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2007 ICMEC Launch Conference

ICMEC was launched at an international conference held on 10 September 2007 at UEL's Docklands Campus. On that occasion Stephen Timms MP, Minister of State for Competitiveness at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform in the then Labour Government, officially launched the research centre.

To find the text of all presentations delivered there follow this link.

The context and background to the conference were described as follows.

The UK Government is committed to delivering early childhood education and care through a mixed market economy. Currently the private for-profit sector delivers three quarters of daycare provision in the UK.  In particular the UK corporate for-profit childcare sector has grown seven-fold since 1997. Similar growth of private for-profit care is reported in some other OECD countries. In Australia since the early nineties the growth rate of for-profit childcare provision has been eight times that of not-for-profit services. In Canada, recent economic research suggests that the for-profit sector may not be cost-effective in delivering quality care.

The growth in private for-profit childcare and early education was based on the assumption of rising demand from mothers entering the workforce. But female employment rates in the UK have not expanded as predicted.  Are mixed economies of childcare faltering due to oversupply of provision? How can regulation protect childcare quality while also promoting the childcare market? Is a child-focused, equitable, universally accessible and publicly subsidised early childhood care and education system attainable through the for-profit sector? These are among the pressing questions to be discussed at this conference.

ICMEC annual reports I and II

The annual reports for ICMEC from 2007/08 and 2008/09 are available here: ICMEC Annual Report 2007-08 FINAL and ICMEC 2nd annual report 0809 final


  • 9.45 - Coffee and registration
  • 10.15 - Welcome and Introduction
    • Professor Jim Barry, UEL Business School
  • 10.20 - ICMEC
    • Professor Helen Penn and Eva Lloyd, ICMEC Co-Directors, UEL School of Education
  • 10.30 - Professor Martin Everett
    • UEL Vice Chancellor, introduces Stephen Timms MP, Minister of State for Competitiveness at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
  • 10.35 - Ministerial address followed by questions
  • 11.00 - Mothers’ labour market participation and use of childcare in the UK: setting the scene.
    • Mike Brewer,   Institute for Fiscal Studies
  • 11.30 - Corporate childcare in Australia: is it in the public interest?
    • Professor Jennifer Sumsion, Charles Sturt University, NSW, Australia
  • 12.00 - Plenary Discussion
  • 12.30 - 13.30 - LUNCH
  • 1.30 - 13.35 - Welcome
    • Professor Helen Penn. School of Education, University of East London
  • 1.35 - Public policy, private delivery: the puzzle of public-private partnerships in childcare
    • Professor Susan Prentice, University of Manitoba, Canada
  • 2.00 - Challenges facing the mixed economy in delivering quality and sufficiency
    • Purnima Tanuku, Chief Executive, National Day Nurseries Association
  • 2.30 - The mixed economy of childcare:the Major Providers’ Group perspective
    • Carole Edmond, Managing Director Teddies Nurseries, BUPA.
  • 3.00 - Plenary Discussion
  • 3.30 - 4.00 - Tea and networking


Carole Edmond is the managing director for Teddies Nurseries which is part of the BUPA group. Carole has been involved in the childcare market for nearly 10 years and has been in instrumental in expanding BUPA's presence in the sector. Teddies Nurseries currently has 34 nursery settings located in the South of England. Carole is one of the founding members of the major providers' group which was established in 2001

Major Providers' Group presentation Carole Edmund ICMEC conference 10 September 2007
Eva Lloyd is Reader in Early Childhood in the Cass School of Education and Communities at the University of East London and with Professor Helen Penn Co-Director of UEL’s International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Economy of Childcare. Previously a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at the University of Bristol, she has also held senior policy, planning and research roles with Save the Children and Barnardo’s, and was Chief Executive of the National Early Years Network. Her interests include the marketisation of childcare and child poverty strategies.

Eva Lloyd presentation ICMEC conference 10 September 2007
Helen Penn is Professor of Early Childhood in the School of Education, University of East London. She is an expert on early education and childcare policies. She works in many countries for international bodies such as the EU and the OECD and has a particular interest in developing countries. She has published many academic books and articles, and is also a columnist for the practitioner magazine Nursery World.
Jennifer Sumsion is Foundation Professor of Early Childhood Education at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia NSW and Convenor of the Investigating Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care Research Group. Her recently completed Australian Research Council funded project investigated teachers’ perceptions of the impact of regulatory environment governing long day care in Australia on their capacity to provide high quality early childhood education and care. Her current research interests focus on the impact and implications of the rapid growth of corporate childcare in Australia.

Jennifer Sumsion presentation ICMEC conference 10 September 2007
Mike Brewer is an economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. His interests are in the way that taxes, benefits and labour market programmes affect families with children in the UK. He has also written about the current UK Government’s ambition to abolish child poverty.

Mike Brewer presentation ICMEC conference 10 September 2007

Purnima Tanuku is Chief Executive of the National Day Nurseries Association.  Purnima works closely with ministers and senior civil servants, and represents NDNA and the sector. She has been instrumental in implementing the development of NDNA’s new National Early Years Enterprise Centre and headquarters, which opened in June 2007. Since joining NDNA, Purnima has focused on developing the charity’s infrastructure and developing and strengthening the staff team. Purnima has a wealth of experience at senior executive level working with public, private and charitable organisations.

Purnima Tanuku presentation ICMEC conference 10 September 2007
Stephen Timms was appointed Minister for Competitiveness in June 2007 at the newly formed Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform. Prior to this he served as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, following his role as Minister for Pensions Reform in the Department for Work and Pensions. Other previous Ministerial positions include Financial Secretary to the Treasury; Minister for e-Commerce and Competitiveness and Minister of State for Energy, e-Commerce and Postal Services in the Department for Trade and Industry; Minister of State for School Standards; and Minister of State and Parliamentary Under Secretary in the then Department for Social Security.

Stephen entered Parliament in 1994 as MP for Newham North East, and has been MP for East Ham since 1997. He served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Andrew Smith from May 1997 to March 1998, and to Mo Mowlam from March to July 1998.

Stephen was born in 1955. He was educated at Farnborough Grammar School and read mathematics at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He has lived in the East London Borough of Newham since 1979 and married Hui-Leng in July 1986. Before entering Parliament, Stephen worked in the telecommunications industry for 15 years, first for Logica and then for Ovum. He was elected to Newham Council in 1984 and served as Leader of the Council from 1990 to 1994.

Stephen Timms MP presentation ICMEC conference 10 September 2007

Susan Prentice is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Manitoba, specialising in historical and contemporary childcare policy, with a particular interest in childcare advocacy as a social movement. She is former Margaret Laurence Chair in Women’s Studies, and teaches public policy, family and feminist theory.

Susan Prentice ICMEC conference presentation 10 September 2007

Who should attend

To meet the challenges presented by mixed economies of childcare in the UK and beyond, requires effective collaboration between many agencies, policy makers, business leaders, academics and other stakeholders.

This conference should be of interest to:
  • Representatives of national, local and London government in the fields of policy and planning, education, health, employment, business and enterprise and social exclusion
  • Childcare business managers
  • Children Centre managers
  • Representatives of the national media, community and voluntary sector childcare and social welfare organisations
  • Researchers and managers from Universities and other Institutes of Further and Higher Education
  • Representatives of private equity firms and other financial groups interested in investing in early childhood education and care provision

Contact us

Please register via the conference website. For any queries concerning the conference registration contact:

Mrs Veronica Burton
Research Administrator, UEL School of Education

Tel: +44 (0)208 223 2834
Fax: +44 (0)208 223 2882