A nursery student practicing handwriting, representing when to apply for nursery schools in London.

How to choose the best London nursery school for your child

Sabine Hook
September 18th 2018

In this blog, specialist nursery and early years education advisor at William Clarence Education Sabine Hook discusses how to select and when to apply for nursery schools in London. 

Over the last few years, school and nursery applications in London have taken on a somewhat mad momentum of their own.

This can, unfortunately, induce panic in even the calmest and most 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 four years old, and the average inner London parent is hedging their bets with an average of four nursery registrations, and five school registrations. 

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? 

Read on to find out... 

5 things to consider when you want to apply to a London nursery:  

1. Proximity 

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. 

2. Ofsted reports 

Another important thing to consider when selecting a nursery is the Ofsted reports.  

Nursery schools are all inspected by Ofsted, so when evaluating your choice, be sure to read the report carefully and make sure the grading does not fall under a “good” rating, or preferably an “outstanding” rating. 

3. Destination schools 

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.  

4. The age you want your child to start attending 

Day nurseries work best for working parents who need full-day childcare coverage, whilst schools with nursery classes will offer morning and afternoon sessions, or sometimes a full school day.  

Independent nursery schools similarly offer half-day places (either three and a half hours in the morning or afternoon) with the occasional full-time place. 

5. The nursery’s open hours 

Day nurseries will often take children as young as six months old. Independent nursery schools can take children as young as two years old, and schools with nurseries attached will often not take children under two and a half years old.  

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 downside to this choice however is that parents have to select a school that will suit their child at a very early age. 

When to apply for nursery schools in London 

Knowing when to apply for nursery schools in London is essential for application success. 

Getting your registrations in early is unfortunately an unavoidable step in securing the best nursery placements. In some areas of London, nurseries cut off registration dates as early as two weeks after the birth of a child.  

For the most successful and popular nursery schools, it is now a reality that registrations can be accepted as frighteningly early as when the mother is three months pregnant.  

The reality is that, due to competition for places, the majority of nurseries in London will encourage registration from birth up to eight months after birth to gain a place for a start at two or two 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, then it is time to get organised. It's becoming increasingly common 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’ll be ready to go.  

Although such a level of pre-planning initially seems ridiculous, this means that you can relax and enjoy this early time with your new baby! 

Looking for further advice on nursery placements in London?

Here at William Clarence, our knowledge, experience and connections are unrivalled in the nursery school sector. For further advice, answers to your questions or to find out how our nursery experts will support you in your applications for a London nursery placement, arrange your free consultation today.

how to choose the best london nursery