It can often be hard to find childcare, but it’s doubly difficult if you find yourself looking for childcare in a new area. For those who are arriving in Islington, here’s a guide to what the borough has to offer, and how to tap into it.

Types of childcare

There so many different types of childcare that it can seem bewildering. What’s the difference between a childminder and childcare on domestic premises? How does a playgroup differ from a nursery? Should you go for a day nursery or would it be better to use a workplace nursery? Is something that calls itself a nursery school better than a day nursery? And what’s Montessori when it’s at home?

The need for childcare and the confusion of choice continue after the pre-school years – there are holiday clubs, after-school clubs and breakfast clubs, and childminders who cover the same needs.

Where to begin if you’re moving to Islington

The Islington Council website is a great resource. You can search the comprehensive lists of available care by type – nurseries, childminders – and by postcode. That means you can check the availability of childcare near any property you’re thinking of renting or buying. The Council’s website also lets you create a personal shortlist of childcare options, so you can retain the information for future decision-making.

Islington’s Family Information Service – Islington FIS – is there to help if you’ve got questions or problems. They will also want to help if a child in your care has special needs of any sort.

How do you apply?

Book two or three visits to meet childcare facilities that you think might work. Get a feel for each one and speak to the staff. Trust your intuition and instincts. You’ll find guides online which offer tips on what questions to ask and what to look out for when selecting a childcare provider.

If possible, give yourself plenty of time and apply for more than one childcare option. By applying early, there’s more chance that you’ll get your first choice, but apply for more than one place to make sure you get something. Always ask for at least two references before settling on a childcare provider.

Who gets the Council places?

The Council allocates places in its childcare facilities according to a list it displays on its website. All places are for Islington residents or key workers, but priority is given to vulnerable children and families.

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What if you don’t qualify for Council childcare?

As well as a few paid-for places in Council nurseries, there are plenty of private nurseries and childminders in the borough. A recent survey singled out three which were highly-rated by Ofsted: the Mars Montessori Bilingual Nursery, Hornsey Day Nursery, and the Archway Children’s Centre.

How much does it cost?

Prices vary, but all three and four-year olds in England are entitled to 570 hours of free education per year. The hours can be spilt up as suits the family’s need. For example, 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year. Some families qualify for more, while some two-year olds also qualify. The hours don’t have to be taken in Council-run childcare; they can be used with almost any of the borough’s childcare facilities – even childminders and private nurseries.

Other helpful resources:

It’s worth checking Childcare.co.uk. It lists the Ofsted-registered nurseries and childcare facilities in the borough, but you can also search for babysitters, childminders, nannies, au pairs, nurseries, private midwives, nursery nurses, maternity nurses, private tutors, and schools. On top of that, it lets you post an advert yourself, specifying the childcare you need.

The Family and Childcare Trust is also a useful resource. They have worked with local authorities, including Islington, to create a full list of Ofsted-registered childcare options, and they provide useful guides to help people work out what sort of childcare is best for the children they are responsible for.

As established estate agents within the Islington borough, we’ve helped many families settle into the area. For more information about living and working in Islington, or for details of properties available in the area, get in touch.