advice on choosing a nursery (also in pregnancy)

Hi I'm g/c from Due in March for some advice from mums who's lo's go to nursery.

We don't have family close enough to help with childcare so when I go back to work our lo is going to have to go to nursery.

We've made some appointments to go and view a couple of local nurseries but I was wondering if anyone had any pointers on the kinds of things we should be looking for when choosing a nursery?

thanks ladies


  • Word of mouth was a big thing for us. We chose a couple of nurserys to have a look round based upon what other mums recommeded that i spoke to at local baby groups.

    From the ones we saw we narrowed it down to those which had the best facilities for the age group my LO was in and then finally chose based on gut instinct from our interaction with the staff.
  • I agree with Pom really. I also looked at the Ofsted reports (being a teacher I can't help it lol). The main reason I chose my nursery was the feeling I got when I visited though - they were answering the questions I asked the way I wanted them too , all the children seemed happy, the facilities were excellent and they still had plans to continue improving them. I kinda knew the minute I walked in.

  • I had a look at the local nurseries that had places and then rang them up for a chat. I visited three. Before I went I read the Ofsted reports and wrote a list of questions I wanted to ask.

    You need to think about what is important for you. My priorities were that it should be easy for me to get to on the way to work, it should have lots of outside space, they should have the children's best interests at the forefront of their work, it should have very low staff turnover and not too much emphasis on formal learning (although implicit learning is fine eg by asking the older children to count the younger ones in when they've been outside)

    I chose the nursery I did for several reasons. Firstly, they let me do an unanounced visit, which meant that I was happy they hadn't specially prepared for my visit. I visited twice, both unanounced - once in the morning and once in the afternoon. On the second visit I spent an hour in the baby room with my dd chatting to the staff whilst she was playing. I watched them interact with her and the other children, looked at the toys they had and saw a couple of the children doing messy play. Also, they have a huge outside area with a separate outside area for babies - which is free flow for them in the summer. They had pets, which the older children help to look after. I just had a good feeling about the place, it is family run and very friendly. And the staff had all been there 10 years +. It was rated "Good" by Ofsted. She hasn't started yet, but will start in May.

    One of the others I looked at was rated "outstanding" but I felt it was a bit too rigid and institutional, with too much emphasis on formal learning, even for the youngest children. I also got the feeling I was being a bit fobbed off by the staff, who didn't answer my questions very well.
  • Hi ladies- thanks for the replies - you've been really helpful! I've looked into the ofsted reports too, thanks
  • I agree with the mum who said about nursery that let you do unplanned visit, have worked in few nursreies for over 12 years and when the visits are planned it allows everything to be too perfect,

    ie: i would say your not looking for all the rooms too be spotlessly clean or the toys to be in the right place because if children are happy and playing well then there will be a degree of mess lol!

    Again the lady that said the nursery she chose the staff were interacting well with her lo, this is what you want to see, good interaction with the children.

    Check that the nursery follows simple things like staff/child ratio etc?

    This all i can think of at moment but if have any more ideas i will post!
  • Personally, I would just go with your gut instinct.

    It's worth readig the ofsted reports - but don't put too much stock in them. I think it's far more important to chat to the staff that will be working with your child (can they string a sentence together, do they seem interested in you and your child, do they smile, are they attentive, does your child seem to like them?) also see what kind of vibe you get from the place (do the children seem happy, or do a lot look like they have been crying, are there children fighting amongst themselves, or do they seem to be getting along, can you smell dirty nappies?) and finally is there evidence that the things they say happen actually happen (for example, one nursery I went to visit said that the children only ever drink water, but I could see a jug of juice sitting on the side, another said that all the staff had been there for 5 - 10 years, but they were all very young looking).

    Also, have a look at their planning/menu for that day - are they doing what they planned to do? If not, ask why? and do a head count in every room you go into - and check they are within the ratio that they should be (if you ask, they will tell you what the ratios are)

    oh and check how many of the staff are fully qualified (level 3 or higher).

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