Working in childcare

Working in childcare

Could it be me?
Group of children

Thousands of people are still needed nationwide to give children the best start. In fact, over the next 3 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.

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.

Criminals Record Bureau check

All Early Years, Childcare and Play worker will need to undergo a police check. For further details of this and all other requirements contact OFSTED (the Office for Standards in Education).

What's in it for me?

Kids on grass

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?

Children playing

There is variety as well as job satisfaction eg 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 set up as a childminder, based in your own home, or you could get involved in one of the many Play work schemes, the out-of-school clubs and holiday play schemes that exist around the country, working with children up to the age of 14 years.

You could also choose to specialise in working with children with special educational needs.
What's more, there are opportunities for you to move from one Childcare setting to another - and to gain promotion and greater responsibility with experience. One thing is certain - you'll never be bored.

Childminding – is this career for you?

Regardless of your age, whether you’re male or female, if you would like flexibility and a challenging and rewarding career, childminding may be the right job for you. 

For further information see pdf below.


There are all kinds of nurseries - some run by voluntary or community groups, some by employers or local authorities. Others are privately run. There are also nursery classes attached to some primary schools.
They usually provide full day care, education and play for children up to the age of five and are generally open from 8am to 6pm. Some also offer extended care for school-age children, opening at 7am in the morning until 7pm in the evening.

The majority of nurseries are open weekdays all year round (except for Bank Holidays) - but some are open term-time only. So there are likely to be opportunities for you to work part-time or term-time to fit in with your other commitments.

You'd be: planning and organising stimulating educational and fun activities and taking care of children's personal needs - for food, washing and sleep, for instance.

Pre-schools and playgroups

Pre-schools and playgroups provide Childcare, play and Early Years education usually for children aged between two and five.

While many operate on a part-time 'sessional' basis, an increasing number are offering extended and full day care and holiday schemes. Both full and part-time work may be available, as is the possibility of term-time only work.
You'd be: planning and providing a range of play opportunities for the children, together with Early Years education.

Out of school

Out-of-school clubs (sometimes called Kids' Clubs) open before and after school and all day long during school holidays, giving 4 to 14-year-olds a safe and enjoyable place to play, meet - and sometimes catch up on homework.

Holiday play schemes are often run by voluntary organisations, local authorities or charities - in local parks, community centres, leisure centres or schools. They are not only a great place for youngsters to meet their friends - they also offer a wide range of activities to keep them busy, such as sports or drama, arts and crafts or music.
You'd be: organising and running or helping with anything from a breakfast club before school to a football team or holiday play scheme. Depending, of course, on your own interests.

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.

Still not sure?

If you're still not sure about going into Early Years, Childcare and Play work, you may be able to take an orientation or taster session - which will give you an idea of what it's all about.
'Making Choices', for example, is a free, 15-hour programme run over a series of sessions. It covers all aspects of working with children and young people - you'll:

  • Meet local people doing the work - and employers
  • Look at different jobs and what they entail
  • Take a look at the training and qualifications you will need
  • Touch on health and safety and relevant legislation.

There are no tests - and no right or wrong answers - but you will receive a certificate for attending the course.  Ask Buckinghamshire Family Information Service.