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Out of control?

There is a wide variety of education and group care for pre-school children. The reality for the great majority is a nightmare of complicated hard-to-understand provision and of managing different arrangements. Control is hard to achieve.

State nursery schools and nursery classes in primary schools have staff which must include fully qualified teachers. They are free for parents, but usually operate during school hours only.

Private day nurseries charge fees, but they offer longer hours more suitable for working parents. They must be managed by and include qualified staff, but rarely teachers.

Childminders charge to look after small numbers of children at home.
Independent schools may include nursery classes, sometimes with teachers, normally for a high fee.

A few employers provide workplace childcare, knowing that they can attract and keep skilled women workers, but this is vanishingly rare. Many women would prefer to keep their childcare arrangements under their own control.

Add to these breakfast and after-school clubs and holiday schemes for pre-school children, and the picture becomes even more complicated.

All providers must be regulated and inspected by Ofsted, but beyond them there is a world of unregulated and illegal group childcare. No one knows how common this is.


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