Last updated: 05-09-2023. From web page: School applications.

Information for parents on education in the UK

Essential information

Early education

  • All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to up to 15 hours a week, term-time, of funded early education, or 570 hours a year. This can be taken from the term after the child is 3, with an Ofsted registered preschool, nursery or childminder.
  • 2 year olds whose parents meet the relevant criteria can also attend funded early education for up to 15 hours a week, term time, or 570 hours a year.
  • 3 and 4 year olds whose parents’ income is above the equivalent of 16 hours at minimum wage may also be entitled to an extra 15 hours a week.
  • Whilst this is a funded offer, you will be expected to pay for food and extra costs.
  • It is really important that your child attends all the sessions.
  • For more details and help in finding early education or childcare please visit our Directory of Support Services childcare page.

Compulsory school age

  • Children between the ages of 5 and 16 are entitled to a free place at a state school.
  • Education is compulsory and the law places a duty upon parents to ensure that their children are in receipt of full-time education.
  • Children can start school in September at the beginning of the academic year in which they reach age 5 and legally must have full-time education in place at the start of the term following their 5th birthday.
  • Children finish compulsory education on the last Friday in June of the school year in which they reach age 16.

The UK education system

  • The school year is split into three terms; Autumn, Spring and Summer and each term is split with a week of school holiday roughly in the middle.
  • Term dates change slightly each year but the school year runs from early September until the end of July. Southampton term dates can be found here.
  • Compulsory education is divided into two phases, primary and secondary, but primary education can be delivered at a primary school, or, at an infant school followed by a junior school.
  • Schools split children into ‘Year Groups’. See table below.
  • The curriculum is split into blocks called ‘Key Stages’. See table below.
  • Children are regularly tested to assess their progress.
  • A national programme of assessment is also in place. See table below.
Age Year Group Curriculum Key Stages National assessments Phase of education
4 to 5 Reception Early years   Primary
5 to 6 Year 1 KS1 Phonics screening check.
6 to 7 Year 2 KS1 National tests in English, maths and science
7 to 8 Year 3 KS2  
8 to 9 Year 4 KS2  
9 to 10 Year 5 KS2  
10 to 11 Year 6 KS2 National tests in English and maths.
11 to 12 Year 7 KS3   Secondary
12 to 13 Year 8 KS3  
13 to 14 Year 9 KS3  
14 to 15 Year 10 KS4  
15 to 16 Year 11 KS4 Children take GCSEs or other national
  • The national curriculum is taught. It is a set of subjects and standards used so that children learn the same things.
  • By the end of each summer term the school must write a report on your child’s progress and offer to talk it through with you.

Applications for school places

  • Applications for school places must be made on-line. 
  • You will need an e-mail address to do this.
  • You can access the internet for free at public libraries.
  • Once on roll, an in-year application must be made if you wish to change your child’s school.
  • Each September the School Admissions Team will invite the parents of the following children, known to be living in the city, to apply for a school place. There are strict deadlines for these applications to be made but you will be notified of these by the School Admissions Team:
    • Children who are eligible for a free school place in Reception from the following September.
    • Children in Year 2 attending an infant school.
    • Children in Year 6 attending a junior or primary school.
    You must apply for your child to start school in Reception, even if they are attending a nursery on the same site as the school.
  • The School Admissions Team can be contacted by telephone at 023 8083 3004.
  • The School Admissions Team will offer you a place at your school of choice unless it is full.
  • If your preferred school is full you will be offered a place at the closest school to your home address with a place available. In the absence of other arrangements your child must take up this place.
  • Your child will be added to the waiting lists of your preferred school(s) that we cannot offer, for the remainder of the academic year.
  • Once you have made an application, please keep the School Admissions Team updated with any changes of address.

You must enrol your child at the school offered otherwise your child will be out of education unlawfully.

