Living in the UK
Finding a school for your children
For the latest guidance on Covid 19 impact on schools, see the Covid education webpages. You will also receive regular information from your child’s school as and when necessary.
As a parent, you are under a legal obligation to secure schooling for any child of 'compulsory school age'. Dependent children accompanying an adult on a Tier 4 / Student visa are permitted to attend a state-funded school. EEA and Swiss nationals can also attend state funded schools.
Children who enter the UK as standard visitors (for example as tourists or to visit relatives), and those entering with their own Tier 4 (Child) / Child Student permission, are generally not permitted to study at state funded schools.
The Government website has generic information about school admissions including how to choose a school, the admission criteria, applying and appealing a school’s decision.
The Leicestershire County Council website has useful information on school admissions policies and you can contact them for more specific information.
The British Council has also produced more information on choosing a state-funded school.
At what age does your child have to be in education?
Parents or guardians must ensure that their child of ‘compulsory school age’ receives full-time education, either in a school or by other appropriate means e.g. home education.
'Compulsory school age'
A child reaches compulsory school age on the 1st January, 1st April or 1st September following their 5th birthday.
In England, a young person can leave education at the end of the academic year in which they turn 16. However, between 16 to 18 years a young person must participate in one of the following:
- Full-time education, such as school or college,
- Work based learning, such as an apprenticeship,
- Part-time education or training if s/he is employed or volunteering for 20 hours or more a week.
How to choose and apply for a school place
The relevant local authority has overall responsibility for providing free school education in its area. For students who live in Loughborough and the surrounding area, the local authority is Leicestershire County Council (there are different local authorities for those living in Nottinghamshire and Leicester City). The local authority produces free guides to primary and secondary education.
a) Nursery schools / Preschools /Childminders
Nursery schools or pre-schools provide early education and childcare to children under the ‘compulsory school age’ (see above). Childminders provide childcare in a more informal setting.
There is usually a charge for full or part-time nursery school places. However, all children aged 3 and 4 living in the UK, including the children of international students, can receive 570 free hours per year of free nursery education. This is generally taken as 15 hours per week for 38 weeks.
How to choose a nursery, preschool and childminder:
To find a early years provider in the Loughborough and surrounding area, see the information on the County Council website.
How to apply for a nursery school place:
You should contact the provider directly to apply for a place.
b) Primary and secondary schools
The local authority provides a free school place for all children who are of ‘compulsory school age'.
The Government and Leicestershire County Council websites have useful information about school admissions including how to choose a school, the admission criteria as well as applying and appealing a school’s decision not to issue a place.
How to choose a primary or secondary school:
You can find information about a school in a variety of ways. The Department for Education publishes school performance tables. Schools are regularly inspected by The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (OFSTED)and their reports are available on their website.
You can also refer to the school’s website, arrange a visit to the school or attend an open evening.
Schools’ websites must include, among other things:
- Contact details
- Admission criteria
- Links to Ofsted reports
- Details of the curriculum
- Behaviour policy
- Special educational needs and Disability policies
- Links to performance data
- Complaints procedure
How to apply for a primary or secondary school place:
Parents based in the UK apply for a school place for their children up to a year in advance. This means that your choice may be limited if places have already been allocated. The local authority’s School Admissions Service can give you information about which local schools have available places, but for the most up-to-date information you may wish to contact schools that you are interested in directly to find out if there is a place available.
You should apply for a primary or secondary school place online. You can do this from your home country if you have an address in the UK; otherwise you will have to wait until you have arrived in the UK.
You must apply for a school place each time your child is due to start a new school.
The local authority is not responsible for admission decisions relating to independent schools, Foundation Schools, Voluntary Aided Schools, Academies and Free Schools. In these cases applications must be made direct to the Head teacher of the school and a decision will be made by the school’s governing body.
How are state funded school places allocated and how can you appeal a decision?
Admission policies change so you will need to check how places are allocated with your local authority by downloading their admissions criteria guidance notes. The local authority will try to comply with a parent’s choice of school but there are certain limitations, e.g. class sizes for infants are limited to 30, so it may not always be possible to get a place at the school you prefer or the one that is closest to you.
If your application for a school place is refused, you can check the waiting list for your chosen school on the local authority’s website. You also have the right to appeal to an Independent Appeals Panel. You can download an appeal form from the local authority’s website. Before making a formal appeal, it is advisable to read the appeal information carefully to understand the reasons for refusal and the circumstances in which your appeal could be successful.
School Attendance and Absence
The law requires parents and carers to make sure their children receive a full-time education suitable to their needs. If your child is unexpectedly missing from school (even if it is only for one day) and the local authority believes that they are not being home educated, you may be contacted by the school or the authority’s education welfare officer. You can be prosecuted if you don't arrange for your child to receive an education.
You can only allow your child to miss school if they are either too ill to attend or you have prior advance permission.
Prior advance permission should be sought from the head teacher of the school in exceptional circumstances and it is their decision to grant or refuse your request. You will need to explain how many days your child will be away from school and the reason why and you can only remove your child from school if permission is granted.
Both parents can be fined individually for taking their child out of school during term time without the school’s permission. The penalty for an unauthorized absence from school is £60 per parent, rising to £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days. If you are fined and fail to pay, you may be prosecuted.