childcare

Childcare Options and Schooling Information

Regardless of what age your child is, childcare is one of the most important decisions that you will make. This section of the website covers the two main areas of childcare provision. Pre-school children (0-5 year olds) and school age children (4+ years).


Coping with Guilt
Lots of parents, including student parents, can feel guilty when they first start leaving their child. Here are a few tips to help you through it:

• Sticking to a clear schedule can make things easier, as children respond well to routine. Remember why you're doing it. You're probably studying for the benefit of your children too. The sacrifices that you make now will bring big benefits for you and them in the future

• If you're really struggling and want some help come to the Student Wellbeing Service. We can arrange for you to meet with a therapist to talk through and explore your difficulties. This is a free and confidential service.

Ofsted
Ofsted, the Government's Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills, is responsible for inspecting and regulating schools as well as other childcare facilities, including childminders to ensure the childcare environment is safe and meets specific standards regarding health and safety, educational need and child development.

The Ofsted website publishes inspection reports online. You can search for reports by address, however, if you can't find the report you want online, we recommend you ask the childcare provider for a paper copy. If a facility is newly-registered, Ofsted may not have made its first, full inspection. See the Ofsted website for further information.

Information for Childcare Providers
SFE has created a guide for childcare providers to help them understand the process and what's expected of them. You can find the guide here.


Choosing Childcare for pre-school children (0-5 year olds)

There is a wide range of childcare available in the Newcastle area outside of the University. You can request a comprehensive list of childcare providers from the Newcastle Families Information Service.

Gov.UK also includes information on finding and choosing childcare. The Family and Childcare Trust includes sections on finding, choosing and paying for childcare.

Age Criteria

  • Day nurseries generally take babies from 3 months (some from 6 weeks old)
  • Childminders can take children from newborn babies to teenagers
  • Nursery schools and pre-schools take children from 2–3 years
  • Out of school clubs and holiday play schemes usually take children that have started full-time school
  • In Newcastle, children can begin school in Reception class the September after they turn 4 years old

Day Nurseries
Run by private individuals, community groups, commercial businesses or by employers; day nurseries generally care for children from 3 months (sometimes 6 weeks) to school-age and offer care from around 8am to 6pm for most of the year. Most offer a choice of morning, afternoon or full day sessions and some nurseries provide out of school childcare facilities for school-age children. Costs vary depending on the age of your child (babies generally cost more because facilities need a higher staff: child ratio in line with Ofsted regulations) and whether you have a full or part-time place. To find nurseries in your area, use the Newcastle Families Information Service.

Local Authority Nursery Schools and Classes
These facilities are run by Newcastle City Council – these may be either nursery classes attached to primary schools or separate, self-contained nursery schools. Part-time morning or afternoon places are free to parents who find a vacancy, usually within their catchment area. Children can start a local authority nursery from the beginning of the school term after their 3rd birthday. However, this depends on vacancies: there is no automatic right of admission and children living in the nursery catchment area will have priority for places.

Local Authority nurseries operate during state school terms. There are often waiting lists in operation. If you are interested in sending your child to a local authority nursery you should contact individual nurseries directly. For a list of primary schools with nursery classes, visit the Newcastle Families Information Service.

Private Nursery Schools
There are also private, fee-paying nursery schools in Newcastle which take children from the age of 2 or 3 years until they start school. They may offer a particular educational approach. Some operate during state school terms only; others are open for most of the year. Most operate for the state school day from approximately 9am–3.15pm. For an extra cost, they may run early and late clubs around their regular hours. For details of private nursery schools in Newcastle, see Newcastle Families Information Service. You will need to contact individual nurseries about waiting lists for places.

Childminders
Self-employed, professional child carers who are registered by Ofsted to look after a small group of children in their own homes. Ask to see a childminder's Ofsted report for information on how many children they are registered to look after. A childminder can offer a flexible service and care for children from newborns to teenagers. The service offered can be tailored to each family's needs and some may provide evening, weekend and school holiday cover. Many childminders will also take children to and from school or other childcare facilities. Costs are negotiated by the individual childminder.

