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Busy2s - Free early education for 2 year olds

Last Updated 17/07/2019

Is your family living on a low income or claiming income based benefits? Does your 2 year old have additional needs or has left care? You may be entitled to claim a maximum of 15 hours during term time or 11 hours per week throughout the year.

Children will be given the opportunity to experience high quality early years education with the support of a trained, high quality registered childminder, nursery or pre-school. The aim of the programme is to enable your child to receive high quality early education that will help them to be school ready. 

Who is eligible?

Two-year-olds whose family receives one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • tax credits and have an annual income under £16,190 before tax
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
  • Universal Credit – For places starting in the summer term of 2018 (on or after 1st April 2018), or any subsequent term, if a parent is entitled to Universal Credit they must have an annual net earned income equivalent to and not exceeding £15,400, assessed on up to three of the parent’s most recent Universal Credit assessment periods.

Two-year-olds who meet any one of the following criteria will also be eligible:

  • If they meet the eligibility criteria also used for free school meals
  • If their families receive Working Tax credits and have annual gross earnings of no more than £16,190 per year
  • If they have a current statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an education, health and care plan
  • If they attract Disability Living Allowance
  • If they are looked after by their local authority including foster carers
  • If they have left care through special guardianship or through an adoption or residence order

This entitlement is available in the term after an eligible child’s 2nd birthday.  You should be able to keep your child at your preferred provider until they can access a school place, normally in the September after their 3rd birthday.  Your entitlement will continue to be free regardless of whether your family’s financial circumstances change.

When will my child/ren be eligible for their free place?

Child’s second birthday falls between:

They will be entitled to their free place from:

Contact the Council to apply for a places from:

1 January and 31 March

The start of the Summer term in April

From January

1 April and 31 August

The start of the Autumn term in September

From April


1 September and 31 December

The start of the Spring term in January

From September

When to apply?

You can send in an application when your child is 18 months old. Any applications for children under 18 months old will not be processed and will be declined. If your child is 3, you are too late to apply. Please look up the Free Early Education for 3 and 4-year-olds article for further information: 


How can I apply?

Register online and apply for free early education for your 2 year olds.

You can now complete your 2 year old funding request using our online application form. This is the quickest and clearest way to ensure your information is received by the Early Years Team.

The details you provide will be used to check if your child is eligible for a free place. This information will also be used to register your family with your local children’s centre if you are not already registered to ensure you are kept informed of local services that can benefit your family.

It can take a few weeks to process applications provided the form is completed correctly. If your application has been successful, it will be placed into a central waiting list and you will be contacted by a setting once a placement becomes available.

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