Primary schools

Girl in Primary School Your children have the right to a place in school while they are between the ages of 5-18. You have the right to say which school you would prefer your child to attend, regardless of the school’s location. However, your right to express a preference does not guarantee you a place at the school if it is oversubscribed. By law, your local  authority (LA) must offer your child a school place. If your child is not offered a place at your preferred school, you have the right to appeal to an independent panel.

Remember that you must first apply to a school. Even if your child is at a nursery linked to an infant school, or an infant school linked to a junior school, you will still need to make an application to move them on to the next stage. You must not assume your child will automatically get a place at a particular school.

Primary education covers Infants from 4 - 7 years, Juniors from 7 - 11 years and primary which is both i.e. 4 to 11 years. You may find that your local school is any of these. Your child reaches the Government recognised compulsory school age at the beginning of term after their 5th birthday. Every parent has the right to educate their child at home. "Home education is a long established legal right, currently exercised by around 90,000 (1.0%) UK children of compulsory educational age" ( Some areas have Middle Schools, which provide schooling for children aged 9-13. Contact your LA if you are unsure which system operates in your area.


The decision as to when 4 year olds will be admitted is made by the school and reviewed annually. You will need to contact the Head teacher to find out when exactly your child can be admitted. Legally you can keep your child out of school until the term after they are 5, so you are therefore not obliged to accept the offer of early entry. However, the place may be offered to another child. Some schools operate September only entry so you will need to check this as well.

Sessions in reception classes of schools count towards Early Years Grant, so if your child attends preschool in the morning and reception classes at school in the afternoon - you will have to pay for the preschool sessions, as the reception class is counted as your free early years education.

Starting School

When you're looking for your child's first school, there may well be a lot on your mind - will they get a good education? Will they make friends? Watch the video for a few helpful tips on how to research the schools in your area so you can find one that suits your child and get your application in on time.


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Each school has a prospectus with information about admissions which you must read; it will be available online or as a printed copy. You will then need to complete an application form and return this to the Local Authority; most applications can be done online. Note that there are different closing dates depending on whether the school is a community/voluntary controlled or voluntary aided/foundation school, so check these in advance. Community/voluntary controlled schools are controlled by the LA and aided/foundation schools are controlled by the Board of Governors of that school. If you miss the closing date you will be in the same position as families who move into the area, which is that the LA will try to help you but cannot guarantee you a place in your preferred school.

To get some idea if your child is likely to be admitted it might be helpful to ask the Headteacher the following questions:
  • Was the school oversubscribed last year?
  • Did all the local children get a place?
  • How many did not get a place?

If your preferred school is an infant school you need to check with the school what happens at junior age.

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