All 3 and 4 year-olds can access 15 hours of free early learning and care each week, for 38 weeks of the year. 3 year-olds can access this from the start of the school term that begins after their third birthday. Children with additional needs are eligible for free education when they reach 2 years old. The Children with Additional Needs (CAN) Guide has more information.
Pre-schools and playgroups
Most pre-schools and playgroups open for sessions of 2 and-a-half hours at a time, and take children from the age of 3 years. Some will take children younger than this, but sessions will have to be paid for. Costs start at around £5 per session if a child is not yet eligible for funding.
Private nursery schools
Private nursery schools often take children from the age of 2 years-old, and may offer extended childcare from the hours of 8am to 6pm. Children can only attend the funded sessions, or can stay for additional hours if more care is required. Costs vary depending on the hours attended, but may be upwards of £800 per term.
Maintained nursery schools and classes
Maintained nursery schools are part of the state education system and are available at some infant and primary schools, and at The Ambleside Centre in Woodley. Children can attend from the age of 3 years, and some may offer extended hours of care. Attendance at a nursery class based in a school does not guarantee a place at the infant or primary school.
Special Educational Needs
All early education settings place great importance on identifying Special Educational Needs (SEN) at an early stage. Every setting has a SEN Coordinator (SENCo) who has responsibility for coordinating the support for children with SEN. Once it has been identified that a child needs extra help, the SENCo will discuss the appropriate next steps. This may involve applying for a Statutory Assessment of SEN.