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Nurseries are for children under five years old to play, learn and have fun in groups while their parents work, study or are busy elsewhere.

Nurseries are registered with Ofsted and are regularly inspected by them.  All staff must have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. They are usually open all day for most weeks in the year. Part-time places are often available. Nurseries are run by a team of staff and activities are planned to help children enjoy learning through play.

At nursery, children can enjoy making friends, playing outside, sharing meals and trying out new skills. There are different types of nursery with different ways of operating so look around for one that suits your child and you.


  • Opportunities for children to learn and play with friends
  • Usually geared to the needs of children with working parents
  • Many nurseries offer free, part-time early education for children aged three and four. Some also offer it for eligible two year olds.

Where can I find a nursery?

Search our database of childcare in Southampton or call the Family Information Service on 023 8083 3014.

For childcare outside of Southampton, please contact your local authority.

What types of nurseries are there?

  • Private nursery - designed to cater for the children of working parents and the type you are most likely to find in your area
  • Local authority nursery - run by the local authority for children in the local community. In Southampton, there is only one local authority day nursery, which is Startpoint Sholing.
  • Workplace nursery - some employers run childcare schemes for children of their employees

How will I know my child will be safe and secure?

First of all, you know your child best, so look for a setting that you feel is suitable for your child.

Nurseries must be registered with Ofsted. This means checks are carried out to make sure the staff are suitable to look after children. At least half of the staff in a nursery must be trained. A check on the nursery premises is carried out to make sure the building is safe and suitable for children. After the nursery is registered, a regular inspection is carried out to make sure the nursery is continuing to provide a safe and suitable service.

There should be a set number of staff at each nursery to work with the children:

  • one member of staff for every eight children aged three to five
  • one member of staff for every four children aged two to three
  • one member of staff for every three children aged under two.

You can ask to see the nursery's registration certificate and latest inspection report, or you can look at the Ofsted reports online.

How many children will there be?

Most nurseries provide places for between 26 and 40 children, although some are smaller and others larger. Children are usually divided into much smaller groups based on their age.

What age range of children will there be?

Nurseries are for children aged up to five. Some nurseries have places for babies and toddlers as well as for children aged three to five. Some nurseries are part of childcare schemes which also provide childcare for older children.

When will services be open?

Most nurseries are open from about 8am to 6pm. Some offer different hours for the children of people working shifts. Most nurseries are open all year round except for public holidays.

Can nurseries offer part-time childcare?

Many nurseries are happy to offer you part-time places. These are often organised into morning and afternoon sessions.

How much will it cost?

Nursery charges vary. Expect to pay around £30 per child per day, although many nurseries offer a discount for longer stays. Most nurseries in Southampton provide early years education, and they receive a grant enabling them to give your child a free part-time place. Your childcare provider or the Children and Young People's Information Service can give you more information about fees and charges which may be charged for care outside of this free place. You may also be eligible for Tax Credits to help you pay for the cost of childcare.

Can you help me choose a good childcare provider?

Although we cannot recommend a particular setting, the Family Information Service (FIS) seek to supply sufficient information to enable you to make an informed decision.

This directory holds lists of providers in Southampton and information to enable you to make an informed decision. We can advise you on the types of childcare that may be appropriate for your lifestyle or individual needs.

However, it is your responsibility as parent or carer to choose the most suitable childcare for your circumstances. It is important to visit some settings before you make a decision.

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Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information provided in this directory, we do not accept any responsibility or liability for any errors that have occurred. It is recommended that you always check with providers that their service or organisation meets your requirements. We offer an impartial service and we cannot recommend or endorse any providers listed.

Further information