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Childcare Choices Frequently Asked Questions

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Below are some typical frequently asked questions on the types of childcare.

What is Ofsted?

What qualifications and staffing should I expect from staff in Day Nurseries, pre schools and playgroups?

What can I do if I have a contract dispute with a childcare provider?

What should I do if I have concerns about my childcare provider?

What should I do if I have concerns about child safety?

Where can I get further help and advice?

What is Ofsted?

Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. They inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages.

Parents using Ofsted registered childcare may be able to access support with the cost of their childcare through Childcare Choices.

It is illegal for an unregistered person to look after children under 8 years old for reward or pay for more than two hours a day. They must be registered and inspected by Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) under the 1989 Children Act.

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What qualifications and staffing should I expect from staff in day nurseries, pre-schools and playgroups?

For children under two

  • There must be at least one member of staff for every three children
  • At least one member of staff must hold a full and relevant level three qualification, and must be suitably experienced in working with children under two
  • At least half of all the other staff must hold a full and relevant level two qualification
  • At least half of all staff must have received specific training in the care of babies
  • If there is a separate room for the under-twos, the member of staff in charge of that room must have suitable experience of working with under twos

For children aged two

  • There must be at least one member of staff for every four children
  • At least one member of staff must hold a full and relevant level three qualification
  • At least half of all the other staff must hold a full and relevant level two qualification

For children aged three and over

  • There must be at least one member of staff for every eight children
  • At least one member of staff must hold a full and relevant level three qualification
  • At least half of all the other staff must hold a full and relevant level two qualification

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What can I do if I have a contract dispute with a childcare provider?

A signed contract is a legally bidding. Ofsted cannot deal with concerns about contracts or fees, these issues must be taken up with the childcare provider directly.

If you need further advice about contract disputes, contact:

Harrow Citizen’s Advice Bureau
Civic 5, Civic Centre, Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2XH
020 8427 9477

Working Families helpline on 0300 013 0313

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What should I do if I have concerns about my childcare provider?

If you have a complaint or concern about your childcare provider or the standard of care your child is receiving, this should first be formally raised with the childcare provider.

The law requires all childcare providers to keep you well informed and take prompt and appropriate action if you have concerns. All childcare providers must have a written complaints procedure for you to follow. Once you have put your concerns in writing you should have a reply within 28 days of them receiving the complaint. The management should tell you about any action they have taken or intend to take. You can request confirmation in writing or by email. Childcare providers are also required to keep a record of all complaints and share appropriate information from that record with parents on request.

If your complaint is not resolved you should report your concerns to the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) on 0300 123 1231.

You may want to refer to the Ofsted factsheet 'Information for parents about Ofsted’s role in regulating childcare’, published January 2013. 

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What should I do if I have concerns about child safety?

If you think that your child or another child may be at risk of abuse or neglect, or is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm to his or her development in a childcare setting within Harrow, you should report your concerns immediately.

Phone Harrow Children’s Services on 020 8901 2690 (option 3 or 4) and make it clear that you are making a Child Protection Referral. Please ensure that you have all relevant information to hand to help the Child Protection Team conduct their investigations.

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Where can I get further help and advice?

Please contact the Family Information Service for further information, help and advice.

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