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Early years admissions policy

Admissions policy for schools with nursery classes or foundation units

This policy applies to maintained schools including Voluntary Aided and Voluntary Controlled schools. It sets out the arrangements for admissions to schools with a nursery class and those with foundation units. It does not include the admission of pupils to a Reception class. Academies and Free schools should make sure early years provision meets the requirements of all relevant regulatory frameworks.

This policy covers:

Admission to full-time schooling is managed by the Admissions Policy for statutory aged pupils. That policy will either be set by the Local Authority for community/voluntary controlled schools or the Governing Body for voluntary aided/foundation schools.

For nursery places, each school and their Governing Body are responsible for admissions (non-statutory schooling). However, each Local Authority maintained school is required to adhere to this Admissions Policy. This is to make sure maintained schools carry out their duty to admit pupils on a consistent and fair basis with other maintained schools. It also supports the Local Authority to carry out its duty regarding the sufficiency and sustainability of all providers across all sectors.

Schools should ensure their admissions information is clear and accessible for parents to enable them to make an informed decision on where to take up their child's entitlement. Schools should be transparent about which sessions can be taken as the early education entitlements and this should be consistent for all parents.

The above applies to provision for eligible children who are either:

  • Young children that are registered as pupils, attending early years provision that is included in the school's age-range;
  • or Young children that are not usually registered pupils of the school, attending early years provision that is delivered using governors' community powers, under section 27 of the Education Act 2002.

A Young Child becomes a registered pupil of the school when their name is placed on the school census (and not the early years census). If a school is operating early years provision under community powers, even if the child is within the school's published age-range, they do not become a pupil simply because they are receiving early education at the school. For example, it is not possible for a child to be a pupil in the morning and a non-pupil in the afternoon.

A school's early years provision should not be registered with Ofsted on the Early Years Register if it meets the criteria, set out in the Childcare Act 2006, for exemption from separate registration. (For more details, visit: Registering school-based childcare provision (GOV.UK).

Early Years provision, that is exempt from separate registration, will be inspected by Ofsted when they carry out a whole school inspection.

Where provision is set up under Section 27 of the Education Act 2002 (community powers) the governing body can use the ratios and qualification requirements set out for early years providers. This flexibility (to operate with a Level 3 leading provision) will only apply where the children are not registered pupils - so it will only apply to community provision. As the governor-run early years provision is part of the school and will be inspected as part of the school, the head and governing body will ensure the provision is adequately supervised and run, even if a school teacher is not working directly with the children.

Schools should ensure that their 'Educare' database record indicates there is nursery provision at their school and if they need to lower their lower age-limit, to register children as pupils of the school, they should follow the School Organisation Guidance.

For statutory guidance about making organisation changes to maintained schools, visit: School organisation: local authority maintained schools (GOV.UK).

Entitlement to an early education place

All children are entitled to an early education place the term following their 3rd birthday. Local Authority policy is that they transfer to full-time schooling during the academic year of their 5th birthday. Note: Full-time schooling is not compulsory until the term after a child is five. (See: admission dates).

Eligible disadvantaged 2-year-olds are entitled to an early education place the term after their 2nd birthday. For more about this, visit: Free education and childcare for 2-year-olds (GOV.UK).

3 and 4-year-olds with eligible working parents can access the childcare entitlement to an additional 15 hours a week over 38 weeks.

From April 2024, 2-year-olds with eligible working parents are able to access the childcare entitlement of 15 hours a week over 38 weeks.

From September 2024, children 9 months old and above with eligible working parents are able to access the childcare entitlement of 15 hours a week over 38 weeks.

From September 2025, children aged 9 months old up to 3 years old with eligible working parents will be able to access the childcare entitlement of 30 hours a week over 38 weeks.

Parents and carers may choose to access an early education place through a variety of Early Years providers of which schools with nursery classes are one option. The focus of this decision should be meeting the needs of the individual child. A full list of providers can be obtained from the Early Years & Childcare Sufficiency Team who can also advise on the 'Early education and childcare statutory guidance for Local Authorities 2024'.

Where parents split their child’s entitlement between providers, the Local Authority and providers will need to distinguish between the 15 hours universal entitlement and the additional 15 hours working parents’ entitlement in order to accurately monitor and record take-up. Schools should use the Parental Declaration or admissions form to enable parents to indicate which of their child’s entitlements, the universal entitlement and/or the working parents’ entitlement, they are taking-up in the school and, where appropriate, pass this information onto the Local Authority. If a parent ceases to meet the eligibility criteria for the working parents’ entitlement, the parent may, at that point, choose at which provider they continue to take-up their child’s universal entitlement.

