From the term following their third birthday, all pre-school age 3 and 4 year olds are eligible for 15 hours of free care per week, 38 weeks of the year. Some families may be entitled to up to 30 hours of free care per week, depending on personal circumstances.*
*all nursery providers choose both whether to operate the 15 and 30 hours schemes and how they administer them.
All 3 and 4 year olds in England are entitled to 570 hours’ free childcare per year. These hours are usually taken over 38 weeks (during term-time) and so equate to 15 hours per week. Your child’s nursery may ask you to complete paperwork to ensure that your child gets the funding he or she is entitled to.
All University of Oxford and community nurseries operate the 15 hours scheme, though how funds are allocated may vary, e.g. some nurseries may ‘stretch’ the free hours over a full calendar year. The university nurseries’ funding is calculated in this way, equating to a £191.43 discount against fees per month.
Some working parents may be eligible for an additional 570 hours’ free childcare each year (or a total of 30 hours per week taken over 38 weeks). As above, if you are entitled to this funding, the university stretches your child’s free hours over a full calendar year, equating to a £382.85 discount against fees per month.
To check if you are eligible for the 30 hours scheme, please look on the government website.
Bright Horizons have produced a useful video which summarises how they allocate funding.
The following chart illustrates how much nursery fees will be reduced by after your free hours have been taken into account (for the University nurseries). Please note that a maximum of 6 hours per day is allowed for.
Full time and four days/week nursery places:
30 hours x 38 weeks = 1140 hours
£4.04 x 30 hours (6/day) x 38 weeks / 12 = £383.80
Three days/week nursery places:
18 hours x 50 weeks = 900 hours
£4.04 x 18 hours (6/day) x 50 / 12 = £303.00
Two days/week nursery places:
12 hours x 50 weeks = 600 hours
£4.04 x 12 hours (6/day) x 50 / 12 = £202.00
Please contact the Community Nurseries directly in order to find out how they allocate funding.