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How to enrol your child in a primary school in the UK

If you’re a parent and a legal resident of the UK, you may be wondering how to enrol your child in a primary school. As long as you are legally living in the UK and have an address, your child is entitled to a place in a state school. 

Wondering how to apply? Our guide to enrolling your child in a UK primary school tells you everything you need to know.

When can I apply for primary school?

Children are eligible to start school (Reception class) in the academic year following their fourth birthday. You must apply for a primary school position for your child a year before they start school. This means that your child will be 3 or have just turned 4 by the time you apply. 

Applications open in September and close on 15 January. To find the exact date for applications opening, you can use the’s Apply for a primary school place page. You will receive your offer for a place from the council by the 16th April.

How do I apply for primary school?

Applying for a school place must be done through your Local Authority. Each school has an admissions criteria to decide which pupils are allocated places. For example, children who live close to the school or have a sibling already at the school may be given priority. However, so long as the school is not oversubscribed, all applicants must be offered a place.

When deciding on the best school for your child, it’s important to visit the school on an Open Day. Visit as many schools as you can and pay attention to the Ofsted reports. You should also pay attention to the headteacher and other teachers. Are they friendly? Do the children seem engaged? What happens at playtime? Does the school provide an inspiring environment?

To apply, you should complete a Common Application Form (CAF) from your Local Authority. On this form, you should list your school preferences and your reasons why. You must name at least three schools. This way, if your first preference school is oversubscribed, you have other options to go with.

What does a typical primary school class look like?

In the UK, there is a legal infant class size limit of 30 children per teacher. This covers Reception classes, as well as Year One and Year Two.

If your child is starting Reception class, they will learn about numbers and basic calculations as well as 2D and 3D shapes. They’ll also get a foundation in literacy and will learn how to hold a pencil and write. They’ll also learn how to observe, reason and discuss in Science class and get their first instruction in ICT. After one year in Reception class, your child will then go on to start Year One the following September.

Depending on the school size, there may be one class per year group or the year may be split into two or more classes. Your child will stay in primary school until they reach Year 6 and turn 11.

Once that academic year is over, they will then go on to start secondary school—but that’s a blog post for another day.

Good luck with your school applications! We hope your child is accepted to the primary school of their (your) choice.


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