Nursery Advice

What types of nursery are there?

In essence, all types of nurseries are quite similar and are established to care for babies and young children to comply with the relevant legislation.  As with all education institutions, parents have to choose from a range of different types of institutions and the learning and teaching methods they use. To provide short descriptions of the types of nurseries available, we have researched several sources including the Government documents to help parents understand what is on offer.

Day Nursery:

Children attending a day nursery should be provided opportunities to play and learn in both indoor and outdoor environments. Parents play an important part in their child’s developmental journey and they should work closely with staff to ensure that all of the child’s individual needs are adequately met.

Day nurseries are usually open between the hours of 7am to 6pm (although this will vary) and can be flexible with times and sessions to meet the needs of working parents and families.

Nursery School:

Nursery Schools offer continuity, children progress from optional Nursery education the year before they attend compulsory Primary School education.  Some Nursery Schools cater for younger children.

Nursery Schools operate and deliver learning in a similar way to a Day Nursery by teachers and assistants and offer the same benefits, in particular your child moving on to Primary School with a familiar set of friends from their first day.

NHS Nursery:

Parents often find that combining work and family responsibilities can be challenging – even more so when they work in an organisation that delivers care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Being able to access high-quality childcare that is both accessible and affordable is essential to a healthy work-life balance.

The benefits of employer-supported childcare can include being known as a family-friendly employer, better recruitment and retention of staff, reduced absenteeism, a more motivated workforce, as well as financial savings for employers and employees.

(Source: Childcare in the NHS,

Local Authority Nursery:

A local authority maintained nursery generally provides education for children aged from three to five, although education could start from two if the local authority chooses to fund it.

Determining the admissions policy for community and voluntary controlled maintained nursery schools and classes is the responsibility of the local authority. The local authority delegates the responsibility for administering the admission process for nursery schools and classes to the governing bodies of these schools. This means that you apply for a place direct to the nursery school. Places in nursery schools and classes usually become available when the oldest children enter a primary school. Places may become available at other times if children leave nursery.

(Source: National Day Nurseries Association)

Local Authorities also runs Sure Start Children Centres. The core purpose of Sure Start children’s centres is to improve outcomes for young children and their families, with a particular focus on those in greatest need. They work to make sure all children are properly prepared for school, regardless of background or family circumstances. They also offer support to parents.

(Source: sure-start-childrens-centres-local-authorities-duties)

Private and Public nurseries:

Private or Independent Nurseries are established and owned by an individual or group of people, similar to a Business. Private nurseries are funded by the income that they generate through fees charged per child.

Public or State Funded Nurseries are funded by local authorities (see Local Authority Nurseries above). Public nurseries include SureStart Children’s Centres.

The centres are open to all parents, carers and children and many of the services are free. You can get help and advice on child and family health, parenting, money, training and employment.


Often the decision between sending your child to a private or pubic (local authority) nursery is down to the fees charged; private nurseries are known to be a higher cost. Overall as a parent, you must feel comfortable with the care that your child will receive and only by visiting the nurseries and hearing the views from staff and particularly other parents can you determine which suits your needs and circumstance best. All nurseries must be registered on the Childcare Register and are subject to official inspection by Ofsted and for Food Hygiene.

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