Working in Early Years and childcare
Working in the Early Years and Childcare sector is high on the Government's plan to meet the needs of families across Westminster. Here you will find essential information on working in the childcare sector.
See FAQs below and also visit our setting up a childcare provision page.
Before you can start working with children you need to have Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks to establish your suitability to work with children. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks used to be called Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks.
What is a DBS check?
A DBS check helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. There are three types of checks which provide different levels of information on your criminal record.
This checks for spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings.
This includes the same as the standard check plus any additional information held by local police that’s reasonably considered relevant to the role being applied for.
Enhanced with list checks
This is like the enhanced check but includes a check of the DBS barred lists (a list of individuals who are unsuitable for working with children and adults).
Only employers and licensing bodies can request a DBS check, they are carried out during the recruitment process of a role. If you are thinking of becoming a self-employed childminder you will find more information about obtaining DBS check at: Become a childminder: pre-registration briefing (GOV.UK).
For more information on the DBS check, costs, and what's involved visit: DBS checks (GOV.UK).
People working in early years education, childcare and playwork have a number of different roles and responsibilities and work in different types of organisations or settings, some of which are listed below.
Nursery nurses are qualified members of staff, usually holding a level 3 qualification. They are normally responsible for the care, education and all-round development of the children. They can work in a variety of settings including:
- Local authority nursery schools (sometimes referred to as maintained)
- Private day nurseries
- Child and family centres
- Community nurseries
Nursery assistants tend to work in the same settings as nursery nurses in a less senior role. They are often members of staff who are relatively inexperienced or who hold a low level of qualification. They are likely to be training for a level 2 qualification and will be well supervised.
Deputy nursery manager
The deputy nursery manager would be expected to run the nursery in the absence of the nursery manager and need experience in supervising staff. A comprehensive knowledge of childcare and early education issues is also essential, as well as Level 3 qualification.
Nursery managers have been qualified for at least two years and have managerial experience. To run the nursery on a day-to-day basis they need good administrative and communication skills plus team leadership abilities and comprehensive knowledge of childcare and early education issues.
Pre-school leaders are employed in pre-school or playgroup settings and work with children aged between two and five years. The sessions can be full-day or part-day such as 2½ hour sessions. The emphasis is on learning through play and parental involvement in all aspects of the playgroup is encouraged. The pre-school leader organises and plans appropriate learning and play activities for the children, supervises staff and reports to the pre-school owner or Chair of Trustees. Pre-school leaders will have a level 3 qualification and will have suitable experience of working with children.
Pre-school assistants are employed in the same settings as pre-school leaders in a less senior role. Most employers will prefer assistants to hold a qualification or undertake training at level 2. Many parents begin a career in childcare as pre-school assistants working at their local playgroup.
Playwork leaders work in a range of settings including hospitals, community centres, breakfast clubs, after-school clubs, holiday playschemes, women's refuges, adventure playgrounds and junior youth clubs. They normally work with children aged 5 to 15 outside school hours. The playwork leader manages the provision on-site and provides a range of safe and developmental play opportunities suitable to the age range. A playwork leader would normally be qualified to level 3.
Playwork assistants support the playwork leader in their work. Most of their job is face to face work with the children. Playwork assistants will hold, or be encouraged to work towards, a level 2 qualification.
Childminders usually look after other people's children in the childminder's home. They are self-employed and will take care of a limited number of children. They often form networks to help support each other. Childminders must complete a Childminders Introductory Course CYPOP5 and have a suitable first aid qualification before registering with Ofsted.
Crèche workers are employed in a variety of settings with attached crèches, sports centres and supermarkets. Many crèches prefer workers who hold qualifications. Crèche workers take care of children from across the age range.
Nannies care for children in their own home. In some cases, the family prefer the nanny to live-in. Many nannies register with agencies to help them find suitable employment. Agencies generally prefer nannies to hold relevant qualifications at level 2 or above. There is no registration requirement for nannies at the moment but they could choose to register on Ofsted's voluntary register, which will enable parents to take up the Working Tax Credit (if eligible).
The Bi-borough Early Education and Childcare Service recognise that our workforce contributes to high-quality early years and childcare provision and are committed to improving expertise through training and qualifications. Full details of Training and Qualification can be found on the Early Years training website.
