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Pre schools

Find registered childcare near you

Pre school groups, also known as playgroups and sessional groups provide play time and often early education to under fives. Groups which are open for two hours, or more, a day must be registered with Ofsted.

Most pre schools:

  • will take children from two to five years old
  • are open throughout the school year for morning or afternoon sessions lasting between two and a half to four hours
  • are mostly non profit making and run by a committee of volunteers

How can I apply for a place?

You can apply for a place by contacting the pre school directly. If you are applying for a free childcare place you may have to register your child well in advance as many childcare providers operate waiting lists.

You can search for pre school playgroups in your area in our Childcare finder.

What is the average fee?

The average cost for a morning or afternoon session can be in the region of £8 to £16. Fees are set by the individual pre school and can be charged at a daily, sessional or hourly rate.

Depending on your family's circumstances you may be able to claim Free childcare for 2 year olds (FEET) if your child's pre school is registered to offer the funding.

If your pre school is registered for Free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds they can claim up to 15 hours of free childcare for  your child the term after their third birthday.

You may also be able to get help towards your childcare costs through the childcare element of Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit or by using childcare vouchers or Tax-Free Childcare.

What is the ratio of staff to children?

The statutory staffing requirements are:

  • 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 pre school 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.

Further reading

You can find further information about choosing, finding and paying for childcare in our Choosing childcare booklet.

Files available to download