Free early learning for 2 year olds

Usually children start nursery when they are 3 or 4 but some 2 year olds are also eligible to attend. If your child was born between 1st March 2016 and 28th February 2017 and meet the qualifying criteria, they are entitled to a free nursery place in the school term 2018 to 2019:

Nursery places are not renewed automatically and you need to enrol your child each year.

2 year olds who qualify

Depending on what happens first, your child becomes eligible for free nursery place from after their second birthday or when you, their parent or carer meet the conditions.

Your 2 year old is eligible if you receive one of the qualifying benefits and allowances:

  • Income Support
  • Incapacity or Severe Disablement Allowance
  • State Pension Credit
  • Jobseeker's Allowance (income based)
  • Any income related element of the Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child tax credit but not Working Tax Credit and your income is below £16,105
  • Both maximum child tax credit and Working Tax Credit with income less than £6,420
  • support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Universal Credit (interim measure)
  • Any other qualifying benefit as stated by the Department of Work and Pension

Children are also entitled if they are: 

  • looked after and accommodated
  • under a kinship or guardianship order 
  • referred by their health visitor 

It is social worker's responsibility to enrol a child who is looked after and accommodated or under a kinship or guardianship order.

When they can start

The date a 2 year old can start attending nursery depends on when their second birthday falls:

  • between January and February start in April the same year
  • between March and August start in August the same year
  • between September and December start in January after their second birthday

Apply for a place

You can either enrol your child after they turn 2 or when you start receiving qualifying benefits. You will need to contact our Early Years team so we can verify you are eligible. The team will advise what to include when you apply as it will differ depending on the support you receive. They will give you an application form to complete and return to them with:

  • evidence of the qualifying benefits that you receive
  • your child’s original birth certificate 
  • proof of address such as recent utility bill or bank statement

If your child has additional support needs, please let us know when you apply.

Find out how we process applications.

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