Skip header
Children's centres

Free early education for 2 year olds

We are offering eligible 2 year olds free early education and care places for 15 hours a week during school term time. Some early education providers offer free hours in the school holidays, for example children could access 11 hours each week for 51 weeks of the year.

Is my child entitled to a free place?

You can claim a free place for your child if you receive one or more of the following:

  • Children looked after by the Council
  • Children who have left care through special guardianship, adoption or a residence order
  • Children who are eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) e.g. families whose income is below £16,190 and their parents are in receipt of any of the following benefits:
    • Income Support
    • Income based Job Seekers Allowance
    • Income related Employment and Support allowance
    • The guaranteed element of the State Pension Credit
    • Child Tax credit and Working Tax credit provided the annual household income does not exceed £16,190
    • Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • Children who have a current Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) or an
  • Children in receipt of Disability Living Allowance ( DLA)
  • Universal Credit (to be rolled out in May 2018) providing their net income is below £15,400

Extending the eligibility criteria for the most disadvantaged two year olds

If your child is two years old they will be able to take up a free place if you have one of the following types of immigration status:

  • Zambrano carer (derivative right to reside in the UK under European law as the primary carer of a British child or dependent adult)
  • Leave to remain with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) granted on family or private life (Article 8) grounds
  • 'Appeal rights exhausted' (ARE) asylum seeker receiving asylum support from the Home Office under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

If you are a Zambrano carer, or have the leave to remind with NRPF, you must also be able to demonstrate that you have a low income.

If you have any queries please email

When is my child entitled to start their free place?

  • If your child's 2nd birthday falls between 1 January and 31 March, they will be entitled to a free place from the start of the summer term (after Easter)
  • If your child's 2nd birthday falls between 1 April and 31 August, they will be entitled to a free place from the start of the autumn term (early September)
  • If your child's 2nd birthday falls between 1 September and 31 December, they will be entitled to a free place from the start of the spring term (early January)

Where can my child get free early education?

What happens next?

  • If you are eligible, you will be contacted by the family information service who will oversee the placement with one of the approved childcare providers

Universal Credit eligibility

The Universal Credit eligibility criteria for the two-year-old offer and Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) are currently subject to consultation. 

Help paying for childcare

Tax-Free Childcare, Universal Credit or Tax Credits can be used with 15 hours free childcare or 30 hours free childcare.

Please speak to your childcare provider about any additional charges that may apply.

For more information please visit:

Childcare Choices

The Best Start In Life logo

The best start in life

We're working to give the children of South Tyneside the best start in life.

Find out about our wide range of services for children and families. We want to build safer and stronger families, provide increased opportunities for enterprise learning and skills within healthier communities.

The best start in life

How would you rate the information on this page?

  • Families Information Service
  • Town Hall and Civic Offices
    Westoe Road
    South Shields
    Tyne & Wear
    United Kingdom
    NE33 2RL

  • 0800 783 4645

Share this page