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Free early education for 2 year olds

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Who is eligible

Your child can get free early education at the age of 2 if you live in Islington and you get one of these benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Universal Credit - for places starting in the summer term of 2018 (on or after 1 April 2018), or any subsequent term, if a parent is entitled to Universal Credit they must have an annual net earned income equivalent to and not exceeding £15,400, assessed on up to three of the parent’s most recent Universal Credit assessment periods.
  • tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
  • support through Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

Your child can also get free early education at the age of 2, if:

  • they are looked after by a local council
  • they have an Education, Health and Care Plan (ECHP) or assessment for an EHCP has been agreed/is underway 
  • they receive Disability Living Allowance
  • they have left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order

If you do not meet any of these criteria, and you child has special educational needs and disabilities, there may be other support available. For further information please contact Islington FIS (Family Information Service), 020 7527 5959.

When you can start receiving free hours for your child

You can start receiving free hours for your child from the beginning of the term after their second birthday.

  • if their birthday is before 1 September, they can start in the autumn term
  • if their birthday is before 1 January, they can start in the spring term
  • if their birthday is before 1 April, can start in the summer term

How to apply

You can check whether your child is eligible one term before you are able to start receiving free hours. For example, if your child turns two between 1 January and 31 March, you can check from 1 January.

You will need to register online first and you will need an email address. If you need help setting up email or using the web, Islington offers free guidance and training in using your computer and getting online. After you have registered, you’ll be sent an email to confirm your registration and then you can login and apply.

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If your child is eligible, you can choose where you want them to go, depending on spaces at the nurseries and childminders offering free childcare for 2 year olds.

If you're applying for a child who is looked after by Islington, please contact your supervising social worker to discuss what is best for the child.

If your 2 year old is eligible for free early education, you can also get free support and training courses to help you learn new skills to get ready to work.

For help and advice, contact the Family Information Service (FIS) on 020 7527 5959 or email FIS; you can also drop in to see the FIS on Thursdays, 9am to 12.30pm at the Customer Centre, 222 Upper Street, N1 1XR.


If parents are not satisfied that their child has received their free entitlement in the correct way, they should ask their provider for their complaints procedure. Further information about the complaints process is outlined in the complaints section of the Early Education and Childcare Agreement, 2017

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