Your early learning and childcare options

Children aged 3 and 4

When your child reaches the age of 2, you can add them to the waiting list of the early learning and childcare setting of your choice.

The Scottish Government is expanding funded Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) for eligible 2-year-olds and all 3 and 4-year-olds. This will increase the entitlement from 600 hours each year to 1140 hours. While the Scottish Government has delayed the requirement to introduce the 1140 hours by August 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, by the end of October 2020 all 3 and 4-year-olds and eligible 2-year-olds in Midlothian will have an offer of the expanded hours at either a school, voluntary provider or funded provider. Alternatively, they may be offered the hours across two settings or one setting and a childminder.

The expansion prioritises a high quality experience for each child.

ELC can be accessed through childminders, private nurseries, council nurseries, community nurseries and playgroups.

Midlothian expansion projects

All eligible children will be offered 1140 hours of funded ELC by the end of October 2020. However, before that, we are piloting some extended places at local authority and funded provider settings (including childminders).

These pilots tell us in advance which models work best for Midlothian and its families. Children without a place on the pilots will still get 600 hours of funded ELC.

When can my child start?

When children can start early learning and childcare
The child turns 3 in The child can start in
January February (1 month and 1 day after 3rd birthday)
February March (1 month and 1 day after 3rd birthday)
March to August August (start of autumn term)
September October (1 month and 1 day after 3rd birthday)
October November (1 month and 1 day after 3rd birthday)
November January (start of winter term)
December January (start of winter term)

How to apply

All early learning and childcare providers process their own applications for 3 and 4-year-olds. Contact the nursery, childminder, partnership centre or other provider.

You can also download and print an application (PDF). Complete the form and take it to your preferred provider.

Where to find an early learning and childcare setting

You may choose the setting that best suits your needs, as long as they have spaces, and they meet the National Standards for early learning and childcare. All settings that offer funded spaces are registered with the Care Inspectorate, and grade ‘Good’ or above at their most recent inspection.

We ensure that each learning community has a mix of providers which offers you a choice. However you are not limited to a setting in your learning community: you may choose a setting outside your area, or outwith Midlothian.


  • Children are not entitled to a particular pattern of attendance or a place at a particular setting, but will receive an offer of 1140 hours from 2020.
  • Schools will have a transition arrangement to support children moving to primary 1 from all ELC settings.

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Childminders can also provide places for your ELC funded hours. If so, they will tell you about funded places.

For more information, contact Lisa Mackay, Midlothian Development Officer for Scottish Childminding Association

More information