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Three and four year old free nursery places

Family Information Service log

All three and four-year-olds in Medway are entitled to 15 hours of free nursery education for 38 weeks of the year.

Children in Medway can receive their free nursery education:

Photo of children playing on the floor

Some nurseries, pre-schools and most childminders operate for longer than 15 hours a week and/or more than 38 weeks per year. At some of these you may be asked to pay a fee for the extra hours or days that your child attends.

Eligible age

  • A child born on or between 1 April and 31 August will become eligible for a free place from 1 September following their third birthday
  • A child born on or between 1 September and 31 December will become eligible for a free place from 1 January following their third birthday
  • A child born on or between 1 January and 31 March will become eligible for a free place from 1 April following their third birthday

Your child will be entitled to a free part-time place from the beginning of the school term (one, three or five) when they have reached the eligible age. Find out the school term dates.

Once your child enters the reception class of a primary school, the nursery education arrangements will stop.

List of nurseries, pre-schools and accredited childminders near you

Get a list of nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in your area from the Medway Family Information Service on 01634 335566 or familyinfo@medway.gov.uk

If the group your child attends opens for less that 38 weeks each year, a proportion of the funding is still available. However, if you choose to use a setting that is only open for a shorter period each term you will not be entitled to a free place at another group for the remainder of the 38 weeks and you would need to pay any fees that are charged.

What you need to do

You do not need a voucher or to register your child with the council.

Find out about the different schools, nurseries, pre-schools and childminders in your local area and choose one that best suits you and your child. If you phone the FIS on 01634 335566, it will provide you with a list of childcare options for your area. 

Talk with the person in charge, who will tell you when your child can start their free part-time place.  Make sure you know about whether there are any additional things such as care during school holiday periods, or full time hours to suit working parents, that you may need to pay for.

How it works

Medway Council provides funding to nurseries, pre-schools and accredited childminders so that your child's place of up to 15 hours per week will be completely free of charge to you.

Groups must not make any charge for the first 15 hours nursery education. They should not charge parents fees in advance for the free hours, even if they offer to refund them at a later date.

At the beginning of terms one (September), three (January) and five (April), the nursery provides the council with a list of all eligible children. Payment is made directly to the nursery's bank account or to the childminder.

Attending more than one group

For most children it is best if they only attend one pre-school or nursery. However, there may be situations that mean your child needs to spend time in more than one group - for example if they live at different addresses for part of each week, or if you have work commitments.

Your child can receive their funded hours at two different groups (for example six hours at one pre-school and nine hours in a maintained school nursery class). It is important that you tell the person in charge if your child is attending more than one group when you first enrol. Attending more than one pre-school or nursery can be difficult for a young child, and they will be able to help your child.

Changing groups during the same term

If you need to change the group your child attends, it is best to arrange this move at the start or end of a term. You should give your nursery provider plenty of notice that your child will be leaving so that they can help provide a smooth transition.

If your child changes the group they attend during term-time (for example if you move home), you must ensure that you have given the agreed notice to your nursery provider so that your child's free entitlement may be transferred to the new group.

Free early education for two-year-olds

Some two-year-olds in Medway are entitled to free early education. For more information follow the link to TWO.


Download Medway Family Information Service free nursery education for three and four-year-olds leaflet (pdf 237KB). To download this pdf you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have it on your computer, please use our advice page.


Please access the Family Information Service Directory for further information on Early Years and Childcare.