Choosing a Day Nursery
What is a Day Nursery?
Day nurseries offer care for children under
five years old, however not all nurseries have the facility to take
babies. They provide fun and learning opportunities on a full
or part-time basis and are usually open all year.
There are different kinds of day nurseries –
private, community, local authority or workplace. The size
and facilities they provide may vary.
- your child may be able to access free nursery
- a nursery is open for a full day enabling
parents to work
- your child will be with a team of
professional staff trained in childcare
It is important to plan ahead as
some care providers have waiting lists. Searching for
the right childcare setting will take some time and thought.
Try to give yourself plenty of time to visit and choose a childcare
Have a look at our Early Help
Directory for a list of Ofsted
registered day nurseries in Bedford Borough, or
call us on 0800 023 2057.
All nurseries must be registered with and
inspected by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted).
Ofsted registration requirements will specify
the number of children that are allowed to be on the premises at
any time and the ratio of staff to children. The minimum
ratios are as set out below:
Children aged 0 – 2
adult to every 3 children
Children aged 2 – 3
adult to every 4 children
Children aged 3 – 5
adult to every 8 children
In nursery classes for 3-5 year olds where a qualified graduate
is employed the ratio is 1 adult to every 13 children.
Every registered day nursery has an Ofsted registration
certificate which indicates the maximum number of children that can
be cared for on the premises – their registration certificate must
be prominently displayed within the nursery.
Early Years Register
Registered day nurseries caring for children
aged from birth to 31 August following their fifth birthday must
register on the Early Years Register and deliver the Early Years
Foundation Stage – a framework for the delivery of quality
integrated care and education for children.
Day nurseries caring for children older than
five years and under eight must register on the compulsory part of
the Childcare Register. This may be because they run a
holiday scheme or after school club. Day nurseries caring for
children aged eight and above may also choose to register on the
voluntary part of the Childcare Register.
Early Years Register
Ofsted inspects day nurseries on the
Early Years Register least once every three or four years.
Following their inspection, Ofsted will give
them one of four grades:
||The setting’s practice consistently
reflects the highest aspirations for all children’s safety,
well-being and learning. It enables them to make excellent progress
in relation to their starting points and prepares them extremely
well for school or the next stage in their learning.
||The setting’s practice keeps children safe
and enables all children to do well, make good progress relative to
their starting points and prepares them well for school or the next
stage of their learning. Children benefit from practice that is at
least good and sometimes outstanding.
||The setting’s practice is not good enough
because one or more key aspects of its work require improvement to
be good. Children do not make good progress in their learning and
development. Leadership and management demonstrate sufficient
ability to identify and make required improvements.
||Overall effectiveness is likely to be
inadequate if any of the key judgements are inadequate;
There are breaches of statutory requirements which have a
significant impact on the safety and well-being, and/or the
learning and development of children; and/or
It is a nursery or pre-school which has been judged as ‘requires
improvement ‘at two consecutive inspections and is still not ‘good
‘at its third inspection.
Ofsted will also write a report
which will tell you about the quality of the childcare service
provided by the day nursery - what they do well and what needs to
be improved. You can ask the day nursery for a copy of their
Alternatively you can view a day nursery’s Ofsted
report at http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/, you
will need their Ofsted Unique Reference Number (URN) to view
their report on the website.
If a day nursery is on both the Early Years
register and Childcare register, then Ofsted will check to see if
the day nursery is meeting the requirements for registration when
they undertake the early years inspection.
When you visit
Try to take notes as you go along, for
reference later. You must be your own judge of what is best for you
and your child, but the lists below may help guide you on points to
look for and what to ask.
Things to consider and questions to
- Visit the nursery with your child. Are you made
welcome? Are the staff well presented, happy, calm and
- Discuss the policies on such things as behaviour management and
diet. What are the emergency procedures?
- Ask about staff qualifications and about staffing ratios.
- Will they keep a diary of your child’s day?
- Do the children in the nursery look happy and well
occupied? Are the staff involved with the children?
- Consider the accommodation. Is it attractive, clean and
well organised? Is there a safe outside play area? Is
the equipment of good quality, safe and appropriate?
General points to
- All young children need a variety of learning
experiences e.g. quiet times, noisy, messy play, creative and
imaginative play, outdoor activities and physical play.
- It is important that for most of the day
children are able to move freely around activities and make
choices. Are both boys and girls encouraged to take part in all
- In group care, all children need to receive
some individual attention. This is especially important for babies
and toddlers. Ask whether young children will have their own
- Are different cultures positively represented
in the toys, books and wall displays?
- Look at what happens between the adults and
the children. They need to be involved together in activities and
enjoy each others company.
- Make sure that the provision meets any
special needs your child may have and that it takes into account
your child’s age and cultural background.
- Will the staff set aside time to talk to you
about your child? Are you able to see any records kept about your
- You should sign an agreement with the carer
of your child but be certain you are happy with its contents.
- It is a good idea to use the provision for a
trial period before making permanent arrangements.
You may find it helpful to visit more
than one day nursery. When you feel happy with everything
then go ahead
Do you have a child
with a disability or additional need?
Bedford Borough Council is committed to
ensuring that all childcare and early years settings in Bedford
Borough provide a service that includes all children. We
believe that every child has a right to a safe, stimulating and
inclusive environment to enable them to reach their full
potential. The Council offers funding to encourage, support
and enable childcare and early years settings to offer places to
children with a disability or additional needs. For further
information please telephone 0800 023 2057.
Fees and conditions
Nursery fees vary. However, a full time
place for a child under 2 years is in the region of £180 a
week. You will need to ask about the following and whether
they are included in the fees, e.g. meals, nappies, outings; also
about holiday and sickness retainers. Most nurseries will expect
payment in advance. You may also be asked to pay a registration fee
for your child.
You maybe entitled to some help with your
childcare costs, please contact the Family Information Service on
0800 023 2057 for more information.
Settling in your child
Once you have made your decision, settling in
will be easier for both you and your child if it is done
gradually. Ask the nursery about their settling in
The nursery staff will have a lot of
experience in settling children. Some children can be upset
at first - this is only natural - but with gentle reassurance this
phase will pass.
What to do if you are not happy with your
If you are not happy with the care that your
child is receiving and have spoken with your carer but are still
not satisfied with the outcome, then you can phone the Ofsted
Complaints Line on 0300 123 4666.
Ofsted will investigate any complaints about
providers and take enforcement action if providers do not meet the
required standards set.
Find out more
For a list of day nurseries in your area or
further information please contact Bedford Borough Family
Information Service on the number below. Alternatively, you
can search online for day nurseries on our Early Help
Directory Freephone 0800 023 2057
Lines open: Mon - Thurs 8am – 5.15pm, and
Fri 8am – 4.45pm. 24 hours answerphone service.
If you would like to speak to someone face to
face please call on the above number to arrange an appointment.