Skip to main content

Free Early Education for 3 and 4 Year Olds

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
Free flexible early education for 570 hours a year for all 3 and 4 year olds.

The details:

  • The 570 hours can be used over 38 weeks of the year (term time only). This means a maximum of 15 hours a week of free flexible early education can be accessed throughout term time.
  • The 15 hours can be taken over a minimum of 2 days per week.
  • No session can be longer than 10 hours
  • No session can be shorter than 2.5 hours.
  • Sessions are restricted to between the hours of 7am and 7pm.
  • The funded hours can be split between a maximum of two childcare providers (for example a pre-school and a childminder).

This entitlement must be available over 38 weeks of the year. However, it can sometimes be stretched over a longer period by using less funded hours each week. This is an arrangement you will need to negotiate with your childcare provider.

Is it really free?
Yes. The hours are free. However, should you have meals or additional hours there could be a cost, please discuss this when you visit your chosen childcare provider.

When does this funding start?
Children will qualify for a free early education place the term after their third birthday.

  • Children born between 1 April and 31 August can access entitlement from 1 September following their third birthday.
  • Children born between 1 September and 31 December can access entitlement from 1 January following their third birthday.
  • Children born between 1 January and 31 March can access entitlement from 1 April following their third birthday.

Where can I use the funding?
Your child can access their free entitlement at Ofsted registered childcare settings.

This includes:

  • Childminders
  • Day nurseries
  • Pre-school playgroups
  • Schools with early years provision


How do I access a free early education place?

  • Find a childcare provider
  • Tell the provider you would like to use Three and Four Year Old Funding
  • Discuss hours required with the provider
  • The provider will inform you what availability he/she has
  • Agree hours if possible
  • Complete a contract (keep a copy of this)
  • Sign the Parent Declaration form given to you by your childcare provider (this only applies in private, voluntary and independent settings)

My partner and I both work, is there any other help available?

If you and your partner are both working a minimum of 16 hours per week (or 16 hours if you are single), then you may be eligible for 30 hours childcare (1140 hours per year).

Please go to https://www.childcare-support.tax.service.gov.uk/par/app/extendedentitlement for further information.  Cornwall will be offering 30 hours childcare from September 2017.

Find out more about 30 hours free childcare in our advice and guidance article.

Contact details

If you have any questions about free early education for 3 and 4 year olds, please contact the Family Information Service on:

Telephone:  0800 587 8191

E-mail  fis@cornwall.gov.uk

Back to top
Powered by Open Objects ©