All 3 and 4 years olds are entitled to a universal entitlement of 15 hours of early education per week (over 38 weeks, or 570 hours across more weeks of the year) at a registered or approved childcare provider. Most childcare providers offer funded places which could be at a: childminder, nursery, pre-school, school, local authority/academy or independent school based nurseries.
Funding for the universal 15 hours will start from the term after the child’s 3rd birthday (as follows):
- 1 January - 31 March, funded places can start in the summer term (from 1 April)
- 1 April - 31 August, funded places can start in the autumn term (from 1 September)
- 1 September - 31 December, funded places can start in the spring term (from 1 January)
For example, if a child is 3 years old between 1st January - 31st March, they will be eligible for funded places from 1 April. These dates are fixed and independent of school term dates.
Parents are eligible for the funded hours up until and including the term a child turns five years old if the child is attending a day nursery, preschool, childminder or at some out of school club or any other type of early years provision registered for funding.
Children cannot receive the funded hours if they attend a local authority/ academy reception class.