Choosing a nursery for your child to attend requires thought and planning.

You may already have had experience of choosing childcare by using a childminder or employing a nanny. Or you might be looking for a nursery place for your baby's first childcare experience. Whatever stage you're at in your childcare search, PACEY can help.

How can you recognise quality in a childcare setting? Read top tips on finding the perfect nursery in this fantastic blog by expert Maggie Bellamy.

Find out more about what nurseries do

Day nurseries

Most day nurseries are privately run and can be stand alone businesses, part of a small chain of two or three settings or part of a much larger chain or franchise of 50 or more settings. Some employers provide nursery places for their staff close to work. Day nurseries may run from modern purpose built buildings or in converted spaces. Settings vary in size from 20 to over 180 places and will often be split into rooms for different aged children.


Due to the range of ages of children that may attend nurseries, there could be up to four different carer to child ratios in operation at any one time.

Ratios in England

  • Children from birth to 2 - 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. 

Ratios in Wales

  • 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.

Flexible and part time places

Although open all week, most offer the option of a range of half and full days that can be mixed and matched to meet the needs of the family.

Many day nurseries will provide breakfast, lunch and tea, the cost of which is normally included in their fees. Some include formula milk up to the age of 1 and some even the cost of nappies.

All day nurseries must be registered with Ofsted in England or CSSIW in Wales and will be inspected by them.

Nursery classes

Families normally would have to apply to the nursery in a similar way to you would for a school place. If your application is successful, you will either be allocated a morning of an afternoon place. You could use your 15 hours of nursery education funding to pay for the place.

As nursery classes are part of the wider school they are inspected under the school's Ofsted or Estyn inspection.