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How does the free 15hrs for 3 year olds work?

(24 Posts)
akehurst86 Mon 20-Jun-11 22:48:37

Hi - I thought I was a reasonably intelligent woman but I don't seem to be able to get my head round the 15 hrs free Early Years care entitlement. My daughter is 3 on 30th December, so my understanding is that she should get 15 hours from January.
Should I have been sent something about this as I haven't had anything and only found out by accident when looking at my County Council website.
Also, my daughter is at a private nursery (which I believe does do the 15 hours free) but this is in a different county to where we live! Will our County Council pay for this or does the care provider have to be in the same county as where we are resident? We are right on the border!
Also, the applications for nursery places (I assume 4+) has now closed - does this mean the foundation applications has also closed?
School never used to be this complicated when I was a kid - help!!!

DesolationAngel Mon 20-Jun-11 22:54:44

Yes you are right your daughter is eligible from January for the 15 hours. You can take up the provision where ever you want, it doesn't matter that your current Nursery is in a different county. I would just mention it to the nursery (assuming that's where you want her to take it up.)
Hope that helps

iskra Tue 21-Jun-11 15:22:50

Doesn't this depend on where you live - in my council you only get 15 hours funding for the September after you turn 3 ie your daughter wouldn't get it until 3 y & 9 months. I'd ask the nursery she already attends & call your local LEA.

Shinyshoes1 Tue 21-Jun-11 15:28:25

Yes , your DD term would start in January
my daughter got hers from Easter this year she was 3 in January, So Easter was the next term.
We wasn't sent a letter or anything it was just through chatting to another parent.

They have only given her 12 hours as because Easter is late in the year the majority of spaces were taken up from the older ones and that's all they had , they had to fit in a few at Easter.

She does do ALL DAY Tuesday though 9.00-3.00pm and 2 mornings a week. You can get it in any council providing they have the places. She said I could get the remaining 3 hours at another nursery but I'm not too worried

kittywalker Tue 21-Jun-11 15:29:19

It's usually the term after they turn 3 so DD will be three in Feb and will get funding from the beginning of the summer term. So OP your DD will be entitled in Jan as you say.

Does she already attend the nursery she is going to get the funding at? I only ask this as we moved mid term a few years ago and because DS wasn't on the register at the beginning of the term, even though age wise he was entitled, he didn't get funding until the following as the nursery didn't apply for him as he hadn't started IYSWIM.

Insomnia11 Tue 21-Jun-11 15:40:00

My DD is 3 in Feb as well Kitty smile She starts at pre-school in Sept though just doing three morning sessions a week (which we will obviously have to pay for).

Sorry to hijack, but is it true they can't charge top up fees now? How about 'lunchtime supervision' fees if they do 9 - 3.30?

When DD1 was at same (private) nursery we got charged fees over and above the council funding for those sessions plus lunchtime supervision and one extra session (she did three full days 9 - 3.30pm from age 3). I was shocked at the time how much extra cost it was - I had counted for the lunch time supervision element and the extra session but not the extra charge per session. It was still about £400 per term to pay over and above the funding.

Insomnia11 Tue 21-Jun-11 15:41:18

This was 3 years ago now I should add, I think things have changed very recently but couldn't find any clarification on the issue when I looked online. I wasn't sure whether it was illegal to charge top up fees or just 'bad practice'.

DesolationAngel Tue 21-Jun-11 18:18:16

Yes Children are entitled to the 15 hours in the term after they turn 3.
In private nurseries, you still have to pay over and above what you use. You can have a maximum of six hours a day funded for 2.5 days (not all providers offer this - though private nurseries should be fine) or 5, 3 hour sessions spread over 5 days (like in Schools)
So, if your child is in private nursery from 9am - 3.30pm you will still need to pay the extra 30 mins care at the Nurserys going rate. If you take her home at 3.00pm they can't charge you.

