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Early Years

What is Early Years?

Education and childcare provision for children who are aged five and under is known as Early Years. You can find out more information about Early Years provision in Walsall on the Walsall Family Information Service website

Education and childcare 

All 3 and 4-year-olds in England can get 570 hours of free early education or childcare a year. You can choose to take the hours when you want. For example, you could have 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year.

Some 3 to 4-year-olds are eligible for 30 hours free childcare a week. Check if you’re eligible and find out how to apply.

Some 2-year-olds are also eligible.

Eligible 2 year olds

You can check if your child is eligible and apply for funding using the Walsall Family Information Service, or check eligibility for free education for 2 year olds on gov.uk.

You can access these free places in 20 schools, 48 private nursery providers, 7 local authority nurseries and nearly 100 childminders across Walsall. 

Providers are specifically trained to care for and teach this age group and can help to identify any area of learning where a child might need extra support. Parents can get support too and can learn more about child development and address any concerns. This early start is an excellent opportunity for children to build their communication and social skills.

Early learning for 3 and 4 year olds (nursery)

All children can have free early learning the term after their third birthday. Walsall has over 70 infant or primary schools, 8 nursery schools, 48 private nurseries and 100 childminders that deliver nursery aged early learning.

All Early Years providers are able to plan learning for every child. By law, they also follow The Code of Practice for Special Educational Needs and are inclusive of children with additional needs. In most cases the children will be included within the class or group, sometimes with additional support. 

There are two levels of funding that the school/setting can access to meet the needs of the child:

  1. The Inclusion Fund is a smaller amount of money used to resource the provision for individual children with low or emerging needs. 
  2. There's also a larger amount of money that can also fund resources or pay for some additional one-to-one adult time to deliver an individual programme of learning for the child. 

There are also two specialist school providers that can support children with more complex needs.

You can find out more information and search for a suitable childcare provider via the Walsall Family Information Service.

Starting reception

Reception-aged children can start school at 4 years old in the academic year that they become 5. You can find more information about applying for a primary school place in Walsall.

The reception class teacher will assess all children and plan learning so that every child will make progress. It is important that parents work in partnership with the school to ensure children reach their age-related milestones before they start the national curriculum in Year 1. They should make good progress in the seven areas of learning:

  1. communication and language (prime area of learning)
  2. physical development (prime area of learning)
  3. personal, social and emotional development (prime area of learning)
  4. literacy
  5. maths
  6. understanding the world
  7. expressive arts and design

Some children may have individual learning plans, but will still be making progress across all seven areas, particularly the first three as they are the building blocks to further learning.

Early identification of SEND

Some children are born with a disability or have an early diagnosis. Some children’s special educational needs are identified during health visitor checks or through visits to a doctor.  For many children additional needs are identified in the child’s early learning provision, through normal assessment procedures.

All children are routinely assessed so that teachers and practitioners can plan appropriate learning for children based on what the child needs to experience next as part of their healthy development.

If a child needs something additional to or different from the learning planned for the group then that may be described as ‘special educational needs’ (SEN).

Support services for children aged 0-5 with additional needs

Child Development Service

Walsall Child Development Service is a multi-agency team of professionals from health, education and social care. The aim of the service is to assess, provide appropriate and timely support and monitor the progress of all children aged 0-19 years, living within the Walsall borough with disabilities and complex needs. 

Download our information sheet to find out more about the Child Development Service.

Team around the child (TAC)

Walsall’s Child Development Service's team around the child (TAC) provides an individual and evolving collaborative team of the few key practitioners who see the child and family on a regular basis to provide practical support.  They provide a service for babies and young children who have a disability, or potentially disabling condition, or significant developmental delay, requiring 3 or more services to be involved and aged from birth to 5 years. 

Download our information sheet to find out more about TAC

Early Years SEN team (support and specialist advice)

The Early Years SEN team is made up of SEN teachers and learning support practitioners who teach, advise and support children with SEND.

Download our quick guide to the Early Years SEN team

Specialist schools

There are a range of specialist provisions in Walsall. For more information see our SEN support in education page.