Accessibility Toolbar Accessibility Statement

Guide to Early Education and Childcare in Tameside

What is the free entitlement?

All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to 15 hours of flexible early education for 38 weeks of the year completely free of charge.

How does it work?

Flexibility of the entitlement depends on the provider and is subject to reasonable demands and the provider’s ability to offer it.

It can mean different hours over different days but you must commit to the same weekly pattern of hours for the term.

If your child stays at the setting over the lunch hour, this can be a part of the free entitlement. The provider may make a reasonable charge for the meal or alternatively you may be given the option of giving your child a packed lunch. Your provider will discuss this with you.

The weekly entitlement can be split between two providers as long as you don’t exceed 15 hours per week. However, the Council will decide how the funding is allocated.

Where can my child access their entitlement?

Your child can access the free entitlement from several providers such as:

  • Private Day Nurseries
  • Pre-Schools and Playgroups
  • Independent Schools
  • Accredited Childminders
  • Children’s Centres
  • School Nursery Class

Providers must be registered with Ofsted AND included on the Tameside Directory of Providers to be able to offer the free entitlement. Not every provider in Tameside can offer the entitlement. View a list of eligible providers.

If your child will be starting at a school nursery in the autumn term, please be aware that due to the high numbers of new children starting at one time, schools may take a phased approach to entry. This allows the children to settle in.

When can my child start receiving the free entitlement?

Your child can start the term after their 3rd birthday. So:

A child born on or between: Can access their free entitlement from:
1 April and 31 August 1 September (Autumn Term)
1 September and 31 December 1 January (Spring Term)
1 January and 31 March 1 April (Summer Term)


What are the benefits for my child?

It is an exciting time for children as they learn through play based activities to become more independent and develop their own identity. Research has shown it helps them acquire the skills they need to make good progress at school.

How do find a place for my child?

As a parent/carer you can decide where you would like your child to go (subject to availability). For more information about what is available in your area, or to find a place suitable for you, please contact:

Places are subject to availability and you should contact the setting of your choice as soon as possible in case there is a waiting list for places.

How do I claim the free entitlement?

At the start of each term, or school nursery year, your provider will ask you to sign a parental contract which includes the following items:

  • An agreed pattern of hours for the whole term
  • Your confirmation that your child is not receiving more than 15 hours free entitlement per week, including at any other provider within, or outside, Tameside

If you split the 15 hours over 2 providers you will need to sign a parental contract with both providers.

All parental contracts will be retained by the council or the school.

You will also be asked to show proof of your child’s date of birth.

Frequently Asked Questions


How many hours can my child have in a day?

Your child can access a minimum of 2.5 hours per day. Some settings can offer the entitlement flexibly which means that your child could access the full 15 hours over 3-5 days.

To discuss what options are available to you, please discuss with your childcare provider.

Do I have to sign up to the full 15 hours?

Your child can access from 2.5 hours up to a maximum of 15 hours per week, e.g. if your child attends for 12 hours per week, funding will be reduced accordingly.

What happens if my child attends a provider for more than the 15 hours?

The 15 hours will be completely free and you should not be expected to pay anything for these. If your child has any additional hours or services, your provider will reduce your total fees by the 15 hours free entitlement, or if your child just attends for 15 hours this will be given as a free place.

What happens if I want my child to move to a different nursery part way through the term?

By signing the parental contract you are agreeing that your child will stay at that setting for the whole term. This means you must check with the Council if you need to move your child.

Where can I get further information?

Contact Information
Contact by Post

Early Education Funding Team
Hyde Town Hall
Market Street
SK14 1AL
Contact by Telephone
0161 342 2299