Working in Early Years and Childcare

Working in the Early Years and Childcare is high on the Government's plan to meet the needs of families across Buckinghamshire. Here you will find essential information on working in the childcare sector.

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Before you can start working with children you need to have Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks to establish your suitability to work with children. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks used to be called Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks.


What is a DBS check?

A DBS check helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. There are three types of checks which provide different levels of information on your criminal record.


This checks for spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings.


This includes the same as the standard check plus any additional information held by local police that’s reasonably considered relevant to the role being applied for.

Enhanced with list checks

This is like the enhanced check, but includes a check of the DBS barred lists (a list of individuals who are unsuitable for working with children and adults).


Only employers and licensing bodies can request a DBS check, they are carried out during the recruitment process of a role. If you are thinking of becoming a self-employed childminder you will find more information about obtaining DBS check at: Become a childminder: pre-registration briefing (GOV.UK).

For more information on the DBS check, costs and what's involved visit: DBS checks (GOV.UK).

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Childcare occupations

People working in early years education, childcare and playwork have a number of different roles and responsibilities and work in different types of organisations or settings, some of which are listed below.

Nursery nurse

Nursery nurses are qualified members of staff, usually holding a level 3 qualification. They are normally responsible for the care, education and all round development of the children. They can work in a variety of settings including:

  • Local authority nursery schools (sometimes referred to as maintained)
  • Private day nurseries
  • Child and family centres
  • Community nurseries
  • Pre-school

Nursery assistant

Nursery assistants tend to work in the same settings as nursery nurses in a less senior role. They are often members of staff who are relatively inexperienced or who hold a low level of qualification. They are likely to be training for a level 2 qualification and will be well supervised.

Deputy nursery manager

The deputy nursery manager would be expected to run the nursery in the absence of the nursery manager and need experience in supervising staff. A comprehensive knowledge of childcare and early education issues is also essential, as well as Level 3 qualification.

Nursery manager

Nursery managers have been qualified for at least two years and have managerial experience. To run the nursery on a day-to-day basis they need good administrative and communication skills plus team leadership abilities and a comprehensive knowledge of childcare and early education issues.

Pre-school leader

Pre-school leaders are employed in pre-school or playgroup settings and work with children aged between two and five years. The sessions can be full-day or part-day such as 2½ hour sessions. The emphasis is on learning through play and parental involvement in all aspects of the playgroup is encouraged. The pre-school leader organises and plans appropriate learning and play activities for the children, supervises staff and reports to the pre-school owner or Chair of Trustees. Pre-school leaders will have a level 3 qualification and will have suitable experience of working with children.

Pre-school assistant

Pre-school assistants are employed in the same settings as pre-school leaders in a less senior role. Most employers will prefer assistants to hold a qualification or undertake training at level 2. Many parents begin a career in childcare as pre-school assistants working at their local playgroup.

Playwork leader

Playwork leaders work in a range of settings including hospitals, community centres, breakfast clubs, after-school clubs, holiday playschemes, women's refuges, adventure playgrounds and junior youth clubs. They normally work with children aged 5 to 15 outside school hours. The playwork leader manages the provision on-site and provides a range of safe and developmental play opportunities suitable to the age range. A playwork leader would normally be qualified to level 3.

Playwork assistant

Playwork assistants support the playwork leader in their work.  Most of their job is face to face work with the children. Playwork assistants will hold, or be encouraged to work towards, a level 2 qualification.


Childminders usually look after other people's children in the childminder's home. They are self-employed and will take care of a limited number of children. They often form networks to help support each other.  Childminders must complete a Childminders Introductory Course CYPOP5 and have a suitable first aid qualification before registering with Ofsted.

Crèche worker

Crèche workers are employed in a variety of settings with attached crèches, sports centres and supermarkets. Many crèches prefer workers who hold qualifications. Crèche workers take care of children from across the age range.


