Early Education - Free Entitlement

also known as: Nursery education.

Early Education - information on the free entitlement to early years provision for 3-4-year-olds

Early Education for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

The free entitlement for 2 year olds offers free provision for disadvantaged children the term following a child’s second birthday until the end of the term in which they are 3. The free entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds offers universal free provision, starting in the term following a child’s third birthday until reaching compulsory school age.

The extended flexible entitlement is 570 hours a year for 2, 3 and 4 year olds, equating to 15 hours a week, over a minimum of 38 weeks of the year. It continues to promote child achievement, whilst also enabling parents to access more flexible provision, in order to support families in balancing work and family life, accessing employment or training and helping reduce poverty.

How do I get an early education place for my 2 year old child?

Please click here to be taken to the 2YO Entitlement page for further information on how to apply

How do I get an early education place for my 3/4 year old child?

The County Council must take all reasonable steps to ensure a free part-time early education place is available for every child whose parents want one. To meet this need the County Council has maintained nursery classes at some schools and also works in partnership with other providers of childcare and early years education. A list of private, voluntary and independent providers of early years education is available form the Families Information Service on 01670 624889 or Freephone 0800 023 4440

What is my child’s entitlement to early education?

The current free entitlement is 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year to be delivered flexibly.

When does my 2 year old child become eligible for the free entitlement?

Eligible 2 year old children are entitled to receive free entitlement funding from the start of term following their second birthday.

Children born in the period 1 Jan – 31 March: 1 April following the child’s relevant birthday

Children born in the period 1 April – 31 August: 1 September following the child’s relevant birthday

Children born in the period 1 Sept – 31 December: 1 January following the child’s relevant birthday

When does my 3/4 year old child become eligible for the free entitlement?

Places are available for children on a part-time basis from the beginning of the term after their third birthday (see table below) and until the end of the school year in which they have their fourth birthday.

All 3 and 4 year old children are entitled to receive free entitlement funding from the start of term following their third birthday.

Table of term entitlement dates

A child born between

Will be eligible for a free place from

April 1st and August 31st

The start of the Autumn Term following their third birthday

September 1st and December 31st

The start of the Spring Term following their third birthday

January 1st and March 31st

The start of the Summer Term following their third birthday

 

Can my child attend more than one setting?

Only one provider may be used for 2YO entitlement.

3/4 year old children can attend a maximum of two providers. Parents cannot dictate which setting receives the funding for the Free Entitlement as this will be split pro-rata between the settings.

How may I take the 15 hours?

The 15 hours can be delivered flexibly in line with parental demand and the settings capacity to deliver flexibly. The framework for delivery is:

  • No session longer than 10 hours
  • No session shorter than 2.5 hours
  • Not before 7am or after 7pm
  • The full 15 hours over no fewer than 3 days (this would permit up to 12.5 hours over 2 days)
  • A maximum of two providers at any one time

Flexibility models can be obtained from Northumberland FIS.

What if the setting charges more than the funding paid by the Council?

Parents cannot be charged for the 15 hours of early education provided that the setting is registered with OFSTED. However, you can be charged for any other services over and above early education – for example, additional childcare costs. Parents should be advised by the provider of any additional costs and an explanation of what they are for, before your child takes up the place. Settings should provide an itemised bill stating clearly what is being paid for and what has been received free. Parents should not be required to pay a registration fee for accessing their Free Entitlement only. Parents should not be required to purchase additional services in order to access the Free Entitlement.

Where can my child access the Free Entitlement?

There are a range of approved providers of early education in the maintained, e.g. school nursery classes, and private, voluntary and independent sector (PVIs) e.g. day nurseries, pre-school playgroups, Children’s Centres and childminders . If you wish your child to be admitted to one of these settings you should contact the headteacher/manager/leader.

To access a list of providers delivering for 2, 3 and 4 year olds, please click here to open this document.

Each provider has its own admissions policy and complaints procedure that you can follow. In addition for school nursery classes you may appeal to the school’s Governing Body if necessary.

Details of providers of early education are available from the Families Information Service (01670 624889 or freephone 0800 023 4440).

What is a pre-reception or introductory class?

In addition to nursery classes a large number of first schools have pre-reception or introductory classes. If your child has a fourth birthday that falls between 1 September and 31 December and does not have a place in a nursery class in a Northumberland school you should contact your local school to see if they run a pre-reception/introductory class. If the school does run such classes, these start at the beginning of the Spring Term for 15 hours per week. Likewise, a child whose fourth birthday falls between 1st January and 31st March may be admitted at the beginning of the Summer Term for 15 hours per week. This is provided that the school runs a pre-reception class.

Places in these classes are limited. You should register your interest in a place at the school as soon as possible. Each school that has a nursery class has its own admissions policy for the nursery. If unsuccessful in gaining a place in one of these classes, you should contact the Families Information Service (01670 624889) for details of other providers in the area. You may also appeal to the school’s Governing Body. The school will also have a complaints procedure that you can follow.

Please Note: A place in a school’s nursery, pre-reception or introductory class does not guarantee a place in the school’s Reception class. Parents of children attending a school’s nursery, pre-reception or introductory class should be aware that they must submit a preference form for entry into a Reception class. That preference will be considered alongside all other applications.

Where else can my child access the Free Entitlement?

There are other providers of early education in the private, voluntary and independent sector (PVIs) e.g. day nurseries, pre-school playgroups, Children’s Centres and some childminders who have recently been approved. If you wish your child to be admitted to one of these settings you should contact the manager/leader.

What happens if I cannot get a place for my 3 or 4 year old in a school nursery class?

Details of other providers of early education are available from the Families Information Service (01670 624889 or freephone 0800 023 4440).

In addition, you can appeal to a school’s Governing Body. The school will also have a complaints procedure that you can also follow.

Where can I get more information on early years provision?

Detailed information on early education settings (and childcare places) is available from the Families Information Service (01670 624889 or freephone 0800 023 4440).

Can my child receive their Free Entitlement in a neighbouring authority?

Yes, there are cross-boundary agreements between neighbouring authorities, which mean your child’s place will be funded by that authority. If you do not live in Northumberland but wish your child to attend an early education provision in the County, the place will be funded by Northumberland. However, you can be charged for any other services over and above the early education that is being provided – for example, additional childcare costs.

For up to date information on all Ofsted registered childcare provision:

Contact Northumberland Families Information Service
County Hall
Morpeth
Northumberland
NE61 2EF
Tel: 01670 624889
Freephone 0800 023 4440
Email: fis@northumberland.gov.uk