Early education and childcare

In this area you will find details of how to choose the right place for your child, as well as details of registered and unregistered childcare and early education providers.  

The sections below will help you in choosing an early years or childcare setting. 

To find details of childcare providers operating in Redbridge, please select the type of provider you are looking from the categories provided. 

First steps to choosing the right childcare or early education

Choosing the right childcare for your child can make a real difference. As a parent or carer, it is your responsibility to ensure that your child is safe and happy in a childcare environment that is fun, educational and nurturing.

Before choosing your childcare, you should be aware of the options available and consider cost, location, reputation and your own circumstances eg:

  • Would I prefer childcare close to my home, work or school
  • How will I pick up and drop off my children
  • What hours do I need childcare and are they regular
  • What is best for my child’s emotional and physical needs, as well as social and educational development
  • Will I be able to claim financial support for childcare at my chosen setting?

Types of providers available

Day nurseries

  • Suitable from birth to school
  • Registered with Ofsted
  • Full daycare (some offer out of school care too)
  • Typically open between 7am and 8am and close between 6pm and 7pm
  • Can offer funded early education places, Tax Free Childcare and childcare costs through tax credits/universal credit


  • Suitable for all ages
  • Registered with Ofsted or a registered childminding agency for children under 8 years
  • Full daycare or out of school care
  • Typically open between 7am and 8am and close between 6pm and 7pm
  • Can offer earlier/later start times, or overnight
  • Can offer funded early education places, Tax Free Childcare and childcare costs through tax credits/universal credit


  • Suitable for 2 years to school
  • Registered with Ofsted
  • Sessional care
  • Typically open for a 3 hour session in morning and 3 hour session in afternoon. Many offer clubs at lunch time or children can attend the morning and afternoon sessions
  • Can offer funded early education places, Tax Free Childcare and childcare costs through tax credits/universal credit

School nurseries

  • Suitable from 3 years + (some schools may be able to offer places to children who are 2 years)
  • Registered with Ofsted under the school registration
  • Typically open for a 3 hour session in morning and 3 hour session in afternoon. Some offer clubs at lunch time and/or children can attend the morning and afternoon sessions
  • Can offer funded early education places, Tax Free Childcare and childcare costs through tax credits/universal credit

Out of school clubs

  • Suitable for school aged children
  • Can be registered with Ofsted - see here for details of who doesn't need to register
  • Typically open before school, after the school day (up to 6-7pm) and/or school holidays 
  • Can only offer Tax Free Childcare and childcare costs through tax credits/universal credit if they are registered with Ofsted

School out of school care

  • Suitable for school aged children
  • Where run by the school staff, out of school care will be registered with Ofsted under the school registration
  • Typically open before school, after the school day (up to 6-7pm) and/or school holidays
  • Can offer Tax Free Childcare and childcare costs through tax credits/universal credit

Home childcarers (also known as a nanny or au pair)

  • Suitable for all ages
  • You will either hire through an agency or will become their employer, responsible for salary and pensions (click here for details of employing someone as a nanny)
  • Not typically registered, however can choose to register on Ofsted's voluntary childcare register
  • Flexible hours provided within the child's home
  • Cannot offer funded early education places, Tax Free Childcare or childcare costs through tax credits/universal credit unless registered with Ofsted
Using an Ofsted registered provider

Who has to, or can, register with Ofsted?

Ofsted registers childcare providers under two different registers - the Early Years Register or the Childcare Register.

The Early Years Register is for those caring for children under school age (up to their fifth birthday). Those on the Early Years Register must meet the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage. 

The Childcare Register has two parts: a compulsory childcare register for those caring for children aged 5 to 8 years; and a voluntary childcare register where those who do not need to register can choose to register if they want (i.e. nannies, activity groups, creches and those that care only for over 8 year olds).

Details of which providers do not need to, or can't, register with Ofsted can be found at www.gov.uk/ofsted

What does registration with Ofsted involve?

For those on the Early Years and/or Compulsory Register the following are some examples of what providers will need to complete before being registered:

  • Enhanced Disclosures / Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) Checks
  • Inspections prior to being registered to ensure they are ready to care for children and that the premises are safe and suitable, then regular inspections after registration
  • Training - Providers must have the qualifications required in the guidelines and an appropriate number of staff with a Paediatric First Aid qualification
  • Appropriate staffing levels

Please note that those on the Voluntary part of the Childcare Register will have different requirements. Some of the requirements are:

  • Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) Checks
  • Staff, premises, equipment and care provision must be safe and suitable
  • At least one member of staff who is caring for children must have an appropriate first aid certificate
  • The registered provider must have public liability insurance

How to find out if a provider is registered

Ofsted are the regulatory body for early years and childcare providers. You can find details of Ofsted registered providers on the link below. 

