Who Looks after Your Child?

How to choose child care or nursery - tips by Quality 4 Early YearsChoosing childcare may be the hardest and one of the most important decisions we make as parents. What is right for one family may be completely unsuitable for another. M&D Magazine asked Denise Hulme, Mary Lestrange and Deborah Sutton, the directors of Quality 4 Early Years, for an advice. Below is the list of things to prepare, to check, and to be aware of that they’ve compiled for our readers.

Make an early start by:

  1. Researching childcare options available to you
  2. Ask family, friends and colleagues for recommendations
  3. Look at the Ofsted report and note when the last inspection took place – things can improve or become poorer in a period of time!
  4. Make sure you visit a number of settings. You will see that every setting is different!

When you visit the nursery pay attention to the following:

The Adults:

  • Are the adult’s friendly and do they make you feel welcome?
  • Do the adults get down to the same level as the children and interact in their play?
  • Are the adults qualified and do they attend training?
    (In registered settings other than child-minding settings, all supervisors and managers must hold a full level 3 qualification and half of all other staff must hold a full and relevant level 2 qualification)
  • How does the nursery ensure that the adults are suitable to look after children for example, do they have a Criminal Records Bureau check?
  • Are there good levels of adult and child ratios?
    Ask the setting what the ratios are and how they manage it. For early years group settings the ratios should be….

      Children under two years 1:3
      Two year olds 1: 4
      Children aged three and over 1:8

    However, there are exemptions to these ratios so it is worth asking!

  • Check how will staff get to know about your child so that they can meet their needs well
  • Ask how will the staff let you know what your child is doing at nursery?
  • Does the setting have a set of policies and procedures which you can look at?
  • How will the staff involve you in your child’s learning and development?

The Children:

  • How are children supported to settle-in for example can they bring in a comfort toy or blanket?
  • Will your child have a named key person who will make sure that your child is safe and happy
  • Are there lots of things to explore and do which will support your child’s learning & development?
  • Do the children have their individual routines supported, such as toileting, getting dressed or changed, eating, resting or sleeping?
  • Is there access to cosy areas where your child can sleep or rest when they are tired?
  • Are staff sensitive to children’s feelings and emotions for example give cuddles when upset and celebrate their achievements?
  • Are there healthy fresh foods and drinks available at regular intervals including access to water?


  • Is it warm, cosy and welcoming?
  • Is it clean and safe with security measures in place? (baby gates, intercom system, use of passwords etc)
  • Does it feel like a comfortable, happy and cheerful atmosphere?
  • Are there stimulating toys and resources and exciting spaces to play?
  • Is there an outdoor area where children can be physical, explore and play safely?
  • Are there displays of children’s art work such as painting, sticky pictures and other activities?
  • Does the environment reflect different children and families from the community?
  • Are toilets and baby changing areas clean and hygienic?
  • Is there information displayed for parents to access such as staffing, events, menu’s, routines and practices?

Always trust your own instincts, you know your child better than anyone.

If you need an official guidance the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children from birth to five learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. For more information about this go to www.foundationyears.org.uk

For the bespoke training, advice and support on childcare issues offered by Quality 4 Early Years, please visit http://www.quality4earlyyears.co.uk/

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