Early education and childcare

As a parent or carer, you know what's best for your child.

The things you and your child do together at home are the most important step in giving them the best start in life.

Care from friends, grandparents and other relatives plays a vital role too.

Early education and childcare can also help your child to get the best start in life, so choosing the right kind of setting for your child is a big decision to make.

Not only is Early Education and Childcare good for your child, it’s good for families and carers too.

Time is precious, so access to Early Education or Childcare increases your freedom to manage your work and family life in the best way possible, whatever your circumstances.

There are lots of options and you’ll need to work out the best arrangement for your child, your lifestyle and your pocket, but early learning and childcare is good for families.

This part of the Local Offer is designed to help you make this choice - you can find information about what's on offer locally, help with childcare costs and other support services out there.

You can read Rutland's Early Years Strategic Approach which explains our approach in bringing together all local services working with families with young children.

Birth to 5 Matters Non-statutory guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage

RIS - Local Offer - Early education and childcare information

The Early Years Foundation Stage

The Early Years Foundation Stage framework sets out the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five, when they attend an early years provider.  The Early Years Foundation Stage continues until the end of the Reception Year in school.

Children do best when the professionals and parents work together towards positive outcomes. 

There are four guiding themes which underpin work with young children:

  1. A Unique Child – every child is a competent learner from birth who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured.
  2. Positive Relationships – children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person.
  3. Enabling Environments – the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning.
  4. Learning and Development – children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates and all areas of Learning and Development are equally important and inter-connected.

What should my child be learning?

The Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework (EYFS) sets out seven key areas of learning and development, and the educational programmes. There are seven areas of learning and development that will shape educational programmes in Early Years settings. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children's curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. These three areas, the prime areas, are:

  • Communication and language
  • Physical development
  • Personal, social and emotional development

Providers must also support children in four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied. These specific areas are:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design

Each area of learning and development must be implemented through planned, purposeful play, and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity.

How can I find out how my child is doing?

Speak to your childcare provider. All children should have a key worker, and the key worker will know your child best. They are responsible for putting together information on how your child is learning and developing.

The following are really useful documents containing lots of information about stages of child development: 

  • Statutory Framework For The Early Years Foundation Stage
  • What to expect when – a parents guide

Two year old integrated checks

Age two is an important time for your child.

Any problems with language development and behaviour can start to be identified at this age.

If any problems are found, interventions can be more effective than they would be for an older child, making a real difference to a child’s future.

At two to two-and-a-half years your child will have a health and development review.

This is usually done by a nursery nurse or the health visitor, and could take place at home, in a baby clinic, at Visions Children's Centre, or your child's nursery if they're attending one.

They'll encourage you to talk about your child's progress and will help you with any concerns.

You may be asked to fill in a short questionnaire about your child's development.

It's best if both you and your partner are there. If your child attends an early years setting, such as a nursery or child-minder, the review may be linked to your child's early years progress check at age two.

The review will cover:

  • general development, including movement, speech, social skills and behaviour, and hearing and vision
  • growth, healthy eating, and keeping active
  • managing behaviour and encouraging good sleeping habits
  • tooth brushing and going to the dentist 
  • keeping your child safe

Early education funding


A two-year-old child will be entitled to a maximum of 570 funded hours for their Early Educational Entitlement (FEEE) per year. This can be for up to 15 hours a week, or less if your childcare provider is open for more than 38 weeks of the year. This funding can be used from the term after your child has reached the age of two, and your child or you meet the eligibility criteria below. Please note that your child does not have to use their full entitlement. 

  • Children born in the period 1st January to 31st March: the start of term beginning on or following 1st April after the child’s second birthday;
  • Children born in the period 1st April to 31st August: the start of term beginning on or following 1st September after the child’s second birthday;
  • Children born in the period 1st September to 31st December: the start of term beginning on or following 1st January after the child’s second birthday.

Your two-year-old child may be eligible if you claim one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit –if a parent is entitled to Universal Credit and they have an annual net earned income equivalent to and not exceeding £15,400, assessed on up to three of the parent’s most recent Universal Credit 38 assessment periods. 24 Further guidance on checking eligibility is set out below.
  • tax credits and they have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

Your two-year-old child may also be eligible if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • the child has a statement of special educational needs made under section 324 of the Education Act 1996;
  • the child has an Education, Health and Care plan prepared under section 37 of the Children and Families Act 2014;
  • the child is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance under section 71 of the Social Security and Contributions and Benefits Act 1992;
  • they are looked after by a local authority (under section 22(1) of the Children Act 1989) or by a local authority in Wales within the meaning given by section 74(1) of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014
  • they are no longer looked after by a local authority as a result of an adoption order, a special guardianship order or a child arrangement order (within the meaning of section 8(1) of the Children Act 1989 or section 74(1) of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014) which relates to either or both of the following: with whom the child is to live; when the child is to live with any person.

Three-and four-year-olds (universal entitlement)

All three- and four-year-olds are eligible to access 570 hours of funded hours for their Early Educational Entitlement (FREE) per year. The amount of hours used depends on the opening times of your childcare provider. Please note how you can choose to use these hours:

  • no session to be longer than 10 hours 
  • no minimum session length (subject to the requirements of registration on the Ofsted Early Years Register)
  • not before 6.00am or after 8.00pm
  • a maximum of two sites in a single day
  • up to 51 weeks of the year if you are 'stretching' your child’s entitlement (this is where you have all-round childcare instead of when schools are normally open)
  • at weekends

Three-and four-year-olds of working parents (extended entitlement)

Your child will be entitled to an additional 15 hours of FREE from the term after your child has reached the age of three and, as a parent/carer, you have evidence of eligibility from HMRC. 

Early Years providers must be registered with Ofsted. Childminders may be registered with Ofsted or a childminding agency. 

Early Years Pupil Premium

What is the Early Years Pupil Premium?

The Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) is additional funding to support disadvantaged three- and four-year-olds. 

Help with costs

Disability Living Allowance can help you with the day-to-day costs of looking after a child with a disability.

You can find out about funding towards 2, 3 and 4 year old childcare, benefits and childcare vouchers on our help with childcare costs page.

The Disabled Access Fund is available from Rutland County Council. This can help childcare providers address the needs of individual children with SEND.

Starting school

Starting school is an exciting time for young children and their families, it can also be a daunting time especially if it is your first child to start school.  Schools and settings work closely to ensure children have a smooth and positive transition into school, this includes visits and meetings.  

Continuity and sharing of information between parents, practitioners and between providers is key to supporting children through transitions. 

When parents and carers pass on information to the setting or settings share information with parents it helps everyone to understand and be clear about what is important in the child’s life.

Children’s lives are made easier when everyone who is involved knows what has happened and what may be happening in the future.

Each local authority is responsible for co-ordinating the primary school admissions process for children resident within their local authority area. This means that as a resident of Rutland you must submit an application to Rutland County Council even if you wish to apply for a place at a school in another local authority area.