Nurseries and pre-schools

All nurseries, pre-schools and playgroups give children the opportunity to play and learn, try new things, develop social skills and make friends. 

Private and voluntary nurseries, pre-schools and playgroups

  • Some are open full time (8am to 6pm) and some offer am and/or pm sessions (e.g.9am to 12pm)
  • Some private providers care for very young children and some begin taking children when they are two.
  • are all inspected by Ofsted to make sure that the care they provide is of a good standard.

Find your nearest nursery

If you live near a neighbouring borough make sure you get childcare lists from them as well. Many nurseries offer sibling discounts if you have two or more children at the same nursery.

Even though all children can receive 15 hours a week of free early years' education, not all nurseries offer this so you will need to check before you enrol.

Nursery classes in schools – for 3 to 4 year olds

  • provides early education for children aged from 3 years old until they are old enough to attend a reception class. It is important to note that attending a school nursery is in no way linked to getting a place in the same primary school.
  • sessions usually last for 3 hours per day and during term time only
  • if the nursery class finishes at midday you may want to consider hiring a childminder or using a private nursery if you need childcare for longer.

Pre-schools and playgroups – for 2 to 5 year olds

  • offer part-time early education and care for children between the ages of two and five years
  • most are are funded to provide 15 hours of free education a week
  • find a playgroup or pre-school

Children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

There are specialist places in four, council-run nurseries for children under five with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). 

There are also places in private, voluntary or independent (PVI) nurseries that are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. Find your nearest nursery.

The specialist nursery places are at:

All four nurseries have specialist staff and equipment to support children with SEND and work closely with professionals such as speech and language therapistsphysiotherapists and Brent Sensory Support Service.

View more information about how children with SEND are identified and assessed in early years.


To be eligible for a place your child must meet the criteria. You will then need to ask a professional who is working with your child to refer you. This person could be a paediatrician, speech and language therapist, health visitor or sensory impairment worker. Your child’s nursery can also refer them if they are already attending a setting.

If you are a professional and would like further information about the referral process contact Karen Zajdel, Early Years Lead for Under 5s, on 020 8937 6573 or email Under 5s

Once your child’s application has been received, it will be considered by the council’s Under 5's Specialist Nursery Panel. This panel is made up of representatives from health, education, social care, early support, the Brent Outreach Autism Team (BOAT) and the sensory support service. A decision is made based on the level of support the child needs.

The panel meets on the second Monday of every month, with the deadline for submitting applications being the first Wednesday of the month. A letter will then be sent to the parent and the professional who has referred the child, informing them of the panel's decision.

Spaces for specialist nursery places are limited but if the child meets the eligibility criteria a place will be offered in the first instance.



Complaining about a childcare provider

If your complaint is about child protection, visit our section on child protection to report your concerns.

If your complaint is of a general nature such as disputes about contracts or fees contact the head or manager of the childcare provision. It is a good idea to put your complaint in writing.

You can ask your childcare provider for a copy of their complaints procedure which explains how your complaint will be dealt with.

Important: You should check references of any child carer you employ. Agencies should provide this information for you, including an up to date Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.




Find a nursery

Use our Family Information Directory to search for a nursery near you.

Find a nursery near you