Early Years Fundamentals is a research, training and consultancy company, led by the needs of the early years private and voluntary sector.

We assess the needs of the sector termly through the extensive analysis of Ofsted inspection reports and prepare a response to trending Ofsted actions and recommendations through audit tools, practical guides, publications, training, and consultancy.

We offer low cost, high-quality services that enable leaders, managers, teachers, and practitioners to assess practice for themselves, providing everyone with the confidence and knowledge to lead quality improvement and to manage change effectively. 

Our aim is to support settings to be in the best possible position to meet the needs of their children and to meet the ever-changing requirements of legislation. 

Our services are underpinned by academic research and evidenced-based practice. 

Teddy Bear

Pennie Akehurst is an author and leadership specialist with over 30 years’ experience in the early years. Pennie has worked in the private, voluntary, maintained and public sector, and spent 17 years delivering strategic early years and childcare priorities within two local authorities; during this time, she provided training and intervention programmes designed to support leadership teams to improve outcomes for children and to manage changes to legislation.


In 2017, Pennie established Early Years Fundamentals Ltd., a research, training and consultancy company dedicated to supporting leaders and managers to understand and manage issues that affect inspection outcomes.

She is educated to a postgraduate level in 3 separate fields: early years pedagogy, developing children’s services and leadership & management in education. Pennie also holds an adult teaching qualification.

Abi Akehurst
Events & Data Manager 
Our Core Team
Pennie Akehurst
Managing Director 


Abi graduated from Keele University with First Class Honours in Forensic Science, part of which was focused on the forensic use and analysis of data. This makes Abi the perfect person to develop and manage our data and client record management systems.


Abi went on to study a Masters in human osteology. Her scientific background is also enabling EYF to investigate provision for STEM subjects in the early years and to liaise with universities, providers and early years teaching and learning specialists to develop materials that will help practitioners to make the most of STEM subjects.

Abi is also an advanced first aider and an experienced member of the St John's Ambulance Service. She regularly contributes to discussions and materials on medical safeguarding for EYF

Our Associate Team


The Early Years Fundamentals' specialist team is made up of a diverse group of professionals working in or with the early years and childcare sector.


We have worked as Heads of Early Years and Childcare Services within local authorities, we are currently running or have run successful nursery/preschool provision, we have taught in universities on early years pathways, and we have worked with and taught in schools.


We have significant inspection experience and understand how to interpret inspection frameworks and we have both public and private sector expertise, along with a wealth of management and business experience.


Each associate has a unique skill set or specialism which enables us to respond quickly to a range of management, business, practice, safeguarding and inspection issues.


We continue to seek out those who are able to contribute positively to developments within the sector and welcome leaders, managers, and practitioners from the private, voluntary, independent and maintained sector, as well as colleagues from academic communities, local authority specialists, and health colleagues.


If you are interested in joining the team or want to know more, please email ey.fundamentals@gmail.com.


Our Specialisms

  • Leadership and management

  • Change management

  • Gaining consistency across multiple organisations

  • Performance management systems

  • Quality assurance/improvement systems and processes

  • Preparation for inspection/post inspection support 

  • Teaching and learning

  • Meeting the needs of children

  • Safeguarding

  • SEND

  • Policy into practice

  • The welfare requirements

  • Risk management

  • Project and programme management

  • Information management

  • Business planning

  • Marketing

Our Focus Groups


We work with our subscribing members to test out what works before we release new approaches or research to the sector. 


All our members are invited to take part in trialing new materials and participation is open to anyone regardless of inspection grade to ensure that we cater to the needs of everyone in the sector. We can have between 60-100 settings trialing new material at any one time.