Access to education and childcare

Access to education when you first arrive 

All children and young people arriving under the Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine have the right to access state education whilst in the UK. Attending school is vital in helping children integrate into the communities in which they are living.

In the UK, children aged 5 to 16 are required to be in full-time education. Parents and carers should contact the local council for guidance on applying for a school.

The local council supporting you and your family will assist you with accessing this. This can either be:

  • within a free state-funded school
  • within an independent school (otherwise known as a private school or public school), which will normally charge fees for your child’s education; or
  • you can choose to home-educate your child

The Department for Education has recently published some additional guidance, primarily aimed at schools and colleges, but which could also be helpful to children and young people arriving from Ukraine, their parents or those looking after them.

Free education support for Ukrainian refugees

Form the Future is part of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Region of Learning and offers help to unemployed Ukrainian refugees aged 15 to 24 years old to help them figure out what to do next in education or employment. For more information on this scheme, and how to apply, please visit our Business and Employment Support page

A guide for parents about the education system in England

There is guidance available from The Bell Foundation for parents on how to get involved in school life and to help their child to learn. There are guides covering several useful topics, covering topics such as primary and secondary schools. These guides are in a number of languages including Ukrainian and Russian.

School places

Children of families who come to the UK under the Government schemes are entitled to a school place. In England you are required to ensure that any of your children aged five to 16 receive a full-time education. Children will normally begin to attend school, full-time, in the September after their fourth birthday but you have the option of taking up a place part-time until the start of the term immediately after the child turns five.

Alternatively you can keep your child at home or in nursery while they are four and apply for your child to start school from the start of the term following their fifth birthday – although your choice of school may be more limited. It is likely, at least in your first year, that you will need to apply for ‘in-year’ admissions.

Cambridgeshire County Council is responsible for education in Cambridgeshire. Please visit their website for information on how to apply for a school place for your child. 

Anyone who is encountering problems finding school places can email the admissions team:

Free school meals

Cambridgeshire County Council has shared an application form that eligible guest families can use to apply for temporary entitlement to Free School meals and Holiday Vouchers [DOCX&WDORIGIN=BROWSELINK, 0.2MB]

School transport

As some guests staying in South Cambridgeshire under the Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine now begin to move on from their original host families to other locations, please be aware of the situation over school transport.

The rules on school transport mean that if guests move locations, transport is only provided to the designated school that children should attend in their new location – this will be the catchment school and/or the school closest to the child’s address. This will mean it is likely parents will need to talk to Cambridgeshire County Council to arrange moving schools.

There are some circumstances whereby free travel assistance may be available to pupils on a case-by-case basis, however to qualify for this service you must meet the eligibility criteria. More information can be found on Cambridgeshire County Council’s.

Early Years resources and children with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities

Early Years and Childcare information for Ukrainian welcome pack [Ukrainian translation] [PDF] [PDF]

Early Years and Childcare information for Ukrainian welcome pack [Russian translation] [PDF] [PDF]

In England, early years care and education is not compulsory but is available for all children up to the age of five, including children with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND). Play provision is also available through breakfast clubs, after school clubs and school holiday play schemes. As a parent or carer, it is your choice if you want your child to attend one of these provisions and it is up to you to decide which type will best meet your needs.

Early years education in England follows a play-based approach and you can expect your child to spend their time becoming involved in lots of different play activities inside and outside. All early years provision follows government guidance which includes regulations about things like:

  • staff numbers and qualifications
  • how to keep children safe
  • the curriculum that is followed. 

Children’s books in Ukrainian

Cambridgeshire Libraries now has a collection of brand new children's books in Ukrainian. Those wishing to borrow books can pop into the Cambridge Central Library and have a browse. Collections are also available at St Ives and Ely libraries.

