A NORTH-EAST nursery chain has grown to become the seventh largest in the country.

Just Learning, which opened its first nursery in Darlington, in 1996, now operates 21 the UK, with three more under development and a further three awaiting planning permission.

It was established by health and fitness club owner Duncan Bannatyne and former Darlington MP Michael Fallon.

Each nursery involves an investment of up to £900,000 and provides employment for 30 people. They provide up to 100 places for children aged from two months to five years.

Mr Fallon, managing director of Just Learning, said: "As a leading player in the provision of nursery care, Just Learning is setting standards for the future which will influence the whole of the childcare market.