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Childcare type definitions

Ofsted registers and inspects many types of childcare provision. They set standards to ensure that settings offer safe and caring environments which offer opportunities to become independent, socialise and get involved in fun play and learning activities based on the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework.

Most group settings and many childminders offer the equivalent of 15 hours per week free early years education for targeted 2 year olds and all 3 and 4 year olds.

Registered Childminders

A childminder offers flexible, part-time or full-time care and early education in their home, usually for children from birth upwards. Childminders are self-employed, set their own working hours often between 8am to 6pm, but most are flexible to start earlier and work later including weekends, and some offer overnight care. Childminders often care for a number of children at once3 and as well as activities in the home will attend groups and other activities with children.

Day nurseries

Day nurseries provide care and early education for children from birth to school age. They usually operate from purpose built or customised premises. They tend to be open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and open between 48 and 52 weeks of the year. Nursery places are often booked in morning or afternoon sessions (8am – 1pm, 1pm – 6pm).

Pre-school playgroups

Pre-school playgroups provide care and early education for children from two to five years old. They are often run in community centres, schools, or church halls and are open weekdays during term time for up to 39 weeks per year. Some operate mornings or afternoons only, others offer mornings and afternoons. Places are often booked in 3 hours sessions (9am – 12, 12 – 3pm). 

Out of school clubs and holiday schemes

Out of School Clubs provide care for school age children and offer a combination of before and after school as well as school holidays. Some Out of School Clubs take children from three years if they are attending a school nursery class or Pre-school Playgroup on a school site. Sessions are usually one hour before school and up to three hours after school, holiday clubs operate full days.

Nursery schools and nursery classes attached to schools

Nursery schools / classes provide early learning and childcare for children between three and five years old (some will take children from two). Nurseries are usually open from 9am to 3.30pm in term time for full or half-day sessions. Some also offer care out of school hours and in the holidays.

Nannies and home childcarers

Nannies and other home childcarers are employed by you to provide care for children in your own home. They may fit in with unusual working hours, and work part-time, full-time or even live-in.

Nannies can often work flexible hours to fit your working hours. Many nannies are happy to work part-time. A nanny's pay depends upon the type of job (live-in or live-out), the hours, the number of children to be cared for, the nanny's qualifications and experience and also upon the area in which you live.

Nannies can choose to be registered by Ofsted.


Crèches care for children from birth up to eight years or above. Care is part-time and usually covers the time when a parent is doing an activity, for example training. The parent will usually stay on the same premises as the child, but must be within a contactable distance. In Newcastle, some venues are registered to provide crèches and use staff from mobile crèche services.

Crèches can choose to be registered by Ofsted although if they are caring for under 5s on a regular basis they are required to register.

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