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#InfoUK – Type of nurseries and how to apply if you live in UK

If you have children between the age of 2 and 4 the big question if you’re living in UK will be:

How do i apply for a nursery place in uk?

We are many the mums that come to a new country with many questions and doubts. You can only prepare yourself that much but once you arrive you must be ready for any sudden changes that can happen. Since this is our fourth year in this country and taking advantage of our family blog every month we will share with you a post dedicated to #InfoUK. We hope that our experience along with many hours of searching will help you solve some of those doubts that you may have.

how to apply nursery UK

So you’ve just come to the UK and have the children with you. This is not like other countries, such as Spain, where kids will start preschool when they turn 3 years old. So if you want to work or just simply need or think it’s a good idea for your kids to start attending nursery you’ll probably have many questions in your mind. Let’s start for the beginning then:

what type of nursery will i find in the united kingdom?


Private Day Nursery: it’s the typical nursery, not run by the government, but a private company itself. They usually cover the hours from 8am to 6pm and accept children as young as 0 months old to 5 years old. Some of them will be able to offer you after school club and/or breakfast club. (where they pick up and drop off children from school, taking them to the nursery where they will play and do different activities until their parents come for them. Moreover, they will usually be open during the school holidays. Every area usually counts with a few of this type of nursery. The fees may vary according to your needs, but usually for a 5h session from 8am to 1pm will cost around 20-25 pounds, based on our own experience. You would need to confirm all these details with the ones that have got your attention.

Nursery school: is the school nursery that will accept children aged 3 and 4 years olds. It will follow the school calendar and the same schedule but unlike “nursery classes in school” they will only usually offer you a part time schedule. Most likely the 15 hours will be spread through Monday to Friday, 3 hours each day. So that means, you don’t pay for this type of nursery.

Nursery classes in School: this option would be the closest one to the ones we have in Spain. Nursery belongs to a Primary school and it’s offered to 3 years old children. They will have the same schedule that the school does and therefore your kid will be there Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm. You only pay for the school meals, unless you are on certain type of benefits. But don’t worry, if nothing changes, once they start Reception (their first year in Primary) they will have free school meals, regardless of your circumstances. Only for that year though.

*Childminders: this is a person who is been qualified to look after a group of children. She or He will take care of your kid and a few more. Usually no more than 5 people. With this it will be a matter of meeting with the person and seeing if it’s the right match for your child. They usually try to follow a schedule where they teach them through games and dynamics the basics according to their age.

“nurseries” that are not so much nurseries

*Preschool and Playgroups: as a general rule these groups will offer the parents the opportunity to meet with other families and for the children to play around and get to know each other. The people who run them though won’t look after your children, you must be with them all the time. Some will give you this option and even be a more economical than a private nursery, but it will be a matter of going there and finding it out for yourself.

*Sure Start/Children’s centre: it’s a centre located in your neighbourhoud aimed to families with children under 5 years old. They offer a wide range of activities, from baby massage to breastfeeding groups, among many others, including the possibility to meet with a health visitor there.

So we know what options are out there for us. What’s the next step:

how do we find nurseries in UK?

Google, as usual, it’s always there.

But trying to access a more accurate source you may also want to visit your Local Council website and search for “Find a nursery/ childcare” They will most likely show you a list with the schools that have this option, as well as the other type we have talked about above.

Another trustworthy source? Sure Start/Children Centre. My advice is for you to visit them as often as you can. You meet with other families, practice the language (if English is not your mother tongue) They’re usually quite kind and friendly and will share all the information they have available. In our case, when we went to the closest one in our area of that time, we asked the receptionist and she printed a whole lists of local nurseries for us.

Now what? May the search begin!


What did we do  back then? We searched online those ones that had caught our attention and once they were pre-selected we gave them a call and arranged a time to go see them. We’re talking about our kids here, we don’t want to leave them in the wrong hands. So become as familiar as possible. At least for me I always try to do that. I get all the information I can, and then follow my “maternal instinct” It has rarely let me down.. 😉 haha

finally! We’ve got the chosen one! How do i apply now?how much is going to cost me?how do i get the 15 hours of free childcare?

You will probably think this is the hardest bit but not at all. Once you’ve chosen the one you like and made sure it’s Oftsted registered you should go and speak with the manager. Being Oftsted registered means they will be able to accept free childcare. Usually once you’ve made up your mind you will be given a form to fill out with your child’s and yourselves’s details. They will take care of the 15hours part. No need to worry about that. You will only need to agree which days you’d like your children to be in. The most frequent option is 3 days per week of 5 hours each day.

