Setting up a nursery and taking the steps towards this may seem daunting, even if you have worked in the childcare sector before. Indeed, there are many areas to consider and it is crucial to make sure you are fully prepared for what has to be done and what is involved in the exciting, yet demanding journey towards having your own Early Years setting.


A fundamental aspect relates to the strict rules and regulations that need to be adhered to when setting up a nursery. Due to the sensitive nature of childcare, the amount of red tape in this specific area should come as no surprise. At the Nursery HR People, we hope that we can help you to understand further this crucial aspect of setting up a nursery.

Throughout the UK, nurseries have to register with a regulatory body and adhere to the legal standards. For the purposes of this posting we will focus on England, however if you have any questions in regards to setting up a nursery in Scotland or Wales please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The Childcare Act 2006

The Childcare Act 2006 stipulates that childcare is ‘any form of care for a child, including education or any other supervised activity’. Most childcare providers caring for children under eight years old must register with Ofsted or as applicable, a childminder agency, unless the law says they do not need to. Exceptions can be found on the Ofsted Website.

Register with Ofsted

Therefore, to provide childcare in England and when setting up a nursery you need to register with Ofsted – this applies to anyone who intends to care for children under the age of eight for more than two hours a day. The registration requirements differ depending on whether you will be operating the Nursery from your own home or from a separate non-domestic building, which we are assuming for the rest of this article. To find out further information please follow the link below:

Registration allows an individual or an organisation to provide care for children. It is Ofsted’s responsibility to ensure that only those who are suitable and ready to provide childcare are registered. Applicants must apply to register online at:-

Early Years Foundation Stage

The EYFS, which is produced by the Department for Education (DfE), includes requirements for the provision of young children’s safeguarding and welfare, and their learning and development, which all providers on the Early Years Register must meet. It also provides guidance on good practice. If you have not already done so, you can download more information relating to the the EYFS from:-

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check

To back up a little, before you even begin the registration process, you will need to complete a DBS check before submitting your application to Ofsted for setting up a nursery. All applicants and any other individuals connected with the application must complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check online. They are also required to join the DBS update service:

It can sometimes be a painful experience for many who are applying for this with the paperwork involved and the time it takes to get the check processed.

Health Declaration Booklet

The second pre-registration stage when setting up a nursery requires you to complete a health declaration booklet, which requires you to submit any health problems and medications you are taking to Ofsted. More information can be found by clicking on this link:-

Registration Protocol

Once you have taken care of these requirements you can then start to focus on the remainder of the registration protocol when setting up a nursery. The overall registration process looks at the ability of your setting to provide care which conforms to the national standards set out by Ofsted and EYFS. These standards set the base line of quality that you, your staff and your facilities must comply with.

When you are setting up a nursery you will be required to demonstrate to Ofsted that you adhere to these standards including; the suitability of members of staff to look after children for example, training and experience. During the registration visit the inspector will also want to be satisfied that you have identified any risks associated with  your premises, equipment etc.

The inspector will also consider the impact on the children of the available space for each child, how space will be organized to meet the children’s learning, development and welfare needs, sufficient toilet and nappy-changing facilities etc. The premises must be safe and secure, and any furniture and equipment must be well maintained and conform to safety standards.

When setting up a nursery the size of the group of children within your setting will also be investigated to ensure you are following the staff-per-child and space-per child ratios. The children’s needs and welfare should be promoted through appropriate play and activities which develop children’s emotional, physical, social and intellectual capabilities.

Additional Legal Requirements

Additional legal requirements when setting up a nursery include; ensuring your premises comply with planning and building control regulations, you must also comply with the requirements of your local authority environmental health department and local fire authority. Ofsted has a protocol with the fire service that sets out the requirements in relation to fire safety.

In addition you will have employment law obligations to meet such as ensuring all staff are issued with fully compliant employment contracts.

Did you know that we can provide fully compliant employment contracts that meet all of your legal requirements under UK employment law? To learn more click here

We hope that this article helps with your understanding of the registration process and the rules and regulations associated with the protocol when setting up a nursery. Once you are registered, Ofsted will regularly assess your nursery to make sure you continue to conform to national standards. More detailed information on the registration process and the national standards can be obtained from the links in this posting, Ofsted and your Local Authority.

As always, please do get in touch if you have any comments, feedback or need any further information. We look forward to hearing from you.

Product Offer

To assist you further in setting up a nursery we have written a guide. ‘The Ultimate Guide To Setting Up A Children’s Nursery’  provides you with a complete 25 step blueprint on what is required when setting up a nursery. To purchase your copy today and get instant access to this invaluable information tool please click here.


Sara Smith

Marketing Director

The Nursery HR People

01509 833121