Early years


Playgroups provide part-time play, early learning and childcare opportunities for children aged between 2½ and 5 years, although some groups will also cater for younger children. Most are run by groups of parents with parent led communities, although some may be privately owned.

Playgroups rely on parents/carers who volunteer their services but all groups also employ at least one paid playleader and/or assistant. Increasingly these playleaders have a qualification.  Some playgroups have entered into partnership arrangements with us and are providing places for pre-school children and/or 3 year olds on a commissioned basis.

Playgroups require to be registered by the Care Inspectorate.  

Toddler groups...

Toddler groups provide part-time opportunities for parents and carers (including childminders) and children, usually aged 3 years and under, to meet together to play, share experiences, offer mutual support and to take part in joint activities. Some groups are run alongside playgroups. Most are voluntary groups.

Toddler groups do not have to be registered, as parents are obliged to stay with their children.

As most playgroups and toddler groups operate in Community Centres, Church Halls and Village Halls, there is not always someone at the premises. In order to make contact you will need to visit the group during opening times. These groups usually operate with school term times unless indicated otherwise.


Nurseries provide early learning and childcare for children under school age. Some nurseries provide out of school childcare facilities like breakfast and after school childcare. 

We offer a variety of provision. Those in schools generally offer part time places with a few providing flexible places on a school term basis. There are 18 nursery classes within primary schools in our area. Others cater for 0-5 years, making available full time or extended day places on an all year round basis. 

The nurseries are either funded or managed by us, individual owners, private companies or voluntary organisations in partnership with us. If you wish information on partnership arrangements please contact the Early Childhood Co-ordination Officer on 01786 233206. 

Early learning and childcare provision for entitled children has now risen to a maximum of 15 hours 50 minutes per week term time within council nurseries and those nurseries and playgroups who are in partnership with us. 

Please refer to the Admissions Guidance for all children eligible for the free early learning and childcare provision. Application forms can be obtained from your first choice nursery and returned to them once completed.

There are a further 18 nursery classes within primary schools in our area. More information is available from the Scottish Family Information Service and the Care Inspectorate.  


Commissioning is the term used to describe the formal arrangement where we commission entitled places for 3 and 4 year olds from partners. It includes payments by us, at an agreed rate, for the places provided by the voluntary or private sector partner provider. These providers are sometimes called commissioned partners or partner centres or, sometimes partner providers. 

Further information…