About childcare, the options for childcare in and around the City of London and the childcare act.

The term childcare covers a number of different types of provision, but one thing they should all have in common is that they are good for children and good for families.

Your decision to use childcare might be driven by a need to work or undertake training. Or you could be looking for somewhere for your child to socialise with other children and get ready for school.

Entrusting the care of your child to someone else is a big decision, and it can be stressful, but whatever your needs there will be a childcare option that is right for you. Our aim at FIS is to help you find it by giving you all you need to make an informed choice. You can search the Directory for local childcare using the "Narrow by category" list on the right, or you can contact us for advice on any weekday from 9am to 5pm.

This page explains some of the most important things you need to know.

Watch a short video from Pacey to see how much childcare could benefit your child as well as your family.

An information video by PACEY (Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years).
  • Early years childcare: nurseries and pre-schools for children under five years old.
  • Home-based childcare: registered childminders and nannies.
  • Out-of-school childcare: breakfast clubs, after school clubs and holiday play schemes for children of school age (usually 5-14).

The law requires anyone providing childcare professionally for children under eight for a period of more than two hours at a time to register their business with Ofsted. There are two registers: the Early Years Register and the Compulsory Childcare Register. Providers on this register are inspected regularly by Ofsted and the inspection reports are published on Ofsted’s website. 

Following the inspection Ofsted will rate the quality of the childcare being provided and judge it as either "Outstanding", "Good", "Requires improvement" or "Inadequate". When provision is judged to be less than "Good", Ofsted will take steps to work with the provider to improve the quality of their childcare. In extreme cases provision found to be inadequate may be forced to close.

Currently all registered childcare providers in the City of London are rated "Good" or "Outstanding".

Some types of childcare are exempt from compulsory registration. Nannies, for example, are employed by a family to work in that family’s home, and are not classed as a childcare business in the same way as childminders who operate from their own homes. Other exempt provision includes those where children stay for less than two hours, such as crèches, or groups like Rainbows and Scouts. Exempt providers can opt to join the Voluntary Childcare Register and can also be inspected.

The law requires anyone providing childcare professionally for children under eight for a period of more than two hours at a time to register their business with Ofsted.

Ofsted registration can provide peace of mind to parents, and reading Ofsted reports can help when choosing a provider. It also enables parents to claim certain types of financial support towards the cost of the childcare.

The Childcare Act 2006  establishes Ofsted as the authority for the regulation of childminding and childcare on domestic and non-domestic premises in England. It gives HMCI responsibility for the registration and inspection of providers who are registered on the Childcare Register and the responsibility for enforcement where it appears that legal requirements are not being met.

There are three aspects to the regulation of providers on the Childcare Register. These are:

  • registration of applicants
  • inspecting providers to check that they continue to meet legal requirements for registration
  • taking enforcement action where requirements for registration are not met or where provision that should be registered is operating without registration

Are you a resident of the City of London? Do you have a child under five attending a childcare setting? You might qualify for financial support with childcare cost under the Childcare Accessibility Scheme.

The Scheme aims to support resident families to access early education and childcare. The purpose of the early education place is to support the child’s early development and empower parents to make positive changes to their lives through work, training or family support.

Please download the leaflet at the end of the page for more details.

For more information, please contact the Family Information Service.

Your employer may be able to help you with childcare costs by providing childcare vouchers.

You can convert up to £55 a week of your gross salary into tax-free and NI-exempt vouchers that you can use to pay for Ofsted registered childcare. The amount to receive will depend on how much you earn.

For more information visit the Childcare Choices website.

To support you with finding childcare within the City of London we have compiled some information below to help you make an informed decision about the benefits of the different childcare providers. For further information about a particular childcare provider, please contact them directly.

Name of setting: City of London Child and Family Centre
Email address:
Phone number: 020 7283 1147

Name of setting: Hatching Dragons Nursery
Email address:
Phone number: 020 7256 9365

Name of setting: Smithfield House Nursery
Email address:
Phone number: 020 7236 1000
More information: Click here

Name of setting: Newpark Childcare
Email address:
Phone number: 020 7638 5550

Name of setting: Barbican Playgroup
Email address:
Phone number: 020 7638 2718

Name of setting: City Child Bright Horizons
Email address:
Phone number: 020 7374 0939


Tax-Free Childcare

You can get up to £500 every 3 months (up to £2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. This goes up to £1,000 every 3 months if a child is disabled (up to £4,000 a year).

