Early Years & Childcare

Lady and children

Early Years and Childcare

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.

You may have come across the three terms Early Help, Early Years and Early Support.  So what do they mean?  What is the difference?.  Below we have tried to describe each term.

Early Help (0-19)

The term Early Help is used to describe the process of taking action early and as soon as possible to tackle problems and issues emerging for children, young people and their families.

Early Years (0-5 )

Early years refers to children from birth to the age of five.  The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to five years old. All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.  

Early Support (0-5)

Early Support in Peterborough is a pathway for children in their pre-school years with complex health, education, or care needs.  These children will require considerable ongoing support from across education, health and care. This includes: 

  • children who have great difficulty communicating

  • children who have sensory or physical difficulties 

  • children who have complex health needs 

View more details on our Early Years and Childcare (Local Offer) web page.

Please use the Provider & Organisations links to search for childcare 


Family Hubs

Welcome to our Family Hubs offer

Family Hubs is a national programme to help ensure that babies, children and families have the support they need, when it is needed. We have received extra funding from the government to develop Family Hubs. We will build on current services, identify gaps and expand delivery in some services. 

For more information please click on the link Family Hubs


HAF Holiday Activities and Food Programme

HAF Holiday Activities and Food Programme

Healthy, happy holidays in Peterborough is part of the government's Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme it has been delivered across Peterborough since Easter 2021. The programme is aimed at providing healthy food and enriching activities for primary and secondary school-aged children who are eligible for benefit related free school meals.

In the holidays, eligible children can access up to Sixteen, four-hour sessions at no cost to you. The sessions will include a healthy meal and a variety of exciting activities.  

The sessions are fully funded by the Department for Education (DfE).

Enquiries should be sent to:   haf@peterborough.gov.uk

Bookings for Christmas 2023 will open on Monday 20th November 23. 

A list of providers for you to choose from will be linked here from Monday 20th November 2023. HAF Holiday Activities and Food Programme Provider list

*We may be able to take bookings after this date, but early booking is advisable.





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: fis@peterborough.gov.uk

Help with paying for childcare

You can apply online for 2 year old funding at www.peterborough.gov.uk/FreeforTwos


Online and postal applications are processed twice a week and outcome letters are sent out by post on Mondays and Wednesdays.  You should receive the outcome of you application within 7 to 10 working days.


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)

Other form's of funding maybe available, please click on the link Tax Free Childcare for more information.

Investment in childcare boosted by new resources and online tools

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 all Children's Centres are run by Barnardo's Children's Charirty. 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.

50 Things To Do Before You’re 5 App

Did you know that the 50 Things to Do Before You’re Five app is available for all parents in Peterborough. This FREE app has 50 activities that you can do with your child to support his/her current interests and give you lots of ideas of things you can do together.

The 50 activity ideas are either no cost or low-cost and use items you already have at home. These fun activities take place indoors and outdoors and make use of places to go in the local community. Each activity links to a story, and another activity to try, as well as suggesting new words you could teach your child based on whether he or she is a baby, toddler or pre-school aged.

The FREE app can be downloaded from your usual app store by typing in “50 Things to do Before You’re Five”. Once downloaded open the app and scroll to the bottom, click on “Cambridgeshire and Peterborough,” then enter your postcode. Entering your postcode will help us provide you with appropriate content and keep you informed about what is on in your local area.

When using an activity on the app you will see a circle icon with three dots inside it (near the bottom, right hand side of the screen) - please click on the circle and tick to indicate when you have completed an activity. This helps us know how many activities have been used and gives an indication of which are most/least popular.

The Early Years Team at Peterborough City Council hope you find this information useful and encourage you to download and use the app. If your child attends a pre-school, nursery, children’s centre, childminder, or school please let them know you are using the app and find out if they are too. Have fun!

Visit the website 50 Things to Do Before You're Five in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough

Childrens Disability Register

Please find a link with information about our Childrens Disability Register here

Information for new arrivals from Ukraine

Useful informaton for new arrivals from Ukrain

Useful information for new arrivals from Ukraine is available on this link to the Councils website

Or for more information please email: 


Providers, Organisations and Services

  1. Childcare funding
  2. Day Nurseries
  3. Childminders
  4. Pre-schools
  5. Breakfast & After School clubs (out of School clubs)
  6. Holiday Clubs
  7. Nanny & Au Pair agencies
  8. School nurseries
  9. Nursery schools
  10. Home childcare
  11. Child and Family Centres


  1. Childcare in England leaflet
  2. CZECH - Childcare in England leaflet
  3. ITALIAN - Childcare in England leaflet
  4. PUNJABI - Childcare in England leaflet
  5. LITHUANIAN - Childcare in England leaflet
  6. GUJARATI - Childcare in England leaflet
  7. KURDISH - Childcare in England leaflet
  8. RUSSIAN - Childcare in England leaflet
  9. ROMANIAN - Childcare in England leaflet
  10. BENGALI - Childcare in England leaflet
  11. SPANISH - Childcare in England leaflet
  12. MALAYALAM - Childcare in England leaflet
  13. FRENCH - Childcare in England leaflet
  14. URDU - Childcare in England leaflet
  15. POLISH - Childcare in England leaflet
  16. PORTUGUESE - Childcare in England leaflet
  17. SLOVAK - Childcare in England leaflet
  18. LATVIAN - Childcare in England leaflet
  19. ARABIC - Childcare in England leaflet
  20. TURKISH - Childcare in England leaflet
  21. Parenting Programmes Leaflet
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