Alert close - icon Fill 1 Copy 10 Untitled-1 tt copy 3 Untitled-1 Untitled-1 tt copy 3 Fill 1 Copy 10 menu Group 3 Group 3 Copy 3 Group 3 Copy Page 1 Group 2 Group 2 Skip to content

Early years education

All children have the right to a funded early years education place in the school term following their third birthday, subject to the availability of places.

Funded places for 3 and 4-year-olds are available for up to 15 hours per week over a minimum of 2 days and may be taken with more than one early years provider (known as the universal entitlement). Schools and private, voluntary and independent (PVI) providers should, where reasonably practicable, be flexible in how they offer the funded entitlement, but delivery models are the decision of individual providers. For details of early years settings contact the families information service.

The funded hours must be provided free of charge and invoices must clearly evidence this. Some providers will be able to offer additional hours for which parents will be charged, but this cannot be a condition of accessing the funded provision. In addition, providers are able to charge for meals and additional services, such as forest school or dance.

Many 3 and 4-year-olds will be eligible to an additional 15 hours of funded early years education, known as the extended entitlement. These additional hours are primarily for the children of parents in households where both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family) and include self-employed and those working on zero hours contracts. Parents must check their eligibility with HMRC. If they are eligible they will be issued with an 11-digit code which they should take to their school or provider in order to secure a place for the additional hours. Parents are only legally entitled to start claiming for a 30 hours place from the start of the term following the date they receive the decision from HMRC. For more details of the 30 hours including the eligibility checking service visit Childcare Choices. Parents should reconfirm their code approximately every 3 months. It is really important that codes are re-confirmed as without a valid code, the funded extended entitlement hours cannot be offered.

Funded early years education funding is available for eligible 2-year-olds from the term following their second birthday in some schools and many day nurseries, preschools and childminder settings. There are 2 funding streams available, one for working families and one for families on a low income or in receipt of certain benefits. To find out if families are eligible for either funding stream see our information on funded childcare for eligible 2-year-olds. Or for further information contact the Families Information Service, email or tel: 01629 535793.

Parents may choose their funded early years provision from a range of council run, private, voluntary or independent educational settings or a combination of these.

Some areas of Derbyshire provide council run nursery schools or classes.

Parents should contact the headteacher of the relevant school or nursery which they wish their child to attend. If too many places are requested in schools or nurseries we run, governors will use the following order of priorities:

  1. Children in care and children who were previously in care but ceased to be so because they were adopted (or became subject to a child arrangements order or special guardianship order). This includes those children who appear to have been in state care outside of England and ceased to be in state care as a result of being adopted.
  2. Children living in the normal area served by the school at the time of application and admission who have brothers or sisters attending the school at the time of application and admission.
  3. Children living in the normal area served by the school at the time of application and admission (including those living in another council's area). See note 1 on normal area schools.
  4. Children not living in the normal area served by the school but who have brothers or sisters attending the school at the time of application and admission. See note 2 on normal area schools.
  5. Other children whose parents have requested a place.

Where, in the case of points 3 and 4, choices have to be made between children satisfying the same criteria, those children living nearest to the school (measured by the nearest available route) will be given preference. See note 4 on normal area schools.

Parents have no automatic right to a nursery place for their child in their normal area school. Parents should not be allocated places in more than one council-run school for their child. The rules on admissions and appeals do not apply to nursery schools and classes.

Priority should be given to children accessing the universal offer of 15 hours before places for the additional hours are allocated.

If a child cannot be admitted to a nursery class at their parents' preferred school they should make representations to the headteacher in the first instance.

Providers of nursery education should adopt an inclusive approach, promoting equality of opportunity, particularly to the most disadvantaged, children in care and children with a disability of special need.

Definition of school terms

  • term 1 - September to December
  • term 2 - January to March
  • term 3 - April to August

Look at our glossary if there are any terms you are unsure of the meaning of.