The Education Network for Waltham Forest
Supported by Waltham Forest

Opening a pre-school or day nursery

Education in Waltham Forest


Pre-schools usually offer 3 hour sessions during term time. Children often attend for morning or afternoon sessions. Children can also bring in a packed lunch and stay through the lunch break in order to run two sessions together. A full day at pre-school would be the same length as a school day - between the hours of 8.30am and 3.30pm. Most pre-schools have the same term dates as local schools. Pre-schools usually take children from the age of 2, and they can attend until compulsory school age (if parents defer a reception place). The ratio for two-year-olds is 1 adult to 4 children. The ratio for three-to-five-year-olds is 1 adult to 8 children.

Day nurseries

Day nurseries provide care and education for children from as young as six weeks to compulsory school-aged children. There are different types of day nurseries e.g. privately run, community, council or workplace, but they must all be registered and regularly inspected by Ofsted and have to comply with strict guidelines on staff/children ratios. Opening hours will tend to fit in with an average working day of 8am to 6pm, and care is usually provided all year round.

Next steps

The 'Early Years Foundation Stage' section of The Hub website outlines all of the requirements that pre-schools and day nurseries need to be aware of to comply with their legal obligations.

New providers should follow the process as set out in the 'Becoming a childcare provider in Waltham Forest' section of the The Hub, if they would like to open a pre-school or day nursery in Waltham Forest.


Education Business Support
020 8496 3566

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Last updated: 
Friday, 28 July, 2017
Last updated: 28 July 2017 by Barry Fong