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30 Hours Free Childcare

All information and user guides regarding the early years portal can be found on the website at:

1. What is 30 hours Free Childcare?

This is a new entitlement for working parents of three and four year old children which will be introduced in September 2017. This is an additional 15 hours per week entitlement in addition to the child’s existing 15 hour free early education place.

This whole new entitlement of 30 hours free childcare can be offered term time only (over 38 weeks) or can be stretched across the whole year to meet parental needs.

2. Who is eligible for 30 Hours Free Childcare?

Parents of three and four year olds will need to meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for 30 hours free childcare.

  • They earn or expect to earn the equivalent to 16 hours at National Minimum or Living Wage over the coming three months.
  • This equates to £120 a week (or c.£6,000 a year) for each parent over 25 years old or£112.80 a week (or c.£5,800 a year) for each parent between 21 and 24 years old.
  • This applies whether you are in paid employment, self-employed or on zero hours contract.
  • The parent (and their partner where applicable) should be seeking the free childcare to enable them to work.
  • Where one or both parents are on maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption leave, or if they are on statutory sick leave.
  • Where one parent meets the income criteria and the other is unable to work because they are disabled, have caring responsibilities or have been assessed as having limited capability to work.
  • Where a parent is in a ‘start-up period’ (i.e. they are newly self-employed) they do not need to demonstrate that they meet the income criteria for 12 months.
  • If a non-EEA (European economic area) national, the parent must have recourse to public funds.

A parent will not meet the criteria when:

  • either parent has an income of more than £100,000
  • either parent is a non-EEA (European economic area) national and subject to immigration control (and has no recourse to public funds).

For up to date information on eligibility please visit:

3. How will the school know who are their eligible parents?

It will be a parent’s responsibility to apply for 30 hours free childcare via the online HMRC eligibility checker. Parents will receive an eligibility voucher code if they are eligible which they will be told to show to their chosen provider. To check that the eligibility voucher code is valid (which is 11 numbers long) the school will input this code, parents national insurance number and child’s date of birth into the early years portal.

The early years portal will confirm the validity of the code and start date for eligibility so a place can be confirmed with the parent. It is advisable that schools do not offer places to families without the eligibility code being checked first. This voucher code will enable you to claim funding from the local authority.

4. Are families eligible for the whole year once they receive a voucher code?

No, parents have a responsibility to re check their eligibility every three months with HMRC. The voucher code number will not change and once it is reconfirmed by HMRC it will display the new eligibility end date in the early years portal. HMRC will send parents reminders to re check their eligibility during a term. However, we advise schools to remind eligible parents to undertake this re check.

5. What happens if a parent does not re check their eligibility or falls out of eligibility?

The Department for Education has built into the process a grace period allowing parents the opportunity to re check their eligibility in a given time frame. If a parent falls out of eligibility due to either no longer in employment or just forgetting to re check the grace period is activated. The grace period can be checked via the early years portal for any parent by the school.

6. How will the school claim funding for 30 hours free childcare children from the local authority?

All schools with nursery classes will be joining the early years portal from September 2017. This portal is where schools will make their funding claim for all their nursery children in the future regardless if they have 15 hours free early education or 30 hours free childcare. Training will be available to school business managers and support staff in the summer term for implementation in September 2017.

7. How much will schools be paid per hour for a 30 hour free childcare place?

Schools will be paid £5.05p per hour for each 30 hour free childcare place.

8. Can a school charge for the lunch period?

The statutory guidance issued in March 2017 states that no artificial breaks should be imposed on families who are eligible for the 30 hours free childcare. The offer should be continuous throughout the day. However if parents are receiving more than 30 hours in a week the school can charge for additional hours, outside of lunchtime.

9. How does 30 hours free childcare fit with the nursery admissions process 2017 – 2018?

There is no change to the admission process for 2017 – 2018. Parents will apply online and you will receive these applications through the system as usual. Schools will make their offers for the 15 hour free early education place through that system to parents. Normal admission rules will apply in this year’s process. The online system enables schools to inform parents of the free early education places you have available and if the school intends to offer 30 hours free childcare.

10. What information are parents receiving about 30 hours free childcare?

In March 2017 the county council started a communication campaign to inform parents of the new 30 hours free childcare entitlement. This will include using social media, websites, leaflets and posters.

11. Do schools have to offer 30 hours free childcare?

It will be a governing body decision if schools extend their provision to include 30 hours free childcare for eligible parents. Participation is optional.

