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Types of childcare


Registered childminders are self-employed carers. They provide care and education for your child along with other children, usually in their own home.

They can look after up to a maximum of 6 children under the age of 8 (their own children included) without an assistant, but only 3 of them can be under 5. Though local councils may lower this maxiumum.  As they are self-employed, they can set their own working hours.

Most will work early mornings, evenings to coincide with school drop offs, collections and holidays. Some also work weekends. Costs can vary.

You should negotiate hours, terms and conditions with your childminder. Many can offer free funded places for 2, 3 and 4 year olds.


Childminders are ideal if you want:

  • your child to be cared for in a family home
  • flexible care
  • children of different ages to be cared for together
  • childcare that offers continuity from birth to teenage years

Find a childminder

Nannies and home-based carers

You would employ a nanny to care for children, usually in your own home. They fit in with unusual working hours, and work part-time or even live in. Some may even agree to do extra jobs around the house such as cooking or cleaning. Wages can vary and you will also have to pay their tax and national insurance contributions.

Ofsted don't generally inspect nannies, unless they are a nanny share. This is where a nanny cares for children from more than two families.

Most nannies have a recognised childcare qualification or nursery nurse training. This is not compulsory though.

Information on employing a nanny and your legal obligations is on the Nannytax website. A nanny can register with Ofsted as a home child-carer on the voluntary childcare register.

Please note: the Family Information Service cannot hold information on nannies and babysitters. Our lists are for Ofsted registered childcare only.


Nannies and home-based carers are ideal if you want:

  • someone to fit around a busy routine and lifestyle
  • control in how your child is cared for
  • your child to be cared for in your home
  • someone full time
  • to take on the legal and financial responsibility

Day nurseries and School Based Nurseries 

A day nursery can be privately run, located in the community or based on school sites. They provide care and education for children from birth to 5 years old. Included funded places

They have to follow strict staff to children ratios according to Ofsted regulations. Opening times tend to coincide with a standard working day, typically between 7.30am -6.30pm and most are open all year.

A number of schools or academies offer nursery and / or wraparound care which is normally open during term time periods only and typically between Monday-Friday 9.00am-3.30pm. Parents should contacts schools directly to apply.

Costs can vary, for nurseries but most nurseries offer funded places for 2, 3 and 4 year olds.


Day nurseries are ideal if you want:

  • your child in a fixed location with a team of qualified staff
  • somewhere open virtually all year round
  • the reassurance that there will always be someone there to care for your child - even if someone is off sick
  • your child to mix with lots of children
  • to have access to a wide range of toys and stimuli

Find a day nursery

Pre-school playgroup 

Pre-school playgroups provide childcare and early education for 2 to 5 year olds. They emphasise parental involvement and combine play and learning opportunities with childcare.

Pre-schools have to adhere to staffs to child ratios as outlined by Ofsted. They offer sessions from 2 and a half to 4 hours during term time, either every day or on several days a week. Pre-schools are a good way of extending your childcare. Some pre-schools may also offer out of school care.

Childcare costs can vary. Pre-schools offer funded places for some 2, 3 and 4 year olds.


Pre-school playgroups are ideal if you want:

  • your pre-school child to mix and learn to socialise
  • to take part in your child's early years education and childcare
  • a wide range of services
  • to have access to a wide range of toys and stimuli
  • to get involved with the playgroup and help out

Find a pre-school playgroup

Out of school care

These allow children to attend before and after school and during school holidays. They provide care for 3 to 11 year olds (or older on secondary school sites).

They are in or near schools or youth/community centres.  Some will collect your child from school and take them to the club.

Many offer a variety of activities on top of the normal school day. These range from activities such as music, art or sport to extra study support.

Types of out of school care

  • Breakfast clubs - open in the morning before school
  • After school clubs - open after school until around 6pm
  • Holiday play schemes - open during the holidays with varying opening hours


Out of school care is ideal if you want:

  • a safe and fun place for your child to stay after school until you can collect them
  • older children to be supervised where they can do their homework
  • somewhere to take your child when you have to be at work early
  • your child to play with other children and make new friends

Out of school clubs can offer funded places for 2, 3 and 4 year olds if they are on the Ofsted Early Years Register

Find out of school care

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