Nannies care for children in their own home. In some cases, the family prefer the nanny to live-in. Many nannies register with agencies to help them find suitable employment. Agencies generally prefer nannies to hold relevant qualifications at level 2 or above. There is no registration requirement for nannies at the moment but they could choose to register on Ofsted's voluntary register, which will enable parents to take up the Working Tax Credit (if eligible).

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In Buckinghamshire we recognise that our workforce contributes to high-quality early years and childcare provision and are committed to improving expertise through training and qualifications. Full details of Training and Qualification can be found on the Early Years and Childcare website.


Apprenticeships in Early Years and Childcare

Apprenticeships in Early Years and Childcare are available. Apprenticeships are a combination of practical training on the job with alongside some studying. As an apprentice you will:

  • be fully supported by your employer and training provider. You will be paid while you work and train to gain valuable job-specific skills and knowledge;

  • earn a wage and get holiday pay;

  • get paid time for off-site study related to your role. (ideally 20%).

There is the opportunity to complete an Apprenticeship at various levels, depending on your qualification at entry level.  Apprenticeships have equivalent educational levels.




Equivalent educational level






A level


4,5,6 and 7 

Foundation degree and above


6 and 7

Bachelor’s or master’s degree



To start an apprenticeship, you will need to be:

  • 16 or over by the end of the summer holidays; (academic year)

  • living in England with a right to work;

  • not in full-time education; and

  • willing to be employed for at least 30 hours/week.

It is a requirement to undergo an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and any additional checks necessary.


How to apply

There are 3 steps to applying for an Early Years and Childcare apprenticeship. These are:

  1. Search on the Early Years and Childcare vacancy website.

  2. Search for an apprenticeship at

  3. Complete and submit your application. 

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If you are considering becoming a childminder, here are some frequently asked questions:

Q: Do you live in Buckinghamshire and pay your Council Tax to Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern, South Bucks, or Wycombe district council?

A: Only people who are residents of Buckinghamshire are eligible to attend the Buckinghamshire Home Based Childcare (HBCA) course.

Q: Are you currently pregnant?

A: If yes, it is advisable to start the course once the baby is born. 

Q: Do you have access to a pc at home?

A: All the learning on the course will be supported by downloadable course materials.

Q: What experience have you had if any of working with children?

A: This is not required to become a Childminder.

Q: Have you discussed your application to become a childminder with your family? 

A: It is really important to consider the effects of childminding on the wider family/partner.

Q: Will you be considering working evenings and weekends or offering overnight care? 

A: Consider whether this is a gap in your local area that you could fill and you would be willing to provide it.

Q: What would you see as your Unique Selling Point as a childminder?

Q: What will make a parent choose you over another childcare provider?

Q: Have you sought permission from your Landlord or Mortgage provider?

Q: Do you need any further advice?

A: If so you might like to contact the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY). They offer advice and assistance to both registered childminders and those thinking of becoming childminders and are very happy to offer support at any stage of your registration  Pacey

Next Step

To apply for the course you will first need to attend an Ofsted briefing session, which will inform you what the course entails and what you will experience within your first year as a fully qualified Childminder/Nanny. If after the Briefing session you feel that the course is for you, an application form will be available to fill out.

Information about the course, course dates and how to book onto it can be found under the Early Years and Childcare website or you can call 01296 387111 or email for further information.

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Registration Course

To work as a self-employed registered childminder or an Accredited Nanny you will need to complete a registration course known as the "Introduction to Childminding Course". The course is designed to do give you the skills and knowledge required to carry out childcare within the "Early Years Statutory Requirements”.

The course is only valid for a period of 6 months and not 12 months as before. Candidates must register with Ofsted within this timescale, otherwise they will have to retake the course and pay the fee of £250. The cost for the registration face to face course through Buckinghamshire County Council costs £100.

How to apply

To apply for the course you will first need to attend an Ofsted briefing session, which will inform you what the course entails and what you will experience within your first year as a fully qualified Childminder/ Nanny.  If after the Briefing session you feel that the course is for you, an application form will be available to fill out.  