12. Does the whole 30 hours free childcare have to be staffed by a teacher?

How children are funded will make no difference to how the ratios set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework apply. For the maintained school day (9.00am - 3.00pm) if the children (age 3 and 4) in a nursery class are pupils then paragraph 3.37 in the EYFS applies. If they are not registered pupils in the school the ratios set out in paragraphs 3.33 or 3.34 will apply.

Where nursery pupils (age 3 and 4) attend provision run by the school that operates outside of the school day, footnote 22 on page 23 in the EYFS can apply. This says that ‘where children in nursery classes attend school for longer than the school day or in the school holidays, in provision run directly by the governing body or the proprietor, with no teacher present, a ratio of one member of staff to every eight children can be applied if at least one member of staff holds a full and relevant level 3 qualification, and at least half of all other staff hold a full and relevant level 2 qualification’.

13. In delivering the 30 hours free childcare what must the school consider in planning this new offer to parents?
  • What is the demand for 30 hours free childcare likely to be from your parents?
  • How could your nursery class space be utilised to support high quality experiences for children to attend for 30 hours per week as well as 15?
  • Review your staffing arrangements to ensure that EYFS conditions are met with your early years advisor.
  • Ensure your governors have considered the financial implications for your school; seek support from Financial Services for Schools
14. Do schools have to make all their free early education places now 30 hour places?

Schools are not required to turn all their current 15 hour free early education places into 30 hours free childcare places. However schools do need to consider the current offer to parents, the nursery environment and impact on staff ratios and financial implications in the school decision making process.

15. Does the school have to offer the full 30 hours free childcare?

Schools are not required to offer the full 30 hours free childcare and have to consider the above factors in their decision making process. An alternative approach a school can take is to work in partnership with other local early years and childcare providers who can offer the additional hours a school cannot offer.

16. Do parents who want a 30 hour free childcare place now take priority over parents who want the 15 hour free early education place in the 2017 – 2018 nursery admissions process?

They can, as long as you make this absolutely clear in your admission arrangements and on HCC website/publications.

17. If a school wants to offer 30 hours free childcare who do the school need to inform?

The decision to offer parents 30 hours free childcare is a governing body decision. Once the decision is taken to offer the 30 hours free childcare parents should be informed at the earliest opportunity and information made available to parents on what will be offered. The school should also post this information on the online nursery admissions system so parents are aware at application stage.

In order for Hertfordshire County Council to plan places across the county we would ask schools to inform Family Services Commissioning of their decision to offer places by completing an online survey which confirm the schools intention to offer 30 hour free childcare places. This survey will be available on the grid to complete in May 2017. Once this survey goes live schools will be contacted to complete.

18. Is there any additional support available for schools in delivering the 30 hours free childcare entitlement?

Family Services Commissioning offer regular updates and sessions across the year and these sessions will be notified to schools via the schools bulletin and Primary Heads Forum briefings.

19. What will happen if the school do not offer 30 hours free childcare?

The impact on your school will be determined by the needs of local parents. We advise that schools undertake their own market research. If you have many local parents that want 30 hours free childcare and the school does not offer it, they may apply for a place at a setting that can meet their needs, which would impact on your admission numbers.

20. If the school decide not to offer 30 hours free childcare who do the school need to inform and how else can the school support parents in receiving this new entitlement?

Please make parents aware at the earliest opportunity if you decide not to offer the 30 hours free childcare so they can make an informed choice. An alternative approach a school can take is to work in partnership with other local early years and childcare providers who can offer the additional hours a school cannot offer. The partnership can be developed with other schools, childminders, pre-schools and day nurseries.

This approach has proved successful in the 30 hour free childcare trial and enables schools to be part of the new entitlement and gives parents a choice of provision to meet their requirements. The Department for Education have published a toolkit to support schools in delivering the 30 hours free childcare entitlement. This can be found at

21. If a school is interested in offering free early education for two year old children who do they contact?

In the first instance please contact the Family Services Commissioning team who can discuss the options for the school.

If a school decides to offer this entitlement to parents it would mean the school has to lower its published admission age. This is a statutory process and takes a significant amount of time to complete.

22. Who should a school contact with any further queries on any of the above questions?

Please email and a member of the Family Services Commissioning Team will respond.


Free early education and childcare schools FAQs June 2018
30 Hour Grace Periods
Schools Guidance for Early Years Admissions 2018 and Beyond
Early Education and Childcare Handbook
Resources for Schools
Modelling 30 Hour Delivery in Schools in Hertfordshire
30 Hours at Norton St. Nicholas
Extended Hours Toolkit - April 2016
Evaluating a quality offer for a child accessing 30 hours childcare entitlement


30 Free Hours Logo (JPG/610kb)

Free Early Education and Childcare for 3 & 4 year olds Leaflet


30 hours Free Childcare Video