When do children start school?

when do children start school
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This article covers what age children start school 

Children start school officially between ages 4 and 5 when they go into reception. If you’re looking for when you should apply to schools for a place for your child you can read the submission guidelines on our guide for applying to schools for under 11s. 

A school year runs from the 1st of September to 31st August the following year. Timings of what year children start school is based on when they were born. Your child will go into reception during the school year that they turn 5 years old. Therefore if they turn 5 years old next June, they will start school (or would have started, depending on when you’re reading this) this September. If for example, your child was born on the 31st of August they would be starting school just as they turn four and would be the youngest in the class.

Preschool and Nursery

Before we start talking about actual school lets cover the sometimes confusing issue around preschool and nursery. The only difference between them is who is running them. A preschool is normally attached to a school. A nursery is run by a non school organisation and is usually private. Preschool and nursery are not mandatory for children to attend. School only becomes mandatory when your child is due to start reception.

Most children go into preschool or nursery at around the age of 2 and a half and 3 years old. They will normally stay there until they start reception. It is down to the preschool/ nursery when they accept children.

 School years table

Age School yearKey stageAssessment
3 -4 Preschool/NurseryEYFS
4-5ReceptionEYFSAssessments by teachers
5-6Year 11Phonics screening check
6-7Year 21English, maths and science teacher assessments & national tests 
7-8Year 32
8-9Year 42
9-10Year 52
10-11Year 62English, maths and science teacher assessments & national tests 
11-12Year 73
12-13Year 83
13-14Year 93
14-15Year 104Some children take GCSEs
15-16Year 114Children take GCSEs or other national qualifications

The National curriculum is organised into blocks, these blocks are called Key stages. Teachers formally asses children’s performances at the end of each of these key stages.

Early Years Foundations Stages (EYFS) Is a standard for children from birth to 5 years old. It is a standard for a child’s learning, development and care. Ofsted registered providers including schools have to follow EYFS. This applies to preschools, nurseries, receptions classes and includes childminders.

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