All three and four year olds are entitled to a free, good quality early education place from the term after their third birthday.
This free early education place runs for two years until the child reaches compulsory school age, in the term after their fifth birthday. A free early education place can be accessed in maintained school nurseries, private or voluntary sector day nurseries, pre-schools and with registered childminders.
The government has introduced some temporary measures that may affect you if you’re applying for, or already accessing tax-free childcare or 30 hours free childcare.
These relaxed measures cover parents who have been furloughed, those not able to work or working more or less hours, self-employed and critical workers.
It’s essential during this time parents continue to sign up to and reconfirm their eligibility for 30 hours whether their child is accessing the hours or not.
The government has further guidance to help you check if you can still get tax free childcare and 30 hours free childcare during COVID 19.
When does my child qualify for their free early education place?
Please note although the actual term dates vary from year to year to accommodate national holidays e.g. Easter, which moves each year, term dates to determine eligibility remain constant.
|A child born between||Will be eligible for a free place from|
|1st April - 31st August (inclusive)||The start of the autumn term following their 3rd birthday until compulsory school age|
|1st September - 31st December (inclusive)||The start of the spring term following their 3rd birthday until compulsory school age|
|1st January - 31st March (inclusive)||The start of the summer term following their 3rd birthday until compulsory school age|
All three-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare from the term after their third birthday. The new entitlement allows parents to claim an additional 15 hours if they each work a minimum of 16 hours per week at the national minimum or living wage, which would make individual earnings of approximately £125+ a week.
This means 30 hours per week during term time (38 weeks) or dependent on the provider, up to 1,140 hours ‘stretched’ over 52 weeks (using fewer hours per week). If you aren’t entitled you will carry on receiving the free 15 hours of childcare which is available for all families in England.
How to apply
You can apply for the additional entitlement through the parent portal 'Childcare Choices' on the HMRC website, following this we will check your eligibility and verify you for entitlement. You then need to revisit the parent portal every three months to verify that your eligibility for the 30 hours hasn’t changed.