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Childcare

There is a lot to think about when choosing the right type of childcare. Allow enough time to research the best option for your child and make contact with providers as soon as possible, as there can be waiting lists.

Family friendly leave, career breaks and flexible working are offered to all University employees’ to assist with their work-life balance. Further details can be found here.

There is a wide selection of childcare facilities for children under five years of age. Day nurseries for children from six weeks to five years old and after care from 8am to 6pm. Local Authority nursery schools offer full and part-time hours, as well as before and after sessions. The parents usually pay for these sessions. Pre-schools (from age 3 to 5) and playgroups offer care in their local communities, either as a morning or afternoon session. Nannies provide care for children in the family home and are employed by the parents. Child-minders are self-employed professionals who work in their own homes, offer flexible hours, and look after children from birth to sixteen years of age. 

The University of Cambridge has a Childcare Office, which manages two nurseries solely for University staff. The “Family Information Directory” at the Cambridgeshire County Council website will allow you to search local childcare providers.

All child-minders, nurseries, and pre-schools are regulated by a government body known as Ofsted and are periodically reviewed and rated. It is important to research the quality of each provider. Ofsted reports are available online and they provide the clearest indication of how well the nursery is running and what facilities they offer your children. Also, ask your colleagues in your department for recommendations or advice.

A number of websites provide lists of child-minders, nurseries and pre-schools in the Cambridgeshire area, such as Cambridgeshire Council, Childcare.co.uk and Day Nurseries.co.uk.

Schooling

Schooling is compulsory in the United Kingdom for children between five and sixteen years of age. This includes all children, whether they are UK nationals or not. If your child is under sixteen and will be with you as your dependent for more than six months, they should be able to go to a state primary or secondary school free of charge. You may teach your child at home, full or part-time (“home schooling”), but you must inform the school and your local council, if you choose this option.

The academic year for state primary and secondary schools is September through July. The academic year is broken up into three terms. Half way through each term there is a holiday of one week. Education in the UK is divided into primary (5 to 11 or 12), secondary (11 to 18), further education (over 16) and higher education (18 and over).

There are also private schools, which charge fees to attend.  For a list of all private schools, see The Independent Schools Council (ISC).

Admission to state schools in Cambridge is governed by Cambridgeshire County Council. Please ensure you read the detailed guidance regarding admissions. This document sets out the policy on admissions of children from overseas and the procedures that need to be followed to gain a school place for your child.

In brief, their policy on admissions for children from overseas is as follows:

“If you are moving from overseas, either on a temporary or permanent basis, your child may be eligible for a Cambridgeshire school place. In order to be eligible your child must be:

  • Between the age of 4 and 16;
  • Resident in Cambridgeshire for six teaching weeks or longer;
  • Free from immigration restrictions that prevent them attending a mainstream school.

If your child does not meet the above criteria, they will not be eligible for education in Cambridgeshire and your application will NOT be considered.”

In practice, this means that your children will be able to access free State schooling if you are any of the following:

  • A British Citizen;

  • EEA/Swiss national;

  • A non-EEA national holding a visa which permits you to work or study in the UK;

  • A non-EEA visiting academic, coming to the UK for up to 12 months to undertake research and have obtained a visitor visa in advance of coming to the UK.

  • Note: all other non-EEA visitors are not permitted to access free State schooling.

The Local Authority have ten teaching days to respond to applications. You can apply for up to three schools and there are no restrictions on which ones you apply for.  For further information, and for guidance on the admission process, please see Cambridgeshire County Council’s webpages.