Claiming your Free Early Education Funding for 3 and 4 Year Olds

What is the Early Education Funding Entitlement?

Early Education Entitlement is effectively free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds funded by the government.

All children are entitled to this free early education entitlement starting from the term after their third birthday and for up to 570 hours per year. You may have heard the entitlement referred to as ’15 hours per week’. This is because in school based nursery settings the entitlement is given as 15 hours for the 38 school weeks each year.

Pear Tree Montessori is registered as a provider of the Early Education Entitlement. The funding is received directly to Pear Tree Montessori and enables you to receive your free childcare. As we are open all year round, your entitlement is spread throughout the year, annualised and deducted in 12 monthly installments of 47.5 hours.

Although the 570 hours of childcare is free, you will be charged for any additional hours of childcare your child has over and above the free entitlement. You will also be charged for meals, drinks and snacks during your funded sessions if these hours occur over breakfast, lunch or tea time.

The government's 30-hours funded childcare places for working parents of three- and four-year-olds has thrown up quite a few questions and how it differs from the current 15 hours childcare offer.

Below we address some of those questions including how to sign up for the 30 hours offer.

You will be eligible for the 30-hour funded childcare offer if:
  • You earn more than the equivalent of 16 hours at the national living wage or minimum wage per week: for example, £120 per week if you are 25 or older. There is no requirement to work a certain amount of hours per week – it is all about how much you earn. This means if you only work 10 hours a week but earn £12 per hour, you will meet the minimum earning threshold. Apprentices are also eligible as long as they earn the equivalent to 16 hours at the apprentice minimum wage.
  • AND
  • You earn less than £100,000 per year.

This applies if you are self-employed or on a zero-hours contract and expect to meet the earning criteria on average over the three months after you have applied for the 30-hours. HMRC will look at data such as your previous earnings to consider whether you are likely to meet the criteria and may contact you for further information if they are unsure.

If you are starting up your own business, you will not be expected to meet the minimum earning criteria in your first year of trading. You will need to provide a Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number to HMRC so that they can check your income at the end of the tax year.

If you are not working but you expect to take up paid work within 14 days, you can still apply for 30 hours, as long as you expect to meet the income criteria over the coming three months.

If you are a single parent and meet the above criteria, you will be eligible for the 30 hours. If you live with a partner, you both must meet the above criteria. This still applies if one of you is not the child’s parent – for example, if you have remarried or have started living with a new partner. If you are separated/divorced from your child’s parent, the eligibility rules will only apply to the parent that the child normally lives with (and their new partner if they are part of the same household).

Exceptions
You will not have to meet the minimum earnings criteria if:

You and your partner are employed but one or both of you is temporarily away from the workplace on parental, maternity or paternity, adoption leave, or on statutory sick pay

You are employed but your partner either has substantial caring responsibilities, or is disabled or incapacitated, or vice versa (i.e. your partner is employed but you have caring responsibilities or are disabled or incapacitated). This is dependent on you or your partner being entitled to specific disability or caring benefits.


SIGNING UP FOR THE 30-HOURS
You will be able to apply for both the 30-hour offer and tax-free childcare using a single application available online via the Childcare Choices website .

To complete the application, you will need to provide details such as your name, address and national insurance number, as well as whether you expect to meet the income requirements over the next three months and whether you are in receipt of any benefits. If you live with a partner, you will need to provide the same information for them as well. This will enable HMRC to decide whether your child is eligible for the 30 hours (as well as tax-free childcare).

If you are eligible, you will be given an 11-digit code that you Pear Tree Montessori will need to take along with your national insurance number and your child’s birth certificate.

Pear Tree Montessori will then use the government’s eligibility checking system to check the code is valid.

You will need to reconfirm your eligibility every three months and will receive a reminder text message or email from the government before the deadline. If you give false information about your eligibility, you could be fined up to £3000.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE 30-HOURS OFFER

Q: My child is going to turn three next year. How soon can I access the 30-hours?
A: Your child will be eligible for the 30 hours offer from the term after they turn three, or the term after you receive your eligibility code – whichever is later.
For example, if your child turns three on 25 March, and you apply for the 30-hours on 27 March, your child will be eligible for a place from 1 April (i.e. the start of the spring term). However, if your child turns three on 25 March but you don’t apply for the 30 hours until 5 April, your child won’t be eligible for a place until 1 September (i.e. the start of the autumn term).


Q: If I’m not eligible for the 30-hour offer, can I still get my 15 hours?
A: Yes. The 15-hour offer is still universal so if you’re not eligible for a 30-hour place, you will still be eligible for the 15-hour offer.


Q: What happens if I become ineligible for the offer e.g. because I lose my job?
A: If you no longer meet the eligibility criteria, your child’s 30-hour place will continue to be funded for a ‘grace period’.


Once the grace period has expired, you will still be eligible for the 15-hour funded childcare offer. If you have been taking up the 30 hours at two providers, you can decide which provider you want to continue taking up your 15 hour places from.

When can my child begin their Early Education Entitlement?
Children can begin to received their free education hours from the term after their 3rd birthday
Once your child has started to receive their early education entitlement, it continues until the end of the term before your child starts full time school.


What do I have to do to access the free entitlement with Pear Tree Montessori?
Shortly after the beginning of each term, you will be asked to sign a parental declaration, setting out the agreed hours and patterns of access to the free entitlement. Your entitlement may be split with another provider if you wish. If you decide to access your free entitlement at more than one provider you will be asked to sign a parental declaration at both settings.
Signing a parental declaration commits parents and the childcare provider to a termly contract. Due to the rules set down by the local authority, it is not possible to change the pattern of your free entitlement or to change to a different provider during that term, except under exceptional circumstances and with the agreement of the local authority.

What happens if my child already attends Pear Tree Montessori?
If your child already attends Pear Tree Montessori, once you are eligible for funding we will assume you want to continue accessing the same sessions and we will automatically convert some of your childcare sessions to funded sessions. However, you can change your sessions prior to the start of the term. Please note that you will still be required to sign a parental declaration each term.

Can I attend Pear Tree Montessori for my free hours only?
Yes – if you attend for 1 full day each week, your childcare will be free except for our charges for meals, drinks and snacks which is currently £11


Attending Pear Tree Montessori for 11 hours a week is the maximum entitlement we offer for the universal funding and 22 hours a week for the extended funding. If your child attends above the funded hours a week, you will be charged in line with our normal pricing policy.

Contact Us

Links



Pear Tree Montessori Nursery
12 Park Avenue, Sale, M33 6HE
T: 0161 905 1315
E: sale@peartree.uk.com