When to apply for primary schools and when do children start school?

A group of primary school children walking on a pavement.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Find out when to apply for primary schools in the UK so that you don't risk missing the deadline and missing out on the school of your choice.

Around the country today parents will be finding out if their child got a primary school place at their chosen school for the next academic year.

Picking a primary school for your children is a big, important milestone, as starting school is a big life event and change for both you and your child.

If you've started thinking about primary schools for your kids or perhaps even started looking at school prospectus and are considering visiting different schools, here's the deadline for when to apply for primary schools.

When to apply for primary schools in the UK

Applications for primary school places will open in September 2021 for children due to start school in the academic year beginning in September 2022.

The deadline for applying for primary schools is 15 January.

In order to apply for primary schools, your child must be three-years-old or have just turned four.

You still have to apply for a primary school place even if your child is currently going to a nursery or infant school that has a linked primary school.

To apply for a place at a state primary school you have to go through your local council. Most application processes these days are online but some may still get you to fill out an application form.

Start the process of applying for a primary school places through your local council here (opens in new tab).

If you want to apply for a place at a private primary school, you will need to apply directly through the school.

Two young children with primary school places baking together in a classroom.

(Credit: Getty)

When do children start school?

Children start school full-time in the September after they turn four. This means they will turn five during their first year at school.

If you think your child isn't ready to start school full-time in the September after they turn four, perhaps because they have a late summer birthday and will be very young in their year, then you can your child can start school later.

They just need to be in full-time education before they reach ‘compulsory school age’.

Compulsory school age is defined by the government (opens in new tab) as follows: "Your child must start full-time education once they reach compulsory school age. This is on 31 December, 31 March or 31 August following their fifth birthday - whichever comes first. If your child’s fifth birthday is on one of those dates then they reach compulsory school age on that date.

"For example, if your child reaches compulsory school age on 31 March, they must start full-time education at the beginning of the next term (summer term that year)."