Children are required by law to attend school from the beginning of the term following their fifth birthday. Many parents choose for their child to start at age four at the beginning of the school year in September.
In the first year of compulsory schooling, known as 'Reception’, the focus is on learning through play and adapting to structured activities. Some schools offer half-day schooling for three-year-old children (known as Nursery, or Foundation Stage). The class teacher will lead on planning and record-keeping, but your child may spend much of their time in a small group with a 'key-worker' who may be a qualified teaching assistant or nursery nurse.
After Reception, children move into Years 1 - 6. Each class has up to 30 pupils. The class will have one teacher for the whole year, and may have a teaching assistant (TA) who supports children in small groups or individually. There are designated lessons for Maths, Literacy (i.e. English language and literature) and Science. Many schools use a particular topic each term to teach art, history, geography, music, etc. Children may be encouraged to read books or research on-line, design and make objects, or dress in appropriate costumes. Your children may be able to go on school trips, e.g. a nature walk round the local area, an educational visit to a museum, or a workshop with other schools. You will have to complete a permission slip and may be asked to pay a voluntary contribution.
More information about the curriculum and testing can be found in the section 'National Curriculum and different phases of schooling'.