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Childcare and schools

Royal Holloway has a range of benefits which provide for the care, education and entertainment of your children. They also can save you tax through paying the fees directly from your pay. These include:

  • Nursery provision
  • Childcare Vouchers
  • School Holidays Activity Camp

Full-time compulsory education applies to children aged five to 16 years (although children will often begin school at the age of four). If your child was born on or after 1st September 1997 they will need to remain in some sort of education or training until their 18th birthday.

Children start and progress through school years as follows:

  • Primary school: for pupils aged 4-11
  • Secondary school: for pupils aged 11–16 (most secondary schools have sixth forms for those aged 16–18)

Children leaving school at the age of 16 must remain in some form of education or training until they are 18 years old through either work-based learning, such as an apprenticeship, or part-time education or training or volunteering for more than 20 hours a week.

The UK Government’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (known as Ofsted) is responsible for regulating and inspecting schools and other childcare providers. Ofsted produces inspection reports every few years, which are published on their website for the general public to view.

Pre-School childcare

Options available:

Nurseries (0-4 year olds)

Nurseries provide childcare throughout the whole calendar year. Each nursery will have its own working hours, which can be any time from 7:30am until 6:00pm.

Nurseries are a popular childcare option, so they can be oversubscribed. There is often a waiting list for a place. It is advisable to apply for a nursery place as early as possible; in many cases parents do so before the child is even born. It might be beneficial to apply for a place with a few different nurseries. A deposit may be payable on application.

Nursery costs in the UK are relatively high compared to other countries.


Childminders will care for your child in their own home and tend to work on a self-employed basis. This might be a good option if you prefer your child to be cared for in a less formal, ‘family’ environment. Childminders can often offer flexible hours of care that may be less restrictive than those offered by a nursery.

A childminder can care for a maximum of six children under eight years old, of which usually no more than three may be under the age of five, and no more than one of these may be under one (although exceptions may be granted, eg, for twins).

It is a legal requirement for a childminder to be registered and inspected by Ofsted.

Pre-schools (playgroups)

Pre-schools (also known as ‘playgroups’) provide opportunities for play, childcare and early years educational sessions for children aged two to four years.

Pre-schools tend to be based on school sites or in Community Centres, and most are only open during school term-times. The opening hours and fees vary, with many playgroups offering morning or afternoon sessions only.

Childcare at your home

You can employ a nanny, au pair or a babysitter to provide childcare in your own home.

Nannies, au pairs and babysitters are not required to register with Ofsted, so you might wish to consider the advice on checks outlined here before recruiting someone.

Additionally, if you have a disabled child you may wish to consider a ‘home childcarer’, who is registered with Ofsted; click here for more information.


Crèches provide ad-hoc childcare on a short-term basis. Sometimes the term ‘crèche’ is used to mean a nursery. However, in the UK crèches normally represent a temporary childcare setting. Your children can be looked after in a crèche for a limited number of hours while you undertake certain activities. Crèches can often be found in leisure centres (gyms) and shopping centres and some are linked to adult learning or children's centres.

The age range cared for, opening times and fees will vary according to the provider.




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