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Getting ready for school

Education in the early years

There are many different types of registered childcare available - from nurseries to childminders. Some childcare settings are for all children, others are specialist services for children with additional needs. 

When choosing a childcare provider, think about the environment that would best suit your child - for example a home environment or a group setting. Most local authorities have a Family Information Service (FIS) that provides details of all the registered childcare providers in that area. From this you can start to look at providers' websites, read their policies and Ofsted reports, and look at feedback from other parents.


Will the childcare setting meet my child's needs?

It's important to consider how well a childcare setting can accommodate your child's needs. These will be different for every child, so you need to speak to someone - such as the setting's manager or the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) - about your own specific requirements. 

Read our checklist from our Right from the Start toolkit of things to ask and consider when choosing a childcare setting.


Download your own parent handbook

The handbook contains all the key information and guidance you need right from the start of your journey. 


All early education and childcare providers charge a fee. However the government offers 15 hours of free early education and childcare per week for children aged three and four. Some working parents are also eligible to 30 hours a week. Some two-year-old children can also access free early education if parents meet the benefits criteria. 

Find out more about what free early education and childcare available in your area.

Al local authorities must provide an Inclusion Fund for children aged three and four with SEND to ensure childcare providers can meet their needs. 

Your local authority's SEND team will have further information about the resource available in your area. 


Further information about early years education

The Coram Family and Childcare Trust has a comprehensive guide to childcare for children with SEND in England.