Choosing the right childcare can be daunting. Whoever cares for your child will have a huge influence on them during the most impressionable years of their life and the thought of handing over your little one to a relative stranger is likely to make you feel a little anxious.
However, high-quality childcare not only benefits children, helping to give them the best start in life, it provides peace of mind. It means that you can concentrate on work or your studies knowing your child is safe and being well looked after.
What is high-quality childcare?
It’s difficult to summarise what ‘high-quality’ childcare means as lots of things contribute to the quality of a childcare setting. Here are a few pointers, and the key things to look out for when considering whether a setting is the best place for your child to learn and thrive.
High-quality settings ensure that:
- each child has a key person who is responsive and caring, and who is familiar with the child’s individual interests and needs
- carers and children form strong bonds, with lots of positive interactions
- children feel safe and secure, both at the setting and while on outings
- children have opportunities to learn and develop through a range of fun and varied activities
- days are structured with familiar routines and opportunities for child-led and adult-led learning
- children enjoy nutritious food and are encouraged to make healthy choices
- providers at the setting have appropriate qualifications and continually reflect on best practice
- providers work together with parents and keep you involved in your child’s progress, for example, through a daily update or a shared learning journal.
Registered childcare providers in England and Wales are inspected to ensure that they meet the requirements for safety and learning and development.
In England, registered childcare providers are awarded one of four judgements: outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate. This is the same scale that’s used for schools and academies, and further education providers in England.
An impressive 95% of childminders were judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ at their most recent inspection.
In Wales, CIW began introducing ratings from 2018. These are: excellent, good, adequate or poor. Providers are given a rating against each of the four inspection themes of wellbeing, care and development, environment, and leadership and management.
You can find a childcare provider’s latest inspection report to get a feel for their setting and what their strengths are: