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All children in England between the ages of 5 and 16 are entitled to a free place at a state school. 

Parents or guardians apply for school places from the Southampton School Admissions Team.  Most schools will offer parents the opportunity to visit the school before applying for a school place, usually held in the autumn term in the year before your child starts school.

Starting school

In Southampton all four year olds can attend a reception class (Year R) in the September of the school year in which they become five.  A child must start school no later than the beginning of the term following their fifth birthday by law. 

Reception class start dates

Children born between:

  • 1 September 2012 – 31 August 2013 start school in September 2017
  • 1 September 2013 – 31 August 2014 start school in September 2018
  • 1 September 2014 – 31 August 2015 start school in September 2019
  • 1 September 2015 – 31 August 2016 start school in September 2020

Reception and Key Stage 1

Following their reception year at an infant or primary school, children progress into Key Stage 1.  The National Curriculum organises these year groups as:

  • Ages 4-5, Reception school year - Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum
  • Ages 5-6, school year 1 - Key Stage 1
  • Ages 6-7, school year 2 - Key Stage 1

If your child is enrolled at a primary school they normally progress into year 3 (Key Stage 2) of the same school.  Parents of children enrolled in an infant school will apply for a junior school (Year 3) place.  Parents apply for school places directly from the Southampton Admissions Team.

Key Stage 2

Junior schools provide education for children between 7 and 11 years of age.   The National Curriculum organises the year groups as:

  • Ages 7-8, school year 3 - Key Stage 2
  • Ages 8-9, school year 4 - Key Stage 2
  • Ages 9-10, school year 5 - Key Stage 2
  • Ages 10-11, school year 6 - Key Stage 2

Parents of Year 6 children apply for secondary school places directly from the Southampton Admissions Team.  Most schools will offer parents the opportunity to visit the school before applying for a school place.

Secondary School - Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4

Secondary schools provide education for children between 11 and 16 years of age.  The National Curriculum organises the year groups as:

  • Ages 11-12, school year 7 - Key Stage 3
  • Ages 12-13, school year 8 - Key Stage 3
  • Ages 13-14, school year 9 - Key Stage 3
  • Ages 14-15, school year 10 - Key Stage 4
  • Ages 15-16, school year 11 - Key Stage 4

Leaving School

In England, your leaving age depends on when you were born. You can leave school on the last Friday in June as long as you’ll be 16 by the end of that year’s summer holidays.  You must stay in some form of education or training until your 18th birthday if you were born on or after 1 September 1997.  Your options are:

  • Full-time education, e.g. at a school or college
  • An apprenticeship or traineeship
  • Part-time education or training - as well as being employed, self-employed or volunteering for 20 hours or more a week

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