Free early education for two year olds

Free early education for two year olds

If you're the parent or carer of a two year old and you receive certain benefits you could be eligible to apply for a free early education place

Temporary additional criteria

The criteria for an eligible 2 year old place are temporarily extended during coronavirus and currently also include children assessed as being vulnerable and meeting the definition in Section 17 (s17) of the Children Act 1989 and who have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF).

Apply

The quickest way to apply is online. You'll need a parent or carer’s National Insurance number.

Apply for your place online

Other ways to apply
Contact your local Children's Centre, who can help you apply.

Who can apply?

Your child might be eligible if you receive any of these benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • tax credits and have an annual income under £16,190 before tax
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week ‘run-on’ (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Universal Credit and has an annual income below £15,400

Or the parent / carer:

  • is a Zambrano carer (derivative right to reside in the UK under European law as the primary carer of a British child or dependent adult)
  • has Leave to remain with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) granted on family or private life (Article 8) grounds
  • is an ‘Appeal rights exhausted’ (ARE) asylum seeker receiving asylum support from the Home Office under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

Or if your child:

  • receives Disability Living Allowance
  • has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
  • has a child protection plan
  • is looked after by us
  • is a member of a travelling family
  • has left care but are not able to return home (are under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order)

What you will get

Your child will receive 570 hours free early education over a year.  This is equal to 15 hours a week during term time (38 weeks a year) or 12 hours a week all year round (47.5 weeks a year).

There is some flexibility with how the hours are used, but they can only be used for a maximum of 10 hours a day.

Your child can start in their free place from the term after their second birthday.  

Funding is available for a range of early years providers, including Children's Centres, nurseries, pre-schools, playgroups and childminders.

Benefits of early years education

Research has shown that good quality early education can improve childrens' social and emotional development, as well as their language and communication skills.  The children also get to have fun and make lots of friends, through a wide range of experiences.