Essential Timelines

Navigating the British education system – key dates and milestones.

0 – 1  year : Some pre-prep and prep schools require registration the day your child is born, or shortly after.

1 – 2 years : Start to consider catchment areas for state schools. Almost all pre-prep and prep school applications will need to be submitted within this period.

2.5 – 3 years : Pre-school or kindergarten starts.

3.5 – 4 years : State primary school application deadline. This is the January of the year the child is due to start school, so those who will turn 5 during their first academic year (1st September – 31st August).

4.5 – 7/8 years : Pre-prep school.

4 – 11 Years : State primary school – your child will start in the academic year in which he/she turns 5 years old, so children begin school at 4 rising 5.

4-7/8, 11 or 13 years Independent prep school: your child will be assessed for selective schools aged 3 or 4.

7/8 or 13 years : Independent day or boarding schools. There is a Year 6 entry at some independent secondary schools, with exams taken in Year 5 (10+). The 11+ exam is taken in January of Year 6. The 13+ Common Entrance exam is taken in June of Year 8 where still required; in cases of selective boarding and day schools this will have been preceded by a pre-test in Year 6 or 7. Some grammar school applications need to be in before mid-July of Year 5, with exams in the autumn of Year 6.

11 – 18 years : State secondary school. Apply by 31st October of Year 6. Grammar schools set their own exams, taken early in Year 6.

13 – 18 years : Independent boarding or day schools. The 13+ Common Entrance exam is taken in Year 8 where still required, often preceded by a pre-test in Year 6 or 7, and many London day schools have their own 13+ exams in the January of Year 8. Applications for many boarding schools are often 18-24 months, or even 3 years, before the year of entry, not just 12 months like many London day schools.

16 – 18 years : 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


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