Free early education for three and four year olds

All three and four year old children are entitled to free early years education.​​​​​

15 hours free early education and childcare

All three and four year old children can receive 15 hours of free early education per week, 38 weeks per year (570 hours across a year).
Free places are offered as 15 hours spread over a week in term time. Or the hours can be stretched out to meet your needs.

Children can take up a place from the term after their third birthday at an approved provider of your choice. Contact providers directly to register your child.

You can register a term ahead to reserve a place.

When your child can start

Usually, children start early education in the term after their third birthday. 

​Birthday between Education starts​
​1 April and 31 August ​Term 1 September (autumn)
​1 September and 31 December ​Term 2 January (spring)
​1 January and 31 March ​Term 3 April (summer)

Where your child can get free early education

Free early education and childcare can be at ​​:
All childcare providers must be registered with Ofsted. You can choose a provider from either:

When to register your child for a place

Places are not given on a 'first come, first served' basis, so registering early does not mean you will definitely get a place. However you should register your child by the term before they are due to start.

Please note, some school nursery units do not have mid year intakes; this means they may only have one intake of children every September. If you would prefer a school nursery place for your child, please contact the school directly to check before you register.

If you recently moved into the borough, register your child as soon as possible. 

How to register your child for a place

To register with a nursery school you need to make an appointment to see the head teacher as soon as you can. You will have to take documents with you to the appointment
To register for an early education place with an Ofsted childcare provider, academy, free school or childminder, you will also need to make an appointment. Contact the organisation directly to find out what documents you need to take to the appointment with you.

30 hours extended entitlement for working parents

The government has extended the free 15 hours childcare funding for three and four year olds to an additional 15 hours for eligible working families. This funding does not apply to children attending reception classes in schools.
Funding will be available the term after your child has turned three years of age.
You may be eligible for this funding if you meet this criteria:
  • Both parents are working (or the sole parent is a lone parent family) and each parent earns, on average, a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW).
  • A weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage, less than £100,000 per year per parent/carer.
Applications for places for places are now open. Go to to apply and learn more about the criteria. You are strongly advised to apply ahead of the term if you wish to have a 30 hours place.
If you are accessing additional charges for your care you may also be eligible for tax free childcare or other government support shown on the website. 

When is my child entitled to a free place?

​If your child's birthday is between the following dates you should apply in this period: ​They will be entitled to their free 30 hours place from:
​1 January - 31 March The start of the summer term (after Easter)​
​1 April - 31 August ​The start of the autumn term (after September)
​1 September - 31 December ​The start of the spring term (early January)
Please use our online directory​ to choose an approved provider who offers 30 hours places
If you are interested in taking up the offer with a provider not shown on the list email us at or call 0203 373 0980.

Applying for 30 hours childcare as a foster carer

Children in foster care are already entitled to the universal 15 hours of childcare for 3 and 4 year olds but they may be able to receive an additional 15 hours if:
  • ​​accessing the extended hours is consistent with the child’s care plan
  • the child’s foster carer is in paid work outside of their fostering role.
For more information or an application form, please contact the Best Start in Life Team at or call 020 3373 0980. ​


Extra funding for your childcare provider

Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) funding could help your child's early education provider to offer learning experiences and activities which will prepare your child for starting school. Your child could benefit from extra resources and equipment to meet their needs. 

Who qualifies

Your childcare provider (nursery, childminder or school) may be entitled to claim funding for your child if you receive one of the following benefits:
  • income support
  • income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Child Tax Credit (providing you are not also entitled to working tax credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run on, paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • the guaranteed part of State Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit and have net annual earnings not exceeding £7,400
To check your eligibility against the criteria, use our online checker.
Children qualify in their own right if:
  • they are looked after by a local council for at last one day
  • they have been adopted from care
  • they have left care through special guardianship
  • they are subject to a child arrangement order.
If you think the child qualifies under any of the criteria, email or call 020 3373 0980.

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Contact us

  • Children's Services Commissioning
    London Borough of Newham
    Newham Dockside
    1000 Dockside Road
    E16 2QU

    020 3373 0980

    Email us