Information for providers

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on the reason for the inadequate inspection outcome, they may have all or some of their early education funding withdrawn, or they may be removed from the funding directory altogether.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 Also in place is an appeals procedure for providers who are withdrawn or suspended from the directory or where early education has been removed.

Parental agreements

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 early education and childcare statutory guidance for local authorities 2018 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:

Who is eligible?

For a two year old in England to qualify for free early education and childcare, either their parent must meet at least meet one of the National Criteria below and be in receipt of:

  • Income Support
  • Income based Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • The Guarantee' element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit and have an annual income (as assessed by HM Revenue and Customs) 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
  • Support from their LA under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 as they have asylum seeker status.

Or the child must:

  • Be a looked after child or in foster care
  • Have a current statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an education, health and care plan
  • Be eligible for Disability Living Allowance
  • Have left care in England and Wales through special guardianship, child arrangements order or through an adoption order
  • Be from a family with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)
  • Be from a subset of failed asylum seekers (supported under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 – ‘the 1999 Act’)
  • Be a child of Zambrano carers. The carers must:
    • Be a British citizen or an exempt person
    • Be a direct relative or legal guardian of the child
    • Have primary responsibility for the care of the child (primary care can be shared between two relatives)
    • Have no other members of their family in the UK or EEA who could look after the child Parents/carers should produce evidence of eligibility to their chosen childcare provider

Parents/carers should produce evidence of eligibility to their chosen childcare provider.

Parents will either be sent an eligibility postcard or can apply online (external link)

Eligible children can only start the term after their 2nd birthday.

Parents can then choose a childcare settings or childminder of their choice.

Prior to the start of each term Private, Voluntary, Independent settings (PVI’s) and childminders are required to submit an estimated headcount detailing children whom they anticipate taking up the free entitlement provision at their setting. The Finance Team on receipt of the headcount ensure each child is eligible for 2 Year old funding. An interim payment based on 80% of the total claim is paid to each provider.

During the term, provider’s are required to submit an actual headcount detailing children who have taken up the free entitlement provision at their setting. 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. You can view a list of providers approved to deliver funded places on the family directory (external link) or contact 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 detailing children whom they anticipate taking up the free entitlement provision at their setting. An interim payment based on 80% of the total claim is paid to each provider.

During the term the PVI’s are required to submit an actual headcount detailing children who have taken up the free entitlement provision at their setting. 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 task’ is sent to all providers.  This is used to claim/adjust for any children that have started, left or changed their hours after the actual headcount date. The details are forwarded to the Finance Team who generate payment/recovery.

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