Free early education can be delivered by any provider included in Wigan’s directory of early education providers. This includes Ofsted registered school nursery classes, private day nurseries, pre-school playgroups, nursery units of independent schools or childminders.
Who is eligible to apply for a place on the directory?
All providers judged by Ofsted to be satisfactory, good or outstanding can apply for inclusion on the Wigan’s directory of early education providers to deliver early education for 3 and 4 year olds.
Providers judged by Ofsted to be good or outstanding can also deliver early education for two year olds.
Providers who are judged to be inadequate by Ofsted are not eligible to apply to go on the Directory. If they are an existing provider, depending on the reason for the inadequate inspection outcome, they may have all or some of their early education funding withdrawn, or they may be removed from the funding directory altogether. Information relating to the withdrawal process is detailed in the Wigan directory guidelines document.
Following their early education support visit, newly registered providers are eligible to apply to go on the funding directory before their first Ofsted inspection. However, the outcome of the provider’s Ofsted inspection will determine whether the provider is eligible to remain on the directory and the level of early education they can provide.
Agreement for providers of free early education
All members of our directory must sign a provider contract. Also in place is an appeals procedure for providers who are withdrawn or suspended from the directory or where early education has been removed.
All providers must ensure that every child accessing early education has a parental contract in place. This contract must detail the times and number of hours of when the free entitlement is taken.
Quality and local authority ratings
The government produced statutory guidance for local authorities on the delivery of free early education from September 2014. This document outlines the parameters of how settings must deliver early education. In line with this, Wigan has revised its support criteria for priority ratings for early years’ providers.
How early education is funded
The council receives a grant from Central Government in order to fund the ‘free entitlement’ provision for both 3/4 and 2 year olds. The amount of grant we receive is calculated based on a Pupil Headcount/Census undertaken by settings on the 3rd Thursday in January each year.
Administering free early education – 2 year olds
To be eligible for a two year old free early education place the parents/child must have evidence that they meet one of the following criteria:
All two years old who are looked after by the council.
Those two year olds whose parent/carers are in receipt of at least one of the following:
- Income Support
- Income based Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA)
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Have asylum seeker status and be receiving support from their LA under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The 'Guarantee' element of State Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit (but not Working Tax Credit) and have an annual income not over £16,190
- Working Tax credits and have annual gross earnings of no more than £16,190 per year and/or Universal Credit, and the family net earned annual income is equivalent to and not more than £15,400; assessed on up to three of the parent's most recent Universal Credit assessment periods.
- If the child has a current statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an education, health and care plan
- If the child is eligible for Disability Living Allowance
- If the child has left care in England and Wales through special guardianship, child arrangements order or through an adoption order.
To gain such evidence parents can either apply online (external link) or complete an application at their local Start Well Family Centre.
Eligible children can only start the term after their 2nd birthday.
Parents can then choose a childcare settings or childminder of their choice as long as the provider is on the LA funding directory.
Prior to the start of each term Private, Voluntary, Independent settings (PVI’s) and childminders are required to submit an estimated headcount form detailing children whom they anticipate taking up the free entitlement provision at their setting. The Finance Team on receipt of these forms ensure each child is eligible for 2 Year old funding via reference to records maintained by the link workers and then enter the children’s details onto the ONE system. An interim payment based on 70% of the total claim is paid to each provider.
During the term, provider’s are required to submit an actual headcount form detailing children who have taken up the free entitlement provision at their setting. The Finance Team ensure each child detailed is eligible for 2 year old funding via reference to Link Worker records and enters the children’s details onto the ONE system. The system calculates the amount due taking into account any previous interim payments.
Administering free early education – 3 to 4 year olds
All children can access a free early education place the term after their third birthday. Children can access a childcare provider or childminder of their choice as long as the provider is on the councils funding directory (external link) (or by contacting the Family Information Service on 01942 489004).
Prior to the start of each term Private, Voluntary, Independent settings (PVI’s) and Childminders are required to submit an estimated headcount form detailing children whom they anticipate taking up the free entitlement provision at their setting. The Finance Team on receipt of these forms enter the children’s details onto the ONE system. An interim payment based on 70% of the total claim is paid to each provider.
During the term the PVI’s are required to submit an actual headcount form detailing children who have taken up the free entitlement provision at their setting. The Finance Team enters the children’s details onto the ONE system. The system calculates the amount due taking into account previous interim payment.
Early Years Headcount Portal
The Headcount Portal User Guide will guide you through the procedures to be adopted for the initial set up onto the Early Years Headcount Portal and the subsequent entry of 2, 3, and 4 year old children whom are applying for the Early Years Funding.
Additional payments or recoveries for 3 to 4 and 2 year olds
Towards the end of every term an ‘Additional Payment/Recovery Headcount Form’ is sent to all providers. This is used to claim/adjust for any children that have started, left or changed their hours after the Headcount Date. The details are forwarded to the Finance Team who enter the children’s details onto the ONE system and generate payment/recovery.