To make the move to Reading as straightforward as possible, it is useful to consider your accommodation, childcare and schooling options as soon as you can.
- Connecting with other families
- Accommodation for students with families
- Childcare options
- The school system
- Applying for a school place
- Fun things to do for families
Connecting with other families
You can join the Graduate School's Facebook page to interact with current doctoral students, who will be able to share their experiences and tips on many aspects of family life at Reading.
Once you have started your doctoral programme, you may wish to join the PhD Parents at the University of Reading Facebook group. This is a peer-to-peer space aimed at providing support and encouragement to current doctoral researchers who are pregnant, or who have children or other live-in dependents.
Accommodation for students with families
The University has a range of accommodation suitable for couples and families. More information can be found on our accommodation pages.
Demand for places is high, so you should apply as soon as you can. Once you have submitted your application for study, you can apply for accommodation through the Me@Reading Applicant portal.
Living off campus
Many students with children choose to live in private accommodation in the community, where they are closer to schools and other families.
Reading University Students' Union (RUSU) has a list of letting agents providing private rented accommodation. RUSU can also provide housing advice on housing law, contracts and your rights and responsibilities as a tenant and those of your landlord.
What to consider
Where you choose to live will shape your family's experience of Reading. In addition to the feel of the community, your new address will determine your access to certain services, such as schools and doctors surgeries.
When choosing an area where you would like to live, consider:
- What childcare options and schools are there nearby?
- Is the demand for school places higher than the number available in the area? Your local authority school admissions team should be able to advise you where there are school places available and if an address is within the designated area. It's advisable to contact them before moving.
- Will you be driving? If you have a car, is there parking available? Are there good public transport links? Are there other essential services (doctors, supermarket) and family facilities (parks, playgrounds) nearby?
The UK has a range of high-quality childcare options for children under five years old.
Nurseries and preschools
Nurseries provide care for children from three months to five years old. They are typically open during office hours (08:00–18:00), five days a week and all year round (with the exception of some public holidays and the period between Christmas and New Year).
Preschools are for children aged three years and over. They often open during school hours (09:00–15:00) during the school term (38 weeks per year).
Both nurseries and preschools are staffed by professionals who are qualified in early years education and have undergone all relevant safety checks.
Little Learners is an Ofsted-registered nursery that offers childcare exclusively to students and staff of the University. The nursery has 94 places for children aged from three months to five years.
The Little Owl Preschool is also based on campus and offers children a safe and happy place to play, learn and develop before going on to meet the demands of school.
Both the nursery and preschool are very popular with students and there may be a waiting list for a place. You should contact the option that you are interested in as soon as you have accepted your offer to discuss securing a place for your child.
Childminders work from home and provide childcare to a small group of children of various ages. Opening hours will vary, but typically include office hours throughout the year, though many may close at Christmas and New Year and for a period during the summer.
Childminders must be registered and are inspected regularly.
You may need to provide records of vaccinations for illnesses such as measles, mumps and rubella when applying for a place at nursery.
The UK Government's website has a useful section on childcare, which includes information on the availability of free childcare and help with costs.
The school system
Schooling at different ages
In England, children usually start school in the September before they turn five years old and must stay in school until age 16. Many choose to stay on until age 18.
Primary schools are for children aged four to 11, and consist of a Reception Year and Years 1–6. Some primary-level schools are split into infant schools (Reception–Year 2) and junior schools (Years 3–6).
Secondary schools are for children aged 11–16, covering Years 7–11. Some will also include a Sixth Form, for 16–18-year-olds.
The school year
The school year runs from 1 September to 31 August and consists of 38 weeks split into three terms: autumn, spring and summer. Each term is split into half terms, with a one-week break between them and there is a two week holiday after the autumn and spring terms and a six week holiday after the summer term.
Term dates for schools in the local area can be found on the Reading Borough Council website.
Applying for a school place
Finding a school
The UK Government's website can help you to find schools and related information, including Ofsted reports, exam results and the local authority that the school is in.
Applications for school places are handled by your local authority. For the majority of Reading students, this will be either Reading Borough Council or Wokingham Borough Council. Other local authorities in the area include Bracknell Forest District Council, Oxfordshire County Council, Slough Borough Council and the Royal Borough of Maidenhead and Windsor.
You can find information on admission arrangements, as well as make an application, on the respective council website.
You will be given the opportunity to apply for a place at up to five schools, in order of preference. It is strongly recommended that you express more than one preference: if a place is unavailable at your preferred school, your local authority will then see if there is a place at your other choices in order of preference.
If you only list one preference, or if there are no places at any of your preferences, your child will allocated to the closest available school with a place. Expressing more than one preference makes it more likely that your child will be offered a place at a school that you are happy with.
Demand for school places in Reading is high, so you will need to be realistic. Applications for popular schools outside the catchment area are rarely successful. Even if you move into a specific catchment area, it is not guaranteed that your child will gain a place at a particular school.
As soon as you have confirmed your address, it is advisable to contact your local authority, who will be able to advise you on schools with places in your area.
Supporting evidence for school applications
You may need to provide some supporting documents when applying for a school place. These may include:
- copies of visa documents for both yourself and your child/children; for example, entry visas and passport details
- a letter confirming tuition fees you have paid to the University of Reading
- tenancy agreement for your UK address
- if your child has a serious medical, physical or psychological need, you will need to provide supporting documentation from the professional person involved.
Check with your local authority to find out if you do need to provide any supporting documentation. If any of your documents aren't in English, you should arrange to have them translated.
Fun things to do for families
Reading and the surrounding area is a great place for families. From beautiful parks and countryside to museums, cultural events and an annual children's festival, there is plenty to do and much of it is free.
The University of Reading Newcomers Club
The University's Newcomers Club runs on Thursday mornings in term time and offers the partners and children of Reading students opportunities to meet one another, make friends and improve their conversational English.
Universal Voices is a free choir for children aged 7-12, directed by Dr Rebecca Berkley at the Institute of Education, University of Reading. They rehearse on Wednesdays in school term time, 16.00 - 17.30 in building L29 on the London Road Campus. Book you child's free place here: https://forms.office.com/r/ZN8ueC0YFs or email email@example.com
If you have children under five, you may want to register with your local children's centre. Run by local councils, these centres offer activities, trips and opportunities for children and parents to meet other families and socialise – most of which are free. They also offer advice and classes on topics such as childcare, children's health, preparing for school and first aid.
There are currently 13 centres across Reading. Find your closest centre and see what they have to offer there. If you live outside of the Reading area, your local council will usually have a children and family services page listing their own centres.
For older children, joining a club or activity is a great way to meet new people and make friends. Whatever your kids are interested in, there's a good chance that it's available in Reading or the surrounding area. You can find a list of some of the activities on offer at the following websites: