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Nursery and pre-school provision

This advice applies to Wales

Find out whether your child is entitled to free part-time nursery education.

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Your local Family Information Service (FIS) has information on all services available to parents, including parents of disabled children. Contact your FIS for up-to-date details of nursery and early years provision in your area.

Free pre-school provision

Children are entitled to a free, part-time pre-school place (of at least 10 hours a week), from the start of the school term following their third birthday.

You don't have to take up the free place if you don't want to.

The places may be in:

  • nursery schools
  • nursery or reception classes in primary schools
  • playgroups
  • private day nurseries or independent schools
  • children's centres, family centres or day nurseries run by the local authority
  • a childminder's home.

Even if the place would normally charge fees, you will not have to pay for the minimum entitlement but if your child attends for longer than that, you may have to pay for the extra hours.

Entitlement to a free place lasts for up to six terms before a child reaches compulsory school age - the age when they must go to school. Most local authorities will allow a child to start school at the beginning of the term during which the child will be five. However, you don't have to send your child to school until the beginning of the term after their fifth birthday.

If you live in a Flying Start area you may be able to get a free place when your child is two.

  • More information about Flying Start is available on the Welsh Government website at: www.wales.gov.uk

Other useful information

Every local authority in Wales has a Family Information Service (FIS). Your local FIS can tell you about nursery schools in your area. You can find details of you FIS on your local authority's website.

  • A guide about the Foundation Phase, for 3-7 year olds, 'How is my child doing in the Foundation Phase - a guide for parents and carers', available at: www.wales.gov.uk
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