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Northern Ireland


Preschool Playgroups

Child at a preschool playgroupPreschool playgroups are usually sessional and may not be every day of the week. Preschools are mainly run as charities or non profit organisations with management committees.

Preschools have to be registered by OFSTED or the appropriate regulating body in Scotland and Wales and are regularly inspected. All staff have to be CRB checked and at least half the staff should have had childcare training. Staff to child ratios are usually 1 to 4 for the 2 year olds and 1 to 8 for the children aged 3 upwards.

Preschools will follow the early years curriculum as set out by OFSTED. The main focus of preschools is learning through play.

Children’s ages range from 2 to 4 years but most will insist a child is potty trained before attending.
The benefits of preschools are that they will be local to you and often low in cost, they are run by trained staff and inspected regularly, there is plenty of opportunities for your child to socialise with local children and to learn in a structured way, your child will be in a group of similar aged children and if you don’t want to leave your child it may be possible for you to stay with them.

The downsides to preschools are that they are usually much shorter hours than other types of childcare so would not suit working parents, your child cannot attend if they are ill and the premises may be shared with other organisations.

Fees for a preschool are generally around £ 3.50 for a 3 hour session. This can be covered in full be the early years entitlement depending on the age of your child.