Guidance - applying for the directory of providers

Wigan Council is required by the Department for Education to maintain an up to date Directory of all providers approved to receive funding to deliver funded places, including the free early education entitlement for 2, 3 and 4 year olds. Providers will not receive funding for any period when they are not included on the Directory.

Eligibility

By law we have to deliver early education places through:

  • Settings registered on the Ofsted Early Years Register under section 40 of the Childcare Act 2006;
  • Schools which are exempt from registration on the Ofsted Early Years Register under section 34(2) of the Childcare Act 2006; or
  • Providers that are exempted from delivering the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) learning and development requirements under section 46(1) or (2) of the Childcare Act 2006.

Types of providers that fall into these categories include private day nurseries, pre-school playgroups, childminders, independent schools and maintained schools and academies with nurseries.

Conditions

Eligible providers are able to apply for inclusion onto the Directory if they meet the conditions set out in the Department for Education’s Early education and childcare Statutory guidance for local authorities. Eligibility is based upon a provider’s Ofsted judgement grade, as follows:

  • All providers judged by Ofsted to be satisfactory/requires improvement, good or outstanding can apply for inclusion on the Directory to receive funding to deliver early education for 3 and 4 year olds.
  • Providers judged by Ofsted to be good or outstanding can also apply to receive funding to deliver early education for two year olds and children funded by children’s centres and social care.
  • Providers judged inadequate by Ofsted are not eligible to apply to go on the Directory.
  • Following a support visit from the LA, all new settings that have not yet been inspected will be eligible to apply to go on the directory.

How providers can apply for a place on the directory


Eligible providers are required to complete an Early years Directory application form and contract and return it to the Early Education Finance team at (2nd Floor Civic Centre) Wigan Council PO Box.

Removing providers from the directory

A provider can be removed from the Directory or refused funding to deliver early education for different reasons.

These include:

  • If an existing provider delivering 2, 3 and 4 year old funding has an Ofsted inspection outcome to be satisfactory/requires improvement, they will remain on the funding directory but they will NOT be able to accept any more new two year old funded children until their Ofsted grade improves to be good or outstanding. The setting can continue to offer the entitlement to existing two year old children. The only exception to this ruling is if the Local Authority feel that there is a shortfall of two year old places available within the immediate area. The setting can accept new three and four year old children.
  • If an existing provider delivering 2, 3 and 4 year old funding has an Ofsted inspection outcome to be inadequate, the Local Authority will withdraw the setting from the directory and will withdraw funding within 6 weeks for any children eligible for 2, 3 or 4 year old free entitlements. This will continue until such time as the Ofsted grade improves to the level required. The Local Authority will continue to fund children already placed with you for a maximum of 6 weeks or until such time as those families access a place at an alternative provider, whichever is the sooner.

    All parents funded within the setting will receive a letter that parents notifying them of this action and the support offered for them to secure alternative childcare.
  • If a provider fails to meet other terms and conditions of Wigan’s funding Agreement. This includes charging top up fees or not administering the free places correctly, or not being inclusive. In these cases the provider will be given a timescale to amend their procedures. If the provider fails to do so within the agreed timescales they will be removed from the Directory.
  • If there is a serious safeguarding concern. This could result in the immediate removal of a provider from the Directory. Providers should inform the LADO and the Early Learning and Childcare Team of any potential safeguarding issues. 

A provider can re-apply for inclusion onto the Directory if they meet the eligibility criteria and conditions in force at the time of application.

Providers voluntary withdrawal from the directory or from any type of early education delivery

If a provider chooses to stop offering early education for two year olds or three and four year olds the provider must inform the Early Learning and Childcare team, the Early Years finance team and parents know plus give at least six weeks’ notice so parents can make alternative arrangements.

If the provider wants to be re-admitted to the Directory, they must meet the eligibility criteria and conditions in force at the time of application.

Changes to a provider’s details

All Providers must inform Ofsted and Early Years Finance Team of any intended changes to their details including a change of ownership, premises and registration which may affect their place on the Directory. In certain circumstances a provider may have to re-apply for inclusion on the Directory if there has been a substantial change.

Right of appeal against a decision to withdraw or reject a provider from the directory or to withdraw funding to deliver early education

  1. If a provider wishes to appeal against a decision to reject or remove them from the Directory or withdraw funding to delivery early education they must notify Wigan Local Authority in writing within 10 working days of the notice being given. The provider must provide the grounds for objecting the decision and provide relevant evidence in support. 
  2. Wigan will acknowledge receipt of the appeal within ten working days. In the acknowledgement letter Wigan will give the provider a date, to submit their supporting evidence and a date time and location for an appeal hearing.
  3. The appeal will be heard by a panel of three members including the Early Years and Childcare Service Manager and the Childcare provision Planning Lead Officer and a representative from the Schools Forum. One of the panel members will act as Chair. There will also be an independent clerk present to record the proceedings.
  4. A member of staff and one other representative of the provider may attend the hearing in order to present the provider’s case to the panel. A maximum of two representatives from Wigan Council may also attend the hearing in order to present the local authority’s case to the panel.
  5. The hearing will be as informal as possible and the procedure will be as follows:
  • Introductions
  • The local authority will be invited to explain the reasons behind its decision
  • The provider may question the local authority representatives after they have spoken
  • The provider will be invited to explain it grounds of appeal against the local authority’s decision
  • The local authority may question the provider after its representatives have spoken
  • The panel may ask questions at any point
  • The Local Authority will be invited to sum up the reasons behind its decision
  • The provider will then be invited to sum up its grounds of appeal
  • Both the provider and the local authority representatives will leave together while the panel makes it decision
  • Notification of the decision of the appeals panel will be provided within 5 working days
  • The panel’s decision will be final

6.  The provider, if unhappy with the appeals process, can ask the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate. The Local Government Ombudsman is an independent service set up by the government to investigate complaints about most council matters. Anyone can complain to the ombudsman at any time. Leaflets are available at Wigan Town Hall or life Centre or visit Local Government Ombudsman (external link) or contact the Ombudsman advice line on 0845 602 1983.

A provider can re-apply for inclusion onto the Directory if they meet the eligibility criteria and conditions in force at the time of application.

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