Alternatively, guests can request books for free on a child’s library card to be delivered to their local library anywhere in Cambridgeshire and pick them up from there. You can find the locations of local libraries here Your library - Cambridgeshire County Council. You can also browse the library service’s e-book selection on Libby

Childcare provisions

  • Day Nursery - Usually open from 8am to 6pm all year (excluding bank holidays). They take children from 0 to 5 years and may offer care for older children in the school holiday or after the school day is over. Meals and snacks are usually included in the fee.
  • Pre-school - Usually open from 9am to 3pm in school term time. They usually take children between 2 to 5 years and will offer morning, afternoon, or sometimes full day sessions. Meals are not normally included and so you might be asked to provide a packed lunch for your child.
  • Childminder - Registered childminders are self-employed childcare professionals who work in their own homes caring for other people’s children. They care for small numbers of children in their home-setting and will often care for a range of ages. Childminders can be flexible and offer patterns of childcare to support many families. Just like other provision, childminders are regulated and inspected. Some childminders can offer funded early education sessions for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds.
  • After School and School Holiday Clubs - Usually open between 3:30pm and 6pm and are often situated on a school site. There will be a fee for your child to attend which usually includes snacks and drinks. You can ask for details at the school your child goes to.

How to find early years or childcare provisions

Check the Cambridgeshire County Council Directory of Services or phone 0345 045 1360.

How is childcare funded?

Every 3-year-old can attend an early years provision for 15 hours a week starting in the school term after their third birthday. This is fully funded by the Government.

Depending on your financial circumstances your child may also be eligible for:

  • 15 hours of early years funding from the school term after their second birthday
  • 30 hours of early years funding from the school term after their third birthday

Check what funding your child could be eligible for.

Children with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND)

Early Years providers often support children with SEND and may be able to apply for additional funding to help your child. If your child has SEND and you would like advice about early years provision, please contact

Free English classes in Sawston and Cottenham 

In partnership with A Learning Place, we are providing free, weekly English classes in the following villages:

  • Cottenham – Tuesdays 5:30pm
  • Sawston – Thursdays 4:15pm, 5:30pm and 6:45pm

Adults and young people can enrol as learners; younger children are welcome to come along (toys and activities are provided). New learners are always welcome; various levels of English can be accommodated - please contact Amy on 07753282967, email: or complete our short form.

Free English Lessons from CamRuSS

We are funding an English language teaching project for Ukrainian guests run by The Cambridge Russian-Speaking Society (CamRuSS). The project is supported by more than 30 volunteers, 20 teachers and assistants. It runs at St Andrew’s Street Baptist Church, Cambridge CB2 3AR. Contact Irina Tsepova on for more information.

In addition, CamRuSS holds free English language conversation group meetings in Cambridge led by native English speakers. These are every other Thursday at 4.30pm upstairs at Caffè Nero, 11 Market Street, Cambridge CB2 3PA (hosted by Dick); and Mondays and Thursdays at 1pm at The Vestry, St. Andrew’s Street Baptist Church, St Andrew’s Street, Cambridge CB2 3AR (hosted by George).

The Society also offers free guided tours of Cambridge in Ukrainian for newly-arrived guests (call or text Tanya on 07815 101481 or check for updates at Tangential Cambridge) and runs a helpline to facilitate communication between Ukrainian refugees and their host families by providing a translation service (Russian, English and Ukrainian). The helpline on 05603 025975 runs from 9am to 6pm weekdays and 10am to 5pm on Saturdays. 

Classes to welcome guests, help them understand life in the UK and how to access the jobs market

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) has been supporting Ukrainian guests by being the only Combined Authority in the country to fully fund English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) provision, giving in the region of £1.2m to local education providers for the 2021/22 academic year.

The adult learning provider, Workers' Educational Association (WEA) has set up online ESOL courses funded by the CPCA and is keen to welcome Ukrainian guests.

There are 2 new online leaflets available which detail courses aimed at improving everyday life and increasing job opportunities for guests. These range from ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses, to improving Maths and English skills. There are also family and parenting packages to help guide children with their school work, and many more courses to choose from.

The Skills for Life and Work courses [PDF] can be accessed online and cover areas such as online qualifications, digital skills or community interpreting. There are also courses to gain free online qualifications [PDF] in English and Maths. Other courses are aimed at those wishing to work in the health and social care, or schools and childcare sectors, amongst other areas. For more information email

The courses are free to Ukrainian guests on the Homes for Ukraine scheme if they claim benefits or are on a low income (under £21,000 a year).

