Pre-school early education
Information about how to apply for your child's free place and when your child will be eligible for their free place.
Free early education for 3 and 4 year olds
All 3 and 4 year olds whose parents require it are entitled to up to 15 hours per week of early education or childcare during term time. A comprehensive list of childcare providers can be found in the Family Information Service directory.
Children who attend a nursery where funded places are available will be eligible for a funded place from the term following their third birthday.
For more information see 15 hours free early learning for 2, 3 and 4 year olds.
Additional 15 hours’ free childcare for 3 and4 year olds for working parents
Working parents of 3 and 4 year olds may be entitled to an additional 15 hours of free childcare per week.
This funding will only be made available to families where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) and each parent earns, on average a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) or national living wage (NLW), and less than £100,000 per year. Check you are eligible at Childcare Choices website.
Busy2s - free early education for 2 year olds
Busy2s offers up to 15 hours of free childcare for children aged 2 to 3 years to keep your little ones busy, so you can be busy too.
Some 2 year olds are also entitled to up to 15 hours per week of free early education or childcare. These places can be taken up at pre-schools, through childminders or at a selected number of nurseries and in some children's centres.
To be eligible, families must be in receipt of one of the following:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act.
- Tax Credits and have an annual income under £16,190 before tax
- the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
- the Working Tax Credit four week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
- Universal Credit –for places starting in the summer term of 2019 (on or after 1 April 2020), or any subsequent term, if a parent is entitled to Universal Credit they must have an annual net earned income equivalent to and not exceeding £15,400, assessed on up to three of the parent’s most recent Universal Credit assessment periods.
Children are also entitled if:
- they have a current statement of special educational needs (SEN) or an education health and care plan
- they receive Disability Living Allowance
- they are looked after by the council including foster carers
- they are left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order.
Your child will be eligible for their free place if:
- the child’s second birthday falls between 1 January and 31 March: entitled to a free place from the start of the summer term after Easter (contact FIS from January)
- the child’s second birthday falls between 1 April and 31 August: entitled to a free place from the start of the autumn term in September. (contact FIS from April)
- the child’s second birthday falls between 1 September and 31 December: entitled to a free place from the start of the spring term in January (contact FIS from September).
Applications for consideration for a place under the 2 year old offer will be available online. Please note that some of Westminster's childminders are also able to deliver the offer.
Contact the Bi-Borough Childcare and Early Education Service helpline on 020 7641 7929 or email [email protected] for more information.
The council has written a guide for parents with children starting primary and nursery schools in September 2020. To download a copy of the guide 'Your choice for primary education' brochure please visit the schools admissions page or contact the Schools Admissions team on 020 7745 6433.
Published: 8 January 2021
Last updated: 13 March 2023