Children and Families

Nursery Admissions and Enrolment

Childcare for children aged two to four

In Scotland, all three- and four-year-olds, and eligible two-year-olds, can get 1,140 hours of funded early learning and childcare each year.

Funded childcare with Stirling Council

Funded places can be at a Stirling Council nursery, a private, voluntary, or independent nursery, or with a childminder who has a partnership contract with Stirling Council.

Free childcare places for two-year-olds

The Scottish Government funds free childcare places for eligible two-year-olds. To be eligible, the parent or carer of the child must receive at least one of the following:

  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance

  • Income Support

  • Employment and Support Allowance

  • Incapacity or Severe Disablement Allowance

  • State Pension Credit

  • Child Tax Credit (CTC) but not Working Tax Credit (WTC) — and have a total income of less than £17,005 a year

  • maximum Child Tax Credit and maximum Working Tax Credit — and have a household income of less than £7,920 a year

  • Universal Credit — and have household take-home pay of £660 a month or less

  • support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

It’s also available where the child:

  • is looked after by the local council

  • is the subject of a Kinship or Guardianship Order

  • has a parent who was in care as a child

  • has a parent who is supported by the Family Nurse Partnership


We provide several nursery places for children under age three. These are popular, so we apply an admissions policy to ensure fairness. It’s not always possible to guarantee that we’ll be able to offer your child a place in your preferred nursery.

For more information, contact the participating nursery directly.


For details of childminders that offer free childcare for children under three, contact Kelly Eckley of the Scottish Childminding Association.

Telephone: 01786 445 377


Childcare for three- and four-year-olds

All children aged three and four are eligible for 1,140 hours of funded childcare each year.

Paying for unfunded childcare

If your child needs more than 1,140 hours of childcare each year, you’ll have to pay for the excess yourself.

From August 2022 the hourly charge for any unfunded hours at a Stirling Council nursery is £3.90 - a 5-hour session is £19.50 and 10 hours costs £39.00. Private nurseries set their own charges.

Our nursery admissions and charging policy

Your employer might be able to help you with approved childcare costs using childcare vouchers or schemes. There’s more information about support for childcare costs on the website.

How to apply for childcare

  1. Contact your first choice of nursery or childminder and ask them for an application form.

  2. Fill out the form with the hours and days you want your child to attend. You'll also be asked for a second and third choice of nursery as your first choice might not be available.

  3. Return the completed form to your first choice of nursery. If they can’t help you, they’ll forward your request to your second choice.

Learning in the Early Years

Through warm reciprocal relationships and deep involvement in spontaneous and planned purposeful play, babies, toddlers and young children in Stirling will have the best start in life. From their earliest months, they will be encouraged to make human connections and to strengthen their understanding of the world around them. This will enable them to build the necessary skills to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives in our rapidly changing world.

The Play and Learning Framework in Stirling places value on the importance of relationships, communication, interactions, family and of diverse communities working together to support the unique child. It provides a shared framework, which enables all Funded Providers; local authority, partner nurseries and partner childminders, to collaborate with each other, children and families in order to promote the rights of the child (UNCRC, 2020). This ensures a consistent and holistic approach in scaffolding and progressing children’s learning and development, through play.

Stirling Early Learning and Childcare

Shared Values

February 2021

Stirling's Play and Learning Framework

The aims of the framework are underpinned by and connected to the *Rights of the Child’. UNCRC 2020

For babies and young children

• We have all of the *rights outlined below reflected in our play, learning and wider world. *1

• We form secure and emotionally resilient attachment bases through loving interactions from caregivers who understand the importance of effective transitions. *18, 7

• We are supported by skilled practitioners who understand child development and early years’ pedagogy. *28

• We learn through play and real-life situations such as cultural and creative experiences. *30, 31

• We know what we are learning and understand what success looks like. *29

• We enjoy extending our interests in order to develop our identified needs, skills and dispositions, at our own pace. *13, 29

• We learn through spontaneous play experiences within a planned, inspiring environment, with opportunities for relaxation and privacy. *3, 24, 16

• We explore specific and planned purposeful play opportunities to secure progress. *29

• We experience high quality learning appropriate to our stage of development. *12

• We celebrate our learning with adults who effectively communicate together across blended ELC provision to enable us to succeed more readily. *2

“Through others we become ourselves.” Lev S. Vgotsky

For families

(Adapted from Learning Together: Scotland’s national action plan on parental involvement, parental engagement, family learning and learning at home 2018).

• We can lead and engage in our child’s learning through a shared understanding with our child’s early learning and childcare provider. *6

• We are fully supported to be involved in the life and work of our child’s early learning and childcare provider *5, 17

• We have collaborative partnerships with our child’s early learning and childcare provider to ensure their best interests are promoted. *3

• We are confident the right support is in place for our child through collaborative working and effective National and Local Policy delivery. *4, 8, 42 to 54

• We have access to family learning opportunities, which meet our individual needs. *5

• We experience high quality communication from our child’s early learning and childcare provider.

