Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Childcare

Under the Government's early years programme all three and four year olds are entitled to free part time education from the term following their third birthday. A part time place is up to 15 hours a week for 38 weeks per year.

Children do not have to attend any "education setting" until the term following their fifth birthday. Many children attend school earlier but it is the parents who will decide whether early education, in whatever setting, is right for their child.

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Although parents may choose where to send their children, free places for three and four year olds are only available in settings registered with Education, Health and Social Care.

You can now find good quality education for three and four year olds in many different places and lists are available from the Family Information Service, on freephone 0800 587 8191, of all the local childcare providers that meet the standards set for good quality education. These providers have satisfied a registered nursery inspector appointed by Ofsted (The Office for Standards in Education) that the education they offer will enable children to work towards the Early Learning Goals (part of the Foundation Stage).

Many children will achieve the Early Learning Goals by the end of the Foundation Stage. The end of the Foundation Stage is at the end of the reception year in a primary school.

From September 2017 families may be entitled to an additional 15 hours per week of childcare for 3 and 4 year olds.  You can register on the Government's Childcare Choices website to find out more.

Please use the menu below for more information:

To find your nearest schools please visit the My Local Area page on the right and enter your postcode when prompted.

There are many benefits that children gain from education:

  • Good education encourages children's all round development - physical, intellectual, creative, social, moral and emotional
  • Children make progress as they are interested and involved in what they are doing
  • Children learn to concentrate because they are not interrupted in the middle of an absorbing activity to adhere to a set timetable
  • Children can recognise their own racial background, culture, social and family life in their surroundings and activities. They are treated with understanding and respect and at the same time, they learn to understand and respect people who are different from them
  • Boys and girls are equally encouraged to develop initiative and their self confidence grows through problem solving, making choices and taking responsibility
  • Children work and play on their own and also co-operate with one another
  • Children have a chance to see and do fresh things every week. They go on local outings and interesting visitors come to see them
  • All settings have a Special Educational Needs (SEN) Policy. The SEN Policy describes how that setting includes children with additional or special education needs. The policy should be available to parents on request

Children become entitled to a free place at the beginning of the term following their third birthday. Please refer to the table below which shows the term in which children become entitled to a free place:

A child born between

Will be eligible for a free place from

1 April and 31 August

The start of the Autumn Term following their third birthday

1 September and 31 December

The start of the Spring Term following their third birthday

1 January and 31 March

The start of the Summer Term following their third birthday 

Please note: when the Spring Term is extended to April (due to Easter) the cut off date to qualify for the Summer Term remains at 31 March.

You can choose an early education place for your child at any pre-school, playgroup, nursery class/school, independent school, day nursery, accredited childminder or private nursery school that is registered with Family Services. A full list of early years providers is available from the Family Information Service on 0800 587 8191.

Once you have decided which type of setting will suit the needs of your child and your family, you will have to choose between those available. You will need to make contact with the provider to request registration and enrolment information.

A leaflet Early Years  Provision for Children with Additional Needs in Cornwall has been produced that explains the continuum of  early years provision in Cornwall. This includes information about the Child Development Centres(CDC) and Special School Provision.

The Child Development Centre Admissions Policy provides information about the role of the CDCs in Cornwall and the types of support valuable from this provision. An application form  is also included with this policy that must be used by settings when requesting the involvement of a CDC.

What if my child is developing differently from other children or if they have additional physical needs?

Admission policies/procedures and available pre-school provision are the same for all children regardless of needs or abilities. Cornwall has a specialist support team called The Early Years Inclusion Team.

This team provides:

  • A Portage Service
  • An Early Years ASD (autism) Service
  • An Inclusion Support Service to families and early years settings

Children who have very complex needs may require quite detailed arrangements to be made on their behalf. Some parents may decide to choose specialist placements for their children.

For more information on provision for young children (0-5 years) with additional needs, contact the Early Years Inclusion Team on 01872 266360.

If you have a two year old, you could be eligible for a free early learning and childcare place.

Eligibility criteria and application forms are available to download from the Family Information Service website.

Sure Start children’s centres are designed for children under five and their families to receive high quality integrated services and information within their communities. Children’s centres offer services to give children the best start in life and help them reach their potential.

Services in centres across the county include:

  • access to health and parenting support services
  • information about training and employment
  • access to play activities and childcare
  • a base for childminder networks
  • support for children and parents/carers with additional needs
  • community meeting rooms
  • crèche facilities
  • access to toy libraries

Further information on Children's Centres

Further information about what you and your family are entlled to can be found on the Families in the Foundation Years website.