Registering your childcare setting

The process you go through to register your childcare business as a group setting will be different depending on whether you live in England or Wales. Nurseries in England are inspected by Ofsted and nurseries in Wales are inspected by the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW). Rules are different for childminders, too.

Once you've registered, read our top tips for starting your business and our legal essentials for group settings here.

You can also read our policies and procedures for group settings here.

Registering your setting with Ofsted in England

Ofsted has two registers: The Early Years Register and the Childcare Register. The Early Years Register is for those caring for children from 0 to 5 years old (up until 31 August after their 5th birthday). The Childcare Register is for those caring for children aged 5 to 8 years.

The application process is the same for nurseries, playgroups, before- and after-school clubs, and other group daycare settings. These groups are also called 'childcare on non-domestic premises'.

Key points:

  • The nursery owner is solely responsible for the setting and must be the one who applies to register with Ofsted. Or, if an organisation has been set up to provide childcare, a member of the organisation's governing body must apply.
  • If you plan to provide childcare from multiple premises, you'll need to include all settings under a single registration (however you will need to pay separate fees for each premises).
  • You can register outdoor settings, such as woodlands, in the same way as any other setting.
  • If you plan to offer childcare from a play bus as well as another setting, you will need to register both the play bus and the additional setting.
  • If you're applying to join the Early Years Register, your premises must follow all the requirements set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage framework.
  • Check and follow any legal requirements from your local authority, environmental health department and local fire authority.
  • To apply, create an online account at Ofsted Online and go to Online Applications.

For further information visit the GOV.uk website.

There are also a few reasons why a setting might be exempt from registering with Ofsted. Find out more here.

Registering your setting with CIW in Wales

In Wales, you must register with the Care Inspectorate Wales if the following apply:

  • The children are under the age of 12
  • The nursery is non-domestic premises
  • Sessions are more than two hours in any one day
  • The service is provided at least five days a year.

Contact your local family information service to find out more about pre-registration training.

You can also visit the CIW website for further information.

First steps:

  • Disclosure and Barring (DBS) checks (see below)
  • Health declaration from your doctor
  • First aid training
  • Training courses

Don't forget to register your new business with HMRC.

DBS checks for members of staff at your nursery

All members of staff at your setting must have an enhanced DBS check to make sure that they are suitable to work with children.

The DBS update service

Individuals can join the DBS update service within 30 days of receiving their certificate. The update service is an online subscription that keeps DBS checks up to date and allows employers to check the status of DBS checks.

Portability

In England it is up to you whether you allow a new member of staff to begin work using an existing enhanced DBS check (this is called 'portability'). You must be able to prove to Ofsted that you have compiled with DBS guidance on portability.

For further information on staff DBS checks and portability guidance, visit:

In England you must inform Ofsted of certain changes to staff in your setting, including, for example, changes to committee members or directors or owners of the business. Find out more from Ofsted.

Training requirements

Running your own nursery means that you'll have a huge impact on families, helping them manage their childcare needs as well as supporting parents in raising their children. At the same time, you'll be running your own business, investing in your own personal development and the training and development of your staff.

You don't need formal qualifications to own a nursery, but if you plan to manage your nursery, you will need the following qualifications and experience:

England

  • A full and relevant Level 3 qualification
  • Level 2 literacy and numeracy qualifications
  • A minimum of two years' experience working in a nursery
  • Some supervisory experience

Wales

  • In Wales, the person in charge of the setting must have at least a relevant Level 3 qualification. This should be on the Social Care Wales current qualification list.
  • A minimum of two years' experience of working in a day care setting 

You can find more information about training and qualifications here.

Plus, find information about the training required to become a nursery manager in England and Wales.

Adding an extra setting to your registration

You may need to expand your business and open an extra setting, but before you do, you should remember that you must register the new setting before you can begin providing childcare from it. You should be either the individual owner of or a nominated individual in the daycare organisation to complete the required registration forms. The nominated individual is one of those who will be registered, and is chosen to represent them and the daycare organisation with Ofsted.

See more guidance and complete the form online.

Legislation

There are various pieces of legislation that you must follow when setting up or running a childcare setting. You can read more from our list below:

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