Some primary and first schools have a nursery class attached to them, which will offer education and childcare for three and four year olds. These classes can be found in the public and private sectors. There are also some dedicated nursery schools which cater solely for the under fives.
If you are considering a particular school for your child from age four plus, find out if they have a nursery class. Securing a place there will mean your child doesn't have to chop and change and you will are almost guaranteed a place in the main school.
Nursery classes and schools tend to be open during the traditional school hours of 9am to 3pm, but the growth in the numbers of working parents does mean that some are extending their hours to meet parents' needs. You may also find a number of nursery classes offer care during the school holidays.
Some nursery classes offer sessional places, so your child will be offered either a morning or an afternoon place.
Because these classes can be found in a number of different settings, the price will vary enormously. There are also differences in the way they have to be regulated and inspected, depending on whether they are in the private or public sector.
Your local authority should be able to tell you about classes and schools in your area. Most pre-schools, day nurseries, nursery schools and network childminders offer the foundation stage curriculum. This means they are registered to provide early education, can claim Nursery Education Grant and offer free part time places at their setting.