Alliance pays tribute to founder Belle Tutaev following the sad news of her death at age 90

The Pre-school Learning Alliance has praised the “incredible legacy” of founder Belle Tutaev, who sadly passed away aged 90 last week.

The Alliance was founded in 1961 after Belle wrote to the Guardian newspaper detailing the challenges she had faced in finding suitable childcare facilities for her own children.

The letter called on the government to make more facilities available for children under five and encouraged other parents to set up their own provision where possible. There was an overwhelming response from other parents who shared Belle's concerns and, like her, had already taken matters into their own hands.

By 1962, Belle had organised the first Annual General Meeting of the Pre-school Playgroups Association, as the Alliance was previously known, and had amassed 150 members. She remained President of the new charity until 1966, when she retrained as a teacher and moved to Bristol where she would later become the head teacher of a local nursery school.

In 2011, Belle was awarded an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) for services to children and families in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Today, the Alliance is the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: “Belle’s contribution to early years childcare cannot be overstated.

"Childcare has changed enormously since the Alliance was founded almost 60 years ago but it is testament to the strength of Belle’s original vision that our founding principles have remained constant. Belle understood instinctively that young children benefit enormously from playing and learning alongside their peers – and that government has a responsibility to support and enable this.

 "At a time when children, families and early years providers are continuing to face significant challenges, our work is just as vital as ever. We will continue to battle for these essential services and ensure we do justice to her incredible legacy. She was a remarkable woman and a cherished friend.”

Mary Tutaev, one of Belle’s two children, said: "I am so proud of Belle: a woman who created such an important movement at a time when many women and children weren't regarded with much importance or relevance.

“Belle was a force of nature who never accepted restrictions or setbacks – and her strongly held beliefs and convictions helped develop and change the lives of so many men, women and children. Let her tenacity, strength and pure conviction encourage future generations of adults and children to continue and build on such a fine organisation as the Alliance.”




The Pre-school Learning Alliance is the largest and most representative early years membership organisation in England. A registered educational charity, it also provides high-quality affordable childcare and education to support children and families in areas of deprivation throughout the country. 

The Alliance represents 14,000 member settings and supports them to deliver care and learning to more than 800,000 families every year. We deliver family learning projects, offer information and advice, produce specialist publications, run acclaimed training programmes and campaign to influence early years policy and practice.

The Alliance website is

The Alliance’s Fair Future Funding campaign currently has over 7,000 practitioner and parent supporters.

On 18 February 2019, the Pre-school Learning Alliance will be rebranding to the Early Years Alliance.