Day nurseries provide care and early education for children aged up to five. Nurseries which open for two hours, or more, a day must be registered with Ofsted.
Most day nurseries:
- open between 8am and 6pm (although some offer extended hours, opening at 7am and closing at 7pm)
- offer a range of flexible care options including full time, part time, morning and afternoon sessions
- are run by either voluntary or community groups, employers, local authorities or privately
How can I apply for a place?
You can apply for a place by contacting the nursery directly. If you are applying for a funded early education place you may have to register your child well before their third birthday, as many childcare providers operate waiting lists.
You can search for day nurseries in your area in our Childcare finder.
What is the average fee?
The average cost per day can be in the region of £40 to £70. Fees are set by the individual nursery and can be charged at a daily, sessional or hourly rate.
You can check whether you may be eligible for help with childcare costs via the Childcare Choices website or by using the Childcare Calculator. These can give you an estimate of how much you could get depending on your family circumstances.
You can also find details of support available to help with childcare costs on our Paying for childcare web page.
What is the ratio of staff to children?
The statutory staffing requirements are:
- for under two year olds - one member of staff for every three children
- for two to three year olds - one member of staff for every four children
- for over three year olds - one member of staff for every eight children
Do they have any training?
All supervisors and managers must hold a full relevant level 3 qualification and half of all other staff must hold a minimum of a level 2 qualification. Some Early years professionals may also be Early Years Teachers, which is professional accreditation on the same level as a graduate.
Everyone within the nursery must attend a safeguarding training course and someone must take lead responsibility for safeguarding children. In addition at least one person must have a current paediatric first aid certificate and all staff involved in preparing and handling food must receive training in food hygiene.
You can find further information about choosing, finding and paying for childcare in our Choosing childcare booklet.
Files available to download
- Helping you choose childcare booklet (PDF)
Information for families about choosing, finding and paying for childcare
- Checklist - nurseries and pre school playgroups (PDF)
Questions to ask and what to look out for when visiting a nursery or pre school playgroup