Free early education and childcare for three and four year olds

Main Photo

What is free early education and childcare?

All three and four year olds are able to take a place the term after their birthday:

Child’s 3rd birthday is between: When you can claim:

1 January to 31 March

the beginning of Summer term on or after 1 April

1 April to 31 August

the beginning of Autumn term on or after 1 September

1 September to 31 December

the beginning of Spring term on or after 1 January

The government will fund up to 570 hours of free childcare for each eligible child. This works out as 15 hours a week if your child takes up the childcare during term time, or you could choose to take fewer hours over more weeks in the year.

Is it really free?

Yes. The childcare setting claims the money from the council for these hours so you don’t have to pay for them. In some childcare settings it is possible to combine the free hours with additional paid-for childcare to meet your working pattern or family commitments. You would need to pay for the additional hours.

Is my child eligible for a free place?

Yes, if they are three or four years old.

Which different providers are available?

Primary/nursery schools

Most schools offer either a morning or afternoon places, however some can be more flexible with hours. Some schools can offer extra hours at an extra charge. It is worth knowing that having a place in a school nursery or pre-school will not guarantee you a place in that schools reception and you need to apply separately for this


Pre-schools are often found in community venues such as church halls and community centres. They take children between the ages of 2 to 5. They traditionally run in the morning and / or afternoon, during the school term time. However some offer longer hours with families being able to pay for extra time so children can stay all day.

Private day nurseries

Day nurseries provide take children from 0 to 5 years old. Some can also give care for older children by offering after school and holiday care. Opening times vary but these tend to be between 8am to 6pm. They are open for most of the year and are able to offer free places quite flexibly either term time only or over a couple of longer days and in the school holidays too. Some day nurseries are based in or managed by a Children's Centre.


Childminders work in their own home. They can care for babies up to eight year old. Some can also give care for older children by offering after school and holiday care. Opening times vary but these tend to be between 8am to 6pm. They are open for most of the year and are able to offer free places quite flexibly. Childminders offer a range of activities and outings and may attend local groups so your child can socialise with others their age. Some childminders work with assistants too.

If you would more information or for us to send you a a free list of suitable childcare in your area please contact Bradford Families Information Service

30 hours childcare

You may have heard a lot about the 30 hours childcare but what is it?

The Government calls this entitlement 30 hours extended childcare. It is a Government scheme to provide childcare support for children aged 3 and 4 to help working parents from September 17. A child is eligible the term after their 3rd birthday.

Early education and childcare is a great way parents can help their child make new friends, learn new skills and have fun.

What is classed as a working parent?

Working parent means both parents have to be working (or sole parent in a lone parent family) & each parent/carer earns on average a weekly minimum wage equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) (for under 25 year olds) or national living wage (NLW) (if over 25 years old), and less than £100,000 per year. Even if you are on a zero hour contract you can apply for a place as long as you expect to be earning the above. A working parent can be self-employed and employed. 

Foster carers are only eligible for the extended entitlement for their own children (if they meet the criteria). They are not eligible for children that they foster.

You are also eligible if both parents are employed but one or both parents is temporarily away from the workplace on parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave or statutory sick pay, the parent is employed and the other parent has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring, or one parent is employed and one parent is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits

How do I apply for a place?

Parents and carers will be able to check whether they are eligible and apply online from summer 2017 through a national checker.  As soon as the national checker is available we will ensure we get this information on here for you to apply.

Where can I access the extra 15 hours?

Eligible parents can access the additional hours for their child at participating Ofsted registered childcare providers, primary schools, independent schools or nursery schools. If your child is already attending a childcare provider (including out of school clubs and holiday providers) or a school nursery ask them if they will be offering places from September 2017.

The Local Authority is currently consulting with childcare providers, schools and nursery schools to see who will be offering places. Not all providers will be offering places as it isn’t compulsory for providers to offer the 30 hours extended entitlement.

Parents can access 30 hours during term time or fewer hours all year round and can use the additional hours at more than one childcare provider.

Parents who are not eligible for the additional 15 hours will still be able to apply for the universal entitlement of 15 hours of early education for 3 and 4 year olds and for 2 year olds if they are eligible.

Early Years Pupil Premium

Childcare providers and schools can claim up to £300 of additional funding for every eligible disadvantaged 3 and 4 year old child attending their setting for their free early education. This money will help provide activities and new equipment to benefit your child. Eligibility is based on the following benefits:

  • Income Support 
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance 
  • Income-related Employment & Support Allowance 
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration & Asylum Act 1999 
  • The Guaranteed Element of State Pension Credit 
  • Child Tax Credit (provided not also entitled to Working Tax Credit) with earnings from employment below £16,190 
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for 4 weeks after stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit 
  • Looked After Children 
  • Looked After Children who have left care through Child Arrangement Orders (formerly Special Guardianship) or an Adoption or Residence Order

Check your eligibility for the Early Years Pupil Premium now

Underline image

Council Switchboard : 01274 432111

Council Address : Britannia House, Hall Ings, Bradford BD1 1HX

© 2017 City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council