Exploring the flexibility of the free entitlement to early education
This report presents the findings from a study of the free entitlement to early education commissioned by the Department for Education.
All three- and four-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours per week of free early education for 38 weeks of the year (known as the free entitlement).
The research findings are helping the Department understand how take-up of the free entitlement to early education could be increased, both by reducing the proportion of non-users and by increasing the number of hours taken up by those who do not use the full entitlement.
The research will also inform plans for making the delivery of the free entitlement more flexible.
The research comprised three strands: 40 qualitative interviews with parents of three- to four-year-olds; a telephone survey of 801 parents of three- to four-year-olds (including parents who were soon to be eligible for the entitlement and those who had used the entitlement in the past); and secondary analysis of data from the 2010 Childcare and Early Years Survey of Parents. The research was conducted between November 2011 and April 2012.