The Best Questions to Ask When Visiting a Nursery

The Best Questions to Ask When Visiting a Nursery

For many parents, visiting a nursery for the first time can be confusing or even a little daunting.

Choosing the right nursery for your child is, after all, a big decision. You want to ensure you find out as much as possible about the nurseries you visit.

But what are the best questions to ask when visiting a nursery?

To help, we’ve compiled a list of questions you should ask (we’ve even included some of our own answers). That way, you’ll be fully prepared when you start viewing nurseries.

The Best Questions to Ask When Visiting a Nursery

  • What experience and qualifications do your staff have?
  • How do you know the staff you recruit are trusted to care for children?
  • What are your fees?
  • Is there a set number of days my child needs to attend?
  • How many staff look after the children?
  • What is a key person?
  • How will you ensure my child is safe at the nursery?
  • What kinds of activities do you provide?
  • How often do children go outside?
  • How will you support my child’s learning?
  • How will I stay informed of my child’s progress?
  • Do you provide meals and snacks?
  • How do you manage children’s behaviour?
  • What do your fees include?
  • How many weeks per year is your nursery open?
  • How do you cater for children with dietary requirements or allergies?
  • What is your current Ofsted grading, and can I see the report?

“What experience and qualifications do your staff have?”

Many parents’ choice of nursery will depend heavily on the people looking after their child. After all, children will spend a great deal of time at nursery, so they must have the right people around them during their early years.

At Tommies Childcare, we believe that experience and qualifications are essential. So too, is people’s work ethic and passion for childcare, and we hire people based on their ethos, not just their skills. We also provide ongoing training to all staff as part of our internal training and professional development programme.

Any staff in a management role at Tommies Childcare hold a minimum of a Level 3 qualification. Meanwhile, Nursery Practitioners will usually have a Level 2 or Level 3 qualification or have relevant experience working or looking after young children.

Recruitment has been difficult in the early years sector in recent years, and, unfortunately, this continues to be challenging. To support our recruitment needs, Tommies Childcare employs its own Bank Staff team who work on flexible contracts while fully aware of our policies, procedures and expectations.

“How do you know the staff you recruit are trusted to care for children?”

As a parent, safeguarding your child is your number one priority. This is one of the most essential questions when visiting a nursery.

A great way to determine whether staff have been checked to see if they’re suitable to work with children is to ask about the nursery’s recruitment procedure.

There are several suitability checks and processes that every nursery provider is duty-bound to adhere to. Having said that, some providers are more thorough than others.

At Tommies Childcare, we believe in taking a best-practice approach to recruitment and vetting our staff to the highest standard.

Before any new staff member can begin working at Tommies Childcare, we request to view at least two employment references and/or three years of employment history. While this can sometimes cause delays in a new team member starting work, we are committed to ensuring the above checks have been completed fully.

Additionally, we carry out an Enhanced DBS check on all staff, regardless of whether they work directly with children. DBS checks are renewed every three years or annually if the employee is registered with the DBS Update Service. We believe stringent vetting procedures are one of the simplest ways to safeguard children.

“How many staff look after the children?”

One of the more common questions is how many staff look after the children. Specifically, what are the staff-to-children ratios?

One of the things you can do as a parent is to check that your choice of nursery is adhering to the childcare ratios outlined in the Statutory Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). An excellent way to check this is by asking whether staff cover each other’s lunch breaks. If they don’t, then that could mean that ratios are not being followed.

The statutory guidance for childcare ratios in a nursery setting is as follows. Please note that the guidance for ratios will be updated from September 2023, which we have shown below.

0-2 years1:3
2-3 years1:4 (1:5 from September 2023)
3+ years1:8

These are the ratios that we adopt across Tommies Childcare. You may find, however, that if you visit a school nursery, the ratios are much higher. For example, for children 3+ years where a person holds Qualified Teacher Status or Early Years Professional Status, the statutory ratio increases to 1:13. While we do have some staff working with this age group, we usually continue to operate on a 1:8 ratio.

“How often do children go outside?”

Most nurseries with outdoor space usually allow children to have regular outdoor access.

However, at Tommies Childcare, we guarantee that all children access our garden spaces daily, regardless of the weather. We promote this approach as a necessity for young children, and it is something we are passionate about. One of the reasons for this is that children gain many learning experiences from being outside, which can’t be replicated inside.

We recognise that there may be times when parents ask us if children can stay indoors if they are poorly. As outside play is one of our core values, we advise parents that children should only attend the nursery if they are well enough to participate in all activities, including outdoor play.

“How will I stay informed of my child’s progress?”

Your child will spend a lot of time each week at their nursery. So, you’ll likely want to know what they get up to and learn about.

Learning journals often inform parents of their child’s progress and development. Traditionally, these learning journals are physical documents kept at the nursery.

We believe that parents should have easy access to their child’s progress. That’s why our nurseries use digital learning journey software called ParentZone. ParentZone is an app that parents can download to their smartphone, tablet, or online. Our practitioners upload photos and videos and provide reports and logs to document what children have been getting up to. Parents can then view these in real-time and instantly access any developments their child makes.

Additional information, such as children’s meals, sleep times, nappy changes and general well-being, can also be found on ParentZone.

You can learn more about ParentZone in one of our other blogs:  What are iPads used for at Nursery?

“What is your current Ofsted grading, and can I see the report?”

The majority of childcare providers are registered with Ofsted. Your choice of nursery will likely be registered with Ofsted.

Most nurseries keep a copy of their most recent inspection report on-site, but you can also view these online and any complaints that may have been logged here.

We hope you’ve found this helpful. If you’re ready to visit one of our nurseries to ask us all these questions, find your nearest Tommies Childcare setting and arrange a visit here!

Recent Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search

NEW NURSERY: Shirley Green Day Nursery, Solihull - Opening in 2024
NEW NURSERY: Shirley Green Day Nursery, Solihull - Opening in 2024
Learn More Learn More