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All three and four year old children in Stoke-on-Trent are entitled to free early education.

Children are entitled to 15 hours of education each week, usually over 38 weeks each year during school term time (570 hours), although some settings may ‘stretch’ the entitlement and offer you less hours over more weeks, for example 11 hours each week over 51 weeks.

Free early education is usually available from the start of the term after the child’s birthday and places are available at a range of early years settings including childminders, day nurseries and pre-school play groups. Maintained nurseries, schools and academies also offer provision.

You may be entitled to receive free early education for your two year old.

To refine your search, either click on a category on the right of the page, select an age group below or look at the leaflet in the documents section on the right of the page.

To go to another section of the Local Offer click on the home button at the top of the page.

Eligibility for 2 year olds

Your 2-year-old can get free early education and childcare if you get one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit
  • tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • the Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit).

A child can also get free early education and childcare if any of the following apply:

  • they’re looked after by a local council
  • they have a current statement of Special Education Needs (SEN) or an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan
  • they get Disability Living Allowance
  • they’ve left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order.

Please take time to look at the Eligibility Criteria in the Related Documents section on the right of the page.

For further information or to apply, please click here

When can you start claiming free child care

The date you can start claiming depends on your child’s birthday.

Child’s birthday

When you can claim

1 January to 31 March

The beginning of term on or after 1 April

1 April to 31 August

The beginning of term on or after 1 September

1 September to 31 December

The beginning of term on or after 1 January


Your child was born on 15 February 2013. You can get free childcare when the next term starts after 1 April 2016.

How to apply for 30 hours free childcare for working parents

All 3 and 4-year-olds in England already get 15 hours a week, or 570 hours a year of free early education. If their parents are living and working in England, 3 and 4-year-olds may be entitled to 30 hours free childcare. An extra 570 hours of free childcare a year, so 1140 hours in total. 30 hours free childcare will be available from September 2017.

The eligibility criteria are the same as the ones for Tax-Free Childcare, except you can continue to get these types of support at the same time as 30 hours free childcare:

  • tax credits
  • Universal Credit
  • childcare vouchers or salary sacrifice schemes
  • childcare grants and bursaries.

When you apply, you'll be confirming that you need childcare so that you and your partner, if you have one, can work. If your child's already in a full-time reception class in a state funded school, you won't be eligible for 30 hours free childcare.

For further information or to apply, please click here

Things you might wish to check with a childcare provider

When you visit a childcare provider, you may want to check:

  • staff qualifications
  • how they'll prepare for your child going to their new school or room
  • how safe and secure the room(s) and outdoor area is
  • if the toilets are clean and suitable for children
  • what plans they have for emergencies
  • how play activities will be adapted
  • how many children there are to each member of staff
  • who is supervising and how they’re doing it
  • if the children seem to be happy and interested in what they’re doing
  • how you'll get updates on what your child has done, enjoyed and learnt and how you'll raise concerns
  • if the equipment is varied, high quality and creative
  • how they promote positive behaviour
  • how you’ll find out about your child's day and what they enjoyed and learnt
  • what food they give the children for lunch and snacks
  • how they work with other professionals who might work with your child.
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