15 hours free childcare per week!

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation regarding the scheme and this article will help dispel some of the common myths and misconceptions.

The facts

All three and four-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare a week for 38 weeks per year until they either go into reception class or reach compulsory school age. This free entitlement is usually paid from the term after your child turns three.

The scheme is not adequately funded by the Government and settings receive the same amount per child (just over £4 per hour) regardless of the service they offer. The funding does not take into account whether it is a packaway setting run by volunteers in a church hall or a private nursery school in it’s own purpose built premises with high ratios of qualified staff.  Accordingly, many settings are unable to offer all parents fully funded places as to do so would be economically unviable.

I only want to use my 15 free hours (i.e. I don’t want to pay anything). Can I do this at the nursery of my choice?

Probably not. Parents have a limited choice of nurseries which offer all children fully funded places (i.e. that there is no additional cost payable to the nursery school).  Many private nurseries will only offer one or a very limited number of fully funded places which means that you may not be able to get a place at the nursery of your choice only using your 15 hours free childcare.

In many cases, if you want to send your child to your preferred private nursery school there will be some fee to pay, whether it’s labelled as a voluntary contribution or by paying for a longer session.

Why do parents choose Mount Carmel Kindergarten?

Here’s what some parent’s had to say about Mount Carmel Kindergarten:


Why can’t all nurseries offer fully funded places to everyone?

Instead of childcare, imagine if the Government offered all children a free coat after they turned three years old but were only paying retailers £12 per coat per child. Some retailers, such as Primark, would be able to offer their coats to parents free of charge whereas those at the other end of the market, such as John Lewis would not.  This is because they use better materials and because they employ more staff on higher wages to improve the experience for the customers.

Does Mount Carmel Kindergarten offer “15 hour only” places (i.e. with no additional fees to pay)?

At Mount Carmel Kindergarten parents are able to apply for a private place or a fully funded place.  We only offer one or two fully funded places per year and around 50 private places.

Availability for the fully funded places are extremely limited due to the high demand for private places. As a result priority is given to those families in the greatest need, such as those on benefits or children looked after by the local council.

How do I apply for a fully funded place?

Prospective parents wishing to apply for a fully funded place must complete the Government funded place application form which is available from the nursery school. Parents will be notified whether their application has been successful at the beginning of the academic year and so we strongly recommend that you make alternative arrangements in the likely event that we are unable to offer a Government funded only place.

Do privately paying parents benefit from the free 15 hours (Early Years Entitlement funding)?

Yes.  When a privately funded child turns three they also benefit from the Early Years entitlement funding which effectively reduces the cost of each session.   For these children the first three hours of every session is funded by the Early Years entitlement scheme or if they are staying for a full day they can use up to 5 hours per day (click here to see our fees for more information).  As our privately funded sessions are longer than three hours parents pay the amount set out in the schedule of fees for the remainder of the session.

Parents can apply for a private place by completing our registration form found on the “Apply now” page and places are allocated in the February before the September intake.  Due to the high demand for places at our nursery school we recommend that applications are made at least 12 months in advance of your child starting nursery.

How can I find out which nurseries offer fully funded places?

Please contact Hertfordshire County Council who have a list of nursery schools offering fully funded places.