The Local Authority guarantees an early education place for all eligible children within Calderdale. For more about this, see: Childcare funding.

Schools should have regard to the Early education and childcare statutory guidance, 2024 (GOV.UK) and the Early Years entitlement: Operational Guidance (GOV.UK).

Admission dates

All children are required by law to start school at the beginning of the term after their 5th birthday.

The earliest a child can be admitted to access an entitlement and receive funding is the start of the funding period after the relevant age.

The admission points are:

Period in which relevant birthday falls Dates of birth Point of admission
Spring 1st January – 31st March Summer
Summer 1st April – 31st August Autumn
Autumn 1st September – 31st December Spring

Children born in April must be admitted in the following September and not after Easter regardless of when Easter falls.

Schools who admit rising threes should check the pupil's eligibility to the entitlement to early education for 2 year olds. Rising threes are defined as children who are registered pupils at a school and have not reached the age of three, but will do so before the end of their first term at school. The Ofsted exemption for rising threes, set out in the Childcare (Exemptions from Registration) Order 2008, is for registration purposes only. A rising three who has not reached their third birthday must, for ratio purposes, be regarded as a two year old and therefore a 1:5 ratio must be maintained.

The School Admissions Code requires admission authorities to provide for the admission of all children in the September following their fourth birthday. They must make it clear in their admission arrangements that, where they have offered a child a place at a school:

  • The child is entitled to a full-time place in the September following their fourth birthday.
  • The child's parents can defer the date their child is admitted to school until later in the school year, but not beyond the point at which they reach compulsory school age and not beyond the beginning of the final term of the school year for which the offer was made.
  • Where the parents wish, the child may attend part-time until later in the school year, but not beyond the point at which they reach compulsory school age.

Early education admissions and over-subscription criteria

Schools that are eligible to offer early education places are responsible for administering this entitlement. Parents must contact the school directly when applying for a nursery place. Each school should then allocate places in accordance with this policy. All parents should have the same rights to access a nursery place, regardless of whether they choose to pay for additional hours beyond their entitlement, optional activities or meals. Parents should not have to reserve a place each term.

Schools must identify a date each term when admissions for the following term will be allocated. Parents should be notified in writing when a nursery place will be available. Parents should be requested to confirm that they accept the offer of a place. Following notification that a place is available, a child should be expected to take up the place within 2 weeks of the start of term. If a staggered intake is offered all children must be in school by the end of 2nd week of term. If the child has not taken up the place after 2 weeks and a satisfactory explanation has not been provided to the Headteacher then the offer of a place can be removed.

Each school should have a written agreement with all parents that take up an early education place, similar to the Local Authority's model Parental Declaration, which all parents must complete and sign. The Local Authority may request copies of these for audit purposes. Schools may choose to have a further separate agreement for those parents who pay for additional hours beyond their entitlement or optional activities.

Schools must record evidence to verify a child's date of birth and identity. Examples are: a birth certificate or passport. Parents should also be asked to provide valid proof that the address given for the child is the address at which they are ordinarily resident.

The home address for each child is the permanent address of the parents/carers and their child. It is assumed to be:

  • The address of the parent/carer who receives child benefit for the child;
  • and where the child spends most of the time. (Even if he or she lives at a different address for some days of the week.)

Schools are also asked to record these details:

  • parents/carer's surname;
  • date of birth;
  • and National Insurance or NASS (National Asylum Support Service) number.

This is so we can check a child's eligibility for Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP).

National Insurance or NASS numbers should be input on the Early Years Portal and must be securely maintained or destroyed in line with Data Protection Regulations. For a model form and letter, visit: Early years pupil premium: model form and letter for parents (GOV.UK).

If a child is refused a nursery place then the parent/carer may appeal to the committee of Governors. Governors should adhere to the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage 2024 (and subsequent revisions) and they cannot admit children over their designated capacity. Therefore, the only grounds for upholding an appeal should be where a parent demonstrates that an error has been made by the school when processing an application that may have resulted in a place being offered to another child.

Where a school receives more applications than places available then children should be admitted in the following order:

  1. Children under statutory assessment of their Education, Health and Care Needs or with an Education, Health and Care Plan (which names the school).
  2. Children in Public Care (Children who are Looked After), including those who have been adopted or who are subject to a residence order, a special guardianship order; or a child arrangements order.
  3. Children who have a sibling attending the school at the time of admission. Siblings are brothers or sisters (includes half/step brothers or sisters) permanently resident in the same household. They attend the same school or school on the same site, on the date of admission.
  4. Other children.

