Day nurseries

What is a day nursery?

  • Day nurseries take children from 0 to 5 years old. Some can also take older children after school and in the school holidays.
  • They are usually open between 8am and 6pm (and sometimes even more flexibly) for most of the year, meaning parents can take a place when they need it if the nursery has spaces.
  • They must be registered and inspected regularly by Ofsted.
  • All inspection reports are available to parents on the Ofsted website.

How much do day nurseries charge?

How do I find a nursery?

You can look for any type of childcare provider by using our simple Childcare Finder. You can also contact our Families Information Service using the details on the right-hand side of this page.

Some points to consider:

  • Visit the nursery with your child when it is open; make a return visit so you can see the setting at different times during the day and week.
  • Are you and your child welcomed by staff?
  • Is the environment friendly and inviting? 
  • Ask about the latest Ofsted inspection or view it online on the Ofsted website
  • Talk to the staff about their flexibility. Can they provide childcare that fits in with your work hours?
  • Ask about the staff. Are they well trained? Do they have qualifications at the levels needed to best help children learn and develop at their own pace?
  • Are you encouraged to settle in your child?
  • Will your child have a key person that will help with settling in sessions, and share information with me?
  • Do the premises and resources/equipment look clean, well-kept and safe? 
  • Are the children happy, confident and having fun? 
  • Is there plenty of space to play and move around, both inside and outside? 
  • If there is no outdoor play area on site, then where do children go to play outside?
  • Do the toys, books, equipment, activities, displays and staff reflect a positive attitude to children of both sexes and of all races, religions, cultures, and disabilities? 
  • A good nursery will offer a range of activities, including opportunities for social play (sharing, co-operation and taking turns), creative play (making models, painting, water, and sand play, dance and music), physical play (climbing, making dens), imaginative play (dressing up, role play, pretending), exploratory play (discovering and investigating) and activities which promote the development of speaking, listening, mark-making, early reading and early mathematical skills. 
  • Take time to see whether the staff and children are talking and playing together. Are the staff questioning and responding to questions in a way that interests the children and are the children encouraged to ask questions of their own?
  • How do staff deal with the children’s behaviour? There should be a behaviour policy in place so ask to see it.
  • Check what food is provided. Is there a healthy, balanced diet on offer? Is water available and accessible at all times, do they cater for children’s individual needs? eg medication, dietary needs and additional needs.
  • Do boys and girls have equal access to all types of play? 
  • Are you provided with any information about the services and policies? 
  • Will you be consulted on your child's welfare and development? 
  • Are the children prevented from leaving the premises undetected, are gates and fences kept secure? Do staff know how to reach you in an emergency? 
  • What happens in an emergency? And what precautions have been put into place to safeguard children?
  • Is there a visitors control systems in use to ensure your child’s safety at all times?
  • Ensure there is a written contract in place which highlights the hours, fees (and what is included in it), over-time rates, fees for non-attendance , late pick-up (including holidays and sickness for both the child and the carer), notice period to be given for both changes to the contract and to end the contract. The contract should be agreed, signed and dated by the parents and the provider, and each of you should keep a copy.
  • Ask what is included in the fees for example, are meals, drinks, snacks, nappies included?
  • Has the person showing you around answered your questions confidently?

Take your time before you decide which childcare setting is best for your child, visit several childminders and nurseries several times if necessary.

And remember, not every childcare setting will match your child’s personality, so be prepared to look around. Don’t get disheartened - there’s a suitable childcare setting out there that meets the needs for you and your family.

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Contact details

Families Information Service

Telephone helpline : 01274 437503
Polish/Slovak/Czech Helpline : 01274 434905
Urdu/Punjabi Helpline : 01274 431252
Mobile : Text 'Childcare' to 07781472076 and we will call you back within 5 working days
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