Free nursery education – FAQs

What is free early education?

The Government will fund the cost of some early education for 3 and 4 year olds in Oxfordshire. This is known as the Nursery Education Grant (or NEG) Your child will be entitled to free hours at providers who are registered to take part in the scheme and have places available. Providers include nurseries, preschools and childminders.

What are the benefits of free early education?

Children learn lots of new skills in a group setting, or with an accredited childminder, building on the skills they learn at home and from their families. Good quality early education is a great start for your child. The Early Years Foundation Stage is what your child will be following in this time.

The benefit can also extend to you and your family. Early learning or childcare increases your opportunities to get involved with your child’s learning, meet other parents or gives more freedom to manage your work and family life in the best way possible, whatever your circumstances.

Children qualify for 15 hours of free nursery education funding in the term following their third birthday.

What is the free early education entitlement?

At present parents are entitled to up to 15 funded hours per week, for up to 38 weeks a year depending on whether the provider is open all year round. In Oxfordshire providers must offer a minimum of 2½ hours and maximum of 6 hours in any one day between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

At Bear Necessities the entitlement can be taken as 2.5 hours per half day (5 hours per full day) up to a total of 15 hours per week. The nursery is open 51 weeks a year and offers the full 38 weeks of funding. This is divided into a 14 week Autumn term, a 12 week Spring term and a 12 week Summer term.

Increase to 30 free hours for qualifying parents from Sept 2017

From September 2017 qualifying working parents will be eligible for an extended offering of 30 free hours, over 38 weeks a year. Please see attached Funding doc for more information or contact the nursery for further details and we will be happy to assist you in identifying whether you qualify and in discussing how the extended hours will be offered at Bear Necessities.

Am I able to split our funded sessions over two settings?

Yes, but no more than two and only across two private, voluntary or independent settings, not a local authority setting. It is preferable to only use one provider as this makes the care and learning more consistent. You can decide how many hours you wish to have at which setting (depending on availability) and you will need to sign a declaration confirming this.

What do I need to do next?

The nursery will contact provide you with a Parental Declaration Form which needs to be filled in at the beginning of each term. In addition we will ask you to provide identification for the child (Passport or Birth Certificate) the first time you claim and we take a copy of this.

How are my free hours refunded?

We will calculate the exact number of free hours due for each month, taking into account the number of days in the month, any holidays and the child attendance. The fee invoice each month will then take this into account and show the adjusted figure.

Parents can either choose to pay the exact amount each month, or if they prefer to keep paying a set amount in which case any credit will be refunded to you at the end of each term. Please let us know if you are paying a set amount so that we know to check and give you the refund.

How much will I be refunded?

Free hours are credited at the standard daily rate of the nursery divided by 10 hours. For example a qualifying child attending 1 day a week is entitled to 5 free hours  and would receive 5 x the hourly rebate per week during term times.

For further information or for illustrations of the free care you may be entitled to please contact the nursery