That’s in the case we’re talking about a Day Nursery, Nursery School, Playgroup o Childminder.

If we’re talking about Nursery classes in school  you will have to visit the school you are interested in and ask for an application form. They’re usually quite popular and according to the area you will have to hurry on this if you want to go for this option. They will follow their own admission criteria, such as: proximity to the school, if they have siblings already attending, etc. Furthermore, many of them will ask you to apply online through your local council website. And they will have the same deadlines than for a school place, which is around mid January for a place in September. You will get the results in April.

when is my child eligible for the 15 hours free childcare?

The UK Government has established that all children aged 3 and 4 will be eligible for 15 hours of free childcare per week. According to your circumstances, if you are under certain type of benefits you may also be eligible since they’re 2 years old.  For more information you can visit the Government website **

So the When will depend on your little one’s birthdate:

If they were born between You can apply
1 January to 31 March The beginning of the term or after 1 April
1 April to 31 August The beginning of the term or after 1 September
1 September to 31 December The beginning of the term or after 1 January

K.O. on her first week of nursery!

Pretty soon you may have your little one as exhausted as our little J during her first week of nursery, completely knocked out! 🙂 Her key worker took this picture of her so we could see she was doing fine. The truth is we were quite anxious about the whole thing because back then she was only two years old, but we are so pleased of the relationships she built not only with the staff but also with her mates.

We hope this post will have given you some orientation at least and things will sound a bit more familiar now. If you’ve got any questions here we are and if not you can always have a look at the links below that we cheked ourselves in order to add more information to our own personal experience.

Links of Interest:





** Some locations in the UK are currently offering 30hours per week but that hasn’t been extended to all the country yet. And you must qualify for them as well. You can find more information on the link below:



  1. Friday January 27th, 2017 / 08:38 AM

    Que interesante!!! que bien que puedas compartir toda esta informacion, con fechas y todo, de agradecer la verdad.
    Buenisima guia ☺

    • elituesbay
      Friday January 27th, 2017 / 11:44 PM

      Muchas gracias Rosa! 🙂 Eso espero, que sea de utilidad 😉

  2. Carolina
    Thursday November 2nd, 2017 / 03:41 PM

    Hola! Muchas gracias por este post…nos brinda mucha información a familias con interés por migrar a Inglaterra…mi esposo y yo estamos pensando en viajar con nuestra bebita en mayo del próximo año…Y estaba mirando el tema de las guarderías para su cuidado…Pero según lo que comentas veo que unos de los dos nos tendremos que quedar en casa cuidando hasta que cumpla los dos años porque no se justifica irte toda una jornada a trabajar y pagar lo que te vas a ganar a una guardería privada para que te cuiden tu hija…nose si estoy equivocada o así entendí que funciona allí.

    • elituesbay
      Thursday November 2nd, 2017 / 09:06 PM

      Gracias Carolina. Me alegro que os haya servido de informacion. La verdad es que depende de la zona de Inglaterra donde vivas. Londres es caro para todo, vivienda, guarderia, etc. Ciudades como Manchester, Leeds, son mas accesibles, pero si, los precios de las guarderias son bastante elevados, hasta el punto que conviene mas que uno de los dos se quede en casa que no que trabaje. Pero desde luego, todo va segun el trabajo que tengais, posibles ayudas del gobierno a las que tengas acceso. Mucha suerte si al final decidis venir por aqui! Cualquier cosa, por aqui estamos! 🙂

  3. Thursday December 27th, 2018 / 09:35 AM

    Hola, buenas tardes. He estado intentando buscar alguna pagina donde me digan que colegios tienen servicio nursering. Usted tiene alguna lista de Nursery classes in school en Leeds? Muchas gracias.

    Un saludo.
    Gema recently posted…(English) Playing with I’M A GIRLY doll – ReviewMy Profile

    • elituesbay
      Friday December 28th, 2018 / 03:18 PM

      Hola Gema. Te recomiendo que visites la web de tu ayuntamiento local. Si es en leeds quizás sea leeds.gov.uk. Allí en su buscador pones ‘school nurseries’ y te darán las opciones disponibles en tu área. Por lo menos, así es como funciona en Manchester. Mucha suerte en tu búsqueda!

  4. Friday May 22nd, 2020 / 12:44 PM

    Es una guía muy completa muchas gracias por compartir exelente trabajo y me esta siendo de gran ayuda tengo un niño que cumplirá 2 años el mes siguiente

    • elituesbay
      Thursday November 26th, 2020 / 12:57 PM

      estupendo! me alegro! Mucha suerte en tu aventura. 🙂

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