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What are day nurseries and preschools?

Preschools and day nurseries provide childcare and early education for children aged under 5 in a group setting where they can play and learn alongside other young children.

Day nurseries and preschools which run for more that 2 hours per day must be registered with the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted). All nurseries and preschools are regularly monitored by Ofsted and often by their local authority.

Day nurseries offer full-time or part-time childcare for children, often from 6 weeks old. Day nurseries are usually open from 8am to 6pm.

The majority of day nurseries offer free (funded) early education places for 3 and 4-year-olds for 15 hours per week and many offer free places for eligible 2-year-olds.

Preschools offer childcare in sessions which range from 2 ½ to 4 hours, either mornings or afternoons, and cater for children from the age of 2. They are usually only open during school term time and not for the whole day. Preschools are sometimes called playgroups or kindergartens and also include Montessori schools.

Most preschools offer free (funded) early education places for 3 and 4-year-olds for 15 hours per week and many offer free places for eligible 2-year-olds. (note: preschools that are run by Merton Council cater solely for 2-year-olds receiving funded early education places).

Nurseries and preschools all offer a range of play and learning opportunities for your child. They must follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework. The EYFS Framework sets the standards that all childcare providers must meet to ensure that children in their care learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe.

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