As a not-for-profit provider, we strive to make our fees as affordable as possible, but we also need to be financially sustainable and we want to be able to pay our staff competitive salaries, invest in their training and development, and maintain high standards of provision.

We do not charge registration fees, but only a £50 deposit which is refunded against the first month’s fees.  We don’t charge for settling in sessions, but we do expect payment for all nursery fees to be paid up front at the beginning of each month, which is standard practice for all childcare providers.  We don’t charge for bank holidays, our four training days each year, or for the three days’ closure between Christmas and New Year.  We do, however, charge for days which children don’t attend through illness or holidays, apart from exceptional circumstances.  Discounts are available for siblings and for children of staff members, and details of government funding is provided below. 

We operate a cross-subsidy model across our nurseries, charging normal commercial rates at some of our nurseries in order to subsidise provision in less affluent areas. The different fee levels at nurseries also reflects the costs associated with each building, as some have more expensive overheads than others.  We aim to provide equally high standards of care and early years education at all of our nurseries.

Nursery managers and administrators are usually able to answer queries about fees and funding, but you can also contact Jo in our Central Support Office if you need further information or clarification on our fees and funding, on 01908 510309 or [email protected]


Understanding the cost of childcare, and what type of funding you are eligible for can be confusing, so we’ve put together this page to help.
Below is some information on funding for 2, 3 and 4 year olds, but for all ages of children we recommend looking into the government’s tax-free childcare scheme: https://www.gov.uk/tax-free-childcare and https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/ will give you further information on most of the items below.

As a not-for-profit provider, we are keen to make the funded hours as accessible as possible for parents, and we are happy to share full details of how much funding we receive for your child, to ensure financial transparency. Funding rates vary from nursery to nursery, so please feel free to contact us directly if you would like to discuss funding further - [email protected].

Two Year Funding

All of our nurseries offer a limited number of funded places for eligible two year olds.  The criteria requires parents to be issued with an eligibility letter via the local authority. Once awarded 2 year old funding continues even if your circumstances change or if you choose to move to another nursery. Two year funding allows 15 hours childcare per week (term time only) for eligible families, which can also be used for 11 hours per week all year round.  Once you have made your termly funding claim either ‘Term Time only or All Year Round’ you will be unable to change or amend your claim until the next term. We would be happy to run through the application with you.

Your 2-year-old can get funded childcare if you receive one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) based on income.
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) related to income.
  • Universal Credit
  • Tax credits and you have an annual income of under £16,190 before tax
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Support through part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • The Working Tax Credit 4-week run on (the payment you get when you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)

Your child can also get funded early education and childcare if any of the following apply:

  • They’re looked after by a local council
  • They have a current statement of special education needs (SEN) or an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • They get Disability Living Allowance
  • They’ve left care under a special guardianship order, child arrangements order or adoption order

If any of the points above are relevant to your family, you can apply online at  www.childcarechoices.gov.uk to find out if your child is eligible for the 2 year old funding.

Three and Four Year Old Funding

15 Hours – Don’t miss out on your entitlement!

Every child is entitled to free nursery education for up to 15 hours a week from the term after their third birthday. These ‘free entitlement’ hours are usually taken within longer sessions and the cost of the additional hours to make up full sessions is calculated by deducting the cost of the funding received from the normal session cost. Unless attending on a term-time only basis, this will be spread across the year (so usually 11 hours a week all year round instead of 15 hours term-time only). Once you have made your termly funding claim either ‘Term Time only or All Year Round’ you will be unable to change or amend your claim until the next term.

Some places may be available for funded only sessions, but the availability of these will be limited, as priority is given to parents wishing to book full sessions. Funding for two year olds may be available for families that are in receipt of benefits. Please speak to the Nursery Manager or our Central Support Office for further details.

30 Hours

Many working parents of three and four year olds may also be eligible for 15 additional funded hours, if both parents are working. Make sure you visit www.childcarechoices.gov.uk to find out how to check your eligibility and apply for your verification code. This is the so-called ‘30 hours free childcare’, which covers most of the cost of 1140 hours per year (so 95 hours per month or around 22 hours per week all year round. It is only 30 hours if taken on a term-time only basis). Once you have registered online at www.childcarechoices.gov.uk you will be issued with a “code” that can then be applied to your nursery fees at any of our Acorn nurseries.

The funded hours do not cover the cost of ‘extras’ such as meals, drinks, snacks and extra-curricular activities. As Acorn are keen to provide a fully inclusive service, we do not charge for these separately, but we do include the cost of these in the full session fee rates, and the hourly rate for the additional hours to make up full sessions is therefore higher than the funded rate.

Booking priority is given to parents wishing to incorporate the funded hours within normal sessions. If parents wish to only take up the free hours, these are allocated according to availability two weeks before the start of the term in which a child becomes eligible. We then ask for a voluntary contribution towards the cost of meals and activities in order to minimise the shortfall between the funded amount and the cost of the session being provided.

(Don’t forget that if you are not eligible for the 30 hours you can still access the 15 hours with us)

When does the funding apply to my child?

Funding is given the term after your child’s 2nd or 3rd birthday, please see below how this works.

Child's birthday

When you can start nursery funding

1 January to 31 March

The beginning of Summer term on or after 1 April

1 April to 31 August

The beginning of Autumn term on or after 1 September

1 September to 31 December

The beginning of Spring term on or after 1 January


Other financial help that you may be eligible for:

Tax Free Childcare

Eligible parents with children under 12 can get up to 20% per child, per year, towards childcare costs. Once you have set up the childcare account, for every £8 you pay in, the government will top up an extra £2. You can only pay for childcare from the account and the childcare provider must be signed up for Tax-Free Childcare (like Acorn). To qualify, parents must both be working and each earning at least £120 per week and not more than £100,000 each per year.

You can get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as 30 hours free childcare if you’re eligible for both

Universal Credit

Over the next few years tax credits for low income families will gradually be replaced by universal credit. You will be notified in advance when the time comes for you to move from tax credits onto universal credit.

How much you can claim?
The amount you’ll receive depends on how much you earn from paid work, how much your childcare costs each month and how many children you have. If the amount of childcare you use changes so does the payment you receive.

Types of childcare you can claim for
Your childcare provider must be a registered childcare provider (such as Acorn). We will be able to give you our childcare registration number and the other information that you’ll be asked to provide when you claim the childcare element.

You can use other schemes together with universal credit
If your child is between 2 and 5 years old there are other childcare schemes that you can use at the same time as claiming childcare costs under universal credit. These schemes depend on the age of your child and can be viewed on the government website; www.gov.uk/universal-credit/eligibility, this will also should if you are eligible for Universal credit.


Child Tax Credits

Child Tax Credit has been replaced by Universal Credit for most people. The amount you can get depends on how many children you’ve got and whether you’re:

Child Tax Credit will not affect your Child Benefit. If your child is 16, you can claim up until 31 August after their 16th birthday.
To see if you are eligible for Child Tax Credit you can apply on the Government website - https://www.gov.uk/child-tax-credit


Childcare Vouchers

Many parents choose to pay part or all of their fees using  the Tax Free Childcare, saving on tax and national insurance. To see if you eligible please use the following link https://www.gov.uk/get-tax-free-childcare

We also accept all the major vouchers.

We understand that funding can be slightly overwhelming so please get in touch if you need any help understanding the process.