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Quality and standards in childcare

You are the expert on your child and you are the person who knows best what kind of childcare service will suit your child.

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Knowing what to expect from the regulation framework can help you have confidence in the service you choose. The regulation framework sets out standards for most kinds of childcare, early education and pre-school service.


Ofsted is responsible for regulating the quality of childcare provision; they are responsible for the registration, investigation, inspections and enforcement of early learning and childcare provision. Ofsted's role includes making sure that a CRB check is carried out on anyone who provides childcare, that staff are qualified to work with children and the inspection of premises to make sure that all health and safety and welfare issues are addressed.

For more information please go onto the Ofsted website.  

The early years register

Most providers who provide childcare from birth till the age of 5 must be registered with Ofsted on the Early Years Register and must deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage. This is a statutory framework for early years education and care for children in the early years age group.

Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the framework that sets the standard for learning and development from birth up till the 31 August following a child's fifth birthday. All registered early years providers have to follow this. The Early Years Foundation Stage makes sure that:

  • Children learn through play
  • Providers work with parents
  • Take into account the child's learning at home
  • Keep parents up to date with their child's progress

General childcare register

The general childcare register is made up of two parts, these are:

The compulsory register:

Childcare providers must register on the compulsory part of the childcare register if:

  • They care for children aged 5 - 8 years old.
  • They receive 'reward' for providing care for a child for more than 2 hours a day (note that 'reward' includes not just payment but also reciprocal arrangements, for example, looking after a child in return for a favour).

The voluntary register:

Some childcare providers can choose to register with Ofsted if they want to provide care that does not need to be registered. Childcare and activities for children aged 8 to 18 can voluntarily register on the general childcare register. Other providers that can voluntarily register are nannies, crèches and activity-based settings for example football coaching or tuition.

Childcare providers who do not need to register:

The providers who do not need to register include:

  • A children's home, care home or a young offender's institution.
  • School-childcare and activities that are provided by a school for children who are pupils of the school and aged above 3
  • Relative of a child or foster carer.

Childcare registration - which register should I be on?

If you are unsure of what register you should be on as a child minder, you can visit Ofsted's childcare section or call Ofsted on 0300 123 1231.

How do I check whether services are registered?

You can ask to see their registration certificate. You can also request to read a copy of their latest inspection report. The Families' Information Service will help if you need to know more about registration and inspection of services.

Complaints and concerns procedures

If you have issues about the care your child is receiving you should address them with your childcare provider in the first instance. It is important to raise any issues with them, as a reasonable explanation or solution may be provided.

If you have already approached your childcare provider, but still feel concerned that they are not providing an adequate level of care, please contact Ofsted who will then investigate your complaint.

Ofsted Helpline: 0300 123 4234
Email: enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk

If its an issue surrounding a nursery attached to a school, please read the leaflet below to guide you. 

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 13 Mar 2014 at 15:10