The choice between a nursery at school (which is school hours) and daycare nursery (which is full time) is a choice that must be made before your child has turned 3. Prior to the age of 3, some of the childcare options available are daycare nurseries, creches and nannies. Full-time education in the UK is compulsory from the age of 5, however, from the ages of 3-4 years old the government provides an optional 570 hours per year of state-funded pre-school education.
So, let us assume that your child is in a daycare nursery that they love and is turning 3 soon. Should you move them to a nursery school or keep them in a daycare nursery? We have created this guide to help you understand the similarities and differences, and ultimately choose the right childcare for your child and you.
(Note- Nursery school can also be called pre-school)
Similarities between nursery school and daycare nursery
Both nursery schools and daycare nurseries follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). The EYFS is the industry standard of learning, development and care for your child from birth to 5 years old. After the age of 5, your child will begin Key Stage One (KS1).
The EYFS has systematic milestones which are measured at certain ages. The milestones are at 11, 20, 26, 36, 50 and 60 months, so you can monitor the continual progress of your child.
The milestones are focused on 7 areas of learning. These are:
- · Communication and language
- · Physical development
- · Personal, social and emotional development
- · Literacy
- · Mathematics
- · Understanding the world
- · Expressive arts and design
OFSTED stands for the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. Both nursery schools and daycare nurseries must be OFSTED registered and are required to have routine inspections regardless of their grade. Schools for children aged 5 + which receive grade 1 are exempt from routine OFSTED inspections. There are four OFSTED grades:
- · Grade 1: Outstanding
- · Grade 2: Good
- · Grade 3: Requires Improvement
- · Grade 4: Inadequate
Click here to find the OFSTED inspection report of the Hunny Pot Nursery.
Both ‘approved’ nursery schools and daycare nurseries receive government funding of 570 hours a year or 15 hours for 38 weeks in a year for children aged 3-4 years old. To be ‘approved’ by the government, nursery schools and daycare nurseries must be registered with and inspected by one of the Health and Social Care Trusts, for example, OFSTED. As long as a nursery school and daycare nursery are OFSTED registered you are able to claim your government-funded (free to you) childcare hours.
For more information about free government-funded places for your child, please click here
Nursery schools are associated with a school, whereas daycare nurseries are independent of any schools. It is commonly assumed that if your child attends a nursery school, then they will also attend the associated school. However, unfortunately, there are no guarantees of this and there have been multiple instances of children not getting the desired school place. So, both nursery schools and daycare nurseries have the same impact on your child’s school place.
Differences between nursery school and day nursery
Nursery schools are associated with a school and are for children aged 3-4 years old. (In exceptional cases they may take children aged 2 ½ years old). There is a common assumption that after nursery school a child will attend the associated school, though as mentioned above, this is not guaranteed.
Daycare nurseries commonly take children from the ages of 12 weeks to 12 years old. After the age of 4, daycare nurseries can offer ‘wrap-around care,’ meaning that they offer morning and after school clubs, including drop-off and pick-ups to and from local schools. These clubs can be helpful with transitioning children from nursery to school. They can also be useful if you have more than one child and want to drop and pick them all up from the same place. The wraparound care will often also include breakfast and a small tea after school. The advantage of that is that it ensures children get proper nutritional foods and snacks.
Nursery schools are generally open during term-time and offer half days, such as from 8 am to 2 pm.
Daycare nurseries are generally open 51 weeks of a year and from 7 am to 6 pm.
As a result, many working parents find that nursery schools require them to use another form of child care in conjunction with the nursery school. Alternatively, daycare nurseries with their longer opening hours can be especially helpful for working parents and those who wish to not take holidays during standard school holidays. It also allows your child to only have one form of external child care, creating more stability in their life.
Outdoor play is crucial for children to develop their motor skills. Whether in a school nursery or a daycare nursery, children will be taken outdoors for play at least once a day.
<img src=“outdoor play at daycare nursery.jpg” alt=“outdoor play at a nursery to develop motor skills” title=“importance of outdoor play”>
Children to Adult Ratio
Nursery schools are required to have 1 adult for every 13 children aged 3 to 5 years.
Daycare nurseries are required to have 1 adult to every 8 children aged 2 to 12 years. (For 12 weeks to 1 year this increases to 1 adult every 3 children).
Therefore, teachers at daycare nurseries will be able to give your child more attention and focus than teachers from nursery schools.
Due to the nature of nursery schools and daycare nurseries, the parent-teacher interactions differ.
Nursery schools are also known as pre-schools and as a result, they follow a similar structure to schools. Parent-teacher interactions are generally reserved for scheduled parent-teacher meetings which normally happen once a term.
Daycare nurseries also have scheduled parent-teacher meetings, but it is also very common for parents to have an informal chat with a teacher at least once a week, sometimes even once a day!
Additionally, as children will only spend a half-day at a nursery school and a full day at a daycare nursery, the level of detail with regards to observations of your child will differ in the parent-teacher meetings of nursery schools and daycare nurseries.
Both nursery schools and daycare nurseries will follow the same EYFS curriculum, however, their teaching methods and focus will differ.
Nursery schools will focus very much on teaching children how to read, write and count; with creative, free play and rest sessions mixed in. This will mean that the sessions are much more formal.
Daycare nurseries, however, will focus very much on the well-being of the child and will specialise their learning plans to match a children’s needs and interests. This will mean that each child will have much more freedom to learn through play as the sessions will be more informal. However, it should be noted that daycare nurseries will also ensure that every child is able to read and write by the time they are ready for school.
As a result of the differences in curriculum specialisation, nursery schools are regarded as more formal than daycare nurseries, which in turn are regarded as more flexible. There are different views as to what is the best way to help a child develop and learn, however as Albert Einstein said:
‘It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.’
Summary of nursery school and daycare nursery
Nursery School Day Care Nursery
Curriculum Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
OFSTED Required by law to have routine inspections by a one of the Health and Social Care Trusts, for example, OFSTED.
Funding Any ‘approved’ institute will receive 570 hours of government-funded child care for children aged 3-4 years
School Place Cannot guarantee your child a place a certain school
Age Range 3-4 years old 0-12 years old
Term-time 8 am –2 pm 51 weeks of a year
Open from 7 am to 6 pm
1 adult to every 13 children aged 3 to 5 years.
1 adult to every 8 children aged 2 to 12 years
Interactions Scheduled parent-teacher meetings, normally once a term.
Scheduled parent-teacher meetings, normally once a term + weekly/ daily informal chats.
Focus on reading, writing and counting; with creative, free play and rest sessions mixed in.
Focus on the well-being of your child, and specialise learning plans to match your child’s needs and interests.
Formality More formal Less formal
In conclusion, the backbones of nursery schools and daycare nurseries are the same: both types of daycare are there to teach your child using the EYFS curriculum, they must be OFSTED registered and can be paid for with your government-funded child care allowance. However, there many differences to consider that depend on your preference for how your child will learn, the type of interaction you want to have with your child’s daycare, and also what your personal schedule is like. As important as it is to choose the daycare that best suits your child, it must also fit you too! The right type of daycare for your child is the one that makes both them and you happy.
Whichever route you decide to go down, make sure you book an appointment and take a visit first. The best way to get to know any nursery is by taking a look around, getting a feel of the place and asking questions.
If you are interested in getting to know the Hunny Pot Nursery, get in touch and we’ll be happy to arrange a tour for you. Complete the form below to get in touch.to get in touch