There are many types of childcare provision so you can choose an arrangement that is most likely to suit your child’s personality, your parenting style and your family needs. You will need to apply to individual providers for information regarding the childcare that they offer and visit all the providers that interest you, if possible with your child. Choose a place that is right for your child. It should be a place where your child feels welcome, comfortable and safe. It should provide opportunities for your child to develop and learn in stimulating, varied and enjoyable ways.
About registered childcare
The following childcare providers must register with Ofsted if they look after children up to eight years old for more than two hours a day, for pay or reward.
- Childminders – care for children usually in their own home, they can cover a wide age range and are flexible in the hours they work.
- Day nurseries – provide care and education in a centre for children aged 0 -5, they generally operate between 8am and 6pm
- Breakfast Clubs, After School Clubs and Holiday Clubs - for school aged children which may be based on school sites, youth clubs, community centres or day nurseries, they generally operate from 8am for breakfast clubs; 3.30pm to 6pm for after school clubs; 8.30am to 6pm for holiday clubs
- Nursery classes – provide care and education in a school setting for 3-5 years from the term after the child is 3 years old
- Nurseries and pre-schools – provide care and education for 2 - 5 year olds. They are usually term time only sessions between the hours of 9.00 – 3.00pm every weekday
About non-registered childcare
The following do not have to register but they can choose to go on the Ofsted Voluntary Childcare Register:
- Au pairs - are not usually trained to work with children and have come to the UK to learn English - they live in the home and work for up to 5 hours a day
- Nannies/Homechildcarers - are employed by you to provide care for children of any age, usually in the child’s home - they are flexible and can live in or out
- Babysitters - employed by you to provide care for children, usually in the child’s home, many childminders also provide a babysitting service
- Crèches – these are generally provided on site such as the sports centre for parents attending an activity
- Activity based care - for example sports, drama, language or arts clubs
For help in choosing childcare see how do I choose a childcare place for my child (PDF, 54kb).
Inspecting early years and childcare
Ofsted inspect early years providers to judge the quality and standards of the care, learning and development of children – these standards are in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Inspectors give providers one of four grades:
To reach an overall judgment, inspectors will ask themselves ‘What difference is this provider making to the learning, development and progress of children in their care?’
Ofsted inspect childcare providers to check that they comply with all the requirements of registration, but do not make any judgements about the quality of their setting. The inspection result will be measured in one of three ways, indicating how well the provider is meeting the requirements of registration. They are:
- Not met – and notice to improve
- Not met – and enforcement measures taken