Apprenticeships in Early Years and Childcare
Apprenticeships in Early Years and Childcare are available. Apprenticeships are a combination of practical training on the job with alongside some studying. As an apprentice you will:
be fully supported by your employer and training provider. You will be paid while you work and train to gain valuable job-specific skills and knowledge;
earn a wage and get holiday pay;
get paid time for off-site study related to your role. (ideally 20%).
There is the opportunity to complete an Apprenticeship at various levels, depending on your qualification at entry level. Apprenticeships have equivalent educational levels.
Equivalent educational level
4,5,6 and 7
Foundation degree and above
6 and 7
Bachelor’s or master’s degree
To start an apprenticeship, you will need to be:
16 or over by the end of the summer holidays; (academic year)
living in England with a right to work;
not in full-time education; and
willing to be employed for at least 30 hours/week.
It is a requirement to undergo an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and any additional checks necessary.
How to apply
There are 3 steps to applying for an Early Years and Childcare apprenticeship. These are:
To become a registered childminder, you will need to:
- Hold a Level 3 or above in childcare & education and have worked with children aged under 5 years within the last 2 years.
- Complete a Local Authority Ofsted approved Childminder course
- (Our next Information session which will be after Easter. Details TBC)
- completed an online course (such as Pacey)
- Hold a valid Pediatric First Aid certificate ( must be the full 12-hour certification, this is offered as part of the LA Childminder course)
Course is open to Nannies or childminder assistants who wish to have Knowledge & Understanding of the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Requirements.
Currently cost of course for WCC & RBKC residents is £150 including the PFA training and a pre Ofsted registration home visit by the Bi borough Early Years & Inclusion Advisor.
Funding may be available for some applicants.
Non-residents course fee £100 with additional charge for the PFA training
(home visit cannot be offered to non WCC or RBKC residents).
At the current time whilst the course is delivered virtually all learning on the course will be supported by downloadable course materials.
To apply for the course, you will first need to attend the LA Childminder Information session which will inform you what the course entails and what you will experience within your first year as a fully qualified Childminder. If after the Information session you feel that the course is for you, you will be invited to attend the LA EYFS/assessment session.
The Information session and the EYFS/assessment session are free.
Successful applicants will be invited to enrol onto the next Homebased Childcare Course.
Information about the course, course dates and how to book onto it call 07971626075 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
To work as a self-employed registered childminder or an Accredited Nanny you will need to complete a registration course known as the "Introduction to Childminding Course". The course is designed to do give you the skills and knowledge required to carry out childcare within the "Early Years Statutory Requirements”.
The course is only valid for a period of 6 months and not 12 months as before. Candidates must register with Ofsted within this timescale, otherwise, they will have to retake the course and pay the fee of £250. The cost for the registration face to face course through the Council costs £100.
How to apply
To apply for the course you will first need to attend an Ofsted briefing session, which will inform you what the course entails and what you will experience within your first year as a fully qualified Childminder/ Nanny. If after the Briefing session you feel that the course is for you, an application form will be available to fill out.
Further details on the upcoming childminder course dates and briefing sessions and how to book on the course call 07971626075 or email email@example.com for further information.
A Nanny provides childcare for one or more families in the parent’s own home. Some Nannies “Live in” with the family that they care for; however it is becoming more popular to employ part-time Nannies. Nannies that provide care for new born babies throughout the night are known as “Night Nannies”
Unlike Childminders, Nannies don’t need any formal qualifications; however you do need a Paediatric First Aid qualification (which will need to be updated every 3 years), up-to-date knowledge of Safeguarding procedures, a DBS check and have a valid insurance.
Also unlike Childminders any working Nanny doesn’t need to register with Ofsted. There is however a voluntary Ofsted registration available to Nannies; by registering with Ofsted the parents that the nanny work’s for would be able to receive some financial contributions in the form of Tax Credits/ Childcare Vouchers (subject to eligibility).
Further details on Nannies can be found on the Pacey website
Could it be me?
Thousands of people are still needed nationwide to give children the best start. In fact, over the next three years, around 150,000 new workers are needed to meet demand.
