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Nurseries are for children under five years old to play and learn and have fun in groups while their parents work or study or are busy elsewhere.

Most nurseries are registered with their local authority and inspected each year. They are usually open all day for most weeks in the year. Part-time places are often available.

Nurseries are run by a team of staff and activities should be planned to help children enjoy learning. At nursery children can enjoy making friends, playing outside, sharing meals and trying out new skills.

There are different types of nursery with different ways of operating so look around for one that suits your child and you.

Plus points:

  • opportunities for children to learn and play with friends
  • usually geared to the needs of children with working parents
  • some nurseries offer free, part-time early education or pre-school places for children aged three and four.

What sort of nurseries are there?

  • for the children of working parents and the type you are most likely to find in your area
  • local authority nursery - run by the local authority for children in the local community
  • community nursery - a non-profit nursery run for children in the local community
  • workplace nursery - some employers run childcare schemes for children of their employees.

How do I know my child will be safe and secure?

First of all you know your child best - look for a nursery you feel will be suitable for your child. Help in making this decision is provided in a separate leaflet, 'Choosing high quality childcare'.

Nurseries must be registered with their local authorities. This means checks are carried out to make sure the staff are suitable to look after children. At least half of the staff in a nursery must be trained.

A check on the nursery premises is carried out to make sure the building is safe and suitable for children. After the nursery is registered, every year an inspection is carried out to make sure the nursery is continuing to provide a safe and suitable service.

There should be a set number of staff at each nursery to work with the children.

You should find one member of staff for every eight children aged three to five, one member of staff for every four children aged two to three and one member of staff for every three children aged under two.

You can ask to see the nursery's registration certificate and latest inspection report.

How many children will there be in a nursery?

Most nurseries provide places for between 26 and 40 children although some are smaller and others larger. Children are usually divided into much smaller groups based on their age.

What age range are the children in a nursery?

Nurseries are for children aged up to five. Some nurseries have places for babies and toddlers as well as for children aged three to five. And some nurseries are part of childcare schemes which also provide childcare for older children.

When are nurseries open?

Most nurseries open at about 8.30am and close at around 6pm. Some offer different hours for the children of people working shifts. Most nurseries are open all year round except for public holidays.

What about part-time childcare?

Many nurseries are happy to offer you part-time places. Often they organise these into morning and afternoon sessions.

How much does a nursery cost?

Nursery charges vary in different areas. Expect to pay between £80 and £180 per child per week. In England if your childcare provider provides early years education and is registered with our Early Years and Childcare Services, they will receive a grant enabling them to give your child a free part-time place. Your childcare provider or our Families Information Service should be able to give you more information about fees and charges which may be charged for childcare outside of this free place.

How do I find a nursery?

Talk to our Families Information Service to find out more about nurseries in your area by calling tel: 0300 500 80 80 or visit website: to search for nurseries online.

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