Briefing Sessions

Find upcoming Ofsted Briefing Sessions

To request your space on an Ofsted briefing session and the Introduction to Childminder course please contact the Early Years team on 01296 387111 or email

Becoming a Childminder course dates

The next available Introduction to Childminding Course details can be found here: Introduction to Childminder Course (ICC) Dates

Course Validity

Further details on the upcoming childminder course dates and briefing sessions and how to book on the course can be found on the Early Years and Childcare Website Early Years and Childcare website or call 01296 387111 or email

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A Nanny provides childcare for one or more families in the parent’s own home.  Some Nannies “Live in” with the family that they care for; however it is becoming more popular to employ part-time Nannies. Nannies that provide care for new born babies throughout the night are known as “Night Nannies”

Unlike Childminders, Nannies don’t need any formal qualifications; however you do need a Paediatric First Aid qualification (which will need to be updated every 3 years), up-to-date knowledge of Safeguarding procedures, a DBS check and have a valid insurance.

Also unlike Childminders any working Nanny doesn’t need to register with Ofsted. There is however a voluntary Ofsted registration available to Nannies; by registering with Ofsted the parents that the nanny work’s for would be able to receive some financial contributions in the form of Tax Credits/ Childcare Vouchers (subject to eligibility).  

Further details on Nannies can be found on the Pacey website

Details on support available can be found via the Early Years and Childcare website

Could it be me?

Thousands of people are still needed nationwide to give children the best start. In fact, over the next three years, around 150,000 new workers are needed to meet demand.

If children are to continue getting the very best quality early education, care and play, we need to draw on a wider pool of talent for these crucial jobs. If you have the right blend of skills and personal qualities, you could be one of them.

What type of people work in childcare?

All kinds of people work in Early Years, Childcare and Play work. Children need a variety of positive role models and good influences. School leavers and students, adults of all ages, disabled people, people from ethnic minorities, men and women - with or without previous experience - all play an important part.

What are the qualities and skills of a childcare worker?

Some of the essential qualities required to work with children include patience, enthusiasm, empathy, a sense of responsibility and a sense of fun! These dedicated people also understand that theirs is a job to be taken seriously.

If you care about children, you like being with them, encouraging them and learning with them, listening to them, stimulating their imagination and watching them grow, this could be your future.

There's never been a better time to work in Early Years, Childcare and Play work.

Do I need to undergo any checks?

All Early Years, Childcare and Play worker will need to undergo a criminal record check called a DBS check (Disclosure Baring Service). For further details on this visit DBS Checks (GOV.UK).

What's in it for me?

You will have a respected and demanding career, an interesting and challenging role with the potential to change lives - for the better. And that's some responsibility. In return, the rewards are great. You'll watch children grow and gain in confidence as they learn and play. You'll share in their achievements and be there for them when they need you. You'll give them security and feel in return the trust they invest in you.

Working with children often involves working with parents too, helping them with their child's development and enabling them to find a better balance in their lives. It often involves working as part of a team, training and learning day by day. You'll not only feel the difference in terms of confidence and job satisfaction - you'll also have the support and camaraderie that teamwork can bring.

And you'll have the opportunity to work towards qualifications that have real currency in the jobs market, recognising your role in a child's development and enabling you to develop your own personal career - right up to manager level, if that's what you'd like.

What are the options?

There is variety as well as job satisfaction. For example you could work in a nursery, pre-school or playgroup. You could use your skills alongside a teacher in a nursery school or in a nursery class or reception class, enjoying involvement with children up to the age of five. You could also choose to specialise in working with children with special educational needs.

To see our full list of childcare occupations visit our Childcare Options page

What will I earn? 

Pay levels are set locally, rather than nationally, and are dependent upon the setting in which you work and the number of hours you work. But the better qualified you are, the more experience you get and the higher your level of responsibility - then the higher your salary is likely to be.
Contact the Buckinghamshire Family Information Service to find out more about opportunities and rates of pay in your area.

Some childcare providers can provide the Early Education Funding (EEF) for children aged three and four and the two-year-old funding. They may also provide childcare facilities to support parents who work. Providers delivering EEF and childcare include day nurseries, pre-schools playgroups and accredited childminders.

