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Childcare quality and standards

Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) are the regulatory body responsible for ensuring that Childcare standard are met, and that Ofsted - registered providers are checked for safety and suitability when caring for children.

Childcare for children under 5 years of age

If a childcare provider is caring for children from birth to 31 August after their fifth birthday, then they must be registered by Ofsted on the Early Years Register (EYR). Childcare providers on this register must also deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage also known as the EYFS. The EYFS sites the standards for early learning, development and care.

Childcare for children aged five and over

These childcare providers can register with Ofsted on the General Childcare Register also known as the GCR.

The GCR is divided into two parts, they consist of

  • The compulsory part is for childcare providers of children from the end of the EYFS stage up to age seven.
  • The voluntary part is for providers who care for children who are aged eight and over.

There are some childcare providers that choose to look after children between the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage and age seven. These providers do not have to join the compulsory part of the General Childcare Register.

Examples of thee types of providers are nannies, and providers offering activity based childcare like sports or dance and drama clubs.

What do these registers mean for my child/ren?

If a childcare provider is registered on the Early Years Register, or on any part of the General Childcare Register (GCR), then all provision must meet certain minimum standards.

These standards will include the suitability of the staff that are working at the provision, and the also the suitability of the premises.

Part of this process will include the carrying out of Disclosure and Barring checks, to make sure that staff are suitable for working with children. These checks are undertaken on all providers who are Ofsted registered, regardless of which register they have joined.

Childcare at school

Any childcare for children aged three and over that is provided by a school does not need to be registered on either the EYR or the GCR.

This provision will be inspected as part of the schools inspection system, which is also carried out by Ofsted.

Schools providing childcare have to meet the same standards as registered childcare providers.

What if I have a worry or concern about my Childcare Provider?

If you are worried or concerned about any aspect of your child's care whilst at a setting, you should speak to the provider in the first instance.

If after speaking to your provider you are still not satisfied you can contact Ofsted and raise your concerns with them.

For more information about how to raise a concern or complaint, go to - Complain about a school or childminder.

Read more information on the regulation of childcare providers.

You can search for childcare using the Family Information Directory.

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