Early learning and childcare places

Early learning and childcare places

Find out when and how to enrol your child at a nursery. Unlike school, your child doesn't legally have to attend one or any kind of pre-school. Before you apply for a place there are some things you need to know:

Education Scotland and Care Inspectorate regulate all early learning and childcare providers. We also check them for quality assurance.

Funded hours

Funded early learning and childcare is free to parents, but funded by the Scottish Government.

All 3 and 4-year-olds are eligible to get a funded place at a council nursery, or funding towards a place at a funded provider (private nurseries, playgroups and childminders that we have an agreement with). Some children younger than age 3 may also be eligible.

Not all private nurseries, playgroups and childminders are funded providers and there is no funding towards places they offer. You can view funded nurseries and playgroups in our application booklet.

Funding for nursery places is not renewed automatically. It is important that you apply for a funded place each year or your funding may stop.

Statutory entitlement

The statutory entitlement is 1140 hours pro rata per term year. We are in partnership with childminders, playgroups and private nurseries.

Council nurseries

Some settings are open most of the year and others operate term time only:

  • 9am to 3pm term time
  • 8am to 6pm term time or all year

Please see our application booklet for further details.

If you apply for your child to attend a council nursery but need childcare for longer hours, you will have to find a funded provider and pay for additional childcare.

Council nurseries are attached to primary schools, but there is no guarantee your child will be able to stay at that school for their primary education. Your child can attend a nursery outwith your primary school zone.

Funded providers

We have an agreement with some private nurseries, playgroups and registered childminders, known as funded providers. They offer funded hours through Scottish Government funding at the same standard of learning as council nurseries.

Additional support needs

If your child has additional support needs (ASN), let us know when you apply for a nursery place. They may be given priority when places are allocated

Moving your child to a different nursery setting 

If you would like to move your child to a different setting, discuss it with your child's current setting in the first instance. The Early Years team will then give you a transfer request form to complete and return to them. Transfer will normally only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

Application booklet

For more information or details of all nurseries, playgroups and childminders please view our Early Learning and Childcare Application Booklet 2024/25 (PDF 1.8MB).