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15 hours free early education and childcare for every 3 and 4-year-old

All three and four year old children are entitled to free 15 hours early education and childcare (570 hours in total per academic year).   

The 15 hours are usually taken 38 weeks per year (term time) for at least 3 hours, 5 days per week. However, these hours can be claimed flexibly over 2 days per week at childcare providers who open 45 weeks or more per year if they are able to accommodate this.   

Who is eligible? 

All three and four year old children who are UK residents.  

How can I apply?  

You do not need to apply for the universal entitlement, your childcare provider will do this for you.  

You will need to show a copy of your child’s birth certificate and you will be asked to sign a declaration form.  

When can my child claim these hours?  

Your child can claim their hours the term after they turn 3 years old and the entitlement ends when your child starts reception (or reaches compulsory school age if later).

The table below shows when your child will become eligible: 

Child’s third birthday falls between:


They will be entitled to their free place from:

1 April and 31 August

The start of the Autumn term in September (after the summer holidays)

1 September and 31 December

The start of the Spring term in January (after the Christmas holidays)

1 January and 31 March

The start of the Summer term in April (after the Easter holidays)

Can my child claim these hours at any childcare provider?

The universal entitlement can used at: settings that are registered to accept these hours, such as: 

  • nursery classes in primary schools 
  • private nursery schools 
  • private or voluntary pre-schools or playgroups 
  • private or voluntary day nurseries 
  • nursery units of independent schools 
  • childminders 

Providers may or not choose to offer free places. Not all childcare providers are registered to accept the 15 hours. On the following link you can find a list of Westminster providers that offer funded places:

Funded childcare providers in Westminster.

Important information

These free hours don’t include the cost of meals, additional hours, trips, activities, nappies or other consumables. Please speak to your childcare provider for further information on any additional costs.

If you require further information or advice about this, please do contact the Family Information Service:

By email: by phone: 07971 625922 

The following video explains about the 15 and 30 hours funded early education and childcare for 2, 3 and 4-year-olds in Westminster. You can also access a subtitled version in:



Last Updated 30/03/2023

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