Blog - What are the differences between independent & primary school nursery & pre-school settings?



If you are currently looking into what nursery or pre-school provision there is locally to you, you will most likely have noticed a number of private providers, plus those that are attached to a primary school. No doubt you will be wondering what the differences are, and perhaps the benefits of both?


The most important thing to be aware of is that ALL nurseries and pre-school settings, regardless of whether they are attached to a primary school or not, MUST follow the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. Each setting may wish to follow the ‘Development Matters’ or the ‘Birth to 5’ which are not statutory but gives guidance on good practice and implementing a challenging and stimulating curriculum. Please click here for more information.

All Early Years providers need to follow the statutory guidance in the Early Years Foundation Stage Document which states the following ratios must be followed in order to keep all children safe in the setting:

For children aged under two:

• there must be at least one member of staff for every three children

• at least one member of staff must hold an approved level 3 qualification, and must be suitably experienced in working with children under two

• at least half of all other staff must hold an approved level 2 qualification

• at least half of all staff must have received training that specifically addresses the care of babies

• where there is a room for under two-year-olds, the member of staff in charge of that room must, in the judgement of the provider, have suitable experience of working with under twos


For children aged two:

• there must be at least one member of staff for every four children

• at least one member of staff must hold an approved level 3 qualification

• at least half of all other staff must hold an approved level 2 qualification


For children aged three and four:

there must be at least one member of staff for every eight children

• at least one member of staff must hold an approved level 3 qualification

• at least half of all other staff must hold an approved level 2 qualification

In a private day-care setting, such as St Petroc's Early Years, each child is assigned a key person, who will ensure your child/ren are happy and settled, record regular observations to plan an exciting and awe inspiring curriculum to benefit your child/ren’s whole development, ensure your babies routines is followed as you have requested, through regular observations and back and forth conversations any developmental concern is quickly raised and managed appropriately working together with you, the most important person and educator in your child/ren's lives. The Key person will likely be your main point of contact with updates about your child. Unfortunately, not all school pre-schools will have such a robust system in place as St Petroc’s.

One common misconception is that if your child attends a pre-school attached to a primary school, they are guaranteed a place in Reception class at the same school when they are ready to move up. Unfortunately, this is not always the case - local authorities only consider your preferred choice when you submit your application, there are no guarantees.

Another important thing to consider, particularly if you are trying to plan childcare around your working hours, is what session times (and weeks of the year) does each type offer. Although both types will receive funding for the same hours and age groups, typically private day-care settings offer more flexibility, including longer sessions, with earlier and later start and finish times. School pre-schools are also normally confined to term time sessions, so you will need to sort alternative provision for the school holidays, whereas private settings are likely to be open for most of the year.

If you have any questions about the above, or would like more information about St Petroc's Early Years, please visit www.stpetrocs.com, email tahira.white@stpetrocs.comor call 01288 389832.

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