What to Ask a Nursery

Parents have often asked us if they could have a list of questions they could ask any nursery or Pre-School so they might be better informed in making a decision of where to place the child. At Toybox we relish the challenge of competition so please ask us and our competitors the following questions, but also remember a visit is vital in making your final choice:

Quality Staff

  • What is your recruitment process?
  • What level of qualification is the entire nursery team? How many unqualified?
  • What experience has the manager of the nursery?
  • What is the average age of the staff?
  • How many staff hold a first aid certificates?
  • How many staff have food hygiene certificates?
  • How many Early Years Professional Status (EYP) staff do you have to guide learning and development?
  • How many supernumery staff do you have on most days?
  • How many staff have a Continuous Professional Development plan?
  • What is staff retention like?
  • How often are staff appraised?
  • How often do you use agency staff?
  • Is the Nursery nationally recognised for it's recruitment and staff?
  • How many Male members of staff do you have?

Quality Learning

  • What is your interpretation of the Early Years Foundation Stage?
  • How do you record and can I see a mock- up of a child’s learning journey?
  • How often will I be able to review my child’s learning?
  • What are two year old checks?
  • How to do you plan to cater for the individual needs of my child?
  • How will you challenge my child in their learning?
  • What provision do you have for SEN?
  • What provision do you have for children with EAL?
  • What steps do you take to ensure my child is settled?
  • What is your strategy for behaviour management?
  • Interactive learning journeys?

Quality Processes and Procedures

  • Are your Policies and Procedures available to view?
  • Are they relevant and up to date?
  • What was your Ofsted outcome and why?
  • Do you see your Directors regularly and are they involved in your nursery day to day?
  • Why should I bring my child here?
  • Are you successful in outstanding childcare every day for every child?
  • Visual risk assessments??

Quality Safety

Safeguarding Children

  • How many of your staff attend safeguarding children courses.
  • How are staff made aware of revised safeguarding issues.
  • Are all staff working within the provision are police checked through the Criminal Records Bureau.
  • Are adults who have not been fully checked able to change nappies or help with toileting without direct supervision?
  • Who is your designated child protection person?
  • What did Ofsted say about your Safe Guarding Policy?
  • Do all your toys have kite marks?
  • How often are your toys and equipment checked by staff?
  • Do your staff have a specific opening and closing routine to ensure the environment is safe for children?
  • Do all your staff have regular suitability checks?
  • Do all your staff hold Prevent Duty training?

Environment / Building

Does your nursery have:

  • Safe sockets and switches above the reach of children: and no sharp corners
  • Room temperatures maintained at a comfortable level
  • Under floor heating – no radiators to worry about
  • Thermostatically controlled hot water to all sinks used by the children so there is no risk of burning from the hot tap
  • Full smoke and fire alarm detector systems
  • Fire Exits from each room
  • The very latest Finger Guards on every door necessary to protect child
  • Sinks placed at child height  to enable them to join in easily
  • Adult sinks carefully positioned to ensure staff have full view of room not a wall
  • Safety surfaces in the baby gardens
  • The latest “Astroturf” for all weather grass play in our large garden
  • Special growing area in the garden for children to explore and enjoy
  • Half doors in certain areas to allow easy communication for staff
  • Baby milk kitchen at counter height.
  • Specially designed large patio doors to support free flow to covered areas
  • Sound system across the nursery to support children’s learning.
  • Large windows at children’s height provide bright and welcoming rooms
  • Large meeting room for training, parent group etc.
  • Specific private meeting room for parent consultations etc.
  • Staff room to ensure staff get a place to relax in their breaks.
  • Large covered entrance hall with special light fitting for children to talk about. !
  • Temperature controlled hot taps to ensure safety for children’s sinks
  • Ceiling fans for additional comfort – air conditioning was considered too high risk.
  • Completely fenced and secure large gardens
  • A secure entrance finger print system or password operation.
  • Full 32 Camera CCTV throughout the building for the benefit of the staff and the children
  • Regular checks are carried out on the play equipment for quality and safety
  • A laundry facility and semi-commercial standard kitchen.


Quality Food

  • Are you part of a national accreditation programme for food quality
  • Do you provide a well-balanced and nutritional diet approved by a regulatory body
  • What are the benefits of mealtimes to children in your care?
  • Do staff sit with the children to eat and through positive role models the children are encouraged to eat a wide variety of foods, not forgetting to say please and thank you to each other as well.
  • Are all children encouraged to look after their personal hygiene by hand washing before and after meals?
  • Are you at the forefront of thinking in regard to food? Have you been heavily involved in the new national food accreditation that hopefully every early years setting will aspire to achieve.
  • Do your cook’s prepare healthy food on a daily basis using quality ingredients
  • Does your lunch include a hot main course and a dessert?
  • Are fresh fruit and vegetables used throughout the menus ensuring adequate provision of vitamins and minerals
  • Are all baby foods freshly prepared each day according to their stage of weaning?
  • Does your kitchen undergo a yearly environmental health visit to ensure our food hygiene standards are always of a very high
  • Menus are displayed in the nursery each week and for children who have a certified special dietary need, our cook will be advised of your child's requirements and appropriate meals will be provided accordingly.
  • Has your Nursery maintained a 5 star food hygiene rating since opening?