An Introduction to Schools

What age do you start and finish school?

Many children start school in September after their 4th birthday.

However – if you do not think they are ready for school before this, or if they are young for that school year (born 1 April to 31 August), then they can start in the September after their 5th birthday.

All children should be in school by September after their 5th birthday, at the latest.

Children move to secondary school in September after their 11th birthday. 

They must stay at school until they are 16.

In England, all students must continue with either study or training until they are 18.

They can choose to do this in school or at college.

Look at this School System Chart. It shows the age of the child on September 1st, level of school etc.

Age on 1st
School YearKey StageStart / Leave SchoolLevel of schooling
Age 3Nursery/Pre-schoolFoundation Stage
Age 4ReceptionYou can start school in September after 4th birthday. Maybe a mid-year start.
You must start school by September after 5th birthday.
Primary School
Age 5Year 1Key Stage 1
Age 6Year 2Key Stage 1
Age 7Year 3Key Stage 2
Age 8Year 4Key Stage 2
Age 9Year 5Key Stage 2
Age 10Year 6Key Stage 2
Age 11Year 7Key Stage 3You change schools in September after 11th birthday.Secondary School
Age 12Year 8Key Stage 3
Age 13Year 9Key Stage 3
Age 14Year 10Key Stage 4
Age 15Year 11Key Stage 4
Age 16Year 12Post- 16 School or College or Work
Age 17Year 13Post- 16 Till aged 18, you must be in education, training, employment (e.g. apprenticeship)

The school year

The school year starts in September, and ends in July. There are three terms during the school year. You can find out the dates of the school annual calendar here.

Find schools near you

You can also use the Schools Finder to search for schools in your area.

Search for a school in your postcode – and nearby postcodes.  

Related Information