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Guidance for local authorities on education from early years to work.

First published:
13 July 2022
Last updated:

Early childhood education and care

Children resident in a Welsh local authority area, regardless of their immigration status, are entitled to a school education, including provision of early education. Some children may also be able to access government funded childcare provision prior to starting school.

In Wales “early years” is the period from 0 to 7 years, covering the important pre‑school years and the initial years in school. Funded provision for pre-school age children is collectively referred to as Early Childhood Education and Care. There are 3 core early years programmes in Wales:

  • Flying Start
  • Foundation Learning (early education)
  • the Childcare Offer for Wales

Flying Start is the Welsh Government’s flagship early years programme. It is targeted on certain areas and includes four interrelated core elements which are available to all parents and children under 4 living in those areas:

  • high quality government-funded part-time childcare for all 2 to 3 year olds
  • enhanced Health Visiting Service
  • parenting programmes and support
  • support for Speech Language and Communication development

Within Flying Start areas, government-funded childcare is offered to parents of all eligible 2 to 3 year-olds for 2.5 hours a day, 5 days a week for 39 weeks a year. Local authorities do have some flexibility. In addition, during the school holidays around 15 sessions of childcare and/or play  provision is available.

Flying Start is being expanded in phases to enable all 2 year olds in Wales to access Flying start provision over time. Phase 1 began in September 2022 and will reach 2500 more children.

Foundation Learning (formerly the Foundation Phase) provides a universal offer of early education. Local authorities should provide Foundation Learning for a minimum of 10 hours a week for 39 weeks a year before statutory school age. This is for all children following their third birthday. Provision can be delivered in a school or a funded childcare setting. Guidance on delivering early education is available to local authorities.

When a child is eligible to take up that place depends on the date of the child’s birthday.

Child’s birthday    Start Foundation Phase at the beginning of term
1 September to 31 December On or after 1 January
1 January to 31 March   On or after 1 April
1 April to 31 August   On or after 1 September

This period of learning in Wales places a strong emphasis on active and experiential learning. ‘Play’ provides the vehicle to learn. It is a proven way of supporting the learning and development of younger children before they start formal education. Learning by doing is key and importance is placed on using the outdoors to extend learning beyond the classroom boundaries.


The Childcare Offer for Wales provides 30 hours of government-funded early education and childcare to eligible parents of 3 and 4-year-olds for 48 weeks of the year. This means Foundation Learning (universal early education) during term time of 39 weeks a year and additional hours of funded childcare up to a maximum of 30 hours. For the remaining 9 weeks the Offer funds 30 hours of childcare per week. The Childcare Offer has recently been extended to enable parents enrolled on Higher and Further Education courses of at least 10 weeks in length  to also access 30 hours of government funded early education and childcare.

Those arriving from Ukraine who meet the eligibility criteria are able to access the Childcare Offer.

More information on all of these schemes and the eligibility criteria is available from the local Family Information Service.

Primary and Secondary School Education

All children living in Wales have a right to go to school irrespective of their nationality. The school admission code applies to children from Ukraine in the same way as it does to all other children.

Most children start ‘primary’ school in the September after their fourth birthday. They will continue to attend primary school until 11 years of age. Between the ages of 11 and 16 children will attend ‘secondary’ or ‘high’ schools.  

Local authorities should support parents or carers of children from Ukraine with:

Admission authorities must apply their determined admission arrangements.

Children from Ukraine have no extra priority for admission to schools in Wales. Local authorities should help families arriving from Ukraine to apply for school places The local authority should give parents or carers  advice on the school application process. The local authority should advise them where vacancies exist and how to apply. If there are no vacancies in local schools the local authority should use its "in‑year protocol" to place children into school. This applies to children from Ukraine. Where necessary this may be above those schools’ normal capacity.

Families coming to Wales or the UK should contact the local authority school admissions team in the area they are going to for help and advice on applying for school places.

Children should begin attending school shortly after arriving in an area.

The School Admissions Code states that:

“admission authorities should aim to notify parents of the outcome of an application for a school within 15 school days or 28 calendar days whichever is the sooner.”

Where Ukrainian families have been offered a school place they should respond to their local authority and advise whether they are accepting the offer.

