Childcare in the UK

There are a lot of options for childcare in the UK, and the terminology can be confusing as all get out, but hopefully this list will help make things easier:

Note: All groups/persons providing childcare for children under the age of 8 years old for more than two hours per day are required to register with Ofsted. More on that is covered here:

Childminders – These people are self-employed and work in their own homes. Hours of operation vary.

Nannies – you hire these people to look after your children in your home. While other forms of childcare are more-or-less limited to watching the children, Nannies are typically able to do more, but it depends on the person.

Day nurseries/Creche – A childcare facility for babies and children (usually from 3 months to 5 years old, but that depends on the site). They have very limited operating hours; typically they’ll run from 7AM until 6PM, but there are some exceptions to this rule. They usually aren’t open for holidays.

Preschools – Americans will look at this and think of part-day classes for 4 year olds. In the UK, it’s a term for what I would call structured play-groups for children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old. Typically these are only open during the school year and “sessions” usually start at 9AM and go to noon and/or from noon to 3-4PM.

Nursery Classes –  Despite images of classrooms for teaching childcare (as that is what the name invokes for me), this is childcare affiliated with an actual school. The idea is to slowly ease children into their first year of school by starting a year before – AKA, the UK equivalent of the US Preschool. Tahdah.

Wraparound Childcare – For those families who need childcare before, during and/or after normal school hours. In comes in a variety of forms; from breakfast and after-school clubs, to holiday “schemes.” Sometimes they are linked to a specific school but can also be community-based as well. Regardless, it needs to be registered, either as part of the school it operates in or with Ofsted or CSSIW.

Care for children with one or more disabilities – Sometimes more specialised care is needed to look after children who have a disability. Many (though not all) childcare providers offer SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) care, but how much and how effective is up for debate. General word on the street is, however, that they could always use better/more.


6 thoughts on “Childcare in the UK

    1. Forgive me, I have either forgotten something very important (likely), or I just have no idea (also likely). What/when/where is going on on the 9th of, I assume, July?

      1. The divided families protest/ day in parliament – we are planning to go- looking forward to meeting lots of migrant sympathisers and facebook names 🙂

      2. In all honesty, I hadn’t given it much thought. My husband’s work schedule will be changing soon so I planned to hold off on making a decision on it until I had a better feel with how that was going. It would be nice to see a lot of the people we’ve come to know through the past couple of years, that’s for sure! 🙂

  1. That would be awesome! Chances are, if I do make the trip, it would be me and Groot (the nickname of our little one). The six of us (you wonderful women + me + pickles + Baby Groot = 6, of course. Why yes, I can do maths… dots…) could band together.

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