Playgroups or pre-school playgroups are where three to five year olds, and sometimes younger children, can explore and experiment in a safe and stimulating environment. Most groups offer half-day sessions, usually in the morning on weekdays during term time. They are usually, but not always, closed for school holidays.

Charges range upwards from around £1 per session and most groups have a waiting list. There should be at least one adult for every eight children and pre-schools often rely on parents and carers to get involved. Groups have to be registered by Ofsted, which carries out inspections at least once a year.