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Starting in Willow or Nursery

Free Early Education - 3 and 4 year olds

All 3 and 4-year-olds are currently entitled to 15 hours a week of Free Childcare and Early Education (Universal Entitlement). In addition, some working parents are also eligible to receive 30 hours of free childcare per week (Extended Entitlement). 

All children need to feel secure about moving to a new setting. Our transition arrangements are designed to support your child to feel happy and settled. We appreciate it can be a very daunting time, but here, we do everything we can to support you and your child and make this transition as smooth as possible. 

Nursery is our provision for 3 and 4 year olds and includes our day-care provision. There are 40 morning and afternoon places available as part of the free 15 hour entitlement for all 3 and 4 year olds and sessions run between 8:45 – 11:45 and 12:45 – 3:45. It also includes our 30 hours and day-care provision for 3 and 4 year olds. Much of our provision is funded by the Free Early Education Grant and we offer some paying services, such as extended day provision from 8.00am to 5.55pm. Please contact us for more information.

Children usually start in our nursery the September after their third birthday (3-4 years old). A member of the team will make arrangements for you to visit the nursery and settle your child in gradually. Children may attend for morning, afternoon or full day sessions and parents can indicate a preference subject to the availability of places.

Settling in

Every child is unique and some children will settle quickly while others take longer. The aim of nursery staff is to ensure your child feels happy, safe and secure without you. Staff will talk to you about how you can support your child with the process, particularly if your child is finding separation from you a little difficult.

Key person

Parents as partners

As a staff team we believe we can more effectively meet your child’s needs if we work together. We value your input as your child’s primary carer, and as an expert on your child. We rely on your partnership, so together we can provide your child with the highest quality education and care. This will make your child’s nursery time happy and enjoyable.

Email us at nurseryenquiries@chapelend-inf.waltham.sch.uk for further details. 

How to claim the Universal 15 hours for 3 and 4-year-olds

You do not need to apply for the universal 15 hours of free childcare for your child. Your childcare provider will claim the funding on your behalf directly from Waltham Forest Council. All 3 and 4-year-olds are entitled to 570 hours of free early education per year. It’s usually taken as 15 hours a week over 38 weeks of the year (split into three terms). However, if your child‘s provider is open all year round, such as a day nursery, the free hours will be spread equally over those weeks. For example, if your child attends a provider that is open for 51 weeks a year, they will receive 11 hours a week.

National limits
National limits are set by the government about how the free sessions can be offered meaning that:

  • no session can be longer than 10 hours
  • a maximum of 15 hours per week can be taken over a minimum of two days

You should discuss with each provider that you contact how they will spread the free hours over the week. Some may offer specific packages, whereas others may be flexible to your requirements. Please note, if you require extra hours of childcare, you will be charged for this.

30 hours free childcare for working parents

In addition to the Universal free childcare hours, some working parents can apply for additional 15 hours of free childcare per week (term time). This is known as 30 hours Free Childcare Entitlement for 3 and 4-year-olds or the Extended Entitlement. Eligibility criteria applies for the 30 hours Free Childcare scheme.

Eligibility Criteria for 30 hours Free Childcare

The extended entitlement is available to families where:

  • both parents are working (or the sole parent is working in a lone parent family)
  • each parent earns on average a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at National Minimum wage  or 16 hours at National Living Wage.
  • neither parent has an income of more than £100,000 per year
  • both parents are employed but one or both parents is temporarily away from the workplace on parental, maternity or paternity leave, adoption leave or get statutory sick pay
  • one parent is employed, and one parent has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring, or is disabled/ incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits

Apply for 30 hours free childcare

In order to apply for the 30 hours Free Childcare, you need to set up a government Gateway Account. To start the process,  apply here for the 30 hours Free Childcare or visit childcarechoices.gov.uk for range of government childcare offers, including 30 hours free childcare.

If you disagree with your eligibility results or have any technical issues when applying for the 30 hours code, please call the Childcare Service helpline on 0300 123 4097.

If you are eligible, you will receive an 11 digit code to  give to your participating childcare provider. Your childcare provider will check the code and confirm your eligibility.

Free Early Education for 2 year olds


Your 2-year-old will be eligible for free childcare and early education if your family gets one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Tax Credits, and you have an income of under £16,190 before tax
  • Working Tax Credit run-on, which is paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit, and you have an annual net earned income equivalent not exceeding £15,400, assessed on up to three your most recent Universal Credit assessment periods

Your 2 -year-old can also get free childcare and early education if they:

  • have a statement of special educational needs (SEN statement)
  • have an education, health and care plan (EHC Plan)
  • get Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • are looked after by a local authority in England or Wales (‘in care’)
  • have left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order in England or Wales

Check your eligibility with our childcare team

Check your eligibility on our parent portal

If eligible, the system will give you a code, which you can give to your chosen childcare provider to claim the free childcare.

Stay 2 Play: free sessions for 2-year-olds

Not ready to take your child to a nursery or pre-school? Bring them to a free Stay 2 Play session at a Waltham Forest Children and Family Centres and join in the fun yourself. Each two-hour session supports your child’s learning through playing with other children alongside their parents or carers. A range of stimulating activities are available at the sessions allowing your child to play, paint, read, cook, climb, sing, dance, dress up, jump, run around, whatever they like doing.

If you do not have your 2-year-old eligibility code or access to the internet, just come along to one of the sessions, bring your National Insurance Number or your National Asylum Support Service (NASS) number, and we'll also do the check for you on the day. You can attend the session whether you are eligible for the Free Childcare for 2-year-olds or not.

See Stay 2 Play sessions on our Facebook group or go to the Children and Family Centres page.

Interested in a Nursery place?

If you are interested in a place in our Nursery provision. Please complete and return to form below. Applications should be sent to nurseryenquiries@chapelend-inf.waltham.sch.uk. Please note that completion of the application form does not mean that you have secured a place at the nursery.

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