Choosing a Nursery School in London

If you happened to be in Trafalgar Square last Friday you might have seen the awesome Mother Pukka and her ‘Flex Appeal’ flashmob raising awareness of flexible working for parents.

Unless you have Mary Poppins living in your attic (and if you do, lucky you) flexible working might mean working part time or reduced hours. It almost definitely means sorting out childcare. Little Baby X is your whole life and you are his/hers.

Leaving them with a caregiver for the first time can leave you an emotional wreck! The first time I left my baby at nursery resulted in tears. More on my end than hers!

So when you’re thinking about looking for a nursery, what should you be looking for? As someone who’s put two kids in nursery, I advise the following:

Is there a clean and engaging environment?
Does the staff seem happy and well qualified?
Are the surroundings safe?
Is there a clear and well-researched approach to learning?
Is there a two-way stream of communication with parents?

The London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) is a socially responsible community of 38 nurseries (more than a few of which have an Ofsted rating of ‘Outstanding’) in London. They’ve been around for over 100 years and as a social enterprise, their focus is not on building a money making machine. Instead they reinvest all profit back into the business resulting in more training for staff, continually developing their approach to learning and growing the business so they can reach more children and families from diverse backgrounds.

LEYF recognise that mothers often want/need to return to work but are locked out of the workplace because of the cost of childcare. To make sure parents and children from all backgrounds can afford a nursery place, they run nurseries in some of London’s most disadvantaged areas, subsidise 48% of their parents to access a free nursery place and are the largest provider of free spaces for two year olds in London.

Before you decide on a nursery, try and visit at least two to compare and contrast. Do your research (friends, Ofsted) and have a list of questions ready to ask on the day. Give yourself enough time to look around properly and trust your instinct, if something just doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t.

LEYF staff believe they have the most important job in London, looking after the capital’s children. Wherever you are in the city, there’s likely to be a LEYF nursery near you.