Access to education and childcare

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]

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 zero to five 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 two to five 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 two, three and four-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 three-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 - beginning in September

A Learning Place is offering free weekly English classes for Ukrainian guests in Sawston and Cottenham, beginning in September. Places for students on Homes for Ukraine visas will be funded by the Council with 20 places available in each location and allocated on a first come, first served basis. Taught by qualified and experienced ESOL teachers, classes will focus on the spoken English needed for everyday life.

The classes are aimed at adults, but secondary age young people may also attend. Although they will take place in Sawston and Cottenham, guests from anywhere in the district are welcome to attend.

To sign up, please complete this short registration form and for more information, please contact Amy on 01223 297358 or

English courses and training to become a 'Community Interpreter'

The adult learning provider, Workers' Educational Association (WEA), also runs a variety of courses which may be of interest to Ukrainian Guests. These include English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses and Community Interpreting courses starting online via Zoom or in-person in September, which guests can access for free if they have come to the UK through the Sponsorship Scheme or the Family Scheme.

To join the ESOL course, an initial assessment must be completed first to assess the level of an applicant’s English. For the Community Interpreter’s course, an assessment also has to made of level of English and motivation.

Conversational English Café

The Council is collaborating with local volunteers to establish ‘Conversation Cafes’ where guests are invited to come and chat informally to improve their spoken English. We hope sessions will begin in September and are likely to be held either on Monday evenings or Saturday mornings in Waterbeach.

Cambridge University has launched an appeal for multilingual volunteers, but numbers are low. If you know or are aware of anyone who speaks English / Ukrainian / Russian and is keen to volunteer in this way, please ask them to contact us on

DBS checks will be conducted prior to the start of these sessions to ensure the safety of our guests and if the sessions in Waterbeach are a success, we will look to facilitate Conversation Café sessions in other parts of the district, so please let us know if you are interested.

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. To date, 307 Ukrainian refugees have been supported through ESOL in the region. 

The WEA (Workers’ Educational Association) has set up online ESOL courses funded by the CPCA and is keen to welcome Ukrainian guests. The courses can be helpful in settling guests into the UK and helping to prepare them for a job and, even if their English is not very good, they can still join.

Anyone interested in the courses below can register either online or by calling 0300 3033464. The courses are free to our Ukrainian guests on the Homes for Ukraine scheme if they claim benefits or are on a low income (under £21,000).

  • Cambridgeshire - Welcome to the UK C2229132  Start date: 14/10/2022, Fridays 10am via Zoom.  This course is designed to help learners have a good understanding of British culture, history, traditions, laws and customs, and feel confident about living in the UK. It will include the fundamental principles of British Life including: democracy, the rule of law, and individual liberty and the beliefs and participation in community life.
  • Cambridgeshire - Supporting Employment Opportunities for ESOL Learners C2229133 Start date: 14/10/2022, Fridays 12:30pm via Zoom.  The purpose of this course is to support students in successfully gaining a job, progressing in a chosen field, and preparing students for further study. It is designed to assist and give confidence to ESOL learners to progress from the course to find employment or to go into Further Education and also to develop their employment prospects and confidence.
  • Cambridgeshire – Employability Skills (CV writing, interview skills) Ref: C2229068 Start date: 20/09/2022, Tuesdays 10am via Zoom. The course will assist people who are new to the UK to navigate the jobs market, giving them help to compile a CV, understand where jobs are advertised and identify where they can find support. There will also be guidance and practice on developing interview skills and hints and tips on how to manage nerves and come across more positively in interviews.

You can register for WEA courses either online, or by calling 0300 3033464. For more details, and to see other course available please visit the WEA website.

Training to become a ‘Community Interpreter’

The WEA also runs Community Interpreting courses starting online via Zoom or in-person in September, which guests can access for free if they have come to the UK through the Sponsorship Scheme or the Family Scheme.

To join the Community Interpreter’s course, an assessment has to made of level of English and motivation.

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 – Tuesdays PM at Huntingdon Library.

Speaking and Listening - introductory course leading to qualification, covering the basics of listening to detail, expressing clearly and straightforwardly - Monday AM & Thursday AM 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 to More information on all of 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.



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