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Three and four year old funding

All 3 & 4-year olds, regardless of the parents’ immigration status, are entitled to up to 15 hours free education each week for 38 weeks from the term after their third birthday.

Early years providers must provide a minimum of 33 weeks of nursery education per year, and have to register with the Council to be part of the scheme. Providers participating in the scheme include:

  • private nursery schools
  • private or voluntary pre-schools or playgroups
  • private or voluntary day nurseries
  • nursery units of independent schools
  • Childminders (on an individual basis)

Children who go to local authority primary or nursery schools are funded automatically by the local education authority.

Parents eligible for the additional 15 hours of childcare can access this in all of the Maintained Nursery Schools in Hammersmith & Fulham and many of the private and voluntary nurseries and playgroups.

How the places are funded

Funding is available for a maximum of fifteen hours per week and up to 38 weeks per year. This totals a maximum of 570 hours which can be spread over a longer period if a provider is open for 38 or more weeks a year, such as a day nursery. Providers claim the funding through the local authority.

The 15 hours entitlement is flexible and can be accessed over a minimum of three days per week (this can be stretched to 2 days with providers who operate for 45 weeks or more per year) but this will be dependent on whether a provider can accommodate this. As a minimum, all providers must offer a three hour session, five days a week.

Parents will be expected to pay for any additional services or additional hours of childcare over and above the entitlement.

Who can get the funding

All children attending a funded provider in Hammersmith and Fulham are eligible for funding in the term after they become three, irrespective of where they live.

The table below shows when a child becomes eligible:

A child born between

…is eligible for MFE…

1 April and 31 August

From the start of the autumn term (September to December) following their third birthday until statutory school age.

1 September and 31 December

From the start of the spring term (January to March) following their third birthday until statutory school age.

1 January and 31 March

From the start of the summer term (April to August) following their third birthday until statutory school age.


Providers eligible for funding

For more detailed information on providers, please see the Family Information Service Direcory

How to apply

You should apply through your childcare provider. They will need to see a copy of your child’s birth certificate and will ask you to sign a declaration form. They will then claim the funding from the local authority on your behalf. You will not be able to apply individually.

Family Support will manage any data submitted when you apply for free early learning funding this includes 15 and 30 hours for 3 & 4 year olds. 

Registration deadline

Each term we set a ‘headcount date’ and children not registered with a funded provider by that date will not be able to claim the grant until the following term (except under exceptional circumstances).

Please ask your funding registered provider for details of each termly headcount day.

If you have a specific enquiry please email

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