Eligible children can have up to 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year (school term time).

Some learning providers offer free hours in the school holidays, for example children could have 11 hours each week for up to 51 weeks of the year.

Apply for free learning and childcare

You can apply online if you receive one or more of the following benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit and/or Working Tax Credit and your annual household income is less than £16,191 (as assessed by HM Revenue & Customs)
  • Income Support
  • Income based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Support under part V1 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guarantee element of State Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit


  • your child was born between 01/04/2014 and 31/08/2015

Clock Completing this form takes around 10 minutes

Apply online

After you have applied

Other circumstances allowing you to apply for free learning and childcare

You can apply by contacting the Family Information Service (FIS) if your child:

  • receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
  • is looked after by the Council, or has left care through a Special Guardianship order, Child Arrangements order or Adoption
  • has a Child Protection or Child in Need Plan


  • your child was born between 01/04/2014 and 31/08/2015

When eligible children can start their free place

If your childs 2nd birthday is between Their free place can start from
1 January and 31 March The start of the Summer term beginning on or after 1 April
1 April and 31 August The start of the Autumn term beginning on or after 1 September
1 September and 31 December The start of the Spring term beginning on or after 1 January

Where free places are available

Your child can access a place from a range of local providers including:

  • day nurseries
  • local authority schools with a nursery class and nursery schools
  • pre-schools and playgroups
  • childminders
  • Independent schools, free schools and academies with a nursery class

How could free learning help my child?

Watch our video about the benefits of free learning and childcare:

Contact the Family Information Service (FIS)