Barnardo's free helpline to support Ukrainian families

Barnardo’s have a helpline to provide support and care to anyone fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.

You can call the helpline on 0800 148 8586. English, Ukrainian and Russian speakers are available.

The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 10am–8pm and Saturday, 10am–3pm.

You can also use the dedicated email address or visit the Barnardo’s website.

Education and childcare

Learning English

There are a range of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classes for all levels.

Childcare and activities

There are different childcare options depending on your child’s age:

  • Nurseries (0-5 years) – usually open all year round
  • Childminders (0-14 years) – may open term time only or all year round
  • School nurseries (2-5 years) – open term time only
  • Nursery Schools (2-5 years) – open term time only
  • Preschools (2-5 years) – open term time only

Children's centres

Children and Family Centres give you the right help at the right time by accessing services, sessions and support. If you are:

  • an expectant parent or a parent/carer with a child from birth - 19 years old
  • or have a child up to 25 years old with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

We can offer a range of services to help you in what can sometimes be a troublesome time. We offer:


  • family support,
  • early education training,
  • child and family health services,
  • childcare advice,
  • employment advice,
  • volunteering options and
  • training support.

Help with childcare costs

Depending on your family situation you can get help with the cost of childcare.

All 3 and 4 years olds in Tower Hamlets get 15 hours of free childcare, 

You may be able to get up to 30 hours free childcare or Tax-Free Childcare for your 3 to 4 year old child.

Youth hubs

All activities are free and for young people aged 12 to 19, and up to 25 for young people with Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The Youth hubs offer an extensive timetable of:

  • games,
  • sports,
  • cookery
  • opportunities for just chill–out
  • and lifestyle programmes (healthy eating, relationships and sexual health)

Holiday and after school clubs

The Holiday Childcare Scheme is Ofsted registered and provides childcare for children aged 3 to 13 years old during the school holidays (apart from christmas).
Most schools run after-school clubs. Check your child's school website for details.

School and continued education

Education information
 Age Year group Learning stage School
 3  Nursery  Foundation  Nursery
 4  Reception  Foundation  Primary
 5  Year 1  Key stage 1  Primary
 6  Year 2  Key stage 1  Primary 
 7  Year 3  Key stage 1  Primary 
 8  Year 4  Key stage 2  Primary 
 9  Year 5  Key stage 2  Primary 
 10  Year 6  Key stage 2  Primary
 11  Year 7  Key stage 3  Secondary
 12  Year 8  Key stage 3  Secondary
 13  Year 9  Key stage 3  Secondary 
 14  Year 10  Key stage 4  Secondary 
 15  Year 11  Key stage 4  Secondary
16 Year 12 Key stage 5 Sixth Form/College
17 Year 13 Key stage 5 Sixth Form/College


Free school meals

All children attending infant and primary school in Tower Hamlets are given free school meals.

Some children attending nursery and secondary will are also able to get free school meals.

Children with Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

See more information for parents of children with special educational needs, including:

  • our special educational needs section
  • home to school transport for children with special educational needs
  • information for disabled students


Supported internships

Supported internships are for young people:

  • aged 16 to 24
  • with learning difficulties or learning disabilities,
  • who want to get a job and need extra support to do this.

To be eligible you need a Statement of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), a Learning Difficulty Assessment, or an Education Health and Care Plan.

Compulsory schooling

From the age of five years old a child must be in education.

There are different schools for different age groups:

There are also specialist schools for children with impairments or disabilities. 

Apply for a nursery school, school nursery, primary and secondary school place.

In-year admission

If your child is of secondary school age during the school year but does not have a school place, you will need to apply for an in-year admission.

School waiting lists

Your child will be added to the waiting list if they have not been accepted by their first or other school choices.


If your child is not offered a place at the school you want you can appeal.

Further education and apprenticeships

College/Sixth form

After GCSEs you could stay in school, go to a sixth form college, go to a further education (FE) college, or join a work-based training provider (such as an apprenticeship).

There are many places where you can learn as an adult either fulltime or part-time (evenings and weekends)


Apprenticeships teach you the skills you need to perform well in your job. They allow you to:

  • learn practical skills in your workplace,
  • building up valuable knowledge and skills,
  • gain qualifications
  • and earning money at the same time.


You can apply to your chosen university and course through UCAS. You can get support with your application through your college or sixth form.

Idea Store Learning

Idea Store Learning runs over 900 classes such as:

  • fashion,
  • art and design,
  • photography,
  • music,
  • cookery,
  • dance,
  • health and fitness,
  • languages and interpreting,
  • DIY skills or family learning.
  • You can learn English (or ESOL - English for Speakers of Other Languages),
  • computer classes
  • and many more.