DesolationAngel Tue 21-Jun-11 18:21:47

I'm pretty sure that now if they offer you a full day they can't say that one session runs from 9-12pm and the next 1-4pm and then charge you for lunch.
The funded session would have to be 9-3pm and as long as you pick up by 3pm there should be no charge. I can find out if you want to know for sure.

DesolationAngel Tue 21-Jun-11 18:28:27

Sorry, this is what my Authority say with regards to private Nurseries. (I'm in a school)
Core Offer of Flexibility

• A maximum of 10 hours and a minimum of three hours continuous provision can be offered in one day.
• Settings can operate flexibility between 8.00am and 6.00pm.
• 15 hours can be claimed in no fewer than three days.
• Children who attend for one day can claim between three and 10 hours in total
• Children who attend for two days can claim between six and 12 hours in total
• Children who attend for three days or more can claim between nine and 15 hours
• Children who attend for five days would claim three hours each day

3.8 To make no conditions in respect of a child’s minimum free entitlement for example the purchase of additional hours or lunch or other meal or snack. Children must be provided with healthy, balanced and nutritious meals, snacks and drinks as detailed in the EYFS.

3.9 To give parents the option of providing a packed lunch.

notsoqueenofclean Tue 21-Jun-11 18:31:37

We offer 3 hours in the morning and 2.5 in the afternoon but we do include lunch on to the 2.5 hours in the afternoon as part of the funding.

5ofus Tue 21-Jun-11 23:07:56

Each authority differs though so you'd have to check with yours. Some are very strict - others will let settings get away with bad behaviour.

southofthethames Thu 23-Jun-11 20:07:14

It should not matter which area you live and which one the nursery is in - your council should still pay (or sometimes the nursery's council pays but not yours, but they will never both pay!).However, the value of the payment may vary - eg if you went to state nursery A which would cost 100 pounds a week (just a hypothetical figure, not real!) the council might say they will cover it all so it works out free. At private nursery B that costs 150 a week, they might say they will only subsidise 90pounds a week, and you pay 60, not 50. And at private nursery C that costs 120 a week, they might say they cover 100 and you only need pay 20. You should ask your nursery which then applies on your behalf (after they've seen your child's birth cert) and then they will tell you what the shortfall for you to pay is. There are some nurseries or preschools (I presume very very popular ones) that will refuse to be part of the scheme and insist you have to pay it all but that is not usual.

akehurst86 Thu 23-Jun-11 22:28:12

Thanks for all the responses - it seems to differ everywhere even though I think the provision is supposed to be universal!
I asked my council's Family Information Service and they have told me that the council where the nursery is based will pay, and the nursery apply for this. We will get it from January, and it seems to follow the same lines as what DesolationAngel has laid on in their post.
I now just need to keep chasing the nursery - I think they have to notify the council the term before.

sammich Sun 26-Jun-11 10:50:04

Every child is guaranteed the 3 year old funding the term after they turn three (the terms being September, January, April) but not all settings have to take part in the funding and a lot of setting have limited funded spaces and once they are full they do not have to accept more children

You do not receive any letters/information from the council before your child turns three and you do not need to chase your setting for this they will have headcount forms for every parent/carer to sign at the start of the new term for your child to get the free funding.
This has to be signed and in by headcount day and if you do not get in in by headcount day you and you alone are responsible for the cost until the setting has the form approved by the council and received the funding

NO nursery/preschool/playgroup is allowed to charge a top up on the free sessions they offer and they have to offer at least 5 sessions a week of 3 hours minimum or they are breaking the guidelines they agreed to and if reported the local council will stop them from getting the funding

Also if take more than a two week time off during term time whilst getting three year old funding depending on your LA (and nurseries if they have a long waiting list) you will have lost your space and will have to pay for the time you were off to get it back or find a new setting as the LA will demand the money back for a child that is not attending

benetint Wed 29-Jun-11 12:55:08

I went to visit a preschool today who told me it was from the September after DD's 3rd birthday... so since her birthday is in September this means we can't get funding till she is 4! Are they right?

moonbells Wed 29-Jun-11 14:18:00


I have a query too, which I can't find a website to answer. My current nursery, from which DS is getting his 15 hours, says I can't have ANY grant from September as he is going half time to a nursery school attached to a school. I think they are talking rubbish, unless they mean the N.S. has to claim the 15 hours or it's because he's only going to be at each nursery (school) for half the time.
They insist that nursery schools attached to schools can't get funding. The link I gave you above says "day nurseries, private nursery schools, maintained nursery schools and nursery classes attached to primary schools" hence me thinking they're talking a load of biscuit.

