Pre-schools (also known as playgroups) provide early years education to under 5 year olds. They offer young children a chance to learn and play in small groups, often close to their home.

Pre-schools and maintained nurseries are registered with Ofsted and inspected regularly. All staff must have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

All pre-schools provide free early education. Most pre-schools and maintained nurseries open for 2.5 hour sessions, but many now open for longer hours.

Pre-school staff work with the children, and parents often help out. Pre-schools offer a range of stimulating activities for children, encouraging them to learn through play. They plan the children's learning opportunities on the basis of the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum, which prepares children aged 0-5 for Key Stage one in year one of school.

Many pre-schools are community groups managed by parent/carer voluntary committees. Parental involvement is both welcomed and encouraged and without it many groups would struggle to exist. Pre-schools meet in a variety of venues including church halls, community centres, scout huts and school sites. Maintained nurseries are run by the Local Education Authority and are based on a school site.

Plus points

  • Your child is safe and can make new friends
  • Your child can develop new skills and build greater confidence
  • You can meet other parents and get to know your local community better

When can my child start pre-school? SHOW

How will I know my child will be safe and secure? SHOW

How many children will there be? SHOW

When will services be open? SHOW

Can pre-schools offer full-time childcare? SHOW

How much will it cost? SHOW

Can a pre-school provide the early years 2-, 3- & 4-year funded places? SHOW

How does the funding system work for the free early years funded places? SHOW

Do I need to register by a certain date for my child to access a Southampton free early years funded place? SHOW

Can you help me choose a good childcare provider? SHOW

Where can I find a pre-school?

Search our database of childcare in Southampton or for childcare outside of Southampton, contact your local authority.