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Types of childcare and holiday care

The following are examples of the types of childcare and holiday care available for your child.


Childminders are self-employed and registered with Ofsted to care for children aged 4 weeks and over and usually work in their own home. 

Childminders will often be flexible about the hours they work, and they should provide your child with lots of care, fun and learning. Childminders can make the most of local facilities such as parks and toddler groups.


Pre-schools offer a range of learning, play and social activities for children aged between approximately 2 and 5 years. Sessions last for about 2 and a half to 4 hours a day in term time.

Children in pre-schools work towards achieving the Early Learning Goals. Through play, children will develop skills such as:

  • speaking
  • listening
  • concentrating
  • learning to work together, and
  • co-operating with other children

They are fun and caring environments, where children will enjoy making new friends, whilst learning through play.

Day Nursery

A day nursery provides care and education for children between the ages of six weeks and five years. (Many also offer out of school care for five- to eleven-year-olds).

Day nurseries can be run by the council, the community, based in the workplace or privately run. Opening times are from around 7am to 7pm, 50 weeks of the year. You can send your child full or part time.

Your child should experience a range of fun, learning and development activities suitable for their age.


Nannies are employed by the parent/carer to work in the child's home. They can be more flexible with hours and days.

A factsheet describing the role of a nanny and how to recruit one is available on the website.

Parent and Toddler Group

Toddler groups provide toys and activities for young children. They are also an opportunity for parents and carers to chat and socialise with other adults.

They meet for approximately two hours either morning or afternoon during term time. A parent or carer must stay with the child, so they are not suitable for day care.

All groups provide an opportunity for play, which may include:

  • painting
  • crafts and sand
  • physical play such as trikes and push-along toys
  • as well as imaginative play and of course books

Unregistered Childcare

Most childcare providers caring for children under eight years old must register with Ofsted unless the law says they do not need to.

These are some of the childcare providers that don't have to register:

  • Babysitters
  • Nannies and Au pairs
  • Home Educators and Home Tutors
  • Blood relatives caring for a child or children they are related to
  • Recreational and Sporting Activity Providers
  • Some under 8s Crèches, if 4 hours or under with a parent present
  • When providing childcare for less than 2 hours per day
  • When providing childcare for a friend for up to 3 hours a day for reward

More information regarding unregistered childcare can be found on the Guidance page.

If a childcare provider is not registered with Ofsted, they cannot accept the different types of childcare funding.

Wrap Around and Holiday Care

Out of school/holiday care is for school aged children to play and have fun in groups. They are usually based in or near a school and more are being set up to help families where parents work. Some out of school carers encourage links with schools, including:

  • homework
  • reading activities, and
  • special events arranged throughout the year

Out of school care includes:

  • Breakfast clubs - open in the morning before school so children can enjoy breakfast there
  • After school clubs - open in the afternoon between 3pm and 6pm
  • Holiday play schemes - open during school holidays typically between 7:30am/8am and 6pm

They are run outside of school hours by a team of staff usually called 'playworkers'. Activities will be planned to help children learn, play and relax with their friends.

If the club is registered with Ofsted, they can accept the Tax-Free Childcare for: 

  • children up to the age of 11 years, or
  • children up to the age of 16 years if your child has special educational needs or disabilities

Ofsted Registered Childcare

Many nurseries and childminders offer holiday care. Some is for the children they regularly look after and some offer additional childcare just for the holidays.

It is worth checking with your childcare provider when you first visit to see if they offer this service.

You can use Tax-Free Childcare to pay for your holiday care as long as the service you are using is Ofsted registered.

If your child is receiving 15 or 30 hour funding, you can 'stretch' this over the holidays. This means that instead of receiving 15 or 30 hours a week term time only, your child would receive 11 or 22 hours a week all year round.

Ofsted Registered Holiday Clubs

Some holiday clubs are registered by Ofsted. This means they are inspected the same as schools and childcare settings and have to follow Ofsted regulations. 

It also means that you can use your funding options with them like Tax-Free Childcare.

Holiday clubs will vary in the times that they run and the prices they charge. Search our directory to find out what clubs are close to you.

Holiday Activities and Camps

Many clubs that your children may attend during the school year will offer holiday schemes or clubs, these can be for a few days or weeks. It is worth checking if they are registered with Ofsted if you want to use your Tax-Free Childcare to pay for it. 

Most activity clubs and camps will have a limit to how many children they can take so it is worth checking and booking in early. Check our directory to see what is available.

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