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Choosing what's best

All children under the age of 8 needing childcare for more than two hours a day should be with a provider registered with Ofsted unless the care is provided by a close family member.

Before you enrol your child visit potential places with your child while other children are there.

Think about the times you will need childcare, the costs, support you may get with the cost and what you can afford, the best location to avoid tiring journeys for yourself and your child and whether your child has dietary, physical, special, religious or cultural needs which need to be accommodated.

Remember you are looking for a warm welcome, a combination of care and education, enthusiastic adults, good resources and an approach that will meet the needs of your child.

Your choices

  • Many nurseries care for babies
  • Some offer out of school clubs for school aged children
  • A 1:3, 1:4 and 1:8 adult to child ratio depending on the child's age
  • Staff have, or are working towards, an early years qualification
  • May offer sessional care as well as full day care
  • Likely to be open all year
  • Free entitlement hours available for three and four year olds
  • Other support with costs may be available
  • Inspected by Ofsted
  • Follow the Early Years Foundation Stage for 0-5s
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  • Children usually attend from two or two½ years of age
  • A 1:4 to 1:8 adult tochild ratio
  • Staff have, or are working towards, an early years qualification
  • Usually term time only
  • Some offer lunch; some are open for school hours
  • Free entitlement hours available for three and four year olds
  • Other support with costs may be available
  • Inspected by Ofsted
  • Follow the Early Years Foundation Stage for 0-5s
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  • Can care for children of all ages
  • A maximum of six children ay any one time, of these three can be under five and one can be under 12 months old
  • May have an early years qualification
  • Times arranged by agreement
  • Usually all year apart from childminder's own holiday
  • Childminders may be registered to take the Free Entitlement, the childminder must have achieved an Ofsted inspection grade of ‘Requires Improvement’ or above for deliver the funding for three and four year old’s, and an Ofsted grade of ‘Good’ or above to deliver the two year old element’. 
  • Can take and collect from pre-school or school
  • Other support with costs may be available
  • Inspected by Ofsted
  • Follow the Early Years Foundation Stage for 0-5s
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  • Limited number in Wiltshire attached to schools
  • Admitted from September following the child's third birthday
  • 1:13 adult to child ratio
  • All staff have an early years qualification
  • Up to five mornings or five afternoons per week - term time only
  • Free to parents
  • Inspected by Ofsted
  • Follow the Early Years Foundation Stage for 0-5s
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  • May be admitted from three years - check school policy
  • No set adult to child ratio
  • No legal regulations about staff qualifications
  • School hours and terms, usually shorter than state schools
  • Free entitlement hours available for three and four year olds in some schools
  • Fees charged
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  • Can care for children of all ages
  • No set adult:child ratio
  • May have an early years qualification
  • Available all year
  • Charges and terms negotiated between family and nanny or nanny agency
  • May be registered on the Ofsted Voluntary Childcare Register
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To search for childcare in your area please visit our Childcare directory

To search for information on getting help with your childcare costs, visit the government's Childcare Choices website.

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Last updated: 8 May 2017 | Last reviewed: 8 May 2017