All those who care for children under eight years old for more than fourteen days per year and two hours per day must be registered with the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted ).

Providers wishing to join Buckinghamshire’s EEF Directory must confirm with the Early Years and Childcare Service (EYCS) their intention to apply to the Directory. EYCS will contact the provider and arrange to visit and discuss the provider’s application.

Starting up

Find out about the requirements of childcare and EEF. Contact the Early Education Funding Officer to discuss on 01296 383705.

Research existing provision in the area to see whether there is a need or demand for further services.

Check out premises and find out what planning permissions may be required.

Register with Ofsted - contact the Early Years Commissioning team on 01296 387687 for information and application packs.

Create a business/project plan including financial projections for at least three years and apply for funding if appropriate.  See the Business Plan Template under Related Links.

Early Years and Childcare can provide ongoing advice and guidance to providers of nursery education and childcare relating to business and financial management, marketing and publicity, meeting legislative requirements such as Health and Safety, employment law, and providing quality provision.

For further information visit our Buckinghamshire Early Years Web

Childcare provision is a rapidly changing business and for many childcare providers it is hard to keep up with all the business issues. 

Early Years and Childcare can provide help with:

  • New business or charity issues
  • Health and safety for employers
  • Payroll and expenses
  • Employment - staff terms and conditions
  • Good financial practice (a template Cash Book and Bank Reconciliation are available on request and an electronic Cash Book is available for download - see below)
  • Budgets and cash flow forecasting
  • Producing a business plan
  • Profit and loss, balance sheets
  • Accounting for VAT
  • Cash handling and banking
  • Sustainability enquiries
  • Marketing strategies
  • Management and governance
  • Fundraising
  • Consultation on local needs

The service is available to all registered childcare providers and those intending to register, whether voluntary or private, from childminders to extended schools and day care nurseries.

For further details on financial advice please visit the Buckinghamshire Early Years Web

If you are considering setting up an Out of school club (OOSC) it could help to consider the following:


Does the proposed accommodation:

  • Meet Ofsted and Early Years Foundation Stage requirements
  • Offer suitable space for age appropriate activities
  • Have any restrictions assigned to it i.e. planners, other users


You will need to establish:

  • Demand for the service
  • Fee parents are willing to pay
  • Operating times

Also need to consider:

Other childcare providers in the area i.e. childminders, existing after school activities (which may be free of charge)


    Complete a 2 year budget forecasts (essential if you are applying for funding from the Early Years Commissioning – Sufficiency Team). This will give you your break even point.

    The budget will inform your decision on the fee to be charged.

    Assess the level of capital funding required for equipment and start up costs.

    Consider if you will have more than one fee i.e. £7.50 until 5pm, £9 until 6pm. If most parents only want up to 5.30 you will still need at least two staff members for the remainder (even if only 2 children still attending)

    Assistance can be given by the Early Years Commissioning – Sufficiency Team on 01296 387687.

    Who will access the service?

      • How will children get to the club?
      • Will you need to provide transport or a walking crocodile? Costs for this must be included in your budget forecast.

      Who will manage the service?

        • Private business
        • Voluntary Management Committee
        • School governors

        Setting up a Parent and Toddler Group

        Parent and toddler groups are normally for parents/carers with under-threes, but children under five can usually attend too. It provides an opportunity for parents/carers and their young children to spend time together in the company of others.

        Each session usually last for up to two hours, promoting children’s early learning through a variety of fun play opportunities such as storytelling, sing-a-long, or craft session. Most groups have a baby corner for new mums to make friends and enjoy a coffee.

        Parent and toddler groups are often run on a voluntary basis and do not have to be registered by Ofsted.

        For further information on setting up a Parent and Toddler Group visit


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        Childcare Job Search (Buckinghamshire)


        A team of Quality Improvement Partners (QIPs) who work with the local authority to support all local registered childminders and nannies.

        Choosing Childcare

        A guide to the different childcare options available and things to consider.

        Tax-Free Childcare Explained