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Preschools, nursery schools and classes

Play and education sessions for children from two to four years

This type of childcare is usually term time only for 3–4 year olds (some may take from 2 years) and there is no automatic transfer of children to school so all need to apply for a place through the schools admissions procedure.


Preschools provide early years education, childcare and play opportunities. Opening hours vary; they may open mornings only or for a whole day. Pre-schools must be registered with Ofsted if open for over two hours per session and must be staffed by qualified leaders.

Preschools are usually run by voluntary management committees. They are often based in community centres, or on school sites, some working in partnership with their school.

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Nursery schools and classes

Maintained nursery schools and classes usually offer sessional childcare/early education during school terms.

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Private or independent nurseries

Private or independent nurseries also offer sessional care during term time.

Paying for childcare

The cost of nurseries may be provided from age three via the  Early Education Fund. Some two year old children may also be able to have funding. 

Working in early years

Information if you are interested in a career in childcare.