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All three and four year olds in England are entitled to free, part-time Early Learning, Care and Development the term after their third birthday. It lasts for three terms, until your child reaches statutory school age.  


Children can currently attend on a part-time basis for 15 hours a week, for 38 weeks a year which can be taken flexibly over a minimum of three days during term times only.  Some qualifying two year olds are also entitled to access this provision.


Free early years entitlement can currently be taken at Child’s Play Nursery across three morning or afternoon sessions per week; each session runs for 5 hours.  


If your child attends more than those sessions you will be charged at full sessional prices.

A small food charge will be charged on days when your child is attending for his/her free sessions to cover the costs of any snacks provided by the nursery. (You can opt out of this if you would like to supply snacks or packed lunches for your child.)

When does my Child Qualify for the Free Entitlement?


The details below apply to all Early Years Provision settings within County Durham.


Child Born Between


1st April- 31st August

          September in take


1st September- 31st December

         January in take


1st January-31st March

         April intake

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FREE Education

Qualifying 2 year olds

Income Support


Job Seekers Allowance


Support for a “Looked After” child


Current Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education, Health & Care Plan [child]


Left care through Special Guardianship, or an Adoption, or Residence Order.


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During school holiday periods if you are contracted as free entitlement only your child will not be in attendance at nursery with no charge. However, if you chose to have your child at nursery during holiday periods you will be charged at full nursery rates. Please note if your child attends more than 15 hours a week at nursery during term time and you choose not to bring your child during holiday periods you will still be charged for the additional hours. For example; if your child attends 5 mornings per week during term times, you will be charged for 2 morning sessions during holiday times as these fees are not covered by the government and will ensure your child’s place is retained for the following term.




From September 2014 offering up to 15 hours free early-start education for qualifying 2 year olds. We are accepting applications for eligibility checking from May 2014 so that we can reserve spaces.

If you receive any of the following your child maybe eligiable to join us:


Child Tax Credit- Income below £16,190


Guarantee Element of State Pension Credit

Support under the Immigration & Asylum Act 1999


Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)- income related


Disability Living Allowance [child's name]


Working Tax Credits & earn no more than £16,190


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           We will need a photocopy of the Child’s Birth Certificate.


All families receiving any benefits will need to bring their latest HMRC letter as proof, as well as TC602a document (if applicable).



The more evidence we have to support the application will make it easier to confirm and grant places. 

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30hrs Free education and Care for working 3year old families from September 2017. Register your interest and reserve your space now.