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
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
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
Eligible 2 year old children are entitled to receive free
entitlement funding from the start of term following their second
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Details of providers of early education are available from the
Families Information Service (01670 624889 or freephone 0800 023
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
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
In addition, you can appeal to a school’s Governing Body. The
school will also have a complaints procedure that you can also
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
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
Contact Northumberland Families Information Service
Tel: 01670 624889
Freephone 0800 023 4440