A pre-school playgroup, or in everyday usage just a playgroup, is an organised group providing care and socialisation for children under five. The term is widely used in the United Kingdom. Playgroups are less formal than the pre-school education of nursery schools. They do not provide full-time care, operating for only a few hours a day during school term time, often in the mornings only. They are staffed by nursery nurses or volunteers, not by nursery teachers, and are run by private individuals or charities, rather than by the state or companies.
In the United Kingdom, since around the 1980s, the traditional territory of the playgroup has been encroached on by the expansion of more formal nursery education, and playgroups often now cater only for two- and three-year-olds before they move onto a nursery school. Over the same period there has been an increase in the state supervision of playgroups.