All children in England between the ages of five and sixteen are entitled to a free place at a state school. By law all children in the UK for more than a short stay should receive full time education from the age of five. Many schools take children from four years old in a reception classIt is not compulsory for your child to attend a reception class, but it is a good way to introduce your child to life at school. If your child is four years old before September, you can apply for a place in a reception class in the same way as you would for any school place.
You cannot pre-book a school place in advance of your child arriving in the UK as school places are allocated by the postcode of your permanent UK address. Most schools have a catchment area, which means they have a maximum radius around the school and they are unlikely to accept children who live outside this area. You should take this into consideration when looking for somewhere to live.
Not all state schools are the same standard. They are regulated by a body called Ofsted (the official body for regulating schools). Most schools have regular visits from an Ofsted inspector who assess the school based on nationally agreed criteria. The schools receive a rating (outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate), which allows them to be compared to each other.
We recommend reading the most recent Ofsted report for your local school or nursery. You can search for local education providers on the government website.
You can also check the league tables for local schools. These tables show school performance, characteristics (e.g. number of children, percentage of boys and girls, number of children where English is not their first language) and also the spend per pupil.
The state system is divided into three types of school and most of them follow the National Curriculum:
- Nursery school (for children aged between three and five years of age).
- Primary school (for children aged from four/five to eleven years of age).
- Secondary school (for children aged from eleven to sixteen years of age).
Children born on or after 1st September 1997 will need to remain in some sort of education until their 18th birthday and can attend secondary school, a sixth form college or further education college.
You will need to pay a fee to send your child to a private schoolYou can find a private school on the Independent Schools Council (ISC) website. Admission criteria differs and some schools require pupils to pass an entrance exam.
Independent schools do not necessarily follow the state curriculum, they may have lessons on Saturdays and there may be mandatory supervised homework sessions after school. Some Independent schools are 'boarding' schools where pupils stay throughout the term.
Selecting a school
Once you have identified a potential school for your child, using the Ofsted and league table resources, then you can get in contact with the school and ask to visit them. Most schools have open days but if you have missed these then the school may be able to arrange an individual tour for you.
You can also get advice about choosing schools from your local council. All councils have teams to help parents get their children into schools and can provide further information about the admissions criteria for schools in their area.
Get information about schools (gov.uk)
Applying for a school
Applications for state schools and private schools are managed separately. If you are making an application to a private school then you should contact the school direct to find out their deadlines.
State school applications open on different days in each local council. They usually open at the start of the autumn term (i.e. September) of the year before your child is due to start school. You will need proof of address within the catchment area, such as a rental agreement, and if you are working under a visa will need to submit copies of the parents' and child's visa with the application.
The deadline for applying for a primary school place is 15 January and the deadline for applying for a secondary school place is 31 October.
You apply either online or on a paper form and can apply for at least 3 schools. For a paper copy of the application form, contact your local council. You are usually asked to list the schools in order of preference.
For more information about the application process, and the appeals process if your application is unsuccessful, then visit the government website.
Term times and school holidays
The academic year for state primary and secondary state schools is early September to late July. The academic year is broken up into three terms. Half way through each term there is a holiday of one week.
The school terms usually run as follows:
- September to December, followed by a two - three week holiday at Christmas.
- January to March/April, followed by a two - three week holiday at Easter.
- March/April to July, followed by a six week holiday during the summer.
In the UK, parents do not have the automatic right to take their children out of school during term time and can be prosecuted if their children fail to attend school. Once your child is registered with a primary or a secondary school, the school will be expecting that child to attend throughout the term.
If your child is unwell or is unable to attend school for another reason, you should contact the school at the earliest opportunity (either by telephoning or attending the school).
Children aged three and four years old are entitled to fifteen hours of free nursery education funding per week for a minimum of thirty eight weeks. Your child may access a free place from the school term after their third birthday until they start in reception class at a primary school in the September following their fourth birthday.
You can find a nursery school place using the postcode checker.
In Birmingham, admission to a nursery school or nursery class is not managed by Birmingham City Council. You will need to contact the school directly, which will provide you with an application form and information regarding the availability and allocation of places. The criteria for nursery places will be provided to you by the school.
If your child is under three years old and you need some childcare then you can pay for nursery or childminders. The Family Information Service provides information on finding childcare. A list of registered child minders can be found here.
Private Day nurseries, of which the University has two, offer childcare and education for children aged six weeks to five years. The Elms Day Nursery is based on the Edgbaston campus and the Oaks Day Nursery is based on the Selly Oak campus. Both nurseries received a good Ofsted grading, with outstanding elements.
Discounts are available for University staff and students. The Birmingham Day Nursery website has detail about fees and the application process. Places at the nurseries are limited and there may sometimes be a waiting list. Contact the nurseries directly with any enquiries.
There are many other Day Care Nurseries local to the University. Fees, opening times and facilities will vary.
For any queries please contact the Recruitment Team on 0121 415 9000
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