Sign In

Two Year Olds

Free Early Learning for Two Year Olds

Information for Islington early years providers and prospective providers

National two year old offer

Some two year olds from low income families are entitled to free part-time early education beginning the term after the child’s second birthday. This national government-funded entitlement came into effect on 1st September 2013 and seeks to improve the attainment and life chances of some of the most disadvantaged children.

Eligible children are entitled to up to 570 hours per year (this equates to 15 hours per week, term time only but can be delivered flexibly across the year – see below).

2 year olds whose families earn no more than £16,190 per year through work or benefits, or who are looked after by the local authority, adopted, or have special educational needs and disabilities, are entitled to a free part-time place. Further information about eligibility is available online at

Provision for eligible two year olds in Islington

Many high quality early years providers in Islington offer free part-time places to eligible two year olds. Places are available in children’s centres, nurseries, playgroups, childminders and primary schools, providing flexibility and choice for parents.

Providers interested in offering places to eligible two year olds should contact the local authority. See 'how to join the scheme' below. 

Provider Quality

The government has specified that wherever possible, eligible two year olds should access their entitlement in provision that is judged by Ofsted to be at least 'good'. Research shows quality early years provision improves children's outcomes, and Islington has high aspirations for all young children. Support for quality improvement, business planning and Ofsted registration and inspection is available for the Early Years and Childcare Service.

How to join the scheme

If you are a good quality early years provider and would like to offer places under this scheme, please contact the Early Years and Childcare Service on 020 7527 5932. Providers must meet the statutory conditions and sign an agreement with the local authority.

Capital funding

Capital funding may be available to Islington early years providers wishing to expand their existing provision in order to offer places to eligible two year olds. You will need to make a formal application to the local authority using the form available below. A funding panel will consider your application and allocate funding accordingly.

Revenue funding

Revenue funding is calculated using the Early Years Single Funding Formula (EYSFF) for two year old places. Group settings can receive £7.10 per child per hour, and childminders £6.50. Contact the Early Years and Childcare Service for more information (please see contact list below).

The flexible offer

Places can be offered flexiby to eligible two year olds within the following conditions:

  • over no fewer than 38 weeks per year unless parents request it (n.b. places do not need to be term time only)
  • in sessions of no more than 10 hours per day
  • between 7am and 7pm

These conditions match those for funded 3 and 4 year old places

Providers can put together their 2 year old offer within these conditions, to suit the provider and local parents. For example, a child could be offered 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year (term time only), or 12 hours a week for 47.5 weeks per year.

Applications and admissions

Parents complete and submit an online form in order to have their eligibility checked by a central Islington team. Information for parents and the link to the form is available here: A paper form is also available and can be printed out from the same webpage. The local children’s centre can help parents to complete the form if needed.

If eligible, parents receive a confirmation letter and a list of participating providers. Parents apply directly to providers for a place for their child. The Family Information Service can help parents that are looking for a place.

The provider must see a copy of the confirmation letter sent to the parent before allocating a place. Guidance for early years settings on how to allocate places and how to achieve a balance of age ranges across the year is available in the admissions guidance document below.

Eligible children that are already attending an early years setting 

There may be some cases where a family is entitled to free hours and is currently paying for a place. These families should be encouraged to complete an eligibility check form (see above). If eligible, the local authority will arrange payment to the child’s early education provider at the agreed rate from the start of the relevant term, provided the setting is judged to be ‘good’ or better by Ofsted and the child's place is not already funded by the local authority, for example through the Early Years Priority Referral scheme.

If the setting has a judgement that is less than good, the local authority will make a decision about whether or not to fund the provider based on the best interests of the child and family and the recommendations from the setting’s most recent Ofsted inspection. 

Further Information 

The documents below contain further information and guidance for early years providers interested in the scheme.








 Related websites