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Childcare in London: what you need to know!

When considering moving to London with very young children, it is inevitable that the question of childcare and which solutions are available in the UK will come up.

Here are the different options to help you make the right choice.

1. Nannies

When both parents work, hiring a nanny for babies and very young children can be an easy solution.

However, you must fulfill certain legal obligations in order to do this.

Firstly, it is always good to write a work contract specifying the net salary per week, the number of hours they will be working, as well as the different tasks that they will carry out.

It is also obligatory to declare that you have employed a nanny, to pay your taxes and pay your social security contributions (adding up to around 25% of the net salary).

To do this, you must register as an employer with the Inland Revenue Service, or seek a contractor who will help you with the taxes, like Nannytax

Depending on your specific requirements, there are many different nanny options in the UK:

  • Au-Pair nanny:

This is the most flexible, and least onerous childcare service for families, provided that you have a house or apartment that is big enough to house them (meaning, they will need their own room and you will need a big fridge!).

According to the terms of your agreement, the young nanny, usually a student, should be in charge of completing some house chores and looking after of your children in exchange for a room and food. In some cases, when the young girl lives abroad, the family might even offer to pay for their journey to and from the country.

There are a number of sites that put families and candidates in touch with each other.

  • Live-in nanny:

A live-in nanny is a nanny that lives with you, but she is paid, unlike young au pairs. Once again, you should have a fairly spacious bedroom for them. In London, there are many victorian houses with basements where it can make sense for the nanny to stay. They often will have a bedroom and a bathroom down there and will be near to the children’s playroom.

These hours are generally from 10 to 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. The net salary, based on their experience, and the area of residence, operates at around £500 per week and more.

  • Live-out nanny:

The Live-out nanny only comes to the house to look after the children at certain times and days agreed upon in advance. This can be arranged in complete accordance with your needs. Full time would be 5-10 hours per day, 5 days a week, or part time (half days, only some days each week).

The net salary for a Live-out nanny can vary from £10 to £15 an hour, based on their experience, the number of children they are in charge of and the area.

  • After-school nannies:

This option is generally favoured for slightly older children who go to Pre-School, Nursery or Primary School.

The nanny will come to look after the children after school and will do some household chores that you have decided upon together (e.g. take the children to their activities, give them some snacks, bathe them, make dinner for them…)

2. Childminders

Childminders are nannies who look after children in their own house. They are inspected by Ofsted and they must have training in children first aid. They also must be insured themselves (they must have Public Liability insurance) and they pay their taxes themselves, so you don’t have to declare them.

During their interview with you, they must be able to show you their up to date documents.

There are legal restrictions on the number of children that they are allowed to look after and this varies according to the children’s ages: a maximum of 6 children younger than 8 years old with the following combinations: only one child younger than a year old and a maximum of 3 children under 5.

The prices are usually a little higher than for Nannies: adding up to £8 to £10 an hour.

3. Crèche (Day Nursery) and Nursery Schools

  • Day Nurseries:

Day Nurseries offer a childcare service and a start to learning. They can look after your children from the age of 3 months and they often adapt their hours to accommodate for parents who work. They are open all year round, costing a minimum of £430 per week for full time.

They either follow the education system Early Years Foundation Stage from the British Education Minister or the Montessori programmes.

  • Nursery Schools:

For the majority of children, they start nursery schools from around the age of 2 and a half, with the principal aim being to prepare them for primary school. The school year and the timetable mirror that of primary schools: with a year divided into 3 semesters (Spring, Summer, Autumn), school holidays and end of the day being between 3pm and 3:30pm.

Some state primary schools offer a free “Nursery School” class (from the age of 3), but that is rare. All nurseries have fees, sometimes very expensive ones and the government only offers financial support for Nursery Schools of up to 30 hours a week (however, it can be more under certain income conditions). For more details visit:

Having said this, in certain areas, you can find some nurseries that work with the borough council, offering slightly lower fees than at private nurseries (according to your income). For information about your Borough go to the following website:

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