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Early Education and Childcare (EEC) for 3 & 4 year olds advice and information page

All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to 15 hours of free early education and childcare sessions per week for 38 weeks of the year.

For information on 2 year old funding please click here to take you to the Early Education and Childcare for 2 year olds advice and information page

For contact details for the Early Years Funding Team who administer EEC funding click  here

When can my child start receiving the sessions?

The entitlement starts the term after the child's third birthday and will continue until they start school or reach compulsory school age (the term following their fifth birthday).

Free education eligibility 3 and 4 year olds is detailed below:

  • A child born on or between 1 April and 31 August is eligible for a free place from 1 September following their third birthday
  • A child born on or between 1 September and 31 December is eligible for a free place from 1 January following their third birthday
  • A child born on or between 1 January and 31 March is eligible for a free place from 1 April following their third birthday


What do I do next

Free places can be offered by a variety of providers including school nurseries, private nurseries, pre-school playgroups and childminders as long as they are included in Bury's Directory of EEC providers for 2, 3 and 4 year olds.

For details of providers who deliver 3 & 4yo funded places please see the 'Childcare Providers for Free (EEC) 3 & 4 year old places' category in the Childcare section

You may have some choice as to how and where you take your free childcare place, but this depends on who has vacancies, how they can be delivered and must be within the set limits below:

  • No session longer than 10 hours (although no longer than 6-7 hours is considered best practice)
  • No session shorter than 2.5 hours
  • Not before 7am or after 7pm
  • Maximum of two different providers at any one time (this means you can 'split' your 15 hours free childcare between 2 providers if necessary)

How does it work?

The provider you choose will receive the payment for the free sessions directly from us. Providers must allow children to access their place completely free. This means that you must not be asked to pay any registration or administration fee or made to purchase extra services such as additional hours, food or uniform unless you choose to do so.

Once your child has a place and providing you are happy with the placement, you child will remain with that childcare provider until they start school.

What is the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP)

From April 2015, nurseries, schools, childminders and other childcare providers have been able to claim extra funding through the Early Years Pupil Premium to support children’s development, learning and care.

The Early Years Pupil Premium provides an extra 53 pence per hour for three and four year old children whose parents are in receipt of certain benefits or who were formerly in local authority care but who left care because they were adopted or were subject to a special guardianship or child arrangements order. 

This means an extra £302 a year for each child taking up the full 570 hours funded entitlement to early education.  The extra funding is used to improve the quality of the early years education provided for your child.

Please contact your childcare provider for further information


I am a registered childcare provider, what do I do next?

If you would like to be included in Bury 's Directory of EEC providers for 2, 3 and 4 year olds please see Information for registered childcare providers.

Bury Council do not promote or endorse any of the services listed in this Directory. For more information on this please read our disclaimer here.

This page was last updated on: 16/07/2018