Early Years Education

A boy smiling

The Welsh Government (WG), in partnership with the Early Years and Childcare Service Area, provides every child within the county borough with a free, part-time, early years education place in an approved early years setting from the term following their third birthday.

During the academic year of your child’s 4th birthday, early years education is only available in a school setting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an approved setting?

An approved setting can be either a ‘maintained’ setting which is a nursery class in a school, or a ‘non-maintained’ setting, which could be an English or Welsh medium playgroup or a private day nursery. All settings are registered with the Local Authority (LA) to deliver early years education.

Why send my child so young?

Early childhood education enables children to enjoy playing and learning before they begin school and this experience will help them to acquire the skills, knowledge and understanding to prepare them for their future years in education.

Are the part-time places free?

Yes. Each child is entitled to one free, part-time, early years education place at an approved setting from the term after they turn three.

What is a part-time place?

Access to early years education is a minimum of 10 hours provision over a period of 4-5 days a week but sessions could be organised to better suit individual children. The playgroup leader, teacher or nursery manager (‘person in charge’) will liaise with the LA to provide your child with a free, part-time education place.

How will I know that my child is receiving appropriate early years education?

It is recommended that non-maintained early education providers have qualified teacher involvement. The teacher will advise the early years staff working with the children, offer support and guidance to the setting and help with the Foundation Phase seven areas of learning.

The areas of learning are used in all settings and will help to give your child skills in language, literacy and communication, develop their creative, physical and early maths skills and enhance their personal and social development as well as giving them a wider understanding and knowledge of the world and an introduction to Welsh Language development.

How will I know the setting is a quality provider?

All early years settings providing these places have to be inspected by a registered education inspector (ESTYN) on a regular basis. Non-maintained settings also undergo the usual annual inspection by the Care Inspectorate for Wales (CIW). In Caerphilly County Borough non-maintained settings have to go through a quality procedure to achieve early years status.

How do I access the scheme?

If our chosen childcare setting is registered to provide education then the ‘person in charge’ should be able to provide you with more information. There are a variety of providers in the area to give parents a greater choice.

If the setting is not registered then you will need to find one in your area that is – you can contact the school admissions service on 01443 864870, or the Family Information Service on 01443 863232 for a list of all registered providers.

When can my child access the scheme?

Your child is entitled to a free, part-time place from the term following their third birthday.

In Caerphilly County Borough if your child’s 3rd birthday is:

  • Between Jan 1st and March 31st or Good Friday (whichever is later) they can access Early Years Education in either a non-maintained setting or a school setting in the Summer Term.
  • Between Sept 1st and Dec 31st they can access Early Years Education in either a non-maintained setting or a school setting in the Spring Term.
  • Between April 1st and August 31st they can only access Early Years Education in a school setting from the September following their third birthday.

NOTE: You will need to re-submit an application form for your child to attend their school based nursery education place for the Autumn Term (September) following their third birthday. As this is a separate application process, the choice of setting for the Spring and Summer terms should have no effect on where your child eventually attends school.

Help with Childcare Costs

Raising children can be costly, do you know families can be entitled to financial help? Your Family Information Service can provide you with information about help with childcare costs, benefits and programmes, as well as Universal Credit when it is introduced in the future. you can check to see if your childcare provider is registered by e-mailing the Family Information Service.

This help includes: -

  • Child benefit
  • Tax Credits/Universal Credits
  • Childcare Vouchers
  • Healthy Start Scheme
  • Guardians Allowance
  • Free School Meals
  • Free School Travel
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Direct Payments
  • Early Years Education
  • Flying Start
  • Assisted Places

For further information please go to the Family Information Service website.