspiring, nurturing and fun, are at the heart of everything we do.

  • Brave – We push boundaries and test new ideas, always standing up for the rights of children.
  • Inspiring – We encourage continuous development for children and staff.
  • Nurturing – We create safe and homely environments for each child.
  • Fun – We are imaginative and creative, and learn through play.
Play video How children learn

The first five years of a child’s life influence their life chances, health and well-being. At LEYF, we understand how children learn and our unique Pedagogy ensures the very best outcomes for all our children.

How children learn

Find out more about LEYF and how we put families and children at the heart of all we do.

Find out more about LEYF and how we put families and children at the heart of all we do.

Championing diversity

LEYF welcomes all children into our nurseries, irrespective of their social background or ability.

Staff and children doing some wood works, using nails, wood and hammers to build something. Learning to be safe by using goggles

We also champion diversity across our staff team, as we firmly believe children need role models from all walks of life. We are proud that 7.6% of our nursery teachers are men (compared to the national average of 3%) and 58% of our staff who reported their ethnicity are Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) (as of March 2021).

staff and children playing outside in the garden

Download our annual report

Download our annual report to find out more about our impact over the past year.

Download
Play video How nurseries tackle the injustice of poverty

How nurseries tackle the injustice of poverty

To mitigate the impact of poverty on children’s life chances we need the highest quality childcare. In this TED talk, our CEO, June O’Sullivan MBE, explains why our childcare system must give every child the best start in life.

Staff and children playing with shredded paper

Our nurseries

We’re an award-winning group of 39 London nurseries! Browse our nurseries and find out more about our teams, our Pedagogy, and more.

Nursery teacher and child do a high five in the playground

Social impact

High quality Early Years education and care makes a significant difference to children’s educational success and future attainment.

Child at the local park enjoying the forest school and throwing leaves in the air

Contact us

We'd love to hear from you.