If there is over subscription in any category, then children should be admitted in the order of proximity of the pupil's permanent home to school. Distance should be calculated using a straight line measurement from the pupil's home to the closest designated school gate. Distances should be calculated using the Local Authority's GIS (Geographical Information System). No other method of measuring distance will be considered. Each property has a co-ordinate taken from Ordnance Survey ADDRESS-POINT data. This is the point from which distance measurements will be made.

Schools must advise parents that it is their responsibility to inform them immediately of any change of circumstances that may affect their application (for example, a change of address.)

Schools must make clear to parents their closing date for applications for nursery places and how late applications will be dealt with.

A parent must not be expected to purchase additional services to gain a place at the school nursery.

Where required, the Local Authority will provide support to a school in applying the admissions criteria.

Nursery provision

A school's nursery capacity must be agreed by the Local Authority and meet the welfare requirements of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage 2024 (and subsequent revisions). The capacity is based on available space, facilities, staff ratios and staff qualifications.

Schools may consider Reception Class capacity and priority for those children seeking to access their universal entitlement to early education when allocating places. Whilst under no obligation to offer the extended entitlement, schools are strongly encouraged to consider the needs of their local community and current available provision when deciding on their nursery provision.

Schools must ensure that their admissions information is clear and accessible for parents to enable them to make an informed decision on where to access their entitlement. Schools should ensure that they are completely clear and transparent about which hours/ sessions can be taken as early education and this should be consistent for all parents taking up funded hours.

Where it is reasonably practicable, children should be able to take up their entitlements in continuous blocks and avoid artificial breaks throughout the day, for example over lunch periods.

For examples of flexible delivery of the early education entitlement, visit: Early Years entitlement: Operational Guidance (GOV.UK).

Funding for early education places

Funding for children to access their entitlements to early education (prior to reaching statutory school age) is based on the factors and criteria set out in the Calderdale Early Years Single Funding Formula. This is reviewed on an annual basis prior to the April of each year.

Charging for additional services

Government funding is intended to deliver 15 or 30 hours a week of high quality, flexible early education. It is not intended to cover the costs of meals, other consumables, additional hours or optional activities. Schools can charge for meals and snacks, consumables and optional activities as part of a child’s entitlement, as long as parents are not required to pay as a condition of taking up their child’s place. Schools may utilise unallocated nursery places to offer additional provision beyond the early education entitlement. Where parents choose to purchase additional hours of provision or optional activities, this is a private matter between the school and the parent, but schools must have a charging policy and inform parents of any charges before they are incurred. Schools must inform parents of the arrangements for purchasing additional sessions and also ensure they have clear invoicing structure in place for parents.

Where a child is a registered pupil of the school, the School shall at all times comply with the requirements of the Education Act 1996 regarding the provision of Free School Meals.

For more about charging, visit: Early Years entitlement: Operational Guidance (GOV.UK).

Information for parents

It should be made clear to parents that admission to a nursery class does not guarantee an automatic place in Reception in the same school. Schools should consider asking parents to sign a statement to this effect. A child's attendance at a Local Authority nursery is not taken into consideration in the allocation of places in the reception year. Parents of children in nursery classes must complete an online application via the Calderdale Citizens' Portal in order to request a full-time place in school. For more about the admissions process, see: Admissions.

Parents must be also made aware that an offer of a donation of money or in kind to procure a school place is illegal and to ask a school to consider this is to ask them to become involved in fraudulent activity.

School census and early years census

All providers of education to children aged under five must provide data on children in their care. This is to the Secretary of State and/or their local authority, when requested to do so. (Childcare Act 2006, section 99.)

Maintained schools, academies and free schools with on-site early years provision submit their data via either the school census or the early years census, as appropriate for the individual children attending the setting:

  • Registered pupils of the school (2, 3 and 4-year-olds depending on the statutory age range of the school) are recorded via the school census (and not the early years census).
  • Children (aged 2, 3 and 4) attending a separate Ofsted registered PVI provider on a school site, are recorded via the early years census (and not the school census) and this should be completed by the provider not the school.
  • Children attending s27 (governor run) provision should be either recorded via the:
    • School census where they are registered pupils of the school. (Can include 2-year-olds if the school's statutory age range covers 2-year-olds.)
    • Early years census where they are not registered pupils of the school.

Statutory Framework for Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) 2024

This framework sets the standards for welfare, safeguarding, learning, development and care for children from birth to five.

The Childcare Act (2006) requires each school and their Governing Body to adhere to the current version.

SEND Code of Practice

The Children and Families Bill 2014 introduced the SEND Reforms.

Schools must have regard to the current SEND Code of Practice when allocating places in their nursery.

For more details, visit: SEND code of practice: 0 to 25 years (GOV.UK) and the Equality Act 2010 (

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