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Free early education entitlement

Two year old free entitlement

Each eligible child is entitled to receive a maximum of 15 hours of free early learning per week over no fewer than 38 weeks per year (totalling 570 hours per year) until the term after they turn three years old. Then like all children, they will become eligible for the universal free entitlement for three and four year olds. The entitlement can be taken over no more than ten hours per day, between the hours of 6am and 8pm.

Is the two year old free entitlement available to all two year olds?

No. The two year old free entitlement is only available to two year olds whose parents/carers meet specific eligibility criteria.

Who is eligible for the two year old free entitlement?

The two year old entitlement is available to two year old children whose parents/carers receive one or more of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income based Job Seekers’ Allowance
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (with an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credits (with an annual gross earnings of no more than £16,190)

Or, children who are either:

  • Looked after by the local authority
  • Have a current statement of SEN or an Education, Health and Care Plan
  • Are in receipt of Disability Living Allowance
  • Have left care through special guardianship or an adoption or residence order 

How do I apply for the entitlement?

You will need to apply online at http://www.myearlylearning.co.uk/ to check if you are eligible.

If you are eligible, you will need to take a copy of your email confirmation with your reference number to the participating provider of your choice.

A list of participating providers is available here. If your preferred provider is not on this list, please speak with them to find out if they are offering the entitlement.

When will my child become eligible for the free entitlement?

The table below shows when your child will become eligible:

 If your child is born between: They become eligible for a free place from:
 1 April and 31 August The first September following their third birthday until statutory school age
 1 September and 31 December The first January following their third birthday until statutory school age
 1 January and 31 March  The first April following their third birthday until statutory school age

When can my child access their free place?

You should secure your free place with the provider of your choice before the start of the term you would like your child to start; otherwise your child may not be able to start at the time you want them to.

For example: if you want your child to start at:

beginning of September, you should secure your free place between April and August

beginning of January, you should secure your free place between September and December

beginning of April, you should secure your free place between January and March

You should discuss with the participating provider of your choice the hours they can offer and when you can access them.

Can I lose my eligibility?

No. If your circumstances change, your child can continue to receive their two year old free place until the term after they turn three years old.

Who pays for the free early education entitlement?

Participating providers claim the cost of the entitlement directly from Southwark Council. There is no money passed to parents/carers.

Will parents be charged for the two year old free entitlement?

Providers cannot charge parents for any part of the 15 hours free entitlement but they may charge you a refundable deposit to secure your childcare place.

If you use you provider for more than 15 hours per week, you will be responsible paying for the cost of these additional hours. You will also need to check with your provider if they charge for any additional extras, such as snacks, meals or outings etc.

Can I use more than one early education provider?

It is possible to split your place between two providers (except for schools) as long as the total number of free hours does not exceed the entitlement. However, this option is only available if the provider is able to accommodate you in this way. You will also need to inform both providers of where you have taken up a split place.

I live in Southwark; can my child to go to a provider in another borough?

Yes. If you live in Southwark, but want your child to go to a setting in another borough, your chosen provider will be responsible for claiming the cost of your free place from their own local authority. You should speak with the childcare provider of your choice to check if they are offering the free entitlement.

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Southwark Council
PO BOX 64529
London SE1P 5LX

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