Types of childcare and early years education provision

Childminders and childminder agencies


  • are Ofsted registered carers who look after children in their own homes
  • offer a flexible service, caring for children aged from birth to sixteen years
  • are usually only allowed to look after up to six children between the ages birth to eight (including their own)
  • can have more children if they work in partnership with other childminders or assistants

The service offered is unique to each family’s needs and many childminders provide evening, weekend and school holiday cover.

All childminders will have completed a training course including paediatric first aid, and are inspected by Ofsted.

Childminder agencies (CMA)

  • are organisations designed to offer a ‘one-stop shop’ of services for both childminders and parents
  • are registered and inspected by Ofsted. The CMA will register and quality assure childminders who join their agency
  • will offer parents a range of services to support them in finding a childminder and offer some additional services, such as cover, when a childminder is sick or on holiday

Further information about registering as a childminder agency

Nanny or home childcarers

  • are carers who look after children in the family home
  • can fit in with unusual hours and working patterns
  • can apply to Ofsted to be on the voluntary childcare register, to allow families to use tax credits or tax-free childcare contributions. This is not compulsory.

Day nurseries

  • can care for children aged from birth to five years and usually offer day care from 8am to 6pm, for most of the year
  • are registered with Ofsted and inspected regularly
  • can be run by private individuals, community groups, organisations, commercial businesses or by employers

Private nursery schools

  • are owned privately
  • can offer sessional or full day care to children aged two to five
  • may operate only during term-time or could open all year
  • could be registered with Ofsted or the ISI (Independent School Directorate)

Some schools can offer a particular educational approach, for example Montessori or Forest.

(Local Authority) Maintained Nursery Schools

(Local Authority) maintained nursery schools offer full and part-time early years education places, typically between school hours. They are attached to primary schools. A child can attend for a full or half day. Nursery schools may also offer childcare after school.

Hampshire schools list

Local Authority Managed Childcare
Pre-schools and playgroups

  • offer care to children in their local community, either as a morning or afternoon session or as extended sessions including lunch
  • are often run by voluntary groups but can also be run by private individuals
  • care for children aged from two to five years and are usually open during term time
  • differ from day nurseries in that they offer sessional based care and admit children from the age of two years old
  • are usually registered with Ofsted

Independent schools

  • are owned privately
  • cater for children aged from three to sixteen

Schools are registered with Ofsted or the ISI (Independent School Directorate) but make their own arrangements concerning staff numbers, qualifications and the curriculum.

If the school participates in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum, it will be inspected by Ofsted.

Out of school clubs

  • provide safe and stimulating play opportunities for school age children at times when schools are not open
  • can operate before school (‘breakfast clubs’) in the mornings, and from the end of the school day (‘after school clubs’), throughout the school holidays, or a combination of all three, called ‘Wraparound Care’
  • typically cater for children aged four (Year R) to fifteen but some clubs might look after younger children
  • some schemes are delivered as part of the ‘Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) Programme’.

Registered childcare