When can your child start attending a state-maintained primary school?

Child playing

Reception Year: the school year in which your child reaches the age of five.

Your choices:

  • to place your child for the Reception Year in a primary school
  • to keep your child for the Reception Year in his current pre-school

The law states that your child must start formal schooling at the beginning of the term after he reaches the age of 5. This is earlier than most European countries.

In most local authorities children are encouraged to start primary school, for the Reception Year, in the September of the school year in which they are 5.

Start considering your choices for the Reception Year at least eighteen months before he starts

How do I decide between schools?

Start with your child and start early. Remember that children who stammer generally have no other learning difficulties. They have the same range of academic abilities and personal qualities as children who do not stammer so that you should base your choice of school on your own child’s academic, social and personal needs. You can then discuss the issue of your child’s speech needs with the school that your child will attend.

Do not worry if your selected school does not appear to have experience of children who stammer. Every school, both state and independent, should be able to adopt the simple strategies that support a child who stammers. There is considerable training available for staff on children’s speech, language and communication needs. Information will be available from the speech and language therapist, the BSA and BSA:Education.

Collect information about all the schools in which you are interested and try to visit them during a working day.


Contact the local authority for state schools

The local authority manages admissions and sets the dates for the process: usually from September the year before admission. The admissions authority for a school may be the local authority or the Governing Body of the school. However the admissions arrangements are set by law to ensure fairness. Parents usually choose three preferred schools on the application form. An additional form is often required by church schools about religious observance.

Admissions criteria

When your child stammers it's very important to find out what admissions criteria schools use before you choose which schools to apply to so that you can see if they match your child’s situation. Details of admissions criteria, along with figures showing the number of applications schools received the previous year, are listed in school prospectuses. This information is also available in the 'Information for Parents' booklet produced by your local authority.

When can your child start an independent school?

If your child is already placed in an independent school with a nursery department then you are likely to have the choice of a pre-preparatory department with a curriculum to provide for the needs of this age group. Most schools will also accept applications for the 'pre-prep' for children not attending their nursery.

Application: Contact the individual school

When can your child start home education?

The law states that your child must be in a legally recognised type of education in the term that begins after he has reached the age of 5.

Application: Contact the local authority

If you wish to educate him at home from that time you must contact your local authority one year beforehand. Then you must follow the advice supplied to ensure that you are complying with the law.

Click on the following links to open a PDF, use the back button on your browser to return to this resource. To save the handout to your computer, right click and choose 'Save as'.

Text for this page: Summary
Text for this whole section: Choosing a primary school