London Borough of Barnet

Free Entitlement to Early Education

Free Early Education imagery for smal carousel on Barnet website

Free Early Education for two, three and four year olds

Some two year olds and all three and four year olds are entitled to a free early education place (FEE).  

Free Early Education for Two Year Olds

The Free Early Education for Two Year Old (FEE2) offers eligible children up to 15 hours per week of high quality early years education from the term after their second birthday.

How do I qualify?

In order to qualify for a free place you must be in receipt of one of the following support payments:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The 'Guaranteed' element of the state pension credit
  • Child tax credit - provided they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190.00 (as assessed by her Majesty's Revenue and Customs)
  • Working Tax Credit 'run-on' - the payment someone may receive for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.

In addition, the following group of children are also eligible:

  • Children looked after by the Local Authority: Child in Care.

Trial Places for families receiving Working Tax Credits

If you are in receipt of Working Tax Credits you do not meet the current eligibility criteria, however, may be able to access a free place under a new trial. If you have an income of less than £16,190, contact FYi who can complete an application of your behalf (you will need provide documentary evidence such as your Tax Credit Award Notice (TC602).

If you do not meet the eligibility criteria you can contact FYi for further information on help with the costs of childcare, alternatively, go to the Quids for Kids pages for more information.

When can my child access a free place?

The earliest a child can access their free place is the term after their second birthday.

The table below shows the dates of birth and the earliest time your child could take up their free place:

A child born between: Is eligible from:
1 January - 31 March  1 April - Summer Term
1 April - 31 August 1 September - Autumn Term
1 September - 31 December   1 January  - Spring Term

Where can my child access a free place?

Free childcare places can be accessed at a range of participating Ofsted registered childcare providers such as:

  • Quality Assured (QA) childminders
  • pre-schools/playgroups
  • day nurseries 
  • Nursery schools
  • Children's Centres (that offer childcare).

For details of participating childcare providers that offer free places please follow the links below:

Please be aware that not all childcare providers are registered on the scheme, if your preferred childcare provider is not on the list please discuss this with the childcare provider, as they may be in the process of registering.

When contacting childcare providers you need to find out if they have a free place available and if so what are the sessions/times that they have available.

How many hours is my child entitled to?

Children are entitled to up to15 hours per week, that's 570 hours per year. Most childcare providers offer their places term time only (38 weeks per year), however, as a pilot, some childcare providers may offer 'Stretched' places. This is when a child goes for fewer hours per week but attend for more than 38 weeks. Please discuss with your chosen childcare provider how they are offering their free two year old places and what hours are available.

How do I apply?

You can apply online here.  You will need your National Insurance number to complete an application.

Alternatively, an application can be made on your behalf by an early years practitioner or from one of these agencies:

  • Children's Centre
  • health visitors or other health professional
  • social worker
  • JobCentre Plus
  • London Borough of Barnet (LBB) Children's Service practitioner
  • Barnet MencapBarnet Homestart
  • Barnet Pre-school Learning Alliance.

What happens next?

After the application has been made, your details will be run through the national eligibility checker (using your National Insurance number, your name and your date of birth) to confirm that you are eligible for a free place. You will then be sent a letter confirming your eligibility and you are then able to find a suitable childcare place at one of the participating childcare providers.

What happens when my child turns three?

All children are eligible for a Free Early Education place (for three and four year olds) from the term after their third birthday. If your child accesses a FEE2 place, they will automatically move into the FEE funding scheme (unless you child is taking a place with a childminder that does not participate in the FEE funding). All childcare providers will aim to make this transition as smooth as possible and most children stay at the same childcare provider.

Free Early Education for three and four-year-olds

All three and four-year-olds are eligible for up to 15 hours of free early education (FEE) up to 38 weeks per year (term time only). These 15 hours can be taken as flexibly as your childcare provider is able to offer. Children become eligible the term after their third birthday.

When can my child access a free place?

The table below shows the dates of birth and the earliest time your child could take up their free place:

 A child born between:   Is eligible from:
1 January - 31 March  1 April - Summer Term
1 April - 31 August  1 September - Autumn Term
1 September - 31 December   1 January  - Spring Term

Where can my child access a free place?

All you need to do is choose an Ofsted registered childcare provider that offers the FEE and discuss with them how they deliver this service. Places can be taken at:

  • pre-schools/playgroups
  • day nurseries
  • Children's Centres (that offer childcare)
  • independent nursery schools
  • local authority nursery schools or nursery classes
  • accredited childminders (not all childminders participate in the FEE).

Our childcare directory will indicate if they are participating in the FEE.

Once you have chosen a childcare provider, they will make a claim on your child's behalf at the start of each term. You will not receive any funding directly, all payments will be made directly to your childcare provider.

For more details on how the FEE for two, three, and four-year-olds operates view the free early education guide

You can also contact FYi for further information or advice.


Families and Young People's Information Service.

Enquiries: Contact us online

We are open:
9am - 5.15pm Monday to Thursday 9am - 5pm on Fridays

North London Business Park (NLBP), Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP

Tel: 0800 389 8312