If children are to continue getting the very best quality early education, care and play, we need to draw on a wider pool of talent for these crucial jobs. If you have the right blend of skills and personal qualities, you could be one of them.
What type of people work in childcare?
All kinds of people work in Early Years, Childcare and Play work. Children need a variety of positive role models and good influences. School leavers and students, adults of all ages, disabled people, people from ethnic minorities, men and women - with or without previous experience - all play an important part.
What are the qualities and skills of a childcare worker?
Some of the essential qualities required to work with children include patience, enthusiasm, empathy, a sense of responsibility and a sense of fun! These dedicated people also understand that theirs is a job to be taken seriously.
If you care about children, you like being with them, encouraging them and learning with them, listening to them, stimulating their imagination and watching them grow, this could be your future.
There's never been a better time to work in Early Years, Childcare and Play work.
Do I need to undergo any checks?
All Early Years, Childcare and Play worker will need to undergo a criminal record check called a DBS check (Disclosure Baring Service). For further details on this visit DBS Checks (GOV.UK).
What's in it for me?
You will have a respected and demanding career, an interesting and challenging role with the potential to change lives - for the better. And that's some responsibility. In return, the rewards are great. You'll watch children grow and gain in confidence as they learn and play. You'll share in their achievements and be there for them when they need you. You'll give them security and feel in return the trust they invest in you.
Working with children often involves working with parents too, helping them with their child's development and enabling them to find a better balance in their lives. It often involves working as part of a team, training and learning day by day. You'll not only feel the difference in terms of confidence and job satisfaction - you'll also have the support and camaraderie that teamwork can bring.
And you'll have the opportunity to work towards qualifications that have real currency in the jobs market, recognising your role in a child's development and enabling you to develop your own personal career - right up to manager level, if that's what you'd like.
What are the options?
There is variety as well as job satisfaction. For example you could work in a nursery, pre-school or playgroup. You could use your skills alongside a teacher in a nursery school or in a nursery class or reception class, enjoying involvement with children up to the age of five. You could also choose to specialise in working with children with special educational needs.
To see our full list of childcare occupations visit our Childcare Options page
What will I earn?
Pay levels are set locally, rather than nationally, and are dependent upon the setting in which you work and the number of hours you work. But the better qualified you are, the more experience you get and the higher your level of responsibility - then the higher your salary is likely to be. Contact Glynis Mates on 07971626075 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information to find out more about opportunities and rates of pay in your area.
If you are considering setting up an Out of school club (OOSC) it could help to consider the following:
Does the proposed accommodation:
- Meet Ofsted and Early Years Foundation Stage requirements
- Offer suitable space for age-appropriate activities
- Have any restrictions assigned to it, for example, planners, other users
You will need to establish:
- Demand for the service
- Fee parents are willing to pay
- Operating times
Also need to consider:
Other childcare providers in the area, for example, childminders, existing after school activities (which may be free of charge).
Complete 2-year budget forecasts (essential if you are applying for funding from the Early Years Funding Team). This will give you your break-even point.
The budget will inform your decision on the fee to be charged.
Assess the level of capital funding required for equipment and start-up costs.
Consider if you will have more than one fee, £7.50 until 5 pm, £9 until 6 pm. If most parents only want up to 5:30 pm you will still need at least two staff members for the remainder (even if only 2 children still attending)
Assistance can be given by the Early Years Advisory Team on 07971 625922.
Who will access the service?
- How will children get to the club?
- Will you need to provide transport or a walking crocodile? Costs for this must be included in your budget forecast.
Who will manage the service?
- Private business
- Voluntary Management Committee
- School governors
Setting up a Parent and Toddler Group
Parent and toddler groups are normally for parents/carers with under-threes, but children under five can usually attend too. It provides an opportunity for parents/carers and their young children to spend time together in the company of others.
Each session usually lasts for up to two hours, promoting children’s early learning through a variety of fun play opportunities such as storytelling, sing-a-long, or craft session. Most groups have a baby corner for new mums to make friends and enjoy a coffee.
Parent and toddler groups are often run on a voluntary basis and do not have to be registered by Ofsted.
For further information on setting up a Parent and Toddler Group visit