Early Education Funding for 3 and 4 year olds

Early Education Funding for 3 and 4 year olds

Since April 2011, schools with nursery classes have been funded in the same way as providers for:

  • Private
  • Voluntary
  • Independent (PVI)

This is through the Early Years Single Funding Formula (EYSFF).


Funding guidance

The Guidance to Early Education Funding and any supporting documentation can be found in the Early Years Web.

Funded entitlement information on the Early Years website

This document is a brief guide for schools which has been written to highlight some issues which have come to light as a part of the School Census. For more detailed information, Schools should consult the Guidance.

Since September 2010 the entitlement for funding is 15 hours per week over a minimum of 38 weeks (maximum 570 hours per year). Children are entitled to the free provision for the Autumn term if their third birthday is on or before 31st August, Spring term if their birthday is on or before 31st December and Summer if their birthday is on or before 31st March. Please note, pupils whose birthdays are during the Easter holiday will not be eligible until September if their birthday is after 31st March. These pupils should not be admitted to school unless the School has approval to admit pupils of this age. They cease to be eligible when they reach statutory school age which is the term after their 5th birthday at which point they should be attending school full-time. At this point, pupils must be recorded as full-time, even if they are not attending for 10 sessions a week. If a part-time timetable has been agreed with the Headteacher, the resulting absences must be recorded as Authorised.

Funding for Schools is based upon the ‘Funded Hours’ information which is reported as a part of the School Census each term. For PVI providers it is calculated from the claim forms the settings submit every term. For all settings and schools, funding is based upon participation and it is essential that the correct documentation is in place (parent Declaration Form and Parent/provider Agreement) in case of disputes between settings. Please note, Schools should only claim funding for the hours the pupil actually attends.

If schools wish to have a ‘Nursery’ class (i.e. pupils who were aged 3 as at 31st August) and have not previously admitted pupils this age, they must contact the Early Years and Childcare Team to apply to be added to the directory of providers.

Reception Aged Pupils (4 year olds as at 31st August)

All children that have turned 4 by 31st August will be offered a school place from the following September. If Parents wish to defer the place, they will need to provide evidence that they have deferred their child's place to Schools and any PVI setting the child attends. As PVI settings have to arrange staffing at the beginning of term to support the children who attend, it is a great inconvenience to them if a child leaves in the middle of term to start school. If possible, Schools are asked to offer places to Reception aged pupils to start at the beginning of term (September, January or April), but we are aware that that is not always possible. If a pupil does start after the beginning of term and Schools are aware that the pupil had been attending a PVI setting, could they either inform the setting or ask the parent to do so.

Funding for these pupils is based upon the information provided in the School Census and forms a part of the School Budget Share.

Nursery Aged Pupils (3 year olds)

Funding for pupils aged 3 attending maintained Schools and Academies is calculated using the Funded Hours information on the Census for the previous year. Termly adjustments are then made based upon pupil participation each term. Schools must submit a Claim Form Adjustment Sheet (CF4) if any changes were made after census day each term, for example–

  • Children leave or start
  • The number of hours attended changes

When schools offer a place to children they must ensure that –

They record when the place was offered, when it was accepted by parents and when the pupil is due to start

As funding is based upon participation, it is usually awarded to the setting where the pupil first attended at the beginning of term, subject to the correct documentation being in place.

If schools operate staggered starts (i.e. some children start at the beginning of term and others are phased-in during the following weeks), they must be aware that if the child does not start at the beginning of term and attends a PVI setting instead, the PVI setting will be awarded the funding for half a term. Schools must then record the child’s Funded Hours on the School Census as zero. To prevent this, schools may phase in children by offering settling in periods over the course of a maximum of three weeks, during which time the School can still claim the full amount of funding. (A settling in period is where the child attends for reduced hours initially and gradually increases them over the three weeks). If Schools wish to use a staggered start and the child had not attended a PVI setting, they will only be funded from the child’s start date, not the beginning of term.

If a parent chooses to change their child’s setting mid-term it must be explained to them that funding will not be available until the start of the next half term except in the following circumstances when authorised by the Early Years Funding Team -

  • If the child / parent moves house in the term
  • If the child’s primary carer/s changes in the term
  • Where the sibling moves school and the child is able to attend nearby EEF provision
  • Where loss of employment affects the childcare place, including maternity leave
  • Critical Health and safety issues
  • Consideration will be given to children from Forces families

Schools should be aware that if they offer a place to a child mid-term and they have already attended a PVI setting that term and they are not moving due to one of the reasons above, the funding will remain with the PVI setting for the remainder of the half term. In this situation, the school can charge the parent for the hours the pupil attends. If the move was due to one of the accepted reasons, then the first setting will be funded for the first half of term, but will be expected to try and fill the place with another child.

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