If a family declines the offer, then the local authority should make further contact to determine whether the family is making its own educational arrangements.

Where a family chooses to home educate their children, the local authority should offer to visit the family to discuss the education being provided and any support the family may need.

Integration of Ukrainian pupils into the national education system

Schools should offer the same high-quality education to Ukrainian pupils as they do for existing pupils. Schools should deliver their usual curriculum. But Ukrainian pupils may also welcome having Ukrainian learning materials in this first period.

To support Ukrainian refugees and those children displaced by the conflict the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) has published the Ukrainian curriculum.

Schools may wish to share these Ukrainian educational materials with Ukrainian pupils and families. These resources could be used to complement pupils’ education, for example, for use at home or in supplementary schools, but they should not be used to substitute for schools’ usual curriculum.

Ukrainian children are entitled to have free school meals if their family receives certain support payments. These are the same rules for Welsh children. From September 2022 local authorities began offering free school meals to primary school children, starting with Reception classes. This includes Ukrainian children. 

Local authorities have the discretion to offer free school meals if a family does not meet the usual eligibility criteria. The Welsh Government does not specify when local discretion should be used. For example, it could be used where a family from the Ukraine has applied for Universal Credit but is waiting for their first monthly payment.

Pupil Development Grant: Local authorities have the discretion to allow pupils with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) to apply for this grant. Pupils with NRPF entering Years Reception to Year 11 are entitled to assistance under this grant. 

Further Education and School Sixth Forms

In Wales, students over the age of 16 can choose to move on to post-16 education. Post-16 education is not compulsory in Wales, although we have a Young Person’s Guarantee which makes it easy for everyone under the age of 25 to access education, training, work or self-employment.

Students have the option to study in a school sixth form up to the age of 18, in a further education college, in a traineeship or work-based learning.

The Welsh Government has agreed young people from Ukraine are immediately eligible for post-16 education or training in college and also are eligible for apprenticeship programmes.

Financial support may be available from the Education Maintenance Allowance and Welsh Government Learning Grant FE.

More information on post-16 education or training is available from Careers Wales.


Apprenticeships are jobs that include recognised qualifications so the person can work, learn and earn a wage at the same time.

More information on apprenticeships is available from Careers Wales.

Careers advice

Careers Wales provides young people in education with professional careers advice, information and guidance. Careers advisers support young people to plan their career, prepare to get a job, and find and apply for the right apprenticeships, courses and training. For further advice or support contact Careers Wales via their webpage or call 0800 028 4844.


The Working Wales service can provide personalised expert careers advice and employment support. It is a free service available to anyone aged 16 and over living in Wales.

Working Wales can help by offering:

  • careers information, advice and guidance
  • help to find job opportunities
  • CV and application support
  • job interview preparation
  • Redundancy and unemployment support
  • support to apply for funding
  • advice and coaching on career change
  • help to upskill and access training.
  • referrals to other employability services

Working Wales can also help people seeking sanctuary by providing access to:

  • a language line for interpretation during our appointments
  • advisers specialising in support for refugees and those seeking sanctuary
  • transferring overseas qualifications into recognised UK equivalents for those applying for work or training

Working Wales contact details:

Adult and Community Education

Adult and community education courses are available across Wales.  People may be able to attend these courses free of charge if they are getting certain benefits.

More information is available from Adult Learning Wales.

Higher Education

The Ukrainian Government Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) is keen to support the Higher Education sector in Ukraine to be resilient and continue to provide high quality higher education. To support this universities in Wales are twinning with universities in Ukraine to offer support to those academics and students who have fled the conflict in Ukraine. Any student who had previously been studying in Ukraine should contact their university to ask about remote learning and support. Students can also contact university admissions officers to ask about support they may be able to offer, such as access to libraries, laboratories and on campus facilities, to support them to continue learning remotely.

People from Ukraine are able to apply to study in Wales. They should speak directly to the university admissions office or register and apply through Clearing with UCAS.

The Welsh Government has made changes to our student support regulations to ensure people from Ukraine living in Wales are eligible for student finance if they want to study at a university in the UK. From 1 September any person from Ukraine living in Wales can access student finance support. This includes help with living costs. Universities in the UK charge tuition fees and help is available to meet these costs. 

