School based nurseries

Nursery classes at primary, independent and free schools, and academies

School nursery classes provide early education and care for children from 3 years old as part of a primary school. They are sometimes called Foundation Stage Units.

Academies and free schools are also independent, but receive funding directly from government so do not charge for education places.

They are all regularly inspected by Ofsted school inspectors.


Up to 15 hours a week nursery education at school nursery classes and Foundation Stage Units is completely free of charge. Independent schools are run by private or voluntary sector organisations and charge fees, but their nursery class may provide up to 15 hours per week free of charge for 3 and 4 year-olds up to 38 weeks of the year.


Schools usually run from 9am to 3.30pm in term time, and offer full or half-day sessions.

Reception classes

  • Once your child commences the reception class of a primary school, the free nursery education arrangements will stop.
  • In a maintained school, free school or an academy, full-time education will be free.
  • In an independent school, fees are normally charged to the parent.