15 hours of free early education for three- and four-year-olds
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15 hours of free early education for three- and four-year-olds

All three-and four-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early education for 38 weeks of the year.

The free entitlement offer reflects the school academic year and is usually delivered by providers across 14 weeks in the autumn term, 12 weeks in the spring term and 12 weeks in the summer term.

When do children qualify?

Children qualify for the free entitlement offer in the term following their third birthday in accordance with the following nationally prescribed dates:

​Third birthday between ​Eligible from:​
​1 April–31 August​ ​Autumn term starting in September
​1 September–31 December​ ​Spring term starting in January ​
​1 January–31 March ​Summer term starting in April ​

How do I claim my entitlement?

To claim your free entitlement within the borough, you need to register your child with an eligible provider, which can be any of the following:

  • day nurseries
  • nursery schools
  • nursery classes in primary schools
  • pre-school playgroups.

You will be asked to supply a copy of your child’s birth certificate or passport when you first claim the free entitlement, and then to sign a form to claim in subsequent terms.

How can I use my entitlement?

The full free entitlement of 15 hours must be taken over a minimum of two days per week and reduces to a maximum of 10 hours if a child attends for just one day per week.

The provider will charge for any additional hours or services you choose to take up above the free entitlement, and you should be made aware of their terms of business and charges.

Will I be charged?

The free entitlement must be delivered completely free of charge to parents. There can be no barrier to access, such as the compulsory wearing of a uniform or the requirement to take additional hours, and parents should not be charged a registration fee to access their free entitlement hours. (Providers may charge a registration or administration fee if you are accessing additional hours and / or additional services.)