Early Childhood Centre places

Children greatly enjoy and benefit from playing and sharing their learning with other children. Early childhood and partner centres have qualified and experienced staff who organise a stimulating programme of educational activities and offer security and care to children. 

Applying for a place

You should contact your nearest Early Childhood Centre or partner provider where you will be asked to complete an application form. 

View a list of Early Childhood Centres and partner providers

When do I apply? 

Registration information will be published February 2019.

Birth certificates should be produced at the time of registration.

Find out more about eligibility for a place

Can I apply for any centre? 

Yes. There may be occasions when you cannot access a place in your first choice of centre. On the application form you will be asked to identify your first and second choice of Early Childhood Centre. It is important that you indicate a second choice as applications which do not indicate a second choice will not be considered. 

How are places allocated? 

The head of establishment will carefully consider all applications to find out which children have priority according to our Early Learning and Childcare Admissions Policy. All places for children aged 3-5 years are allocated to establishments through a central admissions process. This ensures that all eligible children have access to a place. 

Every effort will be made to meet your first preference of centre however, this will be dependent on the number of places available and the priority given to applications. 

A ballot may be necessary in some centres in the following circumstances: 

  • Oversubscription of applications for children in their pre-school year 
  • Oversubscription of applications for children in their ante pre-school year 
  • Oversubscription to a particular session i.e. morning, afternoon or flexible hours. 

If your application is not successful in the centre of your first choice then your application will be considered for a place in the centre of your second choice.

If your second choice of centre cannot provide a place then you will be offered an alternative place for your child. 

Please note: If your child is allocated a place in an Early Childhood Centre where there is an associated primary school, there is no automatic right to a place in the primary school. 

What sessions are normally offered? 

Eligible children are entitled to 600 hours per annum of Early Learning and Childcare which is usually offered over 5 sessions per week. Based on national guidance children should have a minimum of 2 days per week in a centre to promote high quality early learning and childcare. 

With effect from August 2014 all centres will offer a core service of 3 hours 10 minutes, either in the morning or afternoon. In addition, the following centres will continue to provide a more flexible service, either during term time or over the calendar year. A number of centres will be offering a more flexible service and places will be allocated as per East Ayrshire Council’s Early Learning and Childcare policy. 

Flexible provision is available in the following establishments:

Beechwood House Nursery; Bellsbank Early Childhood Centre; Cairns Early Childhood Centre; Catrine Early Childhood Centre*; Dean Park Nursery; Flowerbank Early Childhood Centre; Hillbank Early Childhood Centre; Hurlford and Crookedholm Early Learning and Childcare Services*; Netherthird Early Childhood Centre; New Cumnock Early Childhood Centre*; Onthank Early Childhood Centre; Shortlees Early Childhood Centre 

* Term time only 

If you are seeking a more flexible pattern of hours for your child, including less than 600 hours, please discuss your needs with the head of centre.

Does my child have to access early learning and childcare? 

No, it is not compulsory. It is for parents and carers to decide whether they want their child to participate. Evidence suggests that high quality early learning and childcare can make a significant impact on the critical years of a child's development. 

Can I request a particular session for my child? 

Most parents want their children to attend five mornings a week. Unfortunately there are insufficient morning sessions to satisfy the demand. You will be asked to state a preference for a morning or afternoon session when you complete the application form and the centre will try to allocate you the session of your choice. 

What if I want to defer my child's entry to school? 

Traditionally in Scotland all children aged between 4½ and 5 at the beginning of the autumn term start primary school. Parents/carers of children with January/February birthdays can choose to send them to primary school or access an additional year of early learning and childcare. 

If your child's birthday is between the start of the school year in August and December you may choose to defer your child's entry to primary school for a year under current legislation.

The education authority is not under a duty to provide early learning and childcare following the term that the child can start school. However the education authority has discretionary power to provide an additional year of early learning and childcare.

If you wish to consider deferring your child’s entry to school and wish an additional year of early learning and childcare for your child, please contact the head of the establishment your child currently attends. You will be given an application form to complete entitled 'Deferred Entry to Primary School/ Additional Year of Early Learning and Childcare'. 

Please note that: 

Children born in January and February can: 

  • start primary school in August or 
  • defer entry to primary school for an additional year and receive a further year of funded early learning and childcare. 

Children born between the start of the school year in August and December can: 

  • start primary school in August or 
  • request an additional year of funded early learning and childcare which will be granted at the discretion of East Ayrshire Council, after discussion with parents/carers and professionals as to the best interests and needs of the child and agreed by the Assessment Panel. 

Information on Deferred Entry/Additional Year of Early Learning and Childcare is available from all Early Childhood Centres and funded providers. 

Can my child access early learning and childcare in another authority? 

If you would like to send your child to a centre outwith East Ayrshire Council you should contact the Early Education and Childcare Service on 01563 578118/578116.

Contact Information

Education Service
Council Headquarters
London Road
Telephone: 01563 576004
Telephone: 01563 576140