Choosing quality childcare or early years education service
Good quality care and education in the early years is essential for all children
These services can influence educational standards and opportunities and enhance children's social development.
Regulation of early education and childcare services is carried out by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) or the Independent School Directorate (ISI).
- Hampshire’s role in securing quality childcare
All registered providers are expected to meet the regulatory bodies national standards which set out the minimum requirements.
Hampshire County Council, through Services for Young Children (SfYC), provides advice, guidance and training to support the development of good practice.
- Choosing the right service for your child
As well as looking at Ofsted inspection reports, download our handy checklists. They contain a range of questions you can ask potential childcare or early education services and give you a idea of what to look for when visiting services.
- Choosing childcare for your under 5 - What to ask pre-schools, day nurseries and childminders
- Childcare check list – What to ask a childminder when considering placing your child in their care
- Childcare check list for your school age child - What to ask breakfast clubs, after school clubs, holiday playschemes and childminders
Further information about starting school
If your child has a special educational need or disability you may also want to search for services using the Hampshire Local Offer website.
- Search for childcare and early years education
The online Hampshire Family Information Directory is for parents, carers and practitioners looking for childcare and early years education services in Hampshire.
Search for Ofsted registered childcare such as childminders, pre-schools, nurseries, before and after school clubs and holiday play schemes.
- What is Ofsted
Ofsted is the Government department that aims to improve standards of achievement and quality of education in:
- playgroups and pre-schools,
- out of school clubs
- holiday playschemes
Childcare Inspectors employed by Ofsted, register and inspect providers that are on the Early Years Register, Childcare Register and the Voluntary Childcare Register.
Childcare Inspectors inspect all childcare providers on an ongoing cycle. During the inspection, providers will need to show that children are safe, well cared for, and take part in activities that contribute to their development and learning. The Inspectors will check the work of the childcare provider against the standards set by Ofsted. Childcare providers who do not meet the Ofsted standards at the time of inspection will be given actions within a definite timescale or could potentially have their Ofsted registration cancelled.
Ofsted will look into complaints or other information which gives them reason to believe a childcare provider is not meeting the Ofsted standards or other requirements. Ofsted will also take appropriate enforcement action where necessary.
- Ofsted and parents
When deciding which childcare provider to use parents should visit the services with their children and ask childcare providers to show their registration certificates and inspection reports.
Inspection reports have key inspection judgments:
- Outstanding - this aspect of the provision is of exceptionally high quality
- Good - this aspect of the provision is strong
- Requires Improvement - this aspect of the provision requires some areas of improvement
- Inadequate - this aspect of the provision is not good enough
Inspection reports are available from the Ofsted website.
- Parental concerns
Ofsted advise that parents firstly try and resolve any issues directly with the provider.
Parents can also contact Ofsted if there is a concern about a childcare or early years education provider by phoning their helpline on 0300 123 4666.
Ofsted have produced some guidance for parents and carers: