- Don’t miss out! Apply for OR reconfirm your 30 hours eligibility code to receive 30 hours free childcare
- See our Help with Childcare Costs pages to see what help is available and to see if you qualify.
- Find a nursery
- About nurseries
- What do they provide?
- What will they charge?
- Issues to consider
- What should I ask?
- Further Information
See the Family Information Services Directory for searchable lists of:
See also information on early years free entitlement.
Nurseries provide care and education for children from as young as six weeks to pre-school five year olds, however some only cater for children over two years.
Full day care is offered normally from 8am until 6pm. Parents can choose to use days and hours within these core times to suit their needs.
All costs are met by the parent until the child reaches the age of three when they become eligible for some free part time sessions.
There are three main types of nurseries
- council nurseries
- private nurseries
- community nurseries
All nurseries are registered and inspected by the Office for Education Standards (Ofsted). Reports are available on the Ofsted website (see the external links section below).
Nurseries provide a wide range of activities offering children the opportunities to experiment and learn through play activities such as:
- imaginative play
For three and four year olds nurseries will be working with the Foundation Stage curriculum guidance. This guidance gives nurseries help with effective planning and teaching for three and four year olds.
Nurseries will refer to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which gives guidance and support to ensure the nursery is stimulating and appropriate to children under 5.
The children are usually placed in small groups with key workers. The key worker takes a special interest in the child throughout their time in the nursery and the bond they develop helps the child to settle in and gain confidence in the nursery.
Throughout the day the children tend to follow a routine of play, meals, rest, etc as similar to a home environment as possible.
Costs can vary according to how many hours a week your child attends, how old they are, if the nursery is council, private or voluntary, and where they are situated (see the childcare costs page for more information).
- See our early years free entitlement page
- Make second visits to nurseries you liked
- Take your child with you to see how they get on
- Contact other parents using the nursery
- Be clear about what type of care you require
- Be prepared to spend time settling your child into new surroundings
- Are the staff welcoming and enthusiastic?
- Prepare a list of questions to ask
Here are some questions you may like to ask the nursery when you visit
- What are the policies of the nursery?
- Do you keep records and in what form?
- What areas/rooms will my child be using?
- Will my child have a key worker and if so who?
- What activities are provided and do the children play outside regularly?
- How is the day constructed – playtime, meals and rest period?
- What training, experience and qualifications does the staff have?
- What are your fees, do I pay for sickness and holidays?
- Do you encourage parental involvement and in what ways?
- How many other children do you look after and what are their ages?
- Do you cater for dietary requirements?
- Are you open all year, early morning and late evenings?
Family Information Service
- Tel 020 8489 1000
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website Family Information Services Directory (FISD) website
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