Skip to main content Quick Exit

Parent's Information - Free Nursery Entitlement for 2, 3 & 4 Year Olds

Two year olds are entitled to a free nursery place if they or their parent/carer meet certain criteria - please see for further information.

All three and four year olds are entitled to a free nursery place of up to 15 hours per week

When does my child qualify for a free place?

Child’s 2nd or 3rd birthday falls between:

1 January – 31 March, free place available from start of the summer term (after Easter)
1 April – 31 August, free place available from the start of the autumn term (early September)
1 September – 31 December, free place available from the start of the spring term (early January)

Where can I access a free place for my child?

• Day nurseries, pre-school playgroup and childminders
• Independent schools
• School nurseries including Academies

Please visit the childcare section of our directory where you can find childcare providers who offer free places.

When can I take the free hours?

Children are currently entitled to up to 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year, this usually fits in with school terms.  The hours can also be stretched over more weeks (i.e. 11.4 hours over 50 weeks).  The 15 hours can be taken flexibly over a minimum of 2 days, sessions must be a minimum of 2.5 hours and maximum of 10 hours and can be taken between the hours of 7am and 7pm.

You can choose to take up your 15 hours with more than 1 childcare provider if you prefer (i.e. 10 hours with a day nursery and 5 hours with a childminder).  If you want to split your hours between a school nursery and day nursery/childminder you must check with the school first.

Further information:

• Parents must not be made to take up additional hours or pay for lunches to secure a free place.  

• Parents must be given the option of supplying a packed lunch if they do not wish to pay for a nursery lunch.

• Parents must not be charged ‘top up’ fees (the difference between what a provider would normally charge and the funding they receive from the local authority) for their free place.

• Parents must not be required to pay up-front for their free place and be refunded at a later date, the place must be free at the point of delivery.

Is this information correct?

Save to Shortlist SMS
Back to top