Essential Education Timelines

New to the British education system? Here are the essential dates and milestones



Some pre-prep and prep schools require registration the day your child is born, or shortly after


Start to consider catchment areas for state schools. Almost all pre-prep and prep school applications will need to be submitted within this period


Pre-school or kindergarten starts


State primary school application deadline. This is the January of the year the child is due to start school, so those who will turn 4 during the coming academic year (1st Sept – 31st Aug)

4½ 7/8

Pre-prep school


State primary school – your child will start in the academic year in which he/ she turns 4 years old

47/8, 11 or 13

Independent prep school: your child will be assessed for selective schools aged 3 or 4


7/8 or 13

Independent day or boarding schools There is a Year 6 entry at some independent secondary schools, with exams taken in Year 5. The 11+ exam will be taken in January of Year 6. The 13+ Common Entrance exam is taken in Year 8; in cases of selective boarding and day schools this will have been preceded by a Pre-test in Year 6 or 7. See the Pre-test definition in Jargon Buster on page 14. Some grammar school applications need to be in before mid-July of Year 5 with exams in the autumn of Year 6


State secondary school. Apply by 31st October of Year 6. Grammar schools set their own exams, taken early in Year 6 (see above)



Independent boarding or day schools. The 13 + Common Entrance exam is taken in Year 8, often preceded by a Pre-Test in Year 6 or 7, and many London days schools have their own 13+ exams in the January of Year 8. Applications for many boarding schools are often 18-24 months before the year of entry, not just 12 months like many London day schools


The results of GCSE exams dictate entry into the sixth form or a sixth form college. Check admission dates at individual colleges as some request earlier applications. For a 16+ move to an independent school, applications, written exams and interviews are undertaken during the autumn term of Year 11


See Jargon Buster page here

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