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DfE's 30 hour mixed model partnership toolkit

Welcome to the Coram Family and Childcare toolkit, developed following the 30 Hours Mixed Model Partnership project, commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) and designed to support mixed model partnership approaches to delivering the extended free entitlement for three and four year olds (EFE - often referred to as the "30 hour" entitlement). This interactive toolkit will help you set up or join a partnership, maximise the benefits of working together and tackle the challenges joint working can bring.

You can use the sections menu to the left of the screen to navigate through the toolkit. If you are using a mobile or tablet, the menu appear at the top of this webpage. The sections of the toolkit are:

Getting started - This section will help you to think about where to start if you are a school, a PVI provider, a childminder or a children's centre.  

Partnerships - In this section you will find a range of documents designed to help you think about and explore some of the key issues involved in developing a mixed model partnership approach. They cover Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) issues, legalities, planning and relationship management.

Working with parents - Establishing a good relationship with parents is key to the success of a partnership approach and this section will help early education and childcare providers work with parents on some of the key issues relating to marketing the offer, managing expectations and communication and help with childcare costs.

Delivery models - Coram Family and Childcare worked with over 20 partnerships in the DfE project to explore different ways of responding to the extended free entitlement through a partnership approach. The case studies of different delivery models in this section present the learning from the project. Their themes are: primary and nursery school partnered together with a children’s centre, school building on existing relationships, two community nurseries creating a partnership, nursery school and children's centre and childminding network,delivering the entitlement through outdoor learning, using procurement to outsource nursery provision, partnership working - inclusion for children with SEND and benefits of partnership with wider family support services.

Useful links - This section gives you an summary of the DfE 30 Hours Mixed Model Partnership Project, responses to a list of frequently asked questions and some useful links for further information.


During the 30 hour extended free entitlement partnerships project, Coram Family and Childcare worked with over 20 different partnerships –some of these were led by local authorities, others were led by early years providers and others by schools. In this section you can find out more about starting, building and managing a partnership including planning and assessing risk and the legalities of a partnership model of delivery. There are tools to help you manage partnership relationships and guidance on what to do if things go wrong.

If you are looking to join a partnership, refer to the 'Getting started' section of the toolkit.

You might also want to look at the 'Delivery models' section for case studies of partnership approaches in practice


Understanding the legal implications of a partnership can be challenging and we would always advocate seeking specialist legal advice before entering into a legally binding contract. However, a basic understanding of legal issues can be useful. The legalities sub-section covers some basic guidance on information sharing, marketing, a draft memorandum of understanding and a draft service level agreement.

Relationship management

Managing relationships is really important in a successful partnership. The 'Relationship management' sub-section contains a range of tools to help you get started and think about who should be in your partnership, how to develop, manage and sustain your partnership and what to do if things go wrong.


Establishing effective partnerships requires good planning. In this sub-section of the toolkit you will find useful information and tools on things to consider when planning a partnership and how to assess the risks and benefits inherent within a partnership model. There is an action planning template and a risk assessment template along with guidance on how to complete them. There are also some useful pointers and tools to help you assess whether or not parents who use your provision are likely to want to take up their extended free entitlement for three and four year olds, if they want an extended and/or flexible offer (demand) and how to assess whether you have sufficient capacity to meet likely demand.

EYFS - joint management of a child's education

Within a ‘blended’ model of delivery, it is important to take into account how each provider is working with children. Managers need to think about how practitioners could share information about a child’s assessment, their learning and development and how they plan to deliver activities to meet the child’s learning and development needs. This sub-section will help you to explore Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) delivery in a mixed model approach and how to involve parents in assessment and learning. There is also information on meeting the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and things to think about in relation to safeguarding.

Working with parents

Mothers, fathers and other carers are the most important people in their child’s learning and development. It is therefore important that early education and childcare providers establish positive relationships with parents. This section will support providers to work with parents on some of the key issues relating to help with childcare costs, marketing, managing expectations and communication.

Parent engagement

This download will help providers think through the range of areas where early engagement with parents could prove useful. For example assessing demand, marketing, managing expectations and key communications messages.


Delivering the 30 hours extended free entitlement through a partnership approach may require early years providers to reconsider how the offer is marketed to mothers, fathers and carers. The marketing download document explores some of the marketing issues partnerships will need to consider and outlines how to create a successful marketing strategy.

Help with childcare costs

The extended free entitlement will enable many more parents to access free early education and childcare. However, there will still be many parents who will continue to struggle to afford their childcare fees. The help with childcare costs download will help early education and childcare providers have a better understanding of the financial support that is available to help parents pay for childcare.

Delivery models

Blended Model 1: a partnership between a primary school, a nursery school and a children’s centre

This case study describes a partnership between a combined nursery school and children’s centre and a primary school. Both the nursery and primary schools currently deliver sessional places, with the nursery having some full-time (i.e. all school day) places. The partnership will deliver all day (8.00am – 6.00pm) and all year round places on two of three sites and will involve the children being on one site throughout term time and on the second site throughout the holiday period. The children’s centre will use its Ofsted registration to deliver on the school site.

Blended Model 2: how a primary school built on existing relationships with a playgroup, childminders and a university

This case study shows how an existing relationship between a primary academy, a stay and play group, a childminder and a university can be built on to create a model that will deliver an extended day, all year round offer, including a Saturday provision on the school campus. It also describes the process that the partnership went through in order to ensure that all partners would gain from the relationship.

Blended Model 3: a partnership between two community nurseries

This case study describes a new partnership between two community nurseries who would have found the delivery of the new early education entitlement challenging by themselves. This is another extended day and all year round proposed model. The offer will be available on the two sites with the children moving between them in the day during term-time and being settled on one site during the holiday periods.

Blended Model 4: a partnership between childminders, a nursery school and a children's centre

This case study looks at an approach that fully integrates childminders into the delivery of the offer in partnership with a nursery school and children’s centre. The delivery of the early education entitlement will be shared between the nursery school and the childminders. The foundation of the model is 15 hours at the nursery school and 15 hours with a childminder with the childminder supplying any additional paid hours. This partnership is in one of the early implementer local authorities.

Blended Model 5: partnership approach to inclusion for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

This case study describes how a children’s centre locality partnership approach that maximises the use of available space in buildings in the locality can ensure that children with SEND can access the offer all day and all year round in a suitable environment. It involves a provider of services to children with SEND and their families becoming a direct deliverer of early years education using their specialist staff. 

How to make the most of outdoor space

This case study presents how an urban local authority, working in partnership with an outdoor education centre, a PVI provider, a federated nursery and teaching school, a children’s centre, a nursery school and children’s centre and an infants’ school, is planning to make better use of outdoor and green spaces to increase the supply of early education and childcare places.

Using procurement to outsource nursery provision

This case study shows how a primary school used a procurement approach to outsource its early education and childcare provision.

Benefits of partnership with wider family services

This case study highlights the benefits to be gained by early education and childcare providers working closely with wider family services, particularly children’s centres to support families through early help and parenting support, to help parents make informed choices about their childcare and to support parents on pathways to employment.

Promote the toolkit

If you would like to help share the toolkit with professionals involved in delivering the 30 hours offer who could benefit from this free resource, you can download our suggested messaging and graphics to use on social media.

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Resources for professionals

Our resources are designed to help professionals working in childcare, early years and family services support families and children.

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