Early learning and childcare places

Find out when and how to enrol your child at a nursery. Unlike school, your child doesn't legally have to attend one or any kind of pre-school. Before you apply for a place there are some things you need to know:

Education Scotland and Care Inspectorate regulate all early learning and childcare providers. We also check them for quality assurance.

Funded hours

Funded early learning and childcare is free to parents, but funded by the Scottish Government.

All 3 and 4 year olds are eligible to get a funded part-time place at a council nursery, or funding towards a place at a funded provider (private nurseries and playgroups that we have an agreement with). Some children younger than age 3 may also be eligible.

Not all private nurseries, playgroups and childminders are funded providers and there is no funding towards places they offer. You can view funded nurseries and playgroups in our application booklet.

Funding for nursery places is not renewed automatically. It is important that you apply for a funded place each year or your funding may stop.

Statutory entitlement - extended hours

Although the statutory entitlement for early learning and childcare is 600 hours, families residing in Aberdeenshire can currently access up to 1140 hours each term year (up to 30 hours per week) at providers that have capacity. For more information, please see childcare extended hours. We are in partnership with childminders, playgroups and private nurseries. You can contact Family Information Service to find out about providers in your local area.

We are reviewing capacity across the early years sector on an ongoing basis in line with the COVID-19 guidance. Currently the COVID-19 restrictions may impact on how your child receives their hours.

Council nurseries

Your child can attend a council nursery only on a part time basis (Monday to Friday). Most will only be open during term time, however we are beginning a programme of trials to open during holiday periods as well. Please contact the council nursery for more details. 

The amount of funded hours your child is entitled to is limited. If you would like your child to attend a council nursery but need childcare for longer hours, you will have to find and pay for additional childcare.

Council nurseries are attached to primary schools but there is no guarantee your child will be able to stay at that school for their primary education. Your child can attend a nursery outwith your primary school zone.

Funded providers

We have an agreement with some private nurseries, playgroups and registered childminders, known as funded providers. They offer funded hours through Scottish Government funding at the same standard of learning as council nurseries.

Private nurseries are usually open all day, Monday to Friday, for most weeks in the year, except public holidays. Sessions are usually between 2.5 and 8 hours per day. You can agree how to use your funded hours with your chosen funded provider but you will have to pay for any extra hours. Costs differ so you will need to contact your chosen provider to find out how much they charge.

Playgroups are known as informal nurseries with a more casual approach. They tend to only provide part time sessions (either morning or afternoon) outside school holidays. Sessions are limited to the funded hours available. They don't offer additional hours that you can pay for.

Additional support needs

If your child has additional support needs (ASN), let us know when you apply for a nursery place. They may be given priory when places are allocated

Moving your child to a different nursery setting 

If you would like to move your child to a different facility, discuss it with your child's current nursery or playgroup in the first instance. The Early Years team will then give you a transfer request form to complete and return to them. Transfer will normally only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

Application booklet

For more information or details of all nurseries, playgroups and childminders please view our Early Learning and Childcare Application Booklet 2020/21 (pdf 758KB).