Last updated – 29 July 2020

Introduction to the topic

Evidence has shown that high-quality early education and childcare can support children’s development and improve their outcomes. The Department for Education funds three entitlements to free early education and childcare in England:

  • The disadvantage entitlement: 15 hours per week for disadvantaged 2-year-olds
  • The universal entitlement: 15 hours per week for all 3- and 4-year-olds
  • The extended entitlement: an additional 15 hours per week for 3- and 4-year-olds with eligible working parents

By funding the entitlements, the Department for Education aims to support children’s development and help parents manage childcare costs so that they can work. At January 2019, nearly 150,000 2-year-olds and 1.3 million 3- and 4-year-olds were taking up the entitlements. The disadvantage entitlement is the only one of the three schemes to support disadvantaged families specifically, but the entitlements generally are part of DfE’s ambition to improve social mobility.

This interactive data visualisation supports the National Audit Office report on Supporting disadvantaged families through free early education and childcare entitlements in England which was published in March 2020.


There are two interactive maps showing take-up of the entitlements (Interactive take-up map) and entitlement-funded early years providers (Interactive provider map):

  • Hovering over neighbourhoods on the maps displays the name of the area.
  • If you click on an area on the map, a pop-up with more detailed information for that neighbourhood will be displayed.
  • Use the search function on the map to find, pan and zoom to a neighbourhood.
  • Click the reset button to reset the map to its original view
  • Use the locate function to allow the app to access and zoom to your location
  • Choose a local authority area to compare the national and local situation by deprivation
  • If an error message displays, please refresh the page to reload


Explore the geographical differences in take-up of each entitlement, and the number and quality of providers, in the dashboards below.

This visualisation presents data in the form of interactive maps and graphs. If you cannot access the data in this format, the raw data is provided below as an Excel file:

Download visualisation raw data (Excel, 912 KB)

If you’re having trouble viewing the visualisation on this page, or viewing it on a mobile device, here is a direct link to the visualisation. If you are still having problems, please do contact us.

More information

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do these data come from?

Most data within the app come from custom datasets provided by the Department for Education, based on the January 2019 school and early years censuses. Publicly available data on the childcare entitlements is available. The visualisation also includes National Audit Office analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.

Why has the NAO published these data?

We have made this visualisation available as a supporting output to our report on Supporting disadvantaged families through free early education and childcare entitlements in England. The visualisation allows users to access data about local areas and supplements the data we presented in the report.

Why do the data cover only England?

Education and skills, including early education and childcare, are a devolved matter. The National Audit Office report covers only early years provision in England, which is the responsibility of the Department for Education.

Where can I find out more about early education and childcare in England?

Visit the Get childcare page to find information for parents and carers or the Early years page for information on: providing childcare; standards, qualifications and training; the early years foundation stage; funding; inspections and statutory guidance.

My question is not answered here, where can I get more information?

Phone the NAO Enquiries point +44 (0)20 7798 7264.

Alternatively, you can email general enquiries to or use our online contact form.