Questions to ask in a nursery
Trying to find a local nursery for your child? We’ve put together a range of questions and answers to help you feel confident and trusting in your choice of quality childcare. Plus you can read these top tips from expert Maggie Bellamy.
Finding Childcare, which is a guide for parents in England, is available from the PACEY shop.
What experience/qualifications do your staff have?
The manager must hold at least a full and relevant level 3 qualification and at least half all other staff must hold a full and relevant level 2.
All new staff must have a 12 hour paediatric first aid certificate too. In addition they should undertake regular CPD which may include workshops, online training, reading childcare magazines etc.
In sessional day care (for example a playgroup) the manager must hold at least a full and relevant level 3 qualification and at least half of all other staff must hold a full and relevant level 2 with at least half of these again holding a full and relevant level 3 qualification.
In full day care the manager must hold at least a full and relevant level 3 qualification and at least 80% of all other staff must hold a full and relevant level 2 with at least half of these again holding a full and relevant level 3 qualification.
At least one person caring for the children must have a current qualification in first aid appropriate for the age of the children being cared for. In addition they should undertake regular CPD which may include workshops, online training, reading childcare magazines etc.
How do you ensure safe recruitment of staff?
Nurseries must have effective systems in place to check the suitability of those who have regular contact with children. This includes a disclosing and barring service check, suitability of qualifications, references and staff files. There must be opportunities to disclose any convictions, cautions or court orders that may affect their suitability.
Do you offer funded 2-, 3- and 4-year-old places?
Most nurseries in England offer the free entitlement. In Wales opportunities for funded childcare should be discussed with the provider.
What are the ratios of staff to children?
- Under 2 the ratios are 1:3
- 2 year olds 1:4
- 3 and over 1:13 where a person with Qualified Teacher status, Early Years Professional status or Early Years Teacher status is working directly with children or 1:8 where they are not
You might like to look at the EYFS Statutory Framework for more detail
- One adult to three children under 2 years
- One adult to four children aged 2 years
- One adult to eight children aged 3 - 7 years
- One adult to ten children aged 8 – 11 years.
Will my child have a key person, and how many other children will they have?
Each child must be assigned a key person, their role is help build a secure relationship with both you and your child and be the person who ensures the care is tailored to your childs needs. The number of children they have will depend on the size of the setting.
How do you ensure the safety of the children in your care?
Nurseries are required to carry out risk assessments both of home and outdoor space and whenever they take children out. They are also required to record any accidents or incidents and any medication that is given.
What activities do you provide?
Nurseries will be providing a range of activities both within the setting and out in the community. These should meet the needs of children of all ages. Make sure you share your children’s particular interests and find out how they could be catered for.
How do you support children's learning and development?
Nurseries are required to deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage in England work within the Foundation Phase in Wales. They will provide activities that are based on your childs interests and that help them to progress in their development.
How do you keep parents informed of their child's progress?
Nursery staff will carry out observations on children that help them to ensure each child is making progress and also identify any area of need. They are required to provide ongoing feedback and in addition in England provide a progress check between 2 and 3 years of age.
What types of meals and snacks do you provide?
Nurseries will usually provide meals and snacks, and must maintain good food hygiene and provide information on any allergens contained in the food they provide. They must work closely with you to meet the dietary requirements of your child.
How do you manage children's behaviour?
Nurseries may have a behaviour policy. They will be using positive methods such as distraction and must not threaten or give corporal punishment
What do your fees include?
Each Nursery will set their own fees, so check what’s included from the outset.