Statutory guidance

Early education and childcare

Statutory guidance for local authorities on the provision of early education and childcare.


Early education and childcare: valid from 1 September 2018

Early education and childcare: valid until 31 August 2018

Early education and childcare: valid until 31 August 2017


This guidance is for local authorities.

It relates to their duties under section 2 of the Childcare Act 2016 and sections 6, 7, 7A, 9A, 12 and 13 of the Childcare Act 2006.

On 1 September 2017 a new version of the guidance will replace the existing guidance.

The document valid until 31 August 2017 includes information on:

  • the extension of the early education entitlement for 2 year olds
  • the introduction of childminder agencies
  • providers who do not actively promote fundamental British values or promote views or theories as fact which is contrary to established scientific or historical evidence and explanations

The document valid from 1 September 2017 also includes information on:

  • the introduction of 30 hours free childcare
  • how local authorities should pay providers to deliver free places
  • the requirement that local authorities publish information about childcare in their area, including free childcare entitlements

Statutory guidance sets out what schools and local authorities must do to comply with the law. You should follow the guidance unless you have a very good reason not to.

A model agreement for free early years provision and childcare is also available.

Published 8 September 2014
Last updated 21 June 2018 + show all updates
  1. Added new guidance for 1 September 2018.
  2. Replaced 'Early education and childcare: valid from 1 September 2017' with an updated version.
  3. Updated Part E: legal annex about free early education entitlement for two-year-olds under Universal Credit. The legislation comes into force on 1 April 2018.
  4. Added a new version of the statutory guidance that will be valid from 1 September 2017.
  5. First published.