CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council is planning to make changes on when children can start full time school.

The council is proposing to make changes – known as the Primary Rising 4s Policy – for the 2025/26 academic year. Currently, full time education begins at five years old, which is required by law to be the age when children receive a full-time education, however, Carmarthenshire is the only county in Wales which allows children to start full-time primary school in the school term of their fourth birthday.

The council are considering changes after the Primary School Admissions Review (Rising 4s) recommended the council make a consultation on proposed changes to the full-time admission arrangements.

There are currently three options being considered which are:

  • Option A: The current arrangement to admit full-time learners to primary schools in the school term of their fourth birthday.
  • Option B: Admit full-time learners to primary schools in the school term following their fourth birthday.
  • Option C: Admit full-time learners to primary schools in September following their fourth birthday.

The council says it anticipates concerns about children’s full-time education and access to Welsh medium provision will be delayed and highlight that all three-year-olds are entitled to 10 hours of free placement per week at a registered setting through the Early Entitlement Group from the term following their third birthday and highlighted the forms of provision which are:

  • Nursery School – Ammanford Nursery School is the county’s only dedicated nursery school.
  • Nursery/Early Years classes in infant/primary schools (3-11 age schools).
  • Provision by the non-maintained sector who are partners in the Early Entitlement Group like Wales Pre-school Playgroup Association, Mudiad Meithrin and private providers.

There is also support through the Welsh Government’s childcare funding which provides up to 30 hours of free education and childcare per week for eligible parents.

Cllr Glynog Davies, cabinet member for education and Welsh language, said: “We are consulting on the proposed change to the full time school starting age in Carmarthenshire because we are dealing with the challenges being faced in relation to accommodation and school capacity, inconsistency with other authorities, nursery and early years provision, funding and the admissions process itself, 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. We want to hear the views of parents, schools and our communities on this proposed change before progressing further on these plans.”

The council wants to know parents’ views if they have children born after September 1, 2021, with views able to be shared at before March 1, 2024.