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
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