The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY - formally NCMA) provides information and advice on choosing a childminder.
For registered childminders in the Newcastle area, see Newcastle Families Information Service.

Pre-Schools (Playgroups)
Pre-schools offer sessional care or extended sessions, usually to children from 3 years to school age, although some may accept 2 year olds. Most pre-schools are only open during state school terms. To find pre-schools in your area, use the childcare information service Newcastle Families Information Service.

Children's Centres
Sure Start Children's Centres are part of the Government's Every Child Matters programme to deliver better outcomes for children. They bring high quality integrated early years provisions to the heart of communities by providing family services - for example health care, family support groups - as well as childcare information and facilities.
For details on Children's Centres in the local area, see the Sure Start website. For more general information on Sure Start Children's Centres, see https://www.gov.uk/find-sure-start-childrens-centre .

Parent and Toddler Groups
These are informal community groups that meet on a regular basis, which parents or carers attend with their children. They are often run from local community centres or churches and ask for a small fee each session to cover refreshments etc. Details of local groups can be found here.

Nannies and Au Pairs
Nannies work in your own home and do not have to be registered with Ofsted. Au Pairs are usually students from overseas wanting to improve their English, who live in the family's home and help with light domestic duties and childcare in return for food, lodging and a small wage. Costs can depend on the individual and the amount of hours you require the au-pair to work. There are specialist agencies, including Cherish Childcare that will help with all aspects of employing an au-pair.

Like childminders, nannies may be able to provide more flexible and personal care for your child. They may be live-in or live-out (daily) nannies. It's possible for families that require part-time care to take part in a nanny-share with other families, which can ease the considerable costs. For nanny-share advice, try the Best Bear website. You can find other students looking for nanny shares through other services such as www.nannyshare.co.uk and www.thenannysharers.co.uk.

Nannies are employed by the family, who will be responsible for sorting out terms and conditions of employment, tax and national insurance. There are specialist agencies, including Tinies that will help with all aspects of employing a Nanny. Costs are high and can depend on the nanny's age, experience and hours worked, but if you have more than one young child it can work out cheaper than sending your children to a day nursery.

Independent Private Schools
Some of these privately-owned, fee-paying schools offer nursery places. If the school participates in the Early Years Funding scheme (see below), it will be inspected by Ofsted. To search for independent schools in the area, try the Independent Schools Council or The Independent Schools Directory. For pre-school education, search for Pre-Preparatory or Pre-Prep schools. There is more information on independent private schools in the School Age Children section of this guide.

Academy Schools
Academies are state-funded (non fee-paying) independent schools. They are inspected by Ofsted but have opted to be independent of local authority and national government control and deal with their own admissions. Some academies may offer nursery places. For more information as well as an updated map and list of academies in the area see The Department for Education, Academies.

Free Schools are new state-funded, independent schools set up by communities in response to local requirements. The first free schools in the country open in September 2011. They may offer nursery places. For more information see The Department for Education, Free Schools.

Out of School Childcare and Holiday Play schemes
Out-of-school clubs and holiday schemes provide care for school-age children outside normal school hours. This can include both before and after school and all day during the school holidays; this will vary from one facility to the next. Often the facility is based in a local school. See the Ofsted Registration and Inspection section for information on registration for out-of-school childcare. For out-of-school childcare in your area, contact your child's school or see Newcastle Family Information Service.

Early Years Funding scheme for 3 and 4 year olds
The Early Years Funding Scheme (formerly Nursery Education Funding) funds part-time early years education at eligible childcare providers for children aged 3 and 4 in the years before they begin school. Eligible childcare providers include day nurseries, Local Authority and private nursery schools, pre-schools, some independent schools and childminders belonging to a childminding network. Funding begins for 3 year olds from the term after their 3rd birthday and continues for all 4 year olds.

The scheme provides 15 hours of free, flexible childcare over a minimum of 3 days per week. This can be spread over a minimum of 38 weeks per year, up to a maximum of 50 weeks, as long as the hours claimed do not exceed 570 hours in total per academic year. You have to pay for any extra time your child attends the childcare facility.

Your childcare provider should inform you when your child is eligible for funding and it is the provider that claims the funding on your behalf. Anyone who has a place with a participating childcare provider will be able to get financial help from this scheme, including students from overseas.

