Free early learning
All children under five years old need good quality care as they develop and learn. Children aged between three and five are entitled to a free, part-time early learning place. An early learning offer is available to two year olds from economically disadvantaged families who have been referred.
Free early learning for three and four year olds
The government gives funding to local councils to provide free, part-time early learning for all three and four year olds. Children can start in the term following their third birthday until they are of school age.
|A child born between
||Is eligible from|
|1 September and 31 December
|1 January and 31 March
|1 April and 31 August
Free early learning is available at various settings including nursery and reception classes in maintained schools, pre-school groups, nursery schools, private nurseries, voluntary sector nurseries, independent schools and network childminders.
Parents using Lambeth early learning are entitled to 15 hours of flexible free early learning for 38 weeks per year. Whilst not all settings offer 15 hours, all parents have this entitlement and the 15 hours can be made up by using two separate providers. Parents who want more than 15 hours of early learning will be expected to pay for the extra hours.
Children moving to England from other countries are entitled to early learning on the same basis as any other child, regardless of whether they have British citizenship. For more information click on the free Early Learning booklet 2012-2013 for three and four year olds.
Free early learning offer for 2 year olds
The two-year-old free early learning offer is part of the Government's agenda to support and improve outcomes for children through early access to high quality early provision.
The offer for two year olds focuses on economically disadvantaged families and vulnerable children and is not available to all two year olds.
Your child may be entitled to receive up to 15 hours a week over 38 weeks a year of free, high quality early learning and childcare. Children can take up places the term after their second birthday.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible your family must be in receipt of one of the following benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The Guarantee element of State Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit - provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual income (as assessed by HM Revenue & Customs) that does not exceed £16,190
- Extra Working Tax Credit relating to a disability
- Working Tax Credit 'run-on' - the payment someone may receive for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
- Pension Credit
When demand is high, priority will be given to those families who meet additional criteria. Your local Children’s Centre will give you further information about current criteria.
How to apply
Families need to be referred for a free place and this can be done through a Key Person, such as a Children Centre Outreach Worker, Health Visitor or any other professional.