• We are supported by skilled leaders, frontline educators and support staff who respect my family’s freedom of thought and beliefs, unless it impinges on the rights of others. *2, 14, 16, 19 to 23

“If a community values its children, it must cherish their parents.” John Bowlby

For Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) providers

• We are skilled in Safeguarding and Child Protection procedures and ensure GIRFEC (2006) remains at the heart of all we do, particularly for our children who are or have been care experienced. *8, 11, 25, 27, 32 to 40 inclusive

• We place value on positive nurturing relationships and develop warm, human and reciprocal relationships to support children and families’ unique circumstances. *9, 10,26

• We promote children’s right to play within our local communities, as contained in the UN Convention Rights of the Child, 1991. *15, 31, 41, 42

• We offer consistent, loving and responsive care, which identifies and responds to children’s individual learning styles, schemas, and encourages freedom of expression. *13

• We scaffold children’s learning through our knowledge of early year’s pedagogy and children’s learning and development pathways. *29

• We have a deep understanding of the power of play in children’s learning. *31

• We offer carefully planned and inspiring environments where sensitive interactions, exploration and self-discovery are supported, in order to develop children’s unique identity. *8

• We identify play types and learning styles, work collaboratively with families and other Funded Providers to identify, plan for, and assess children’s learning. *14,18

• We offer timely interventions at the earliest point to mitigate gaps in children’s learning, particularly for those children who need it most. *6, 27

• We look inward, outward and forward to self-evaluate for self-improvement. *41

“Free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world.” Maria Montessori

Our approach to learning and pedagogy

Stirling ELC Pedagogical approach affords autonomy within individual Funded Provider settings, where they are encouraged to consider a variety of philosophies and theorists, based on their local context. Application of the most relevant theories within our communities underpins our pedagogy, practice delivery and curriculum rationale. This in turn ensures that each high quality, unique service is responsive to the needs of their children, families and the wider community.

The theorists and/or approaches below place value on the importance of relationships, communication, interactions, family and communities working together to effectively support the holistic child. Many of these theories influence practice in Stirling, however as each setting has a unique collective Pedagogy, this list is not exhaustive.

Froebel: “Play is the highest level of child development. It gives job, freedom, contentment, inner and outer rest, peace with the world.”

Bruner: “True learning involves finding out how to use what you already know in order to go beyond what you already think.”

Piaget: “Play is the work of childhood…when you teach a child something, you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself.”

Vygotsky: "What a child can do in cooperation today, he can do alone tomorrow…language is the tool of the tools.”

Montessori: “Imagination does not become great until human beings, given the courage and the strength, use it to create.”

Reggio: “Observe and listen to children because when they ask why-they are not simply asking for the answer from you, they are requesting the courage to find a collection of possible answers.” Jung: “I am not what happened to me. I am who I choose to become.”

High Scope: “Ignite children's interest in learning by creating an environment that encourages them to explore learning materials and interact with adults and peers.”

Slow pedagogy

"Children require long, uninterrupted periods of play and exploration”. Jean Piaget

In our fast paced, vastly changing world, the ‘hurried child’ is not one that can fully emerge or wallow in deep, meaningful play and learning. In Stirling our approach to play pedagogy considers a relaxed pace, and rhythm of the day. We value a balance of adult led, adult initiated and child led play and learning, which is bespoke to each unique child.

The playing, learning child should be encouraged to repeat and revisit experiences, ponder concepts of interest, make connections and consolidate their knowledge, skills and understanding of their world. This deep involvement should be encouraged across all contexts, when children are playing independently, alongside and involving peers, and with adults as play partners.

“There is no contest between child-led and adult led learning. It is the one without the other that gives young children an impoverished educational experience”. Julie Fisher, 2016

Play and Learning

Stirling Council Website

Nursery Handbook

PeeP - Learning Together Programme

Building Listening, Talking, Reading and Writing

Building Numeracy and Exploring Maths

Building Healthy Bodies, Minds and Communities

Speech and Language Therapy


Tips on supporting children to listen

Tips SLT

tips on supporting children with routines

Speaker problems SLT

Comprehension monitoring

Childrens OH

A Parents Guide to Staged Intervention

Children and Family Support Team

Useful Websites

Support and Advice

Money and Finance

Health and Wellbeing

Wellbeing Scotland

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E-Sgoil National Online Learning

Online Learning Journals

Additional Information

The brain and learning


Play types



Support for children with additional needs

Comms in mask



Home play pack


Every days a learning day 3-6


Every days a learning birth - 3


Play well pack


Play @ home Pre-school


Play Scotland loose parts


Building site

Festive Activities to do...

Can you make fake snow? 3-5

Can you catch an Elf without touching him or her? 3-5

Christmas Animals 3-5

Christmas writing and mark making 3-5

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G Mail



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