Types of nurseries

There are a variety of nurseries that you can consider to work at once you have finished your studies or are looking at changing your place of work. This guide breaks down the fundamental differences between the types of nurseries.

Pay and conditions may vary between employers as there are no national pay and conditions for early years staff, unless they are teachers employed under the relevant national pay and conditions document or regulations.

Day nurseries

Most day nurseries operate between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm (although children can be dropped off and taken from the nursery any time between those hours) which makes them a great option for parents who work, as they will look after children from the age of three months up until when they are ready to go to school.

Day nurseries usually follow a schedule of activities to support children’s development and learning as well as naps, meals and playtime.

Pre-schools and playgroups

Pre-schools and playgroups are typically designed to ease the child out of being at home into socialising in a fun environment and encouraging them to interact with other children through play. Children can attend these from the age of 2.5 years old, and parents are often encouraged to take part in sessions, which makes the environment less daunting for children who are socialising for the first time. This is also good for those who work in the pre-school or playgroup, as they can get a better understanding of the children in their care.

Nursery schools

Nursery schools are more structured in their approach, focusing more on age-appropriate activities which promote all round development and prepare children for school, including socialising and independence. Nursery schools will take on children who are 2.5 to 3 years old, and are often smaller so that it makes learning and socialising easier for the children who go there.

Nursery classes in schools

This can be an excellent option for children who are ready for school as they are structured around educational play. Unlike day nurseries and nursery schools, nursery classes in schools are typically run in short

sessions, often only a couple of hours long. However, classes that take place in independent schools are more likely to be run for a full day.

Workplace nurseries

Some workplaces will offer childcare services for their employees, having nurseries on site to give their parents easy access to childcare.

Montessori nurseries and Steiner schools

Montessori nurseries are focused on fostering teaching based on children’s in-built curiosity for learning, where the children choose what activities they want to do from a broad range on offer, through sensory materials that are used to provide intellectual, physical and psychological stimuli to improve a child’s personality.

Steiner schools use play and social interactions and play time to foster imagination and creativity within the children that attend them. Young children who attend Steiner schools won’t be introduced to any form of formal education until the age of 6.