Free early education for 3 and 4 year olds - 15 hours

What is my child entitled to?

All children are entitled to up to 15 hours of free early education per week which is a total of 570 hours per year. These 15 hours are known as the universal hours. Children will continue to be entitled to these universal 15 hours until either the end of the term in which they become five years of age or until they start in a maintained, academy or free school reception class.

These hours can be used in many different ways such as 15 hours per week for 38 weeks of the year, or less hours per week for more than 38 weeks of the year (called 'stretched' funding). Parents and carers can use the free hours with any provider that is registered with Ofsted and the local authority. Your early education provider will have more information about what they can offer.

Unlike 2 year old and 30 hours funding, parents and carers do not need to apply for a code to access the 15 universal hours. Parents and carers should approach the provider of their choice to access a universal funded place.

Some children are entitled to an additional 15 hours per week which is known as the additional hours or 30 hours.

How can I use the funded hours?

You can use your hours in the following ways:

  • A maximum of two providers in one day
  • A maximum of 10 hours in one day
  • A maximum of 15 hours over one week
  • Taken between 6am to 8pm any day of the week

You do not have to take up the full 15 hours. It is important to check when your chosen provider offers free hours to make sure you can take them at a time which suits you. The provider must be registered with Herefordshire Council to offer free places and include:

  • Pre-schools
  • Day nurseries
  • School-run provision, including local authority maintained nursery classes
  • Independent (private) schools
  • Funded childminders

When can my child have a free place?

Funding starts at the beginning of the term following the child's third birthday:

Children who are born between Will have a free place from
1 January and 31 March April
1 April and 31 August September
1 September and 31 December January

How do I claim my free place?

  • To claim your free hours you will need to complete a parent declaration form, which will be given to you by your chosen early education provider, this confirms the total number of hours that your child is attending per week
  • You will need to provide proof of your child's date of birth to your chosen provider before accessing their free place
  • Your child's provider can choose how they offer the free entitlement. Please discuss your requirements with each provider before completing this form to ensure that what they offer meets your needs