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Day Nurseries and Pre-Schools in Dorset

What are day nurseries and pre-schools and how can I find one in Dorset?

Day Nurseries and Pre-Schools

Day Nurseries provide care for babies and children up to the age of five years. They are normally open between 8am to 6pm for 48-52 weeks a year.

Pre-Schools provide care for children aged between approximately two and five years old. As a minimum they are open for at least a one three-hour session per day during term-time, although many offer longer sessions.

Day Nurseries and Pre-Schools should work hard to help your child have a great start in life through 'key worker' schemes where your child has one main carer, nutritious menus and many opportunities to learn new skills and understanding through play.

All Day Nurseries and Pre-Schools* are registered and inspected by Ofsted who ensure they work within the statutory framework known as the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). This sets the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five, see the parent's guide to the EYFS (opens in a new window) for information on how your child is learning and developing.

Most day nurseries and pre-schools can access free early education funding for 2 year olds and 3 & 4 year olds. All employ a Special Educational Needs Coordinator, to lead on the setting's support for children who are disabled or have additional needs.

*Day Nurseries and Pre-Schools that are part of a maintained school which only take children from 3 years and over are not registered, but are inspected by Ofsted as part of the whole school's inspection.

Please see the transcript for choosing a nursery video.

Free early education

Parents can access free early education funding for 3 and 4 year olds with most nurseries and pre-schools who are rated by Ofsted as Outstanding, Good or Satisfactory. Some parents of 2 year olds may also be eligible for free early education if the setting is Outstanding or Good.

Although the majority of nurseries and pre-schools access this funding, some choose not to, so you will need to ask your preferred setting if they are registered (or are willing to register) on Dorset's directory of local providers for free early education.

Visit the Childcare Funding section for details, plus other sources of funding your family may be eligible for, such as Working Tax Credits.

Searching for Childcare

Use the Family Information Directory to search for a nursery or a pre-school.

Search For Childcare

The Family Information Directory contains records of all Dorset childcare settings.  Each record links to the setting's Ofsted report.  Read more about Ofsted's role in regulating childcare (opens in a new window)

More information

Other childcare choices

Choosing quality childcare

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