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Childcare is an essential part of the government’s strategy to enable parents to return to work. There are different types of registered childcare provision depending on where the childcare takes place, how many people are providing the childcare and the ages of the children who are cared for.

The Childcare Act 2006 sets out the duties on local authorities to improve outcomes for children and to ensure access to information about provision in their area.

Ofsted has the duty for the regulation and inspection of provision for children from birth to age 17.

Ofsted registration

Most childcare providers caring for children aged under eight years must register with Ofsted unless the law says they are not required to do so. There are two registers:

  • Early Years Register  (care for children from birth to the 31 August following their fifth birthday. Childcarers must register with Ofsted and deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage, EYFS).
  • Childcare Register  (care for children from birth to 17 years).  The Childcare Register has two parts; the compulsory register (care for one or more children following their fifth birthday until they reach their eighth birthday) and the voluntary register (those not eligible for compulsory registration may choose to register here).

It is possible to apply to join one register or both registers at the same time.

Ofsted Factsheet

Registering school-based childcare provision with Ofsted. Updated to include: details of the legislative framework; and exemption from registration where the school's governing body manages the provision for two-year-olds.

The Ofsted factsheet ‘Registration not required’ explains exemptions to compulsory registration of childcare provision. If registration is not required then childcare providers may choose to join the voluntary part of the Childcare Register.

Should you require further information about either of the registers, including exemptions, visit the Ofsted website or call the Ofsted helpline on 0300 123 1231, emails may be sent to: enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk. You can also contact Buckinghamshire Family Information Service (BFIS) on 01296 383293 or email familyinfo@buckscc.gov.uk.




Last updated 20/3/2017

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