Moving to the UK can be stressful and daunting, especially if you have children with you as you are not only taking care of your education but also theirs. In this guide we will try to make the schooling information as clear and easy as possible for both you and your child. Along with additional information about caring for children in the UK, such as regulations and laws which may be different from your home country.
In the UK, the academic year runs from 1st September until 31st August, where the year is split into 3 terms, autumn, spring and summer. In the autumn term, students will receive a 2 week Christmas break whether they celebrate Christmas or not. There is another 2 week break around Easter and a longer Summer vacation break from the end of July. There will also be half term breaks midway through each term. Schools may have different break dates, schools will publish break dates in advance, so you can check directly with your child’s school.
School Terminology: Document can be found here
Applying for School journey checklist: Checklist can be found here
Note: If Brexit is to happen, some information may no longer apply.
In the UK children usually start school (reception) in September after they have turned 4 years old. However, if your child is born during the summer period (1 April- 31st August) you can request to delay the entry to reception for a year, though it may not always be granted.
The compulsory age to start school is age 5 and they must be in full time education until they are 16 by the last Friday in June. Until your child is 18 they must be either:
Still in full time education (Sixth form or College)
Doing an apprenticeship or traineeship
20 hours a week working or volunteering, whilst part time in education or traineeship
Once your child is 18, they are considered a young adult and are no longer required to be in education or meet the above requirements. Please see here for further information.
School attendance and absence
You must make sure your child is getting a full-time education which meets their needs or is attending their full-time education. If you child cannot attend school, you must inform the school and the reasons for the absence in good time. If you child is enrolled in school and under the age of 16, if they fail to attend or you forget to report the absence, the school will contact you.
If you do not provide your child with an education, you may be prosecuted. However, you will receive a warning first and with the council offering you help.
When can my child miss school?
Your child can miss school if they are too ill to attend, your child’s school will expect you to either ring up in the morning to inform them or report the absence via other means. Check with the school in advance what their policy is on reporting absences, as each school has different procedures.
Your child can miss school if you have been given permission in advance by the school. For more information click here
Holiday during term time
If you would like to take your child out of school during term time, you must seek permission from the school in advance. Your child’s school headteacher will decide if the absence can be authorised during term time and how many days your child can be away from school.
Your child’s school and local council can use various legal powers, if they see your child is missing school without a good reason. For instance, you may be prosecuted, fined, attend compulsory classes etc. For more information on the legal actions click here.
Your child has a medical condition/disability or too ill to go to school for over 15 days:
If your child has medical needs or has disabilities, you should inform the school as soon as you can, as they must make reasonable adjustments for them.
However, if your child unfortunately becomes ill or injured for a period of time (miss more than 15 days of school), your local council and school should provide you support with your child education. It is important that your child education does not suffer. For more information click here.