More information on student finance is available from Student Finance Wales.

Students from the Ukraine are eligible for:

  • undergraduate or postgraduate support
  • home fee status
  • undergraduate tuition fee cap

Students must be staying in the UK:

  • under one of the Home Office Homes for Ukraine Schemes; or
  • have permission to stay in the UK outside the immigration rules for a reason connected to the conflict in Ukraine

Students must have been living in the UK since being given immigration status and must be living in Wales on the first day of the first academic year of the course.

Financial support is available in the form of non-repayable grants and repayable loans. Interest will be charged on loans.

The type of support available depends on:

  • the kind if course they are taking
  • where they are studying, in Wales or elsewhere in the UK
  • if they are taking a full-time or part-time course
  • if they have previous qualifications or have taken higher education studies before
  • household income
  • if they have dependent children or adults

Undergraduate level courses (first degree)

Note: not all courses start in September. The academic year for a course may start on 1 September, 1 January, 1 April or 1 July.

The course provider will confirm the academic year start date.

Tuition Fees

  • Up to £9,250 a year to cover course fees costs.
  • This is a loan.
  • There is interest on this loan.
  • This is paid directly to the course provider at the start of each term.
  • This is not dependent on household income.
  • The Tuition Fees loan must be paid back after the course has been completed and the student is in work.

Maintenance Support

  • Up to £10,710 a year to cover living costs.
  • Some of this is a grant and some of this is a loan.
  • There is interest on the loan amount.
  • This is paid in instalments at the start of each term.
  • How much the student gets depends on household income, which university they go to and where they live to attend university.
  • The amount of grant and the amount of loan is decided after the application has been assessed.
  • The Maintenance loan must be paid back after the course has been completed and the student is in work.
  • This is dependent on how much the student earns.
  • The Maintenance grant does not have to be paid back.

Childcare Grant

  • Up to 85% of childcare costs to a maximum of £184 a week for 1 child, or £315 a week for 2 or more children.
  • This is dependent on household income and the number of course modules the student takes.

Parents Learning Allowance

  • From £50 to £1,862 a year.
  • This is a grant to cover some of the extra costs where an undergraduate student has dependent children.
  • This is dependent on household income and the number of course modules the student takes.

Adult Dependants’ Grant

  • Up to £3,262 a year.
  • This is a grant to cover some of the extra costs where an undergraduate student has dependent adults.
  • This is dependent on household income.

Postgraduate Graduate level courses

Master’s course

  • £18,430 to cover all costs for the whole course.
  • Some of this is a grant and some of this is a loan.
  • There is interest on the loan amount.
  • This is paid in instalments at the start of each term.
  • How much the student gets depends on household income.
  • The amount of grant and the amount of loan is decided after the application has been assessed.
  • The loan part must be paid back after the course has been completed and the student is in work.
  • This is dependent on how much the student earns.
  • The grant part does not have to be paid back.

Doctoral course

  • £27,880 to cover all costs for the whole course.
  • This is a loan.
  • There is interest on the loan amount.
  • This is paid in instalments at the start of each term.
  • How much the student gets does not depend on household income.
  • The loan must be paid back after the course has been completed and the student is in work.
  • This is dependent on how much the student earns.

Disabled Students Allowance

  • Up £32,546 to cover extra costs such as equipment and non-medical support.
  • This is a grant.
  • This is available for all higher education study, undergraduate, postgraduate, full‑time or part‑time.
  • This is based on the student’s need not household income.

Application process for student support

  • Students must create a Student Finance Wales (SFW) student account using the SFW website.
  • Students must provide evidence to support their application and the on-line form has notes to help them.
  • Students should collect all the evidence and information before making an application.
  • Applications can be submitted using a paper form.
  • Eligibility and entitlement to student support cannot be assessed until the student has completed and submitted their application.
  • The assessment will be delayed if information or evidence is missing.
  • Students may have to pay any costs incurred if they start a course before receiving the Notification of Entitlement from SFW.
  • Help is available from a SFW advisor before making an application.

Contact details:

  • 0300 200 4050 for undergraduate applications.
  • 0300 100 0494 for postgraduate applications.