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Early Years Education

Statutory School Age

The statutory school age requires children to start Foundation Stage at an infant or primary school in the September of the academic year in which they turn 5, but before they start school, children can access Early Education at an Ofsted-registered childcarer or within a nursery school or school nursery class.

Early Education providers follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework, which encourages learning through play and aims to help the child prepare for school, as well as establish the foundations for effective learning.

Who can offer Early Education?

Almost all day nurseries and pre-schools in Lincolnshire offer Early Education places to 3 and 4 year olds, as well as increasing numbers of childminders.  Children can attend up to 15 hours per week in term time for free.  Some parents pay for extra hours of childcare on top of the free entitlement if they need to work and some use less than 15 hours.

Early Education places can also be provided through nursery schools or nursery classes at infant or primary schools, though you should still apply for a school place as normal for your child, as attending a nursery class is no guarantee of a statutory school place.

If an Ofsted registered childcarer has a good or outstanding Ofsted inspection grade, they can also offer funded Early Education places to eligible 2 year olds.  Again, this is up to 15 hours per week in term time.

When can my child start Early Education?

As a universal entitlement, all 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to Early Education places from the start of the term after they turn 3.  For example, Millie's 3rd birthday is on 14th October, so she can take a funded place from the start of the Spring term in January.

Eligible 2 year olds are similarly entitled to Early Education places from the start of the term after they turn 2.  Eligibility for a 2 year old place depends on qualifying benefits – to check if you are eligible, go to The Early Years Entitlement for 2 Year Olds.

How can I find an Early Years provider?

All childcare providers offering funded Early Education places to 2, 3 and 4 year olds are listed on the Family Services Directory.

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