Pre-schools and playgroups

Pre-schools and playgroups provide early years learning and childcare. They are usually run by the private, voluntary or independent sector and are based within the local community.

Find a pre-school or playgroup

You will need ask to if the setting is able to offer funded places for your child. You can speak to them directly and search the Norfolk Directory for information on settings who offer funded places for two, three and four-year-olds.

More information about free childcare and learning.

Most groups are held in places such as village halls and community centres, and some are run on school sites. Children attend sessions that are two and a half to four hours long during term time, although the pre-schools and playgroups may not open every day of the week. 

Some provisions have extended their days to accommodate working parents and can be open all day.

For exact opening times and days of individual playgroups you can search the Norfolk Directory and contact the groups directly.

All groups will take children from the age of three to school age and some will take children from as early as two-years-old. It is best to contact the individual pre-school or playgroup to ask what age range they take.

Pre-schools and playgroups usually charge a rate per session and some may charge a daily rate. You will agree this with them before your child starts. You will also have a signed contract in place with your pre-school/playgroup which includes details of notice periods, holiday care, any sickness and late payments.

The average rate in Norfolk is £3.55 per hour (September 2016) but this rate does vary throughout the county so it is important to check with the individual pre-school or playgroup.

You may also need to pay extra for food and or certain activities so it is important to discuss this with your pre-school/playgroup before agreeing their terms.

You will need to contact the pre-school or playgroup directly to apply for a place for your child and they will let you know about their application process. There may be a waiting list you will need to join, so we advise you to apply as early as possible.
The Department of Education sets a Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage. This outlines standards for staff qualifications, training, support and skills.
For children aged under two:
  • there must be at least one member of staff for every three children;
For children aged two:
  • there must be at least one member of staff for every four children;
For children aged three and over in registered early years provision where a person WITH Qualified Teacher Status, Early Years Professional Status, Early Years Teacher Status or another suitable level 6 qualification is working directly with the children
  • there must be at least one member of staff for every 13 children;
Early Years Teacher Status or another suitable level 6 qualification is NOT working directly with the children
  • there must be at least one member of staff for every eight children;
For more detailed information on staff qualifications and ratios visit GOV.UK for a full overview of the framework.

Pre-schools and playgroups are registered with and inspected by Ofsted and must meet all Ofsted registration criteria.

Ofsted provide an inspection report which details conditions of registration and grading. Ofsted Inspection Reports are available from the Ofsted website, directly from your setting or via their listing on the Norfolk Directory

Any concerns or complaints you have regarding an early years setting should be made directly to the setting and/or reported to Ofsted. For more information visit Ofsted Complaints. You may also inform Norfolk County Council if you feel a child is at risk.