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Playgroups & Playschools

Playgroups differ in Scotland and England in their hours and in the sort of service they offer. In Scotland they are called playgroups and are often set up by parents or voluntary groups. The parents help out on a rota system. The premises must be registered, and are checked out by the local authority to make sure that they are safe and appropriate for children to play in. Ask to see the playgroups registration certificate. The children who attend are aged between two and a half and five, and the playgroups are usually open for sessions of about two and a half hours between two and five times a week. They cost about £2.50 for each session.

In England playgroups may also be called pre-schools or playschools. They operate in the same way as playgroups in Scotland but also provide more learning opportunities. Some pre-schools supply early learning at no extra cost so must be registered and inspected yearly by OFSTED. They do help a child to get ready for school not only by increasing their social skills but by the early learning skills they teach too. They are registered with the local authority and have to be inspected every year to make sure standards are maintained. Again, ask to see the playgroups registration certificate.

The same staff-child ratios will apply as for nursery care, though there will be parents who also help out. Most pre-schools will only take on between ten and twenty children and there shouldn't be more than 26 kids in one room. Generally the children age from three to five but some two year olds may be able to go too. The opening hours can differ greatly and range from two and a half hour sessions to the whole day. Normally they provide three-hour sessions, which may be available once or twice a week, but some have both morning and afternoon sessions every day. So they do vary, and you should check out all of your local ones! In general they take their holidays at the same times as the local schools. They will cost between £2 and £5 for each session but some will provide free government funded early education on a part time basis.

Follow the same guidelines for finding quality Playgoups and Playschools as for Nurseries.

Tip: Visit ChildcareLink for help finding Playgroups in your area

 

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