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Playgroups and Pre-School Groups

What is a playgroup or pre-school group?

A playgroup or pre-school group is a registered childcare facility that offers sessional care - usually 2-3 hours - for children between the ages of 3-5 years, though they may take children from 2 years.

They may be run by a committee of parents and staffed by a qualified or experienced supervisor with assistant(s), with parents helping on a voluntary rota basis. Parents should not automatically assume that all carers have been subject to DBS checks. Supervisors and Officers in Charge will, but assistant staff may not necessarily be Groups are open several morning or afternoon sessions each week, usually in term-time only.

Why do they have to be registered?

Playgroups/pre-schools are required to register with Ofsted to ensure their suitability as carers of children, the safety of premises and facilities, insurance and record keeping. Their certificate of registration and public liability insurance should always be on display.

The group will be inspected by Ofsted and inspection reports will be on the internet.

How many children may attend a playgroup / pre-school?

The number of children will vary depending on the premises.

There should always be an appropriate number of adults to children. The staffing ratio being:- 1 adult to every 4 children aged 2 year and 1 to 8 for 3 ­ 5 years. However, if the building presents particular problems, extra staff may be necessary. A higher ratio of adults to children may also be necessary when children with disabilities attend a group.

Where are playgroup/pre-schools located?

Community centres, church halls, leisure centres, schools, scout huts, anywhere that groups can meet. They often share premises with other community groups.

How do you find a group?  

"Word of mouth" is a good reference, ask friends or colleagues if they have used a playgroup and were happy with it. Contact Tameside Families Information Service, whose computerised database can give you the addresses of local groups, look for adverts in local shops etc.

What do children do at playgroup/pre-schools?

Playgroups provide children with pre-school experiences such as, art, craft and construction activities, sand and water play, adventure play, music and movement, books and stories etc, as well as the opportunity to socialise with other children. They provide a stable, secure, and relaxed environment where parents and carers feel satisfied to leave their children to have a short break. Parents and carers also have the chance to share the responsibility for their own and other children in the group, to watch and learn from them, to learn with other parents/carers, and to support each other.

How do you settle your child?

The group will ask you to stay with your child for several sessions until your child becomes familiar with the new setting and staff. They may ask you to start by leaving your child for short periods until you are leaving them for the whole session.

What information will the playgroup/pre-school need?

You will be asked to complete a registration form giving details of your child, any illnesses or allergies, where you can be contacted etc., and any information that will help your child to settle. You should be given information about the group.

Some points to consider

  • Visit the group with your child.
  • Are you made welcome?
  • Check they are registered and have up to date public liability insurance.
  • Do the children look happy,
  • Do the adults seem to enjoy being with the children?
  • Are there plenty of toys, books, and play equipment, including dressing up clothes and a home corner set out for the children's use?
  • Do the activities take into account the children's ages, cultural backgrounds and any special needs?
  • Do the toys, books, equipment, activities, displays and staff show a positive attitude to children of both sexes and of all races, religions, cultures, and disabilities?
  • Are you encouraged to settle in your child?
  • Are you provided with any information about the services and policies?
  • Will you be consulted on your child's welfare and development?
  • Are the children prevented from leaving the premises undetected, are gates and fences kept secure?
  • Do staff know how to reach you in an emergency?
  • Do staff carry out regular fire drills and have their fire equipment maintained?

Take your time before you decide where to place your child, visit several groups several times if necessary.

What do you do if you are not happy about things at the group?

Discuss any difficulties as soon as they arise and follow the group's complaint procedure.

If you are still unable to resolve your difficulties and they relate to the quality of care, contact Ofsted Link to External Website on Telephone Number 0300 123 1231.

Where can I find a group in Tameside?

Details are listed on the Online Childcare Finder.

Alternatively, contact:

Contact Information
Contact by Post

Family Information Service (FIS)
Ridge Hill Children’s Centre
School Crescent
Stalybridge
Tameside
SK15 1EA
Contact by Telephone
0161 342 4260