Why are we consulting

The statutory requirement is to provide full time education from 5 years of age. Carmarthenshire is the only Local Authority in Wales to have a Rising 4s policy.  This allows learners full time admission to primary schools in the school term of their fourth birthday rather than the term after their fourth birthday, or the September after their fourth birthday, both of which are common practice across Wales.  

The Primary School Admissions Review (Rising 4s) document taken to Carmarthenshire County Council Cabinet meeting on 9th October 2023 is available here.  Refer to Agenda item 5 (page 29 - 46)  (Public Pack)Agenda Document for Education, Young People & the Welsh Language Scrutiny Committee, 09/10/2023 10:00 (gov.wales)

We anticipate concerns will be expressed that children’s full-time education will be delayed.   All 3 year olds are entitled to 10 hours per week free placement, at a registered setting, through the Early Entitlement Group from the term following their third birthday. 

There are various forms of provision:-

  1. Nursery School – Ammanford Nursery School is the only nursery school in the County.
  2. Nursery/Early Years classes in Infant or Primary Schools (3 – 11 age schools)
  3. Provision by the non-maintained sector who are partners in the Early Entitlement Group, such as Wales Pre-school Playgroup Association, Mudiad Meithrin and private providers.

In October 2023 a gap analysis was completed to identify pre-school provision available across all schools.  The analysis identified potential shortfalls in some communities and schools.  The Primary School Admissions Review (Rising 4s) document taken to Carmarthenshire County Council Cabinet meeting on 11th December 2023 is available here.  Refer to Agenda item 12 (page 191 – 202). (Public Pack)Agenda Document for Cabinet, 11/12/2023 10:00 (gov.wales)     

It is anticipated concerns will be expressed where there is limited alternative provision for children unable to start primary school full-time as at present.  Consideration on changing the school age range to 3-11 may be required in line with other strategic priorities.  A decision to remove the Rising 4s policy and any subsequent change in the age range of any school will require the completion of Carmarthenshire’s statutory process under the School Organisation Code (2018).

These non-statutory aged pupils receive a full-time education in a school when funding is available to provide this provision in alternative settings. The childcare funding for Wales provided by Welsh Government provides up to 30 hours free education and childcare for children aged between 3-4 for up to 48 weeks of the year. Further information on this is available Carmarthenshire Family Information Service (gov.wales)

The Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) 2022 - 2032 aim is to facilitate an increase in the number of people of all ages able to use the Welsh language with their families, in their communities and in the workplace.  Carmarthenshire’s WESP is a key vehicle for creating an improved planning system for Welsh-medium education. Further information on the plan is available Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (gov.wales)

It is anticipated that concerns may be expressed for Welsh language pupils who would receive full time education in school who may not be able to access Welsh medium provision through external nursery providers. 

We are aware the biggest risk to nursery provision in general is the recruitment of staff and this may also have a negative impact on registered Welsh-medium childcare places for the future.

Mudiad Meithrin is working closely with Carmarthenshire to develop Welsh medium provision.  There is a range of additional support available to parents to develop children’s Welsh language skills.  https://www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales/home/council-services/education-schools/bilingual-education/

At a time when revenue expenditure is under extreme pressure, the funding of non-statutory full-time pupils at such an early age could be re-prioritised to fund other statutory functions from the schools delegated budget. Therefore, we are proposing to remove the rising 4s policy.  The proposal will come into effect from September 2025 for children born between 1st September 2021 and 31st August 2022.  Please note part time nursery learners in 3 to 11 schools will be able to remain in this provision until eligible for a full time place.

How to get involved

Please complete the online survey.

Online survey

Key worker engagement to specific vulnerable groups e.g. Ukrainian, Travellers & Flying Start & Family Centres (at individual homes/campsites/settings during Jan/Feb 2024).

All School Headteachers via direct email, School Newsletter & School Drop in session in Jan/Feb 2024.

Next Steps

DMT, CMT & Cabinet will consider the outcomes of the consultation following the closing date.  If approved, the policy will come into effect in September 2025.