A relocator's guide to childcare in the UK

Written in collaboration with myTamarin, the top UK nanny agency.

So, you’re relocating? The last year has certainly seen many people re-evaluate their living situation, seeking to move to different parts of the UK to be closer to family, be further out from the busy city, and so on. Moving is a big event for any family and whilst it is exciting, it can also be a little daunting, especially when you need to arrange your childcare and you’re not familiar with the options available in your new local area.


Generally speaking, there are five key categories of childcare available: nurseries, wraparound school clubs, childminders, nannies and au pairs. This article discusses the benefits and drawbacks of each to help you make the right decision for your family.


Nurseries


Nursery is a term that encompasses a wide range of Ofsted regulated settings for daytime childcare. They work to the Early Years Foundation Stage framework meaning that whilst there, children will take part in development-oriented activities such as drawing, imaginative play, and communication with others. Most nurseries also adopt a ‘key worker’ policy, where a member of staff is assigned to look after a small group of children, reporting back to parents each day.


Nursery costs tend to be based on the age of the child, with care for children under a year old being the highest and costs gradually reducing by the time they children reach pre-school age. Within inner London and large cities, you can expect to pay £1,428 for 50+ hours a week compared to £1,206 for nurseries in outer London or more rural locations for the same age group. For children aged between 3-4, however, weekly costs can be drastically reduced as all working families are entitled to 30 hours of free childcare.




Benefits:


  • Being Ofsted regulated, nurseries must have regular inspections in line with safety, staffing and curriculum standards.

  • All staff must be Ofsted inspected, have an up-to-date DBS certificate and be trained in paediatric first aid.

  • Nursery settings encourage the development of social skills and interacting with others.


Drawbacks:


  • Many nurseries charge extra for late pickups. This additional fee varies between nurseries; some will have a flat rate of £1-£10 every minute over whereas with others, you will incur a £90 fine if you are later by more than 30 minutes.

  • Due to the key workers structure implemented in many nurseries, children get limited one-on-one interaction.

  • If you have more than one child, they can be financially unfeasible; in Central London, for instance, nurseries can charge up to £330 per week, per child.



Wraparound school clubs



Wraparound school clubs are usually offered by the child’s school and offer childcare provision to those parents whose work hours extend the school day or have children that attend different educational settings. Breakfast clubs take place in the morning, and typically open an hour before the school day starts. After school clubs, as the name suggests, take place at the end of the school day, and can cover a broad range of extra-curricular activities such as sports and arts.


Benefits:


  • They offer comfort as children will likely be with staff and children they know in a familiar environment

  • Children have the chance to develop their social skills and forge friendships outside the classroom setting.

  • They are one of cheapest of the available childcare options. You can expect to pay £250-£274 for 15 hours a week.

  • The price does not fluctuate depending on the age of the child.


Drawbacks:


  • If the after-school club takes place off school premises, staff won’t be able to take the child for them to attend.

  • They are usually only open a set number of hours a day and for certain periods of time, meaning they may not be suitable for parents who work shifts or have unpredictable hours.

  • They may not be available outside of term time.



Childminders



Childminders look after children in their own houses and provide care for small groups of children. Some childminders will also offer drop-offs and pick-ups for school aged children when parents work beyond school hours. Like nurseries, childminders must be Ofsted inspected, DBS checked, and first aid trained.


The cost for a childminder varies depending on the age of the child. For 50 hours a week, childminders will charge somewhere in the range of £1,217 to £1,313 for a child under twelve months. Once a child reaches age five, you’ll be looking at approximately £479 for 15 hours a week in inner London, and £354 in the other regions. It’s worth remembering that this cost will drop once a child turns three, as you’ll then be eligible for 30 hours free childcare per week.


Benefits:


  • It is more likely your child will have the chance for one-on-one interaction to help with their confidence and development.

  • Your child will have the opportunity to engage and form friendships with other children in the group.

  • Childminders can be found on social media, local authority websites and online directories.


Drawbacks:


  • Whilst childminders can be flexible with care hours and dropping off and collecting your child, there is no guarantee.

  • If the childminder is ill or unable to work, you could be left without childcare at short notice.

  • Due to the low adult/child ratios required, you may not be able to find a childminder locally, and good childminders get booked up quickly.


Au Pairs



Au pairs are young adults, usually from a foreign country who take care of a family’s children and undertake light household chores in exchange for accommodation, an allowance, and meals.


Benefits:


  • Their schedules are often flexible to suit your family, meaning that they can babysit or cover longer hours at short notice if you are delayed for any reason.

  • They offer affordable, individualised childcare, costing between £70-£100 per week.


Drawbacks:


  • They may have little to no previous childcare experience, particularly for babies and infants.

  • As the normally live within the family home, routines and privacy may require compromise.


Nannies


Nannies are childcare professionals that work in your home environment. They provide personalised care for your child, catered to their needs, learning and schedule. Nannies can be either live-in or live-out and either full or part time. One key thing that sets nannies apart from childminders is the number of children they care for. Whilst childminders often look after children from more than one home at a time, a nanny will usually work for just one family.


Benefits


  • Nannies become part of the family, especially myTamarin nannies, where the matching process results in placements lasting 2.5x longer than the market average

  • A nanny is able to learn about a child, their routines and schedules in order to support their progress.

  • Their hours are flexible to suit the needs of the family.

  • They are often willing to help with chores and general errands.


Drawbacks


  • There is the worry that children may not get the same opportunities for interaction with peers, but nannies can arrange play dates and other activities for socialising with other children of a similar age.

  • Nannies can be expensive, yet the cost works out to be more economical than nurseries when hiring a nanny to care for more than one child; 40 hours a week for a live-out nanny will cost around £633.

  • Agency fees can be a concern, especially with many nanny agencies charging between £4,000-£6,000. However, agencies such as myTamarin offer fair pay-as-you-go monthly payments for parents, charging £249 a month.



Conclusion


We know that finding the right childcare for your family takes a lot of time and thought, you want your children to feel safe, happy and nurtured with whichever option you choose after all. Hopefully, you now have a better insight into the choices available to you and this information will help in making your selection. That being said, there is a lot of information to take in, so we thought it might be handy to summarise some of the key points made above:



*for a child under 12 months.


If you’ve feel hiring a nanny is the best childcare option for you, sign up to myTamarin, a leading London nanny agency, today.


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