As the time approaches for new parents to think about some form of childcare, there are many decisions to be made. These are sometimes very difficult decisions or they may be quite straightforward.The important thing is that the child and parents are happy. We have outlined some alternatives for you here. Remember there is no right or wrong solution- so read on and perhaps this will help you reach the decision you need for your baby and you.


Time to go back to work
Different forms of daycare
Creches and playgroups
Childcare at home and with childminders

There are many alternatives and your needs will change as your child grows. Make sure you take time to visit a range of childcare settings, and talk to others about what is on offer in your area. Initially, you may need full time care for your child but once he or she starts school, you may want to explore different options. Many schools now offer 'wrap-around' care, which gives the opportunity for your child to be cared for in one place from 8am to 6pm, for 48 weeks of the year. 


Questions to ask - childcare settings
How do I know my child will be safe?
Childcare qualifications
Early Years Grant


Childcare and early schooling
Childcare by nannies
Childcare in nursery schools
Preparing for school


Birth to Three Matters
Every Child Matters

More information about Early Years can be found on our Early Years pages. Our page on 'Give your child a headstart' is full of ideas for you to use to help your child before starting school, and in the early stages of school.

The Pupil Premium

  • The Pupil Premium takes the form of additional funding allocated to schools on the basis of the number of children entitled to and registered for Free School Meals and children who have been looked after continuously for more than six months.
  • The amount schools receive varies year by year.The expectation is that this additional funding will be used to support Pupil Premium eligible pupils and close the attainment gap between them and their peers. Schools must publish information on their website that shows how the Pupil Premium is used.
  • A survey of schools to collect quantitate information and financial data case studies analysis of The National Pupil database were conducted to investigate how Pupil Premium is being spent in Schools in England.

Free childcare and education for 2 to 4 year olds

All 3 to 4 year olds in England can get 570 hours of free early education or childcare per year. It’s usually taken as 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year.

Some 2 year olds are also eligible.

You can get free education and childcare for children in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

When you can start claiming

The date you can start claiming depends on your child’s birthday.

Child’s birthday When you can claim
1 January to 31 March The beginning of term on or after 1 April
1 April to 31 August The beginning of term on or after 1 September
1 September to 31 December The beginning of term on or after 1 January


Example: Your child was born on 15th February 2014, you can get free childcare when the next term starts after 1st April 2017.


The free early education and childcare must be with an approved childcare provider. It stops once your child starts reception class in a state school.

Eligibility for 2 year olds

Your 2 year old can get free early education and childcare if you get one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit
  • Tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • The Working Tax Credit 4 week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

A child can also get free early education and childcare if any of the following apply:

  • they’re looked after by a local council
  • they have a current statement of Special Education Needs (SEN) or an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • they get Disability Living Allowance
  • they’ve left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order
Tax-Free Childcare scheme.

Tax-Free Childcare will be available to around 2 million households to help with the cost of childcare, enabling more parents to go out to work, if they want to, to provide greater security for their families. Here’s the top ten things to know about the scheme…

The scheme will allow parents to claim up to £2000 per child towards the cost of childcare per year. It has been proposed that for every 80p parents transfer to a dedicated online account and spend on regulated child care, the government will top this up with 20p which is capped at £2000 of savings per child per year.

This is equivalent to the basic rate of tax. Parents will be able to use these vouchers within an Ofsted regulated childcare provider in England and equivalent bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland just as they can with current childcare vouchers.

For more accurate savings figures, look at the childcare voucher calculators on Computershare Voucher Services or KiddiVouchers

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