Where we are advertising a childcare provider that is registered, you will see a link to their Ofsted details as well as information on their recent Ofsted inspections on their page. 


Some childminders and home childcarers choose not to include their name on the Ofsted website. In this instance you can ask to view a copy of their Ofsted registration certificate which will have their URN (Unique Reference Number) on it.  

If you're still not sure, or you have concerns about a provider who may not be registered, please contact FiND.

Early Years Foundation Stage (learning and development for 0-5 years)

The early years foundation stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of your child from birth to 5 years old.

All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.

For more information please visit GOV.UK

Help paying for childcare

The government website, Childcare Choices, has information on the financial support for childcare whatever your circumstances. Please visit https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/

To find out how to apply for funded places for 2 year olds, please click here

To find out about funded places for 3 & 4 year olds (including the 15 hours and 30 hours entitlements), please click here

Some do's and don'ts when looking for childcare

Here are our tips to get you started, along with essential safety checks and how to make sure the transition for you and your child goes smoothly.

  • Don't leave it until the last minute. Even if you're not yet ready for childcare, give yourself plenty of time to make your choice as waiting lists can be long
  • Do research your options. Think about the hours you need, how far you can travel and what you can afford before calling around
  • Do think about your child's age and personality. Will they suit a busy or quiet setting? 
  • Do shop around. Aim to visit at least two or three places to compare what's on offer. What suits one child may not suit another so don't rely on recommendations alone
  • Do check references. This is vital. Most carers will be happy to give you names of other parents to speak to about their work
  • Don't feel guilty about double checks. Go back for a second or third look once you've narrowed down your choices
  • Do arrange a settling in period. Many settings will agree to a trial run before a formal agreement, to see that it's going to work out
  • Do get it all in writing once a decision has been made. Make sure you read any contracts before signing

What to look out for - your checklist...

  • Qualifications: What training and experience does the carer / team have?
  • Environment: Is it secure, does it feel nurturing, are there pets, is it non-smoking? Enough space?
  • Diet: What's on the menu? Fresh fruit and veg? Access to water when they want it? Cater for special requirements?
  • Supervision: Who supervises and how? Staff-to-child ratio?
  • Emotional care: What are the routines? Is there flexibility? How is difficult behaviour dealt with? There should be a written policy. Are staff warm, joining in, showing affection?
  • Equipment: Is it creative, varied, plentiful, of a high standard? Do displays show different cultures in a positive way? What about physical activities? Is the outside space safe and secure? If not, where will they play in fresh air?
  • Health habits: Are the toilets and facilities for potty training / baby changing clean?
  • Expectations: Lay all yours out, such as your working hours, time keeping, meal preparation, washing, baby-sitting. Policy on late pick-ups?
  • Safety: What happens in the case of an emergency or accident? What safety procedures are in place?
  • Inspection reports: Can you see a copy of the latest OfSTED inspection report?

Contracts - What should be included

If you're signing:

  • The details of the retainer fee or deposit to secure your child's place
  • The amount you pay, when you pay and what it covers (e.g. nappies, food, days out) - and importantly anything it doesn't cover
  • The hours / days your child will attend
  • Any days, e.g. public holidays that the place isn't available
  • Whether you pay when your child is absent including holiday and sickness arrangements
  • Arrangements for terminating the place
  • You should where possible set up one agreement that covers the settling-in period and then set up another contract following this. This is so that if your child doesn't settle or one of you realise that the arrangement isn't going to work you are not tied into too long a notice period.

If you're hiring:

  • A job description and hours of work
  • Salary and agreed method of payment
  • Length of employment (e.g. rolling 6 month contract) and notice period
  • Details of sick / holiday pay, expenses

For a printed version of this leaflet please contact FiND.

This information has been adapted from the DfES Booklet 'Looking for Childcare'.

Settling children into their setting

Once you've chosen the childcare you want, it is important to start planning how you will settle your child into the new routine. Leaving your child with a carer is a big step for both of you. It will take time to adjust, but here's how you can help to get through the jitters and feel more relaxed.

