Services for Young Children

Pre-school or playgroup

Child age range

  • (Average) 2 and half years - 5 years


  • Pre-schools or playgroups provide care and most offer early education.

  • Pre-schools or playgroups can be organised by community on a not-for-profit basis, often with help from parents.

  • Sessions from 2 and half to 4 hours a day are offered, during term time only, and days may vary.

  • Children receive learning and development activities suitable for their age.

  • Some pre-schools are developing their services to offer longer sessions or full time daycare.

  • Most pre-schools provide places for between 24 and 28 children.

  • Minimum staffing ratios are 1:4 for children aged 2 and 1:8 for children aged 3 to 5.

  • Most staff are trained to work with children.

Quality assurance

  • All pre-schools or playgroups who care for children under the age of 8 must be registered and inspected by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted).

  • All pre-schools or playgroups that provide part time early years education for 2, 3 and 4 year olds are inspected by Ofsted.

  • Parents can ask a pre-school for a copy of their Ofsted inspection report or go online.

  • Pre-schools can achieve ‘quality assurance’ with schemes recognised by the Government.


  • Hourly rates start from £6.00

  • Some pre-schools may ask to have paid a block booking in advance.

  • Pre-schools that are on the Hampshire County Council ‘Directory of Providers’ provide part time early years education for some 2 year olds (eligible families), and 3 and 4 year olds which is free to parents.

  • Financial support is available from Tax Credits/ Universal credit or employer supported Childcare Vouchers depending on the family's income.

Times available

  • Mornings: Start around 9am and finish between 12 and 1pm.

  • Afternoons: Start around 1pm and finish about 3.30pm.

  • Some playgroups provide ‘lunch clubs’.