Playgroups/pre-schools provide care for children on a sessional basis.
These sessions are usually for two to three hours in the morning or afternoon, during term time only.
Parents/carers do not have to stay with their children once they are settled in.
What do playgroups/pre-schools provide?
Playgroups/pre-schools provide a full range of pre-school activities. These activities may vary from group to group depending on the accommodation they use. Due to the short hours of playgroups/pre-schools and their closure during school holidays, they are not always an ideal childcare option for full-time working parents. They can however be used as part of a childcare package e.g. with a childminder who would be able to drop the child off at the playgroup/pre-school and also collect them. For non-working parents/carers, playgroups/pre-schools provide a welcome break for a few hours, give children the opportunity to socialize with others and to learn through play.
Ages catered for
Playgroups/pre-schools provide care for children between the ages of two years six months and five years.
All playgroups/pre-schools currently must be registered with Ofsted and are subject to regular inspections. If they are registered to receive the Nursery Education Grant they will have to undergo a combined Ofsted inspection to prove that they are reaching the required standards for the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Playgroups/pre-schools are required to have a minimum of 50% qualified staff. The most common qualifications are an NNEB (Nursery Nurse Examination Board) now known as CACHE 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education, NVQ3 (National Vocational Qualification) or a PLA (Pre-School Learning Alliance) qualification. They are required to have a staffing ratio of one adult to eight children above the age of three years, one adult to four children below three years old.
Cost/allocation of places
The fees are set by the playgroup/pre-school and sessions vary. Most playgroups/pre-schools allocate places from their waiting list and so it is best to add your child's name to such a list as early as possible.
If a pre-school receives the Nursery Education Grant they receive the cost for your child's place from the London Borough of Bexley for up to fifteen hours per week during term time. All parents are entitled to a free pre-school place for their three year old commencing on the next full term start date. For further information please see the FIS leaflet "Funding for 3 & 4 year olds".
So how do I select a playgroup/pre-school?
You can obtain a list of playgroups/pre-schools in your area from Bexley FIS. The list will include contact details for each group, and some general information about the playgroup/pre-school. You should contact the playgroup/pre-school directly and arrange a visit. This will give you the opportunity to view the setting, meet the staff, and find the one that best suits your child.
Issues to consider
- Take your child with you when visiting to see how they get on
- Make a second visit to the ones you like
Questions you may wish to ask playgroup/pre-school staff
- What curriculum does the pre-school use to plan provision?
- Is the playgroup/pre-school adequately equipped with toys and other types of play material?
- Is there an outside area, which the children can use?
- How much and when do I pay? Would I have to pay if my child was absent, through sickness or due to family holidays?
- What sort of relationship is there between staff and children?
- What qualifications/experience do the staff have?
- What hours is the playgroup/pre-school open?
- Is there a rota of parent helpers? If so, is it compulsory to join the rota?
- How do staff care for/interact with the children?
- How does the playgroup/pre-school deal with behaviour issues?
- Are trips and visits organised?
- What type of activities do the children do?
- Are snacks provided?
- Am I entitled to a free Early Education place?
If you would like further information on playgroups/pre-schools or to discuss this form of provision in more detail, please call Bexley FIS by simply phoning our help line where our information officers can put you in touch with a playgroup/pre-school with current vacancies.
The FIS manages a Directory and map of services for children and families which can be accessed for comprehensive information, advice and guidance on the full range of services available for children, young people and families in Bexley, including non-council providers. This is available as a link from the right hand menu.
- Pre-School Learning Alliance*
* PDF version of this information and website links are provided in the right hand menu.
- Family Information Services (FIS) Full details for Family Information Services (FIS)