Shropshire Council

Types of early education setting and eligibility

Some parents or carers require childcare for their baby or child prior to them becoming eligible for early education funded places. Children become eligible for funded education at different ages according to circumstances.

The following information is about the different early education settings available in Shropshire.

Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) Early Years Settings

Early Years settings provide childcare and education for children from as young as six weeks up to five years old. These settings vary in size and in the number and age of children they can admit. They may be different in terms of their premises and the facilities on offer and may be open for all 52 weeks of a year or in term-time only, like schools. Each PVI provider will have their own website where you can read more about them.


Childminders care for children in their homes, providing learning and play opportunities through a wide range of planned and free activities. Some child minders will take children to and from school. Childminders are registered with Ofsted to mind children aged from six weeks old.

Maintained Nursery Schools and Nursery classes (in infant /primary schools)

Nursery schools and classes provide early education during school term time only. All children become eligible for a nursery school place the term after their third birthday. Nursery schools and classes may also offer funded places for eligible children from the term after their second birthday.

Some infant and primary schools have nursery classes – you can check your local school website to find out if they offer this.

Special school nursery classes

Some children with an Education, Health and Care plan may need a placement in a special school nursery. Professionals working with your child will support you if this type of provision is required.

Choosing a setting for young children with special educational needs or disability (SEND)

This section will help you make the very important decision about where your child will first attend an educational setting. You may want to seek information and advice available from professionals about the best setting for your child.

All early education providers are required by the law to be inclusive. They must make adjustments, so that children with Special Educational Needs and/or Disability can access the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). To ensure full access to the EYFS some children will require additional support in line with the Special Educational needs and Disability Code of Practice 2015 (please link in) This outlines a ‘Graduated Approach’ to meeting needs. This means that the support for your child will match their level of need. Sometimes, after periods of support in mainstream settings, a small number of children might need to go to a specialist setting.

How do I choose a setting?

Make a list of the settings you wish to consider and then visit several so that you can compare them.

Before visiting the setting

Once you have made a shortlist of settings that you would like to consider, make a checklist of all the things that are important to you and your child; this will help you to ask the right questions. You may want to:

  • Ask for a setting prospectus or brochure (or find a copy online)
  • Have a look at the setting /school’s website – especially their SEND Information
  • Look up the most recent OfSTED report on the internet
  • Take any relevant information about your baby or child’s additional needs with you,
  • Think carefully about whether you want to take your child with you on the first visit (you could discuss this with the setting or another professional)
  • Take someone along with you such as a friend or relative – they can help in discussing your impressions afterwards
  • Ask to have a guided tour of the setting – you will get a better feel for the setting if you do this when the children are there
  • Ask to speak to the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) about what could be provided to meet your child’s needs. Every setting is required by law to have a SENCo

What should I ask before I visit the setting?

Here are some questions you might want to ask.

  • How many children will be in my child’s key group?
  • How will information about my child’s needs be shared with the staff?
  • How does the setting arrange extra support for children who need it?
  • How will I be involved in planning for my child’s needs and reviewing his or her progress?
  • How will my child be helped to settle in and to make friends?
  • How will the other children be helped to understand my child’s needs?
  • How will I be updated about what is happening?
  • How does the setting support the personal, social and emotional development of all children?
  • How will the setting include my child in all activities? 
  • How soon will a place be available?

What should I do after my visits?

Try to keep an open mind until you have looked at all the possibilities. Once you have visited several settings you may have further questions which you want to contact the setting to ask. You may want to share your thoughts with any professionals involved with your child and you may want to take your child on a visit, if you haven’t already done so.

Once you have made a decision you will need to agree a start date directly with the setting. After this you can support your child to be ready for the transition.


Everyone involved will work in partnership with you to plan for your child’s transition. Best practice might include the following types of activities:

  • A transition meeting with the receiving setting attended by the family and professionals
  • Visits by the receiving setting staff to the home or child’s current setting
  • Opportunities for you to share the information you would like the key person and staff to know about your child.
  • Transition resources to help your child prepare for the changes ahead, such as a transition book with photographs of their new environment and key staff
  • Record sharing between settings which outline your child’s strengths, needs and next steps, including how they have been supported to make progress so far
  • A transition document outlining agreed steps to settle your child into the setting
  • Additional ‘getting to know you’ taster sessions
  • A flexible settling in period