Manchester City Council

Schools, education & childcare Advice on choosing a childcare provider

Checklist for early education and childcare

You will probably have a good idea of what best suits you and your child's needs. However, the following checklists might also provide some general things to look for when choosing preschool education such as a nursery, playgroup or even a childminder.

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?
  • is the equipment like the toys and furniture safe and of a sufficiently high standard?
  • do the children look happy?
  • are there plenty of children of your child's age?
  • are the provider and carers Ofsted registered?
  • are there enough staff to keep an eye on all children?
  • do the staff manage behaviour appropriately?

Children

You may wish to find out:

  • whether children are calm, safe, happy and playing together
  • whether your child will meet the same children and adults every time they attend
  • what happens when your child is sick

Staff

You may want to find out if the staff are:

  • friendly and welcoming
  • listening, talking and interacting appropriately with children
  • qualified and experienced
  • aware of confidentiality and privacy
  • managing behaviour appropriately
  • working in partnership with parents and willing to discuss their concerns and listen to what they know about their child

Looking at learning

You may wish to find out:

  • how activities are planned to meet the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
  • about the range of resources and equipment available to support learning
  • how any additional and special educational needs will be met
  • how you get to know about and involved in your child's learning and progress
  • how children are involved in the planning of activities
  • whether there is provision for staff to continue to learn about children and their needs

Environment

Take a look at the indoor and outdoor environment to see whether:

  • it is safe, clean and secure
  • it is welcoming and stimulating
  • there is enough space for children to be active indoors and outdoors
  • there are places where children can rest

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?
  • do the carers know first aid?
  • what is the staff's view on discipline?
  • what activities are on offer?
  • what food is provided (is it healthy)?
  • who can you talk to about your child's progress?
  • what happens if your child becomes ill?

General information

You may want to find out about:

  • opening times and holiday dates
  • charges and holiday charges
  • healthy meals and special diets
  • emergency procedures
  • the equal opportunities policy
  • policies on child protection
  • the ratio of children to staff

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