Types of childcare


Childminders are trained professionals who provide education and care in their own homes, from children aged from birth to eight.  They can commonly offer flexibility to meet parental needs and are usually available from 8am-6pm, sometimes earlier or later, Monday to Friday, and sometimes weekends, commonly throughout the year.

Childminders are able to offer both funded and fee paying services. Most childminders are able to offer to pick up and collect children from schools, nurseries and pre-schools.

Day nurseries

Day nurseries can be run by private, voluntary or independent organisations. They provide care and early education for children aged from six weeks to five years, commonly from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, most weeks of the year.  Some offer even greater flexibility of hours.

Day nurseries offer both funded and fee paying services.  They are usually run in converted houses, community centres and purpose built buildings.

Playgroups and pre-schools

Pre-schools operate in a similar structure of a school day, so that staff and children attend at the same time to support continuity.  However, some have extended their hours to offer more flexibility, including the 30 hours offer.

They normally offer funded education and care for children aged from two to five years but may offer sessions to yonger children.  They are usually open during school term time only.  Pre schools can work with childminder or other providers for those parents looking for full time care.

Playgroups and pre-schools are usually run in church buildings and community sentres, but can also be run in converted houses and purpose built buildings.

Places in Local Authority Early Education

Most nursery schools and nursery classes in infant and primary schools provide education and care for children aged from three to five. Some also offer two year old places.  They usually offer funded early education and care and work on a sessional basis, morning or afternoons. Some have extended their hours to offer the 30 hours entitlement with a small number also offering full day care.

They are usually open during school term time only. Some nursery schools may also offer care before and after the sessions, through an after school club.


Creches provide occasional care for children under the age of eight. Some creches provided are during specific events, such as training courses or based at permanent premises such as shopping or leisure centres, to provide a service for parents/carers when needed.

Out of school childcare

Out of school playschemes

Out of school schemes provide care for children, usually aged between four and 14, before or after school during term time. children have the chance to enjoy a range of indoor and outdoor activities.

Some schemes are based at schools, while others have their own premises, and offer a pick-up service from schools.

Holiday playschemes

Holiday playschemes offer out of school care during school holidays. Some are open all day, while others offer morning or afternoon sessions.

Childcare in the home


Nannies are employed by the parent to provide care in the families' home. Most nannies have experience of childcare as a nursery practitioner or have passed a childcare training course. Nannies do not need to have a qualification, but they can register on the voluntary Ofsted childcare register.  this means they will go through similar checks as daycare providers.

If you wish to employ a nanny, you must make sure that:

If you want your nanny to register with Ofsted on the voluntary childcare register, they may be willing to do this if you offer to pay for the registration.

Au pairs

Nannies and au pairs are usually seen as offering the same service however they they are quite different.

Nannies are individuals who work alone to care for children. Au pairs are normally students, from outside the UK, who are looking to improve their English.

Au pairs do not generally have childcare experience and should not be left alone with chhildren below the age of four. Au pairs must be provided with room and board and must be able to attend their language classes.

Family and friends

If a member of your family looks after your children in your own home, they will not need to register with Ofsted. A family member can be a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother or sister.

If a friend cares for your children they will not need to be registered if:

  • they do it as an occasional favour rather than for payment
  • your children are all aged eight or over
  • the care happens in your own home.

Otherwise they may need to register with Ofsted. For more information go to the Government's website

Last updated: 14/10/2022

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