How do I find a children’s nursery?
To find out about nurseries in your area, contact your local authority childcare information service. They will have a list of all registered nurseries. Before choosing a nursery for your child you should always make a visit.
What should I ask about choosing a childcare provider?
Choosing someone to care for your child is an important and often difficult decision. Here are some questions to help you make the right choice. Why not print this page and take it with you when you visit?
Find out about the nursery setting
- What are the opening times?
- What age range do they take?
- Do they offer part-time places?
- Are fire alarms and fire extinguishers provided, and do both staff and children understand the fire drill?
- Has your child’s security been properly considered – is access to the facility properly controlled?
- Will the cleaning standards in rooms, kitchens and toilet facilities protect your child’s health?
- What are the parking facilities, are they on the street or on-site?
Find out about the nursery staff
- Who is in charge?
- What experience in childcare and what qualifications does that person have?
- Who will be personally responsible for your child’s progress, and how qualified is that person?
- What is the ratio of staff to children, and how many of the staff are qualified? More than half the staff must hold a childcare qualification equivalent to NVQ3 (NNEB, BTEC).
- Will more than one adult supervise your child’s group?
- What will happen in the case of an illness or emergency?
- How many staff have been with the nursery for over a year?
- The stability of the staff is important to the continuity of the care provided. How many of the staff are qualified in first aid?
Find out about the nursery care provided
- What are the procedures for settling in new children?
- What type of food is provided?
- What is the policy on biscuits and sweets?
- How do they cope with food allergies or special dietary needs?
- Do the displays and equipment provide a challenging and stimulating environment for your child?
- Will there be a planned progression of activities and skills throughout the year, or primarily just play?
- What are the policies on discipline? How do you feel about them?
- Have the children been taught to behave towards others in a thoughtful and considerate way?
What are your childcare needs?
- Are parents encouraged to visit the nursery and remain involved with their children’s development?
- How are you kept informed of your child’s progress, activities and development?
Observations to make when you visit the nursery
- Do the children look happy and relaxed?
- Are they interested in what they are doing?
- Are the staff focussed on the needs of the children or are they chatting to each other?
- Is the building clean and pleasant?
- Are the toys clean and fairly new or worn out and dirty?
- Do the children use the outdoor facilities regularly, and are there open air play activities?