Choosing Childcare for School Age Children (4+ years)

State School Enrolment
In England you are required by law to make sure your child begins education from the beginning of school term after he or she turns 5 years old. However, children normally start Reception class in a state school from the September after their 4th birthday.

State schools in England are non-fee paying and maintained by the Local Authority (LA), with the exception of academies and free schools which deal with their own admissions. Every child is entitled to a free education, and every child resident in Newcastle will be offered a school place. It is wise to plan ahead for your child's enrolment at school, particularly if you are new to the Newcastle area. Your child is given priority for a place in your catchment area state school (i.e. the age-appropriate school in the area where you live) as long as there is a vacancy. You can use the Newcastle Families Information Service to look up catchment area schools for your address. You will need your postcode to do this.

You can choose to send your child to a school other than your catchment area school if there is an available place, but priority for places will be given to children in that catchment area. If you do choose to send your child to a school in a different catchment area, you will be responsible for any travel arrangements unless you are sending your child to a Roman Catholic school for religious reasons. There is also no guarantee that a younger brother or sister will be allocated a place at the same school in the future.

Primary schools take children from ages 4–11 years old. Some primary schools have attached nursery units that accept 3 year olds. Children begin in Reception class, then move up through school years 1-6. Some primary schools are split into Infant and Junior schools. Secondary schools take children from 11–16 years old; or school year 7–11. If a secondary school has an attached Sixth Form for studies in Year 12 and 13, they will accept children that choose to stay on beyond the age of 16.

You can research your options and download admission guides to Newcastle schools from the Newcastle City Council web pages. Parents can apply for a place in the school year before their child is due to attend. See the City Council webpages for admission deadlines for applications to schools; although you can apply after these deadlines for remaining vacancies. Unless you already live in the area, it is rarely possible for new students to apply early for a school place. The Local Authority Admissions Team at the Newcastle City Council require evidence of a local permanent address for your child when you apply. They may ask for lease agreements for rented property or signed contracts for purchased property. For overseas students, they may also ask for a copy of your child's passport and entry visa to check permission to stay in the country. Your child will need to be resident for at least 6 teaching weeks to be eligible for a school place. Visitor's visas of 6 months duration are not acceptable. As soon as you know you will be coming to Newcastle, it is advisable to contact the City Council's Admissions Team. See the Newcastle City Council website for contact details.

Ofsted the Government's Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills, inspects and reports on state schools and you can browse Inspection Reports. The Department for Education publishes school and college performance tables.

Family Holidays during Term-Time and Extended Visits Overseas
School-age children, who are registered at a school must, by law, attend that school regularly. In particular, parents need to avoid taking their children out of school during term-time in order to go on holiday. All schools have a policy which discourages parents from arranging family holidays during term time and will state that such leave will not be granted unless there are 'exceptional circumstances'. Extended visits to family overseas (more than 10 days) may be unavoidable, and if so, parents will need to discuss the educational impact on their child(ren) with the school.

Term dates
See http://www.newcastle.gov.uk/education-and-learning/schools/term-holiday-and-other-closure-dates

Uniforms
Most secondary schools and a few primary schools have a school uniform. In cases of financial hardship the Local Authority have some provision for covering the cost of a uniform for pupils aged 11 years and above. For more information, contact Newcastle City Council. This service can also help with free school lunches as well as provide information on the Learner Support Fund, which helps with the cost of books, equipment and travel.

Free School Meals
All children who are at school; and were under 19 at the start of the academic year and are claiming or have parents who are receiving certain types of financial support from the government. For more information, including who is eligible go to Newcastle City Council.

Independent schools
Independent schools are privately owned and not maintained by the Local Authority. They are registered with the Department for Education but make their own arrangements concerning staffing numbers, qualifications and curriculum. Independent schools obtain most of their finances from fees paid by parents and some of the larger independent schools are known as public schools. Most boarding schools are independent.

