Starting infant/primary school (Year R)

Children born between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2017 are able to start school in the school year beginning September 2021.

Legally, a child must start school no later than the beginning of the term following their fifth birthday (compulsory school age).

For example, if your child reaches compulsory school age on 31 March, they must start full-time education in the summer term that year.

You can apply for a school place in the autumn term after your child turns four. If you do not think your child is ready for school then, they can start part-way through the school year or part time. They must be in full-time education by the time they reach compulsory school age. You will need to apply in the autumn even if you want your child to start later in the school year.

All four year olds can attend a reception class (Year R) in the September of the school year in which they become five.

A child can either go to a primary school (Year R to Year 6) or an infant school (Year R to Year 2). Children placed at an infant school will need to transfer to a junior school for Year 3 or make an in-year transfer to a primary school.

Reception class start dates

Children born between:

  • 1 September 2016 - 31 August 2017 need to start school in September 2021
  • 1 September 2017 - 31 August 2018 need to start school in September 2022
  • 1 September 2018 - 31 August 2019 need to start school in September 2023
  • 1 September 2019 - 31 August 2020 need to start school in September 2024

For main round applications, the school place offered will be for a full time place starting from 1 September 2020. Find out more about how to apply for a school place.

If you are looking to change schools part-way through the academic year, you will need to apply for an in-year transfer.

2022/23 academic year

You can now read information on the process for 'mainround' admission into reception for the 2022/23 academic year:


Part-time education

Nearly all schools start children with some level of part-time education to help them adapt to the new environment. You have the right to request part-time education up to the point where the child is of compulsory school age. This should be negotiated with the head teacher of the allocated school, who will advise what they are able to offer.

You can also defer your child's entry into reception class up to when your child reaches compulsory school age, but not beyond the start of the summer term of reception year.

Educating your child outside their normal year group

This can fall into two types: deceleration (holding back a year) and acceleration (starting a year early). Please read our guidance on education outside of normal age groups before making a decision to educate your child in this way.

Linked infant and junior schools

Many infant and junior schools are linked and work collaboratively. While a place at a linked junior school is not guaranteed, it is a priority used in the admissions policies when allocating places due to oversubscription. Find out more about linked infant and junior schools.


Other useful information