You can register for WEA courses either online, or by calling 0300 3033464

ESOL Classes Online – new courses

The WEA (Workers Educational Association) will start new ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) online evening courses via Zoom from March 2023.

If you are interested in joining one of the new groups, please register for one of the Skills Check meetings, where friendly staff can help you find the right course. There will be a few short tasks that will help you to see which is the best choice for you. The Skills Check meetings are on 6, 8 or 9 March. Please register as soon as possible to secure a place:

Reference: C2229514 Date: 06/03/2023 11am

Reference: C2229515 Date: 08/03/2023 11am

Reference: C2229516 Date: 09/03/2023 9:15am

When registering, please quote the course reference either online at or by calling 0300 3033464. If you have any questions, please email

More courses for ESOL learners

Cambridgeshire Skills also provides a wide range of courses to help all those living in the county to develop their skills, supporting progression in or into work and education and bringing people together. It is currently offering a number of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Skills for Life courses which may be suitable for guests, as well as a café to meet up and mix with other ESOL learners.

Writing - covering the very basics of accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar, how to communicate information and opinions – Tuesday's PM at Huntingdon Library.

Speaking and Listening - introductory course leading to qualification, covering the basics of listening to detail, expressing clearly and straightforwardly - Monday mornings & Thursday mornings at Edge: St Benedicts Court, 45 High St, Huntingdon PE29 3PN

Reading - introductory course leading to qualification, covering basic reading and understanding continuous texts, information from everyday sources, using a dictionary ­- Monday PM & Thursday PM at Edge: St Benedicts Court, 45 High St, Huntingdon PE29 3PN

ESOL Café - Informal Family Learning ESOL; learning English via play and games with learners’ children - Tuesday PM at Coneygear Centre, Huntingdon PE29 1PE & Tuesday PM at Thongsley Fields Nursery and Primary, Buttsgrove Way, Huntingdon, PE29 1PE

Anyone who would like to enrol on one of the courses should call on 01353 613013 or email:

More information on all of the courses run by Cambridgeshire Skills can be found at

How to apply for a laptop

We have partnered with the Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign (CRRC) and provided them with funding that will allow them to supply further laptops to Ukrainian guests who have arrived in South Cambridgeshire as part of the Homes for Ukraine programme. Guests can now apply for one of these laptops, for free.

Donate laptops for Ukrainian guests

We are also looking for residents and businesses to support this initiative by donating laptops. Any devices are acceptable for donation. To request a laptop, either the guest or their host should complete this Google Form. Please note that guests should only apply when they arrive in South Cambridgeshire. If the host is applying on behalf of the guest, similarly, they should not apply until their guest has arrived with them.

Support Scheme for visiting Ukrainian Postgraduate Research Students and Academics

The Ukrainian Academic Support Scheme has been set up to support colleagues from Ukrainian Universities and other Higher Education Institutions who are seeking refuge from the war - has now closed to ‘registration of interest’.  However, the scheme hopes to reopen for ‘registration of interest’ again in the future. 

The scheme is providing funding for up to 20 Postgraduate research students and academics from Ukraine, irrespective of nationality, to continue their studies and research in Cambridge for a period between 6 to 12 months. It offers financial support, accommodation and access to a range of university services. Applicants are expected to remain employed (academics) or enrolled (Postgraduate Research students) at their home institution in Ukraine.

More details can be found on the University of Cambridge website.

Help for refugees aged 15 to 25 to discover future work and education opportunities

Form the Future is part of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Region of Learning and offers help to unemployed Ukrainian refugees aged 15 to 24 years old to figure out what to do next in education or employment. 

Examples of the activities available are:

  • Basic skills, such as language and numeracy 

  • Personalised CV and application writing support

  • Work experience

  • Future career path needs assessment

  • Bespoke 1 to 1 Career guidance and mentoring

  • Self-employment and micro-business training

  • Personal development and confidence building activities

Guests should register their interest, or if you have any other questions please call Form the Future on 01223 679876, or email 


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