There are a number of independent schools in the Newcastle area for all age groups up to Sixth Form Colleges for 17 and 18 year olds. These schools deal with their own enrolment and can ask children to sit entrance exams before they are considered for a place. You will need to contact the individual school to find out more.
To search for independent schools in the area, see the Independent Schools Council or the Independent Schools Directory. Schools that are members of the Independent Schools Council are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. The Department for Education publishes school and college performance tables, including exam results for independent schools.

Academies and Free Schools
Academies are state-funded (non fee-paying) independent schools. They are inspected by Ofsted but have opted to be independent of local authority and national government control and deal with their own admissions so you need to contact the school directly. For more information as well as an updated map and list of academies in the area see The Department for Education.

Free Schools are new state-funded, independent schools set up by communities in response to local requirements. The first free schools in the country open in September 2011. For more information see The Department for Education.

Tutoring
Should your child need extra tutoring outside school, schools may have suggestions for people who can help. If you feel your child needs extra help in any area in order to feel comfortable with the pace of the class, ask at the school for advice. Alternatively, you could advertise for a student to tutor your child. Students, like other tutors, will expect payment for their services.

English Language Tuition
For children whose first language isn't English, TESL or TEFL tutors or language schools may be of help. Speak with your child's school — they can usually refer you a teacher in your area whose job it is to make sure children who are speakers of other languages get help with English. You can also advertise on College and University notice boards: students are often willing to tutor for an hourly rate.

Children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
If your child has special needs it is important to ensure that you get all the support and assistance you need. For state schools, contact the Newcastle City Council Admission Team before enrolling your child to discuss what support is in place for children with special needs. See also the City Council's Special Educational Needs and Disability pages. For information on special needs provision at independent schools, you should contact the individual school.
For information and support for children with dyslexia, try Dyslexia Action. For children with disabilities and their carers see http://www.newcastle.gov.uk/education-and-learning/special-educational-needs .

Out of School Childcare and Holiday Playschemes
See also the section on Childminders.
Out-of-school or after-school childcare providers care for children of school-age outside normal school hours. Clubs and playschemes can provide care before and after school and all day during the school holidays (this will vary from one facility to the next). Often the facility is based in a local school.

Many out-of-school childcare providers are required to register with Ofsted. Ofsted Registration is split into the Ofsted Early Years Register and the Ofsted Childcare Register, which has compulsory and voluntary parts. Childcare providers that care for children from birth to 5 years must follow the Early Years Foundation Stage framework and join the Early Years Register. This includes out of school clubs and playschemes that offer care for children age 5 years and younger. Clubs and playschemes that care for children under 8 but older than 5 must join the compulsory part of the Childcare Register.

Settings that only care for children aged over 8 and activity-based settings - such as sports clubs — are not required to be Ofsted-registered but can opt to join the voluntary part of the Childcare Register. Ofsted also inspect state schools. Schools are not included on either register unless they offer care services for children under the age of 3 years. If a school provides an extended, out-of-school service directly (and does not use an outside organisation to provide clubs and playschemes) Ofsted will check requirements are met when they carry out a full school inspection. More information can be found at Ofsted. For information on out-of-school childcare in your area, contact your child's school or see Newcastle Family Information Service.

Nannies and Au Pairs
Nannies work in your own home and do not have to be registered with Ofsted. Au Pairs are usually students from overseas wanting to improve their English, who live in the family's home and help with light domestic duties and childcare in return for food, lodging and a small wage. Costs can depend on the individual and the amount of hours you require the au-pair to work. There are specialist agencies, including Cherish Childcare that will help with all aspects of employing an au-pair.

Like childminders, nannies may be able to provide more flexible and personal care for your child. They may be live-in or live-out (daily) nannies. It's possible for families that require part-time care to take part in a nanny-share with other families, which can ease the considerable costs. For nanny-share advice, try the Best Bear website. You can find other students looking for nanny shares through other services such as www.nannyshare.co.uk and www.thenannysharers.co.uk.

Nannies are employed by the family, who will be responsible for sorting out terms and conditions of employment, tax and national insurance. There are specialist agencies, including Tinies that will help with all aspects of employing a Nanny. Costs are high and can depend on the nanny's age, experience and hours worked, but if you have more than one young child it can work out cheaper than sending your children to a day nursery.