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15 hours free education entitlement for 3 & 4 year olds

3-4 Year Universal Funding

In England, Ofsted-registered early years providers can offer free early years education and childcare for children aged 3-4

All 3 and 4 year old children are entitled to a free universal early education place.  Each place provides 15 hours of early years education for up to 38 weeks per year.  However, this entitlement is flexible and can be accessed offered over a stretched offer. As a minimum, all providers must offer a three-hour session, five days a week. 

Funding entitlement starts in the term after the child’s 3rd birthday.  To access a placement, families must apply directly to a participating childcare provider and provide proof of their child’s age (birth certificate or passport) and complete a funding parental declaration form. 

Providers will need to follow the local authorities headcount reporting process to claim this funding for eligible children each term.

3-4 year funding is 15 hours per week and is paid for 38 weeks in the year, see chart below, for termly breakdown:



Maximum number of weeks per term

Maximum number of hours per week

Autumn Term

September – December



Spring Term

January – March



Summer Term

April – July








This is paid directly to settings at a rate of £6.90. ‚Äč

Working families may also be eligible for an additional 15 hours per week of funded early education. This is called the 30 hours offer.  

For further information, please contact us

Last Updated 17/06/2021

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