Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

When is my child entitled to funded early learning and childcare?

Your child can start nursery the term after they turn three, unless you are in receipt of particular benefits, in which case they may be able to access 2 year old provision. See below for the dates for starting.

Month your child is born.

When they are entitled to free early learning and childcare.

March - August.

Start of the August term.

September - December.

Start of the January term.

January - February.

Start of the April term.

In some settings, there may be space for your child from their third birthday if they are born between September and February. Ask at your setting if this would be possible. No summer born children (from March to July) can start on their third birthday as settings are usually very full in the summer term.

How much early learning and childcare are children entitled to?

Child's birthday.

School term the child is eligible from.

Total number of terms for 3 and 4 years olds.

Child starts school.

1 March - 31 August.

August (Autumn term) following or at their third birthday.

6 terms.

5 years, 0-6 months.

1 September - 31 December.

January (Spring term) following their third birthday.

5 terms, plus parents can request a deferred year to give an additional 3 terms (at the discretion of the local authority).

4 years, 8-11 months.

Or 5 years, 8-11 months if deferred.

1 January - last day of February.

March / April (Summer term) following their third birthday.

4 terms, plus parents are entitled to an automatic additional 3 terms if requested.

4 years, 6-7 months.

Or 5 years, 6-7 months if deferred.