Attendance at school

  • Children are expected to attend school on every day that the school is open.
  • You must contact the school on every day that your child does not attend to provide a reason, unless the absence has been agreed in advance. If you do not they are required to contact you.
  • Your child can only miss school if they are too ill to attend. For all other absences you must complete a request form in advance and seek the permission of the Headteacher.
  • The school may ask you to provide medical evidence of your child’s illness.
  • Holidays in term time: The school year already allows for 13 weeks of school holidays. You have to get permission from the Headteacher if you want to take your child out of school during term time.You can only do this if :
    • You make an application to the Headteacher in advance (as a parent the child normally lives with).
    • There are exceptional circumstances.
    Please note it is up to the Head teacher how many days your child can be away from school if the leave is granted. This is not an automatic right.
  • Parents who do not make sure their children attend may be breaking the law and vulnerable to legal action being taken against them.
  • You will be contacted by your child’s school each time they do not attend and the school have not been advised in advance of the reason.
  • Parents can be fined for taking their child out of school during term time without the school’s permission.
  • If your child’s attendance becomes an ongoing concern an Education Welfare Officer may contact you to help to resolve any problems. It is Education Welfare Officers who hold the mandate to prosecute parents on behalf of the council.
  • If your child is not enrolled in a school and no other provision is in place, they will fall under the government definition of a child missing education and the local authority will take action, through the courts if necessary, to ensure that your child has education provision.
  • Further information can be found on the government website.

Neglect of your child’s education and developmental needs can resultin a safeguarding referral being made to Children’s Service.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

All schools in Southampton have the same special educational needs and disabilities duties, and are
expected to provide support for children and young people who have additional needs.

The majority of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities attend
mainstream schools. If you have concerns about your child’s needs speak to their class teacher in the first
instance about adjustments that could be made to support them or additional support available.

The Southampton Special Educational Needs and Disability Information Advice and Support Service
(SENDIASS) are able to provide further advice. The service is for people who live in Southampton and they
can be contacted in the following ways:

Telephone helpline: 0300 303 2677


Online enquiry form:

Information parents must provide to schools

To enrol your child in a school you will be asked to complete a Pupil Registration form which will ask for a wide range of information, including:

  • Their full name, gender and date of birth.
  • The name and address of the last school they attended, if any.
  • The name and address of each parent.Details of who they live with, including address. This means that you must tell the school immediately each time you change address or if your child moves to live with someone else.
  • Contact telephone numbers for parents.
  • Information on your child’s general health, allergies and dietary needs because schools must ensure that arrangements are in place to support pupils. If your child has a medical condition which affectstheir ability to access their education, please discuss with the school whether an Individual Healthcare Plan needs to be put in place.
  • Ethnicity and language details.
  • Special educational needs and disabilities information.
  • Sight of your child’s birth certificate.

When your child is leaving their school you must provide the following information which schools are required by law to provide to the local authority:

  • The future address of the child.
  • The name of the parent they are going to live with and the date the pupil is expected to start living there (if applicable).
  • The name of their new school (if applicable) and the date when they will start attending that school, if known.University students leaving the UK with their children must advise their schools in advance.

School aged children and employment and performance

  • The youngest age that a child can work part-time is 13 and strict restrictions apply.
  • If your child is of Compulsory School Age you must apply to Southampton City Council for a child work permit as outlined in local bylaws.
  • Further information on work permits can be found here
  • Your child cannot be absent from school for work purposes.
  • If your child is involved in performances such as TV, modelling and theatre you must apply to Southampton City Council for a performance licence.
  • Further information on child performance licensing can be found here
  • If you would like your child to be absent from school for performance purposes, you must seek the permission of your child’s Headteacher first.

Free school meals

  • All children in Years R, 1 and 2 are automatically entitled to a free school meal under current government funding arrangements.
  • Other children may also be entitled, depending upon whether you are in receipt of qualifying benefits. Please ask your child’s school if you think your child may be entitled to a free school meal.