  • Prepare your child - Prepare toddlers and older children for what to expect. Talk to them about where they will be going each day and the sort of things they will do

  • Visit the childcare facilities - Visit them a couple of times together. You will want to have a session or two with your child and then a short session where you leave them alone for a little while 

  • Work in partnership - Ask your provider's advice and see what sessions they offer for settling

  • Don't rush - If you are under pressure to get back to work or training, ask another family member or a friend to help with settling them in. For your child's first few sessions try to be 5 minutes early so you're not feeling rushed or anxious

  • Let the carer take charge - Try to let the carer take charge in supporting your child when settling

  • Be encouraging - You may feel mixed emotions leaving your child but try be upbeat when you're settling your child and when leaving them on their first day

  • Don't linger - Long goodbyes can make it more difficult for you and them. It's usually best to say a quick goodbye and remind toddlers you'll be back at a particular time

  • Trial-runs - If your child will be taken to and from school by a childminder you may wish to walk with them a couple of times. This will also give you an opportunity to introduce the childminder to your child's class teacher

  • Be patient - It can take some time for children to settle. Make sure you have honest conversations with your provider about how they are once you've left. Children often cry as you leave but will often settle very quickly. If after a few weeks your child is still not settling well, talk to your provider about your options
Making a complaint about a registered provider

Registered providers

Ofsted are responsible for investigating complaints about registered childcare when they relate to the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage - however one of the requirements of the Foundation Stage is that all providers have a complaints procedure and that parents should be made aware of this. If you have not made a formal complaint to the provider before contacting Ofsted, they will ask you to do so unless you have a good reason not to. You should in the first instance speak to your childminder or daycare provider directly and try to resolve matters by talking them through. You may find it helpful to write down your concerns before you meet. If you remain unhappy then you should follow the complaints procedure and if necessary involve Ofsted. You can contact them on 0300 123 4666 or by email at enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk. You should work out what you want to say before contacting Ofsted. You need to note any key persons, times and dates. You will probably be asked to put your concerns in writing.

However Ofsted do not act upon complaints about providers which relate to private matters between the provider and the complainant, such as:

  • contractual or payment disputes
  • employment matters

In these circumstances you may need to take legal advice.

If you feel that you are unable to talk about your concerns with the childminder or daycare provider because you think your child or another child in their care may be at risk of abuse or neglect, you should report your concerns immediately to Ofsted and also inform the local Child Protection Assessment Team

Childcare for children with SEND

Choosing the right childcare can be a difficult decision for every parent, but can be particularly challenging if your child has a disability or special educational need. You may struggle to access the childcare that you want that meets your child's needs and is suitable for your family. Here are some points to bear in mind when considering your childcare options.

  • Early Years and childcare settings should have a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) who will be able to discuss what's right for you and your child within the setting. The SENCo will be familiar with other practitioners and services that work with children with disabilities and know how to find additional guidance or support if necessary
  • If your child is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) your child's setting can claim two year old funding from the term after they turn two - apply here. When they start accessing the 3 & 4 year old funding the setting can also access an annual Disability Access Funding payment of £800 to support your chlid's access to a place
  • Settings offering 3 & 4 year old funding (and sometimes 2 year old funding) will be able to access support and, in relevant cases, SEN Inclusion Support Funding to provide additional support to your child in the setting. Click here for details
  • All childcare providers must meet the requirements of the Equality Act and Ofsted registration requirements and make 'reasonable adjustments' to include disabled children. They must not treat a disabled child 'less favourably' because of their disability.
  • Give the carer clear and detailed information about your child's needs, methods of communication, medication, appointments, likes and dislikes.
  • An honest and open discussion about your child's needs with the childcare provider, involving, for example, an occupational therapist or psychologist where necessary, can often lead to a better understanding of your child's needs and how these can be managed.
  • Settings will discuss with you if they feel that your child's needs cannot be met without additional support being put in place before they start - they will seek advice and support through the borough's Early Years SEND Support Service
  • Settings should publish a Local Offer which details how they support children with SEND. Some will publish this on their own websites and some provide this on the Redbridge SEND Local Offer here

Some additional questions for a setting 

  • What qualifications / training or experience do staff have and are they relevant to your child?
  • Does your child need extra help - and are the staff willing for you (and/or a health practitioner if appropriate) to show them how to look after his or her needs?
  • Are they ready and able to provide practical support (e.g. with personal care)?
  • Are the premises accessible for your child?
  • What equipment is essential?
  • Are carers willing to be shown how to administer medicine? Do they have the relevant insurance?
  • Are carers willing to work with other practitioners to meet your child's needs, e.g. occupational therapists and/or speech therapists if appropriate?
  • If your child needs one-to-one care or additional help, how will the group or childminder manage this?

If you are having difficulty finding suitable childcare please Contact FiND for further support. 

Current vacancies for 2, 3 and 4 year old funded places

The following document provides a list of registered early years providers who participate in the early years funding entitlements and have confirmed that they have current vacancies for the autumn term 2022. 

Please note that this list is not exhaustive. For a full list of participating providers please go to the following sections:

Quick Links

  1. Early learning for 2 year olds
  2. Early learning for 3 & 4 year olds
  3. Money for childcare
  4. Working in childcare
  5. Welcome to the Family Services Directory
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