Nursery hours, session times and any questions

Our nurseries usually run part-time, for up to 15 hours a week.

Most have separate morning and afternoon sessions of up to three hours, Monday to Friday. Some might offer full days, or arrange their hours differently, so you should ask any nursery you’re interested in for more information.

Find a nursery

You won’t usually be able to choose which sessions your child goes to, though some nurseries might ask what you prefer.

Free nursery hours

All children in Bexley can get 15 hours of free nursery childcare a week during term time (that’s 38 weeks of the year). You can claim it from the term after your child turns 3 until the age when they must be in school.

Some families can double this to 30 hours. You might be able to if:

  • both parents work at least 16 hours a week (or you’re a lone parent working the same hours)
  • both parents earn at least the national minimum or living wage, but less than £100,000 a year

If you’re entitled to 30 hours, you can split it over two settings, including nursery, pre-school, a childminder or a breakfast / after school club, to make it easier to get wrap-around care for your child. 

Any questions?

Common questions about starting nursery in Bexley

Can I choose my child’s nursery?

When you apply, you can put up to three preferences on the form. We’ll take them into account, but we can’t guarantee there’ll be a place for your child.

If choosing a specific type of care is important to you, you can look into private nurseries or childminders. You apply for those directly, rather than through us.

Is my child guaranteed a place at nursery?

We’ll do our best to offer every child a place, but there might be times when there are more children applying than places available. If that happens, our Family Information Service will give you advice on finding a private setting where you can still claim your free hours.

How do I apply for my child to go to nursery?

Most people apply online, as it’s easy and quick. Find out what you need to apply, and what you can do if you can’t apply online.

How do you decide which child goes where?

We’ll always do our best to offer your child a place at your first preference nursery. If there aren’t enough places to do that, we have a list of things we look at in priority order.

In practice, most places are given based on the distance from home to the nursery. There is no specific distance or cut-off, and no such thing as a catchment area. We’ll just look at the applicants who are closest first.

We’ll aim to give a September start to children born from September 1 to February 28. We’ll offer children born from March 1 to August 31 a September start if we can. If not, we’ll try to offer a January start instead.

What if my child gets a place at nursery, but it’s not at the school I want them to go to later?

Your child’s nursery place has nothing to do with which school they go to later. You can still give whatever preferences you want when you apply for primary schools and there won’t be any advantage or disadvantage to being in a particular nursery.

How many hours of free nursery can my child have?

All children in Bexley can get 15 hours of free nursery childcare a week during term time (that’s 38 weeks of the year).

Some families can double this to 30 hours, under certain circumstances.

Find out more about nursery hours.

What happens if a nursery can’t offer me all 15 hours?

If a single nursery can’t offer all the time your child is entitled to, you can carry over whatever time is left to a second setting if you want to.

If a single nursery can offer you all 15 hours, you can’t split the time with another one.

Can I pay for extra hours?

You can’t usually pay extra to top up your child’s hours at one of our school nurseries. If you want to do that, you can look into a private nursery, childminder or other setting. You apply for those directly, rather than through us. If you need help looking for one, you can ask the team at

You haven’t answered my question

We go into more detail about all these things and more in Admission to Nursery Classes in Bexley 2024/25. Or you can contact us on

If you have questions about your 15 free hours, email
If you have questions about qualifying for 30 hours, email