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Free early education for children aged 2


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Some children aged 2 are entitled to 15 hours of free early education and childcare a week, for 38 weeks per year.


Children from families in receipt of one of these benefits are eligible:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income related Employment & Support Allowance
  • Support Under Part 6 of the Immigration & Asylum Act
  • Child Tax Credit
  • You have a household income of less than £16,190
  • Working Tax Credit ‘run on’ (payment someone may receive for a further four weeks after they stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit )

A child will be automatically eligible if they;

  • Attract Disability Living allowance
  • Have a current Statement of Special Educational Needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan
  • Are looked after by their Local Authority
  • Have left care through special guardianship or an adoption or residence order

 Please note:

  • The hours must be spread over a minimum of two days per week.
  • Sessions must last for at least 2 hours and for no more than 8 hours.
  • Sessions can not start before 7am or finish after 7pm.

View which childcare providers offer a 2 year funded place

How to apply

You can apply on-line from the term of the child's 2nd birthday using the link below. Please note by accessing the online application you are agreeing that you have read and understood the privacy notice (133Kb).


Alternatively you can contact Gateshead Family Information Service on 0191 433 5118 for further information and/or a criteria check to be carried out. You will be asked to give your date of birth, national insurance number or national asylum support service number.

When can children start

Children can start at the beginning of the term following their second birthday.

Children born: 

Free place can start:

1 April to 31 August


1 September to 31 December


1 January to 31 March


Your child can start their free place at any point during the term, however we would not recommend that they start in the last two weeks of a term.

This continues until the term after their third birthday, when all three and four year old children automatically receive free early education.

Other information

Any eligible child can access a place in Gateshead.

The entitlement can be taken across a maximum of two providers, provided they both agree to this. Not all providers will be able to offer flexibility and may offer a fixed pattern of hours for your child to attend.

Some providers will offer the option of having less hours each week over more weeks. This is often called "stretching" the entitlement.

It is the parent's choice whether to take up additional hours. Providers must only charge parents for any hours after the first 15. Any invoices parents receive from their provider must identify the free entitlement. Parents will not be made to pay for a uniform or a registration fee, if only attending for 15 hours.

Providers often stagger children's start dates, to make starting school or nursery easier. This could mean a child may not access their full entitlement.

To find out which providers offer this funding please see document above or contact Gateshead Family Information Service, using the contact details at the bottom of the page.

Parents will be asked to agree the days and times of their child's attendance on a declaration form. You may not be able to change days and times of attendance until the start of the next term, and then only with the agreement of the provider.

If your child is likely to be absent for more than two weeks you must notify your Childcare Provider or you may risk losing your place with that particular provider.

What can I do if I don't feel happy with my provider?

You may wish to raise your concerns with the management of the setting first. If your issues remain unresolved you can contact either the Family Information Service below or Ofsted on 0300 123 1231. If you are using a school you should follow their complaints procedure.

Contact us

Gateshead Family Information Service
Civic Centre, Regent Street, Gateshead NE8 1HH

Tel: 0191 433 5118