Free early education for 3 and 4 year olds

Entitlements for 3 and 4 year olds

This is an an entitlement to 15 hours of free care and education for 38 weeks of the year for all 3 and 4 year olds.

Once your child is 3 years old you can start claiming free early education from the dates as set out below.

If your child is born between:              They are eligible for a free place from: 
1 January and 31 March Summer term following their third birthday 
1 April and 31 August   Autumn term following their third birthday
1 September and 31 December        Spring term following their third birthday 



Your child can get the free hours at a childcare provider who is registered with Ofstead and has agreed to participate in the offer. Childcare providers include day nurseries, preschools, maintained nursery classes and approved network childminders. You should check with your provider how they offer the free entitlement. You can split the hours between two different settings but will not get more than 15 hours in total.  List of free entitlement sessions.

How to apply

If your child attends childcare they will automatically become eligible for the free hours the term after their third birthday. You will need to discuss with your provider the days or times when your child  can get their free hours at the setting. You will need to provide proof of your child's age (usually a birth certificate) and sign  a parental declaration form - your chance to make sure they are claiming the correct hours.

If you do not use childcare you will need  to look for registered childcare and arrange to visit them. Ask how the funding will work for you.

Do I have to pay?

If you only take the free hours offered you should not have to pay anything more. If you take up additional hours these will need to be agreed with the provider and rates can be charged at their discretion.