To register a child for nursery (kindergarten) in England (UK) the child must be aged between 2 and 5 Years Old. As the parent or guardian of that child you first need to contact as many nurseries as possible within your local area (neighbourhood) in order to enquire if they have a vacant nursery place for your child. Try and do this as early as possibly, before the nursery year starts in September, because nursery places are very difficult to secure.
If there isn't a vacant nursery place within your local neighbourhood, you should try the nurseries within your district (city or borough); which may be a little further away from your home. If the worst happens and you cannot find a vacant nursery place anywhere, for whatever reason(s), you should contact your local authority (i.e. the council, library and/or nurseries themselves) for further assistance. Saying this, it is very rare that a vacant nursery place cannot be found.
Assuming you have been found a nursery with a vacant place, but not necessarily for your particular child, either over the phone or in person, you will be asked to visit the nursery in person to fill out an application form. At this point the nursery place is NOT guaranteed FOR YOUR CHILD. It is merely putting your child on the waiting list (consideration list).
With so many parents and guardians applying at so many different nurseries for the same vacant nursery places, because they have the freedom to do so and choice to pick which nursery they want their child to finally attend, waiting lists are often oversubscribed.
This creates a situation whereby not until the last minute, when children begin to be allocated actual nursery places, you are left with some nurseries still having plenty of vacant places (usually the 'bad area' and/or 'low scoring' nurseries) while other nurseries are refusing entry. Hence why you need to apply early.
With oversubscribed waiting lists, the nurseries usually follow a strict criterion. The hierarchy is usually as follows: A fostered (guardian) child, a child with special medical needs, a child whose brother/sister already attends the nursery and then a local child.
If your application is successful, you will receive a letter in the post stating a month when there will be a vacant place available in the nursery and a deadline in which to accept that vacant nursery place. So if you applied in October, you might receive the letter in November whereby it states there is a vacant nursery place in January, but you only have until the end of November to accept it.
Assuming you want to accept that vacant nursery place, you should then make an appointment to visit the nursery before the deadline ends. You will be asked to bring your Passport and 'Proof of Address' (i.e. a Utility Bill or Bank Statement), as well as your child's Birth Certificate and 'Red Book' (Hospital log book/immunisation records).
Once you have confirmed you would like the vacant nursery place for your child and shown any necessary identification/paperwork, you will then be told when you will receive a home visit from the nursery; by the nursery teacher and group leader who will be looking after your child. This home visit is more for the two nursery staff to get to know your child in its home environment, as opposed to them judging your home and/or saying you are a bad parent!
The home visit should take no more than 30 Minutes whereby you are then told the exact date of when your child will start the nursery.
Every child in England aged between 2 and 5 years old is allowed 15 Hours per week (Monday to Friday) in the nursery, with the choice of either a morning session (i.e. 8:45am - 11:45am) or an afternoon session (i.e. 12:45pm - 3:45pm).
NOTE: If your child's birthday is before September (i.e. March), you will have to pay for the period between your child being 3 and 3½ years old (i.e. from March to the end of July - or end of August, if your nursery stays open in the August holiday period) because of the new nursery year starting in September.
Many nurseries across England have CCTV (Close Circuit Television) fitted inside classrooms and hallways, and outside in the playground areas, for your child's safety.
When you fill out the application form, mentioned above, you are also asked to provide the name of at least one additional person who you authorise to collect your child from the nursery when you cannot do so yourself. In reality, the parent just takes that additional person to the school to be introduced to the teacher. Very informal with no ID asked from/of the additional person.