Saving money

Small World: Free hours information

Updated 20th March 2024    

Required reading...

The The Local Authority / Oxfordshire County Council (tLA/OCC) require that you have access to the following Privacy Notice from tLA/OCC

Other information is published at...

Free Early Education funded hours

All possible free hours offered by the government are available

Small World offers all available free hours, with some important caveats... 

  • The free hours are only available in the afternoon.
  • Savings with free hours are typically less than expected. 
  • Discounts detailed with our fee schedule and not available with free sessions. 

More details of when and which hours the government is proposing can be found through

Actions required by you

Actions required by you are as follows...  More details for these actions are detailed further below.

  1. Apply, if applicable, for a code and provide us two months in advance with the required information.  More (below) ...
  2. Complete and return a Parent Declaration each and every term.  More (below) ...

Some details

Early Education funded hours are awarded to all 3 and 4 year-old children and we automatically claim them on your behalf.  The claim will be for up to either 15 or, if eligible, 30 hours of your child's normal weekly attendance pattern, term time only (38 weeks in the year).  These hours are totally free.  Any other (non-free) hours that your child attends will be charged at the rates published.  (See also Current fees)  

No free sessions are available for After School Club or Holiday Club attendance. The school automatically claims for all possible hours. 

From April 2024, for eligible working parents, 15 hours are available for two year old children. 

From September 2024, for eligible working parents, 15 hours are available for children between 9 and 23 months old. 

From September 2025, for eligible working parents, 30 hours are available for children from 9 months old up to school age. 

Starts from term after three (or two)

A child is eligible from the term after their third (or second) birthday.  Free hours are taken into account and detailed in the standing order calculation, but only from when your child is eligible. 

Some additional children can be eligible for funding from the term following their second birthday.  See Oxfordshire's Information for parents: Free early education for 2 year olds,

Only for 38 weeks of the year

Free hour funding is termly only, explicitly and only for 38 weeks of the year  tLA/OCC prescribes the number of weeks each term as follows...

Term Spring Summer Autumn Total
Weeks 12 12 14 38
January April September Annually

Funding tries to follow school terms, but specifically by the number of week shown above.

Possible savings from free funding

Note that the reduction in your monthly fixed remittance amount may be less than expected.  For example a three day attendance pattern of attendance (30 hours per week) will typically result in a saving of approximately 30% when 15 hours are free, instead of the perhaps expected 50%. 

Note also that no discounts are applicable with free sessions. 

Attendance patterns that make free sessions available

Small World offers free sessions only in the afternoon.  This means that only attendance patterns that include a full afternoon’s attendance will be eligible – 8am to 6pm and 1pm to 6pm attendances, not 8am to 4pm (school days).  The universal 15 hours per week will remain applicable where “30 hours” is not, albeit still only in the afternoons.  To be clear, a morning only attendance (8am to 1pm) will attract no free hours what-so-ever. 

Timeline for Summer 2024

Friday 5-April Parental Declarations deadline
Thursday 18-April Headcount submission deadline for claims to tLA/OCC
probably Thursday 27-June Provider statements are sent (to Small World)

The timeline for Autumn 2024 is likely to be given to Small World early in July

Action 1 by Parents/Guardians

It is important that you apply for a code well in advance of the term and provide it to us as soon as possible.  Our understanding is that this is required two months in advance, so for example November for January! 
Please complete this Excel form and return it as soon as possible by email to    

Instructions and details are published at…

You can apply directly at ...     Apparently it usually takes 20 minutes to apply.

You will thereafter require to confirm your eligibility with His Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) every three months.  Please do ensure that you do so in time; we cannot be responsible for any lack of funding as a result of late information.  We will automatically stop claiming any Extended hours (over the 15 Universal hours) when your edibility ceases for any reason. 

Action 2 by Parents/Guardians

The Local Authority / Oxfordshire County Council (tLA/OCC) require a parental declaration form to be filled in and signed every term for every child that benefits from free funded hours and these forms are mandatory. 

When we receive the latest termly form from tLA/OCC, we request by email the completion of such.  Please make sure you return the form promptly, since we cannot claim without it. 
We cannot accept photographs of the completed form - only a Word copy; a readable full PDF scan; or a printed hardcopy. 

tLA/OCC also require us to verify your child's date of birth.  We will, on you being newly eligible for free hours, request a birth certificate; passport or other official document to allow us to take a photocopy of it.  (You can also email us a photograph of such.) 

The form for next term (Summer 2024) is published here or as a Word document copy here .  You should complete pages two (3) to five (5). 

Changes since April 2021    +   Click to expand