Does anyone know why they would be saying this? Or are they just being evasive?

MissTinaTeaspoon Wed 29-Jun-11 14:25:56

I think it really depends where you live...we're in Swansea and my dd turned 3 in february, but as the 3 nearest primary schools to us only have one intake a year in September she has to wait until then. I queried the 15 hours a week thing too because she'll only be there for 2 1/2 hours per day and was basically told tough! And I'm not allowed to use her entitlement at her current nursery either, there is only one private nursery around here where that is a possibility and I wasn't prepared to uproot her from where she is settled to save the money. Another example of the postcode lottery and it stinks!

southofthethames Thu 30-Jun-11 20:29:38

moonbells - all nurseries are supposed to offer it, that said, if a private nursery is extremely popular and can afford to charge whatever they like and even refuse to apply for early years funding, they are within their rights to do so. I think you'll find other nurseries attached to primary schools will offer it. What the councils say is:
1) you can't claim it as cash if your nursery or school place is free of charge
2) if your nursery can only give you a place with longer hours including the lunch hour (if the lunch hour means that the session is longer than 3 hours) then you have to pay the extra that the extra time runs into. However, if a nursery includes lunch in the 3 hour session, then the funding can cover the lunch hour - they pay for the time, not the perceived educational value that those three hours cover
3) If you use less than 15 hours a week you're not entitled to the funding at all
4) the funding won't guarantee you a paid place at the nursery/preschool of your choice
5) being eligible for the funding will not guarantee you a place anywhere at all.

It sounds like your nursery isn't interested in claiming back the funding for your child or all the children who are eligible. I am guessing they are very popular?

moonbells Fri 01-Jul-11 13:26:52

southofthethames I have no problem with it at the moment - we are getting our 15h and DS is there 5d f/t.

They said to me that once he goes to the pre-school in Sept, because it's a nursery school attached to a school then I can no longer claim. This is the bit I don't believe! DS will be at the nursery school 5 mornings and the current nursery 5 afternoons a week. That's a grand total of about 20 hours a week at each place so they should be able to do something?

sammich Sat 02-Jul-11 10:44:29


The pre-school will claim the funding for your child and so you can not claim it again for use at a nursery so the nursery were not lying to you

moonbells Sat 02-Jul-11 13:03:32

ah that is fair enough, guess I should see if the preschool will do it. Somehow I suspect they won't...

moonbells Mon 01-Aug-11 15:34:35

Bit of a bump here.

The other day I had to fill in my entitlement form for autumn. I asked if they were sure, then the manager came out and ummed and said, er, I can't because the new nursery is attached to a school.
Here we go again, I thought, getting ready to argue with what I'd found on the net. They said that the LEA had made one parent pay back the cost!

Then they realised that the nursery DS is going to be p/t at is another private one. That is different, apparently!

This LEA doesn't pay for any hours once a child is at a pre-school/nursery attached to a STATE school as they figure it's free anyway, they're paying for at least 15 hours and so won't subsidise the child any more. If it is (or they are) private nurseries, then it's fine.

So I still get my 15 hours. Phew.

plonker Mon 08-Aug-11 01:00:52

I don't quite understand your last post moonbells [tired-brain emoticon]

Just to point out though, that different LA's must do things differently because in our area (following the introduction of Single Formula Funding), the LA fund both the maintained (state) and non-maintained (private, voluntary and independant) in respect of the Free Early Education Entitlement.

You would not be allowed to claim more than 15 hours in total regardless of which setting your child attended, although you could claim half in one setting and half in another.

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