Free early learning for 3 and 4 year olds

Children who were born between 1st March 2014 and 29th February 2016 are entitled to free early learning and childcare in the school term 2018 to 2019:

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

When they can start

Children must be 3 before they start nursery. The date they start depends on when their birthday falls. Children who turn 3:

  • 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 birthday

Apply for a place

The way you apply for a nursery place depends on a type of facility (council nursery or partner provideryou want your child to attend but you generally complete the same form:


Sometimes partner providers amend the generic application form. You can contact your chosen partner provider for their amended version or use the generic form.

Complete the early learning and childcare application form (pdf 145KB) or collect a paper copy from your chosen nursery (you can choose 3). You will need to include:

  • 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.

Council nurseries

To apply for a place in a council nursery, please return completed application to the nursery of your first choice during the registration period. The dates can differ each year but generally registration takes place between January and February.

The registration period for nursery places in term 2018 to 2019 has ended. If you miss the deadline, contact your preferred nursery to apply but we can't guarantee that a place will be available.

Find out how we allocate and confirm places at council nurseries.

Partner providers

Please contact the partner provider of your choice to find out when you should enrol your child. They have their own way of processing applications and allocating places.

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