Free early education and childcare

3 and 4 year olds

All 3 and 4-year-olds are entitled to access up to 15 hours a week of free early years education at an approved childcare provider. This includes day nurseries, pre-schools, playgroup, independent school nurseries or childminders. The entitlement starts the term after your child’s third birthday.

When will my child be eligible for the free entitlement?

Your child becomes eligible from the start of the term after they become 3 years old. 

Child born between Term they can start
1 September and 31 December is eligible from January Spring Term
1 January and 31 March is eligible from April Summer Term
1 April and 31 August is eligible from September Autumn Term

Children of working parents/carers may qualify for an additional 15 hours a week, 30 hours in total. This will be dependent on whether parents/carers meet the national eligibility criteria. Find out if you qualify for 30 hours free childcare using the Government's Childcare Calculator

Apply for free education for 3 & 4 year olds

15 hours

You do not need to make an application for 15 hours free childcare. The childcare provider will apply on behalf of the parents/carers.

30 hours

To apply for 30 hours, see Apply for 30 hours childcare on

If your application is successful, you will be given an eligibility code to give to your childcare provider.

Find a free childcare provider