Early education: free entitlement for two to four-year-olds

Information for parents/carers on free entitlement to early years education and childcare for three to four-year-olds (and eligible two-year-olds) in Northumberland.

This page contains information about the free entitlement to early years education. This service is mainly for three to four-year-olds, however two-year-olds can also be eligible.

Parents and carers of two-year-old children, who meet a range of criteria, are entitled to 15 hours free per week for 38 weeks of the year (570 hours per year).

This runs from the term after a child’s second birthday until the end of the term in which they are three.

Universal hours for three and four-year-olds
All three and four-year-old children are entitled to free high-quality early education.

This runs from the term a child turns three, until they reach compulsory school age.

The current universal free entitlement is 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year (570 hours per year).

Extended hours for three and four-year-olds
Eligible working families will be able to claim an additional 15 hours free per week. This takes their free entitlement to 30 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year (1140 hours per year).

Please click here for more information about free entitlement.

If you have any further questions, please give us a call on 0800 023 4440.

Providers and childminders
If you are an early years education provider or childminder, and want to find out more about the early education entitlement, please click here for information on support for childcare providers and  childminders.

Please click here to view a list of providers.
Please click here to view the Early Education and Statutory Guidance 2017.

If you live in Northumberland and your child is two, you can check they meet the eligibility for free entitlement criteria here.

If you believe you are eligible for 2 year old entitlement, please contact your chosen approved childcare provider/school and they will be able to check your eligibility and offer for you to look around. A list of approved providers can be found at northumberland.fsd.org.uk

The childcare provider/school will need your national insurance number, date of birth and surname to process a check. You will also need proof of your child’s date of birth i.e. Birth certificate or passport. If you are found eligible, agree with your childcare provider/school the times and days your child will attend and arrange a start date which can begin the term after your child's 2nd birthday.

If you’re unsure, please contact us:

PLEASE NOTE: All three and four-year-olds in England are eligible for the free entitlement to early education starting the term after their 3rd birthday (the minimum of 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year).

Since April 2015, nurseries, schools, childminders, and other childcare providers have been able to claim extra funding through the Early Years Pupil Premium. This service helps to support children’s development, learning and care.

The Early Years Pupil Premium provides an extra 53 pence per hour for children aged three and four whose parents are eligible. This means an extra £302 per year for each child. 

This extra funding can be used in any way a childcare provider chooses to improve the quality of the early years education provided. The way this additional funding is used can influence how well a child will do in both primary and secondary school.

This could include:
  • additional training for our staff on early language education.
  • investing in partnership working with colleagues in the area to further expertise.
  • supporting staff in working on specialised areas such as speech and language.
​Is my child eligible for the Early Years Pupil Premium?

If you have any questions please speak to your childcare provider. Any information you share will be completely confidential. This will not affect any benefits you receive.
Working parents of three and four-year-old children in the UK are eligible for 30 hours free childcare. The free childcare must be with an approved provider and will end when your child reaches compulsory school age.

Apply for 30 hours free childcare

If you experience any problems with the application process, please click here to email Childcare Services, or call our helpline on 0300 123 4097.

Please click here for more information on Tax Free Childcare.

Childcare Choices
If you need more information about new and existing Government childcare offers, please click here to view the new Childcare Choices website.

Useful documents for parents and professionals
Frequently asked questions about free early years education/childcare for parents and carers.

Please click here to download and read our printable guide, which covers both schemes for parents.

Please click here to download our factsheet, which contains FAQs for parents, carers, and early education providers.

Can’t find the answer to your question? Where can I access my child’s free entitlement?
Providers of early education in the private, voluntary and independent sector include:
  • day nurseries
  • pre-school playgroups
  • children’s centres
  • some childminders who have recently been approved
Please click here for a list of approved providers.

If you wish your child to be admitted to one of these settings, you should contact the manager/leader.

PLEASE NOTE: Some areas of Northumberland have a limited number of childcare places. Therefore, establishing eligibility does not automatically guarantee a place.

Who can I speak to about free early years entitlement?
We want to help you to make an informed choice about your child’s early education entitlement, to explain the funding process and what to expect in Northumberland. 
You should contact your: Policy and practice for preschool children Families Information Service
Northumberland Families Information Service
County Hall
NE61 2EF

Please click here for more information about the Families Information Service