In the UK, there are many options for help with childcare. Mostly, families use nannies with relevant qualifications or au pairs,  and their main duties relate to the children, preparing their meals, washing and ironing their clothes, looking after play dates and homework supervision.

"Mother's help" are unqualified nannies who work together with mothers helping them with the children and the housework. Professional childminders work at their house, look after your child in their premises that have to be inspected by Police and Social Services.

For a child under school age (under 4) one option may be to use a day nursery that provides day care for a specific period of time (there are either part time, i.e. 4 hours a day or two days a week, or full time day nurseries). They take children from around 3 months up to school age.

For children from 2 to 2.5 years old (generally a child has to be potty trained), there are "nursery schools." They follow the same calendar as schools and have sessions of 3-6 hours per day.

Bright Horizons 

We know how important it is to balance work and family life. Which is why Shell has partnered with Bright Horizons, the world’s leading provider of employer sponsored care solutions, to provide a family friendly benefit helping you manage your work and caring responsibilities.

As of 1st April 2018 all employees in the UK will have access to Care Advantage, supporting you, your children and adult dependents. The Bright Horizons Care Advantage Programme is a suite of services to help support your family life. Care Advantage includes emergency Back-up Care for you, your child and adult dependents, as well as online resources to help you search for regular childcare and adult care solutions.

Back-Up Care is designed to be used when your usual care arrangements for your child(ren), (3 months - 17 years) or adult dependents (18 years +) are not available. The programme offers up to 10 sessions of back-up care per employee, per year (April to March). An employee contribution of £25 per session is required. A session equates to 5 hrs of care with a nanny or in-home care worker, 10 hours within a nursery or holiday club.

Care Advantage can support you in finding regular childcare and adult care solutions via exclusive discounts at participating nurseries and holiday camps across the UK, preferred access to Bright Horizons nurseries and discounts against a wide range of adult care packages that can be tailored to suit your personal or family needs.

In addition, Bright Horizons will offer a Child and Elder Care Support Service. This service incorporates a talk to and an expert phone line and search and selection for child, adult and elder care. Our experts will be on hand to discuss your individual care needs, offer advice and find care for your family circumstances. 

Frequently asked questions

As a Shell employee I am entitled to the services of Bright Horizons, but I was also wondering if you can recommend a nanny?

Community members are also welcome to advertise on Facebook in the Outpost London closed group. Outpost’s partner organization FOCUS may also be able to share any resources or knowledge they have. Outpost can also forward your question to the Outpost community to see if they know someone (we would need your permission and to know the area in London where you live). 

However, we cannot emphasize enough regarding childcare: Please be very cautious to trust your child to anyone without doing a thorough background check first. London is a big city and there are people who work without a permit or having entered the country illegally.

Even if you find a nice nanny via your network, we would still strongly advise to have the carer checked by Bright Horizons for criminal records, etc. which may still be free of charge as they may wish to get the carer registered in their database. 

To find family support in your area, visit


In the UK, school is compulsory from the age of 4 (a child has to be 4 by the beginning of September the year he/she starts school) to the age of 16. Often, private schools offer nursery classes from the age of 2.

In London there are National Schools, International Schools (IB) and British Schools, both Private and State.

Click here for more information about the education system in the UK.

Check The Good Schools Guide for independent views on over 1000 UK schools:

Leisure Opportunities For Children

There are great activities for children in London. Because of the weather conditions most of the museums are centres of indoor fun for children. There are great parks, museums, sport centers, drama and dance classes, swimming clubs.

Click here to view a list of activities for children in London.

Third Culture Kids

Here is a link for a website that supports expat teens to share their experiences of living abroad. More resources for Third Culture Kids and those who are raising them can be found here.