Welcome to sthelens.gov.uk

Best place to find information and services that your council provides...

3 and 4 Year Old Free Early Education Entitlement

What is Free Early Education?

Children studying togetherAll 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to a free part-time early education place. This means that your child will be eligible for up to 15 hours of free early education a week, across a minimum of 38 weeks of the year.  In St. Helen's, your child can take up their free early education at a Local Authority maintained school nursery or class, at a private nursery or playgroup or with a childminder.

You can search for providers of free early education using our Online Directory.

Children are eligible for a free early education place if they are 3 on or before:

  • 31 August to start in the Autumn Term (September)
  • 31 December to start in the Spring Term (January)
  • 31 March to start in the Summer Term (April)

You may use the 15 hours flexibly over the week but there are some limits:

  • Each session must be at least 2.5 hours long
  • Sessions can be no longer than 10 hours
  • Sessions must be between 7.00am and 7.00pm

Please remember that providers may not be able to offer exactly what you want, however, providers should listen to your needs and try to adapt the delivery of their sessions to accommodate you in a way that will allow them to continue as a viable business.

If your child attends with a childcare provider for more additional hours than what you are entitled to free, then you will be required to pay additional costs. For example, if your child attends a day nursery full-time for 5 days a week, then you will only receive your 15 hours free and will have to pay the nursery for the remaining hours.

Childcare settings claim funding directly from the Local Authority, in order to give your child a free early education place. You will not receive any monies or vouchers. How to secure a place for your child will depend upon how you want to access the funding. Generally, to access a place with a Maintained provider you will need to complete the Local Authority’s application form included in the Nursery Education Booklet.

All of our private, voluntary and Independent registered childcare provider's are listed in our Directory of Providers . You will need to choose a provider from the directory and then make contact with them to check availability and secure a place for your child. Once your place is secure, the childcare provider will ask you to complete a Parental Contract and at that point you will be asked to provide a copy of your child's identification such as birth certificate or passport to prove their eligibility