According to gov.co.uk, in 2022 there was an estimated total number of 1,543,000 Ofsted registered childcare places in the UK. That’s a drop of almost 11,000 places compared to 2021. This statistic combined with the stress of applying for your nursery placements may seem like a daunting process, but we’re here to tell you it’s an easier process than you think!
By simply conducting some research, preparing some questions and visiting some of your local schools, you can make finding an early nursery placement for your child a very smooth process. In this blog, we provide you with six things to consider when applying for your nursery placement so you can plan your child’s future with ease.
Our top 6 key considerations
Conducting research into the local nurseries around you can make a huge difference to the whole process of applying for your child’s nursery placement. It can be anything from researching nurseries online, to speaking with other parents for recommendations. When you have this type of knowledge, you can use it to weigh out your options and see how the nurseries match up to your needs.
Here are our top six key considerations to keep in mind when conducting this research:
1. Location is important
Looking for a nursery near your home or work is very important as this will help with your child’s transition into the school. If you can, try to find an area nearby with a variety of good schools so you have a range of options at your disposal. A good way to find local nurseries is to keep an eye out when you’re out on your daily commute.
Alternatively, you can look online for local nursery schools or find out more information through your council’s Family Information Service. All childcare providers in your area must be registered on this database, providing you access to a long list of prospective nurseries.
It’s important to remember there are different types of childcare institutions, for example private day nurseries, preschool playgroups, primary school nursery and community nurseries. Each of these will function in their own way with various fee structures and schedules.
2. Read Ofsted reports
After you’ve found a few nurseries you like, be sure to read their Ofsted reports. Nurseries are registered with Ofsted and are subject to visits by this government body regularly. Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standard framework with Ofsted giving schools ratings based on this framework.
When you’re reading the reports, be sure to take into consideration their rating and the date of the report. If a school has been inspected over five years ago, it may have changed considerably, especially if there has been staff changes in the recent years.
3. Chat with other parents
Along with reading Ofsted reports, it’s certainly worth speaking with other parents. Your experience as a parent is always important to others, so ask your friends, family, and any other parents you know about their recommendations and experiences with certain nurseries. It’s also worth taking a look online for testimonials or reviews for your chosen schools. You’ll find out a lot more about your chosen nurseries by asking the people who’ve been there.
4. Plan a visit
Once you’ve shortlisted a few schools, it’s time to book a visit. This is an extremely important thing to do before committing to applying for your child’s nursery placement because you can see the school in action evaluate its strengths, weaknesses and atmosphere.
When you have booked your visit, it’s certainly worth preparing some questions to ask. Here are some to consider:
- What are the drop off and pick up times?
- Do consumables like food cost extra?
- What ages do you cover?
- How is feedback given to parents? Reports, verbal or online via an app?
- What is the teacher/student ratio?
- Is there any flexibility to fit into your child or your own routine?
These are just some of the questions to consider before visiting your chosen nursery, but it’s important to take a few minutes to think about what’s important to you and your child. By asking questions, you’ll be more prepared and informed when the time comes to choose a nursery placement.
5. Apply for nursery placements early
When you’ve chosen your nursery and you’re ready to apply, be sure to apply as early as possible. The earlier you apply for your nursery placement, the better as normally the uptake for schools is strictly set in line with the school year. Some schools may allow entry to their setting at any point throughout the year, like Stepping Stones for example, so be sure to check this before applying for a nursery place.
Remember, each nursery will have a different method of application so look for application forms on their website or contact them directly to find out what steps you need to take.
6. Check if you are entitled to a funded nursery place
Before applying for a nursery place, be sure to look at the funded childcare entitlement and see if you’re eligible for a funded nursery place. In England, all 3 to 4-year olds have access to 15 free hours of childcare per week, and some children may even be entitled to 30 free hours of childcare per week, so it’s important to check if you’re eligible. You can check online or you can contact your local council to find out more.
Book a visit with Stepping Stones today
If you’re looking for a nursery placement in Nottingham, why not book a visit at Stepping Stones Day Nursery today? We’re committed to making applying for a nursery place quick and easy for both parents and children. Once registered with us, we offer free trial sessions to help your child settle in with their new environment and for you to discuss with our caregivers about your child’s particular needs.
Contact us to find out more about what we can offer or book your free sessions today!