Renfrewshire Council

Apply for a free nursery or childcare place

When you should apply, choose a nursery or childminder, how to apply, your preferences, priority places, allocation of places, confirmation of your child's place, apply for an extra year at nursery or childcare.

On this page:

When you should apply

Places for three-year olds

Nursery places for the school year 2024 to 2025 start from August 2024. When your child starts will depend on when they turn three.  

If your child's third birthday is on or before 28 February 2025, you should apply by 31 January 2024 for a free nursery place or childcare.

If your child is two and you've already applied for their place for when they turn three, you don't need to apply again.

If your child is already three or four years old and isn't at nursery or a childminder, you should apply for their free place now. 

See who can get free nursery places and childcare for when your child can start. 

Places for two-year olds

If your two-year-old child is eligible for free early learning and childcare, you can apply just before they turn two. They can start nursery and childcare in the term after their second birthday. 

See who can get free nursery places and childcare for when your child can start. 

Choose a nursery or childminder

You can apply to any council-run or council-approved nursery or childminder in Renfrewshire. If you want a place at a private or voluntary nursery or private childminder that isn't approved by us, you'll need to apply to them directly.

All eligible children will receive 1140 hours at nursery, an approved childminder or a combination of both.  

Most of our nursery centres are open before and after the school day across the full year. You should check with your preferred nursery or childminder if they can accommodate the hours, days or arrangements that suit you. 

How to apply online

You can apply online for a nursery place or childcare at one of our council-run or council-approved nurseries or council-approved childminders. 

You must include:

  • the names of the parents or legal guardians
  • the address (proof of residence) of the parents or legal guardians, such as a utility or council tax bill
  • the child's original birth certificate.

If you're applying for a two-year-old child who is eligible for free early learning and childcare, because you or someone in your household gets a qualifying benefit, you'll need to show us proof like:

  • a confirmation letter of your benefit from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • a tax credit award letter from HM Revenue and Customs.

You can see what qualifying benefits apply on the Scottish Government website. 

You can upload scans or photos of your original documents with your online application. 

Other ways to apply

You can download and complete the free nursery places and childcare application form [183KB]  and return it to your chosen nursery or childminder by post or email. 

If you email your completed form to your preferred nursery or childminder, you'll need to include screenshots or scans of your evidence. Make sure the image is clear enough to read the text.

If you return it by post, you'll need to return the completed application and your documents to the nursery by post. We recommend you send your original documents by recorded delivery for added security.

You can also phone your local nursery or childminder and ask them to send you a form. 

Your preferences

You only need to make one application for your child's place, even if you have several choices or preferences.

On your application form, you must:

  • include your preferences such as specific days, times, term-time or full year
  • list your first, second and third choices for your preferred nursery or childminder.

We will do our best to get a place at your preferred place. However, this is not always possible. If we can't provide your child a place at your first choice, we will offer you a place at your second or third choice. 

If you currently have a child at a nursery or childminder and want their sibling to attend the same one, you should state the names and ages of other children in your family on the application form. We will take this into consideration when allocating places.

Allocation of places

We have a  nursery, early learning and childcare admissions policy [125KB] to ensure places are allocated fairly and transparently.

Renfrewshire is divided up into ten admission panel areas of council-run or council-approved nurseries and childminders.

Priority is given to children who:

In each admission panel area, we allocate nursery places in order of priority, starting with priority one to priority five children. If there are more applications than places remaining in that that priority group, we will have a ballot to allocate these places. Children who don't get a place at that nursery, will be offered a place at their second or third choice.

If you apply by 31 January 2024, we will let you know about your child's place by the end of April 2024. 

We hold admission panels every two months the school term, to allocate places for applications we receive after the closing date.    

If we receive your application after 31 January 2024, it will be considered at the next area admissions panel

Let your preferred nursery or childminder know if there are any changes to your circumstances, as this could affect the placement offered by the admissions panel.

Applications for two-year-olds are reviewed throughout the year at the monthly area admissions panel.

Confirmation of your child's place

When your child is offered a place at a council-run or council-approved nursery or childminder, they will confirm your child's nursery place with you in writing. 

If you have any questions about your application or the place your child has been offered, you should discuss this with the head or manager of that nursery or the childminder.

If the matter is not resolved, you can contact Children's Services at:

Children's Services
Council Headquarters
Renfrewshire House
Cotton Street
Paisley PA1 1TZ
Phone: 0300 300 0170

There is no appeal process for nursery placements.

A place at a nursery does not guarantee a place at the primary school that the nursery is part of. You will still need to .