Getting the Best London Nursery

Getting the Best London Nursery

Sabine Hook
September 18th 2018

Over the last few years school and nursery applications in London have taken on a somewhat mad momentum of their own and can induce panic in even the most calm and organised of parents. Competition for places is at an all time high and as a result the registration deadlines seem to be creeping earlier and earlier. The pressure is on with many schools assessing little ones for entrance at 4 years old and the average inner London parent is hedging their bets with an average of 4 nursery registrations and 5 for schools. But what really matters when you are selecting the first step in your child’s educational journey? And having found the perfect nursery choice what do you need to do to secure the place?

When selecting nurseries in London proximity should be a priority as most London parents will be spending huge amounts of time grappling with the rush hour traffic when children start school. Walking to nursery will make for a relaxed and happy morning routine and the fresh air will increase your child’s concentration levels for the rest of the day.

Another important thing to consider when selecting a nursery is the Ofsted reports and destination schools.  Nursery schools are all inspected by Ofsted and when evaluating your choice be sure to read through the report and to make sure the grading doesn’t fall under a ‘good’ rating or preferably an ‘outstanding’.  Information on destination schools over the last few years is especially important if you are considering competitive entrance at 4+. Some nurseries have strong relationships with certain schools and manage to get a large amount of children through these competitive entrance assessments year in, year out. 

A crucial question parents need to ask is what kind of nursery is best for their child? This all depends on your needs, most importantly the age you wish you child to start nursery and the hours you wish them to attend. Day nurseries work best for working parents who need full day childcare coverage and will often take children as young as 6 months old. Independent nursery schools mostly offer half day places either 3.5 hours in the morning or afternoon with the occasional full time place and can take children as young as 2 years old. Lastly schools with nursery classes will often not take children under 2.5 years old and will offer a similar morning, afternoon or sometimes a full school day. Selecting a nursery attached to a school is probably the least disruptive choice as it avoids the madness of 4+ assessments; your child can remain in the same location and seamlessly work their way up the school. The negative of this choice is that parents have to select a school that will suit your child at a very early age.

Getting your registrations in early is unfortunately an unavoidable step in securing the best nurseries. In some areas of London, cut off registration dates often expire around 2 weeks after birth. For the most successful and popular nursery schools it is now a reality that registrations can be accepted as frighteningly early as 3 months pregnant. The reality is that due to competition for places the  majority of nurseries in London will encourage registration from birth up to 8 months after birth and generally this will sufficient to gain a place for a start at 2 or 2 and half years old. Since the registration dates are so dependent on the popularity of each specific nursery it is well worth doing a bit of research before the birth date. Asking the nursery directly when they recommend registration to ensure a guaranteed place puts the responsibility in their hands a little more and could dispense with unnecessary stress. If the registration date recommended is a couple of days after birth than it is time to get organised.

It is an increasingly common sight to see women in their second trimester of pregnancy in the full flow of nursery and school visits. Sending off for registration forms or printing them off from the website and filling in the majority of information before the birth means that you only need add the date of birth and name and you are ready to go. Although such a level of pre-planning initially seems ridiculous it will ensure you have the best possible information as early as possible and can then relax and enjoy this early time with your new baby.

Sabine Hook is a specialist nursery and early years education advisor at William Clarence Education