If you’ve already registered, you can sign in to your childcare account.

If you get Tax-Free Childcare, you’ll set up an online childcare account for your child. For every £8 you pay into this account, the government will pay in £2 to use to pay your provider.

You can get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as 30 hours free childcare if you’re eligible for both.

The Childcare and Family Services Finder is a free service to help you find registered childcare and family services in your local area. It covers all the Ofsted registered childcare providers across England, with results provided by local authorities. It's the only website that has all this information in one place.

Providing high quality care and education for young children can be very rewarding.

It provides a much-needed service for local communities and, most importantly, makes a huge difference to the development and well-being of children.

What you need to do:

1. Research the need

Before starting up your childcare business it is important to assess what the demand for a new childcare provision is likely to be. Remember that the City of London is a very small area.

You will need to take various steps, such as:

2. Financial viability

You can register with the City of London to claim funding to provide part-time early years education places for three and four-year-old children, and eligible two-year-old children.

Some three and four-year-olds will also be eligible for a 30 hours funded place. You can register to provide for this at Childcare Choices

3. Ofsted registration

If you will be looking after children under the age of eight years for more than two hours a day you will need to register with The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted).

If you are a childminder, you can choose either to register with Ofsted or with a Childminder Agency.

Ofsted inspects and regulates the quality and standards of care and education in childcare provision. Find Ofsted's guidance on setting up a childcare service here

4. Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

The Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage is a mandatory framework for all Ofsted registered childcare providers caring for children from birth to five years. It was developed to ensure that all childcare services provide a safe and secure environment for children and support children’s learning through carefully planned play activities that are fun and appropriate to their needs.

Contact the Education and Early Years Team for support, guidance and training:

5. Premises

Childcare may be provided on domestic premises (for example, in the home of a childminder) or on non-domestic premises (such as a pre-school in a community hall or nursery on a school site).

The premises that you operate from must comply with the EYFS requirements. In choosing premises you will also need to consider whether the building is in a good state of repair, if it is safe and secure for the children, whether appropriate toilet and kitchen facilities are available, whether the premises are easy for families to get to and whether they are accessible to children and adults with disabilities.

6. Health and safety

The safety of the children and adults in the provision is a central theme throughout the EYFS. You will have a duty to develop effective procedures for ensuring that the provision is secure and that any risks are identified and managed through regular risk assessments; safeguarding and protecting children from harm or abuse; maintaining high standards of hygiene; regularly checking fire procedures and equipment.

7. Data Protection

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) you will need to put systems in place to ensure any personal data you collect is securely processed, stored and destroyed. You will also need to issue those whose personal data you collect, such as parents, employees and volunteers with a privacy notice.

8. Insurance

Childcare providers must have adequate insurance cover. Some forms of insurance are required by law or for Ofsted registration, such as public liability insurance and employers’ liability insurance (where applicable).

Others are not legally required, but are still necessary because they provide protection for the provision and for those that use and are responsible for it.

9. Safeguarding and child protection

Every provider in the City of London is required to have and implement a safeguarding children policy and procedures which follows the guidance and procedures of the City and Hackney Safeguarding Children Partnership

10. Employer responsibilities

As an employer, you will need to take steps to ensure that your employees, job applicants, service users and volunteers are treated in a fair and consistent manner. Everyone has certain legal rights, including the right not to be discriminated against or harassed on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, or sex

11. Inclusion and diversity

For the benefit of all staff and families, equality and inclusion must be embraced throughout your provision. The Equality Act 2010 requires childcare providers to ensure that their policies, procedures and practices promote equality of opportunity and prevent discrimination against children and adults in the provision.

Providers also have a duty to regard the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice (DfE 2015) when meeting the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities and developing a special educational needs policy.

The Early Years Alliance has a useful free mini guide to Setting up a Childcare Provision which advises on key choices and responsibilities to consider before you start.


Please note: This information is also available in the Early Years Hub, which offers guidance to EY practitioners and settings