So what are the different roles within childcare?


Registered childminders provide home based childcare in their own family home, usually with children from several families at the same time, they are likely to do school and nursery runs in addition to planning the day with the children. Childminders must be registered with Ofsted and they are subject to regular Ofsted inspection. Childminders need to complete specific training recognised by their local authority to be able to register. Childminders are self-employed and can pick and choose their own hours of work and you have to fit around their availability


Childminders tend to offer care from 8am-6pm Monday to Friday, although some can offer more flexibility. Childminders charge an hourly rate per child and can look after children from multiple families, although they are subject to age ratios.


Where do you find a registered childminder? Contact your local Council or Families Information Services to find a list of registered childminders in your area.


Nannies look after your children in your family home, in the children’s own familiar surroundings, providing a continuation of the family routines, providing a more homely 1-1 kind of care and interaction, whilst at the same time, planning the day with a variety of fun, age appropriate activities and outings to encourage learning and development and reaching relevant milestones. Working hours will vary for a Nanny, depending on the families need, some Nannies can work very long hours. A Nannies pay can vary also.


Whilst choosing a Nanny may be a more costly option for a family, the quality of childcare and flexibility can more than make up for that. A Nanny can be an excellent choice for a family with more than one child as you pay per hour per Nanny, not per hour per child as in other type of childcare provisions. Nannies are employed by the family and therefore the family are responsible for the deduction of any tax and national insurance contributions from their wages. The family will also need to make provision for a pension scheme for their nanny – starting 2017. A Nanny is not self-employed because they fit around your requirements in terms of working hours.


Where do you find a reputable Nanny Agency? Contact the Association of Nanny Agencies to find an agency in your area. By using an ANA accredited Agency you can be sure that the Agency works towards the highest of care and standards to ensure the best quality of care and support for each family and nanny. An Agency who is a member of ANA, does all the meeting of each child carer and checking of ID documents, references, and make all reasonable efforts to ensure the suitability of the person. An Agency will take all the hard work out of finding the most suitable people, so you don’t have to.


Nannies do not have to be registered with Ofsted, however a nanny who joins the Voluntary Ofsted Register enables a family to use childcare vouchers or the childcare element of tax credits.


A reputable Nanny Agency should be approachable, friendly and provide you with confidence that they work to the highest possible standards as well as making sure they are up to date with their knowledge of childcare practices as well as ensuring that they have carried out every check possible for each childcarer before being put forward to potential family. For more details on Association of Nanny Agencies (ANA) visit



Nurseries can provide care for babies and children from age of six weeks old to around five years, or when they start school. They can attend part time or full time. Nurseries usually have multiple rooms and children are split between them according to age. Nurseries are inspected by Ofsted to ensure they comply with its standards.


Where do I find a suitable nursery?


Word of Mouth recommendations are best, but also trusting your instinct after speaking to and visiting any potential nursery settings. Your local Families Information Service will have access to a variety of Nurseries in your area. To find your local service please see The Family and Childcare Trust



Au pairs are usually foreign exchange students or foreign nationals living and/or studying in the UK to immerse themselves in the culture and language. For this reason, they are generally quite young (17-27 years old).  They tend not to be classified as employees so don’t pay national insurance or tax. As a result, au pairs don’t receive a wage but are paid ‘pocket money’. This is because the family covers the cost of their food, accommodation, bills, trips and family activities in exchange for childcare and some housekeeping duties.


If your au pair is studying, you must give them time to attend their classes. Au pairs should not be used to look after children younger than three. If you choose to have an au pair, remember that they are not childcare professionals so are not required to have any experience or qualifications in childcare. They will also never be inspected. 


Where can I find an Au Pair?

Some Nanny Agencies can provide support with finding an au pair. Check the Association of Nanny Agencies (ANA) to see which reputable agencies offer that support. Alternatively the British Au Pair Agencies Association should be able to help.




For other useful information about choosing childcare have a look at the recent Which Review


Written by Sarah Parkin from Kids Deserve the Best



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