Pre-schools and playgroups

Playgroups and pre-schools offer mainly sessional care, usually 2-3 hours a day, either mornings or afternoons, for children aged 2-and-a-half to 5 years old. In some cases, they may have morning and afternoon sessions on the same day.

Most playgroups and pre-schools offer places for between 10 to 20 children.  There should be no more than 26 children in one room.

Playgroup and pre-schools are often run on a voluntary basis by a committee of parents but are always staffed by a paid, qualified and experienced supervisor with assistants.  There must be one member of staff for every eight children aged 3 to 5, and one member of staff for every four children aged 2 to 3.  There will often be more adults if parents help out.

Pre-schools and playgroups must register with Ofsted. If they are providing early education, they will also be registered with Warrington Borough Council.  Regular checks are carried out:

  • on the staff, to make sure they are suitable to look after children
  • on the staff, to make sure that at least half are childcare-trained  
  • on the premises, to make sure the building is safe and suitable for children

You can view inspection reports on the Ofsted website. You can ask to see the playgroup/pre-school’s registration and inspection certificate.

At a pre-school or playgroup your child will be able to take part in planned learning and play activities, aiming to enhance their social and educational development.  Trained staff provide a stimulating environment where children will feel safe and secure. A range of activities is usually offered such as art, crafts, sand and water play, music, book reading and stories. Your child will be encouraged to socialise with other children and develop friendships along the way.


The average cost of a pre-school session in Warrington:

  • Per 3 hour session under 3 years of age: £10.70  

Many pre-schools offer funded sessions for three and four year olds, this is called the Early Entitlement Funding. Some pre-schools also offer funded sessions for a limited number of eligible 2 year olds.  Find out more on the website.

Apply for a place

You can apply for a place by contacting the pre-school directly and asking them for a copy of their application form.  They will tell you about their admissions policy and inform you when a place is available for your child.