Archive Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Public services all in one place

Main menu

Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Checking childcare quality and standards

Childcare standards are regulated by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted). Ofsted-registered providers are checked for safety and suitability for caring for children. Find out how Ofsted checks standards, and which providers need to be Ofsted-registered.

Care for children under five

All childcare providers caring for children from birth to 31 August after their fifth birthday, must register with Ofsted on the Early Years Register (EYR). All providers on this register must deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which sets the standards for early learning, development and care.

Care for children aged five and over

Providers of care for children aged five and over can register with Ofsted on the General Childcare Register (GCR), which is split into two parts:

  • the compulsory part - for providers of childcare for children from the end of the EYFS to age seven
  • the voluntary part - for providers of care for children aged eight and over

Some providers who look after children between the end of the EYFS and age seven don't have to join the compulsory part of the GCR. Those who don't need to register include nannies or providers offering activity-based childcare like sports, arts and crafts, or dance and drama clubs.

What does this mean for my children?

If a childcare provider is registered on the EYR, or on either part of the GCR, then they must meet certain standards. These standards include the suitability of the staff for working with children, and the suitability and safety of the premises.

As part of the registration process, Ofsted carries out a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check to make sure all staff are suitable for working with children. This applies to all providers who are Ofsted registered, regardless of which register they have joined.

Childcare at school

Any childcare for children aged three and over that is provided by a school does not need to be registered on the EYR or the GCR. Instead, the school will be inspected as part of the school inspection system, which is also carried out by Ofsted.

Schools providing childcare have to meet the same standards as registered childcare providers.

Making a complaint

If you're worried about any aspect of your child's care, you should speak to the provider about it first. If you are still not satisfied, you can contact Ofsted and it will investigate the case further.

You can also make a complaint to Ofsted if you have concerns about a provider that is not registered. The Ofsted website has information about how complaints against both registered and non-registered providers are investigated.

Useful contacts

Additional links

Simpler, Clearer, Faster

Try GOV.UK now

From 17 October, GOV.UK will be the best place to find government services and information

Help with money matters for your child

With a growing family, you could probably do with a little financial help. Follow the links below to find out what you could be entitled to.

Access keys

If you would like to take part in our website visitor survey, please visit the site and then come back and select this link to take part in the survey.