21. May, 2016

Returning to Work PART 2: Nurseries

Welcome back, this is the second in a series of articles about returning to work and childcare issues, I will concentrate on care that is provided by a Day Nursery and Preschool.

Making the decision to work after you’ve had a baby is a big deal, all sorts of emotions are generated. If you haven’t/have done this before, the process and the choices available to you can be a daunting prospect.


Nurseries and pre-schools are generally characterised as a more formal childcare setting compared to childminders, but as with childminders how nurseries are arranged and managed is as varied as there are facilities.

Many nurseries have a waiting list especially in the baby rooms, you may therefore need to visit and register your child many months before you want to start back at work in order to make sure you get a space in the nursery you want. There may also be a fee to pay to secure this “reserved” place.

As with any childcare provision it is highly advisable that you visit a number of different options to establish which one will best suit you and your child.


It is worth remembering that there is no guarantee that getting a place in a maintained nursery will ensure a place in the linked Primary school, so you will need to check out other schools in the area as well when the time to transfer comes.

The biggest practical difference between nurseries and childminders are the numbers of children that your child will be playing with, and the numbers of trained adults available to supervise and care for them.

Day nurseries tend to be privately run, they offer a longer day up to about 6.30pm and are open all year. They can also offer the FEEE hours within the hours you have booked with them, which can be a welcome saving when your child turns 3. Many nurseries will pick up older children from local schools, so can provide a great continuity of care as your child grows.


The ratios of adult to children in nurseries are as follows:

Age of child Number of staff

Under 2 At least 1 member of staff for every 3 children

Aged 2 At least 1 member of staff for every 4 children

Aged 3+ If there is a qualified teacher, Early Years Professional or Early Years teacher working directly with the children then the ration can be 1adult to13 If there is no member of staff with this level of qualification than this then should be 1:8

In nursery settings there are also requirements on the numbers of staff with and the levels of childcare/teaching qualifications they should have. Whilst many childminders have these exact same qualifications it is not a firm requirement in the same way.


A quick search of the published rates of local Day nurseries shows that rates start from about £4 an hour, with many offering discounts for half or full days or full weeks.


“I’ve used childminders and nurseries…I think little kids tend to pick up more bugs in nursery, whilst good for their immune system it can be a problem if they are never there!”

“ I like nurseries there are lots for kids, more structured days, focused around the childrens needs exclusively, and there’s back up if staff are sick.”


The best way to find all the nurseries near you is to use the Cheshire East Family Information Service, search facility online, or you can call them on 0300 123 5033

There are 3 kinds of nurseries to search for – Day nurseries, Maintained Nurseries and Academy Nurseries Maintained and Academy nurseries are run by Maintained schools and Academies, they tend to only operate within school hours and term time only and to offer the 15 free Early Education Entitlement hours (for 3 & 4 year olds) spread out over the week but it is often possible to pay for the extra hours in a day if you need your child to be cared for the whole day.

The FIS will also offer you a “pre-school playgroup” search option – in general these facilities operate in much the same way as maintained or academy’s nurseries for fixed sessions and term time only.

I would recommend searching for all the available care in your immediate area, as it might be possible for example to combine a nursery or pre-school session with childminding to “top up” any hours that the more formal setting can’t provide.