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Early Years & Childcare

Lady and children

Early Years and Childcare

** Coronovirus Advice page **

Early years education provides children with an ideal opportunity to build on the knowledge they bring from home. It helps children become more independent and to make friends.

In these early years settings, children can choose from a wide range of activities suitable for their age and ability. They have stories to listen to, books to look at and songs to sing. Play and other creative activities help develop their imagination. Indoor and outdoor play help to develop their physical skills.

Children learn in an environment where they feel happy, secure and valued.

Please use the links to search for childcare 

Support from the Families Information Service

Support from the Families Information Service

Peterborough’s Families Information Service can provide details on a wide range of registered childcare providers to meet all your needs and can offer a brokerage service to assist with your personal circumstances. Registered childcare includes childminders, day nurseries, pre-schools (or playgroups), and childcare options for school-aged children either side of the school day and during school holidays.

You can call us on 01733 864446 (please leave a message if no one is avalable and we'll call you back)

Or you can email:

Help with paying for childcare

**Coronavirus COVID-19 UPDATE**
At present we can only process online applications, therefore if you apply online you must provide an email address so you can be given an application outcome via email.

Postal applications will not be processed at present. If you have sent a postal application, please resubmit your application online. 
If you have any queries about applications, please email

We aim to ensure that there is adequate childcare for all parents who require it. To receive support with childcare costs you may be able to access your child's two year old funding or three and four year old funding.

Further infromation can also be found on the Childcare Choices website.

Use this calculator to find out how much you could get towards approved childcare, including:

  • funded childcare for children aged between 2 and 4
  • help with childcare costs if your child is under 16 (or under 17 and disabled)

Extended entitlement to 30 hours funding

Three and four-year-olds of working parents in England may be entitled to an additional 15 hours funded childcare, equalling 30 hours funded per week over 38 weeks of the year (term-time) or approximately 22 hours per week each week if stretched over the year. 

To find out more information and whether you qualify visit the the 30 hours free childcare for working families page.

Types of childcare

Types of childcare

The first thing you will need to do when arranging childcare is find out exactly what is available in the area. Once you have found local providers, you will need to do a bit of research to see which will suit your child best. Below is a brief list of the most popular types of settings:

Pre-schools or Playgroups are for children aged from 2 to 5 years. They generally operate within school terms, so have extended breaks for Christmas, Easter and summer holidays. Opening hours vary however pre-schools generally open from 9am to 3pm; those on school sites may vary opening times according to the start of the school day. Some pre-schools only open mornings. Your 3 or 4 year old child will be able to access their free nursery education entitlement at a participating pre-school. Pre-schools are registered and inspected by Ofsted. Contact Peterborough’s Families Information Service for more information about pre-schools in your area.

Day nurseries are for children aged from birth to 5 years. They generally operate for 51 weeks of the year. Opening hours are usually from 8am to 6pm; however some open early or finish later than this. Your child can attend a day nursery part-time or full-time, and your 3 or 4 year old child will be able to access their nursery education entitlement at participating day nurseries. Day nurseries are registered and inspected by Ofsted. Contact Peterborough’s Families Information Service for more information about day nurseries in your area.

Childminders offer care for children aged from birth to 5 and for school-aged children in the childminder’s own home. They can operate as “teams” with assistants and other childminders. Opening times can be flexible according to parents needs, but are generally similar to day nursery opening times. Childminders frequently offer school drop off and collection services. Not all childminders can offer your 3 or 4 year old child access to their free nursery education entitlement. Only childminders who are part of an accredited network can offer this. Contact Peterborough’s Families Information Service for more information about childminders and network childminders in your area.

Out of school childcare includes breakfast or before school clubs, after school clubs and holiday clubs or playschemes. These childcare options wrap around the school day and are for school-aged children. Contact Peterborough’s Families Information Service for more information about out of school childcare options in your area.

How do I choose?

Entrusting a stranger with your child is a big step, so before you choose a provider you may want to consider the following tips:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to choose – holiday playschemes, for example, get booked up in advance
  • Ask other parents for recommendations
  • Make appointments to visit two or three providers to compare what’s on offer, and get a feel for the staff
  • Think about your child’s personality and interests – what environment will they prefer?
  • Check opening times, holiday dates and costs

What to look for in a provider

What to look for in a provider

The following checklist may come in handy when choosing a childcare provider:

  • Does the childcare setting have a friendly feel?
  • Is it clean, light, well ventilated and big enough for children to be active indoors and outdoors?
  • Are there places where the children can rest?
  • Are the toys sufficiently varied (do they differ in size, texture, colour and shape)?
  • Do the children look happy?
  • Are the carers talking to the children in a way that interests and encourages them?
  • Are there plenty of children of your child’s age?
  • Are the provider and carers Ofsted registered?
  • Is the furniture of a sufficiently high standard?
  • Are there enough staff to keep an eye on all children? (at least one member of staff for every eight children aged three to five)
  • Do the staff manage behaviour appropriately? (there should be a written policy for you to see)

Questions to ask childcare providers

You may want to ask about the following:

- Safety – what happens in an emergency?
- Are the premises secure (can strangers get in)?
- What training and experience do the carers have?
- How does the provider report safety incidents to parents?
- Do the carers know first aid?
- What is the staff’s view on discipline?
- What activities are on offer?
- What happens if you are late picking up your child?
- What food is provided (is it healthy)?
- Who can you talk to about your child’s progress?
- What happens if your child becomes ill?

It might also be a good idea to ask to see the provider’s written health and safety policy (every group care provider should have one).

Childrens Centres

A Childrens Centre is a place, or group of places, where local families with young children can go and enjoy facilities and receive support that they need. Sometimes support may be offered in the home.

The facilities and activities are designed especially for parents expecting a baby, or those with a child under 5 years old.

Here in Peterborough the majority of Childrens Centres are privately run by charities including Barnardos and Spurgeons. Staff at these centres are fully trained to deal with individual needs a child might have, and they work with many partners to ensure they can support families in whatever area they need.

The main aim of Childrens Centres is to improve outcomes for all young children, so that they are happy, healthy and ready for school. We want to provide help and support to young children and families as soon as there is a need, helping to prevent any problems developing.


Making sure your child is ready for school

START is an easy guide to help your child to be ready for school, ready to learn and ready to succeed. By helping your child to be prepared for school, it will build their confidence so that they start school confident, curious and ready to learn. Using positive encouragement can enable your child to feel good about themselves.  You can find out more information on the School Readiness page.