When does my child have to start school?

Children must be in full time education once they reach statutory school age.  This starts from the term after the child’s fifth birthday. 

  • Children becoming 5 years old between 1 September and 31 December are of statutory school age at the beginning of the term after 1 January.
  • Children becoming 5 years old between 1 January and 31 March are of statutory school age at the beginning of the term after 1 April.
  • Children becoming 5 years old between 1 April and 31 August are of statutory school age at the beginning of the term after 1 September.

The first year of school is called reception. Newcastle schools offer all children the opportunity of a whole year in reception regardless of the date of their fifth birthday. 

What age must my child be before they can leave school?

A young person stops being of statutory school age on the last Friday in June during the year that they become 16 years old, as long as the child’s birthday is before the beginning of the next school year.  If their 16th birthday falls after the start of the new school year, they are still of statutory school age until the end of the last Friday in June of the following year.

After this age, your child does not have to attend a school but must continue in formal education or training until their 18th birthday. This might mean:

  • studying full-time in a school, college or with a training provider (many young people also take a part time job alongside)
  • working or volunteering full-time, combined with part-time education or training
  • taking up an apprenticeship or traineeship

How are Newcastle schools organised?

Newcastle has both a two-tier and three-tier school system.  These school systems have a different transfer age as shown below. 

  • In most of Newcastle, children are educated in a primary school from age 4 to 10 before transferring to secondary school at the end of year 6.
  • In the Gosforth, Great Park and Dinnington areas of Newcastle, children are educated in first schools (age 4 to 8) and transfer to middle school at the end of year 4 (age 9 to 12). From middle school, children normally transfer to Gosforth Academy at the end of year 8 (age 13).
  • Most first, primary and middle schools have a designated feeder school to which their pupils usually transfer.  However, there is no automatic transfer from a school into its feeder school. Parents have to apply for transfer places.
  • At secondary phase, there are two single sex Catholic schools – Sacred Heart (girls) and St Cuthbert’s (boys). St Mary’s Catholic School and all primary faith schools are mixed gender.
  • We also have a new University Technology College (UTC) opening September 2018 where the initial year of entry is age 14 (year 10).

All Newcastle secondary schools provide courses for students post-16. 

What are infant class size limits?

The law states that no infant class should contain more than 30 children with a single qualified teacher.  Children will be refused places if their admission would mean more than 30 children in a class.  Infant class size limits apply to reception, year 1 and year 2 classes.  Schools must comply with the infant class size limit.

The class size limit does not mean that all schools have to admit up to 30 children into each class. At some schools the size of classrooms and internal layout may mean that classes have to be smaller than 30.

Most schools in Newcastle have a reception intake of 30 (one class) or 60 (two classes). In some schools 45 children are admitted into the reception year (usually taught in two classes) and then children are taught in mixed age classes in the older year groups of the school, in other words year 1 and year 2 children may be taught in the same classroom. This means the 45 children from year 1 and 45 children from year 2 are brought together into three classes each of 30 pupils, which therefore complies with the infant class size limit of no more than 30 children with a qualified teacher.  Where the school organises its classrooms in this way, a maximum of 45 children can be admitted into reception because of the impact in future years.

If a school you are interested in organises its classes in this way and it concerns you, talk to the school about how it works.

How secure is the information I have provided you about my child in their school application?

In addition to processing your application for a school place, under the data protection legislation we may use your application information to co-operate with our partners in health and youth justice to improve the wellbeing of children in the Newcastle area as required by the Children Act 2004. Information sharing between partner organisations is sometimes necessary to help provide better services.

In accordance with the School Admissions Code 2014, we are required to publish statistical data about the number of applications for places at each school, the number which were successful and the criteria under which they were accepted.

All admissions application data is stored, maintained and transferred by secure methods in accordance with the Data Protection Act.  The online school admission system is regularly independently tested to guard against unauthorised entry. Please note, we will only discuss your child's application form with the named applicant. If you are happy for us to discuss the application with another party please indicate this on your application form or inform us in writing by emailing admissions.information@newcastle.gov.uk

Is there any help available with the costs of my child attending school?

The following types of support may be available depending on your family circumstances.

  • Free home to school travel is available to eligible pupils aged 5 - 16 in the form of a travel permit which is valid for a return journey on public transport on school days. Very few children are entitled however.
  • All reception, year 1 and year 2 children are entitled to receive a free school meal as part of the Government's Universal Infant Free School Meal Policy irrespective of income. You will need to register with your child’s school in order for your child to get the free meal.
  • If your family is on a low income, your child’s school may be able to access additional funding called the Pupil Premium to help with school expenses and resources to support your child. When you register for your child’s Universal Infant Free School Meal, they will ask you some income related questions in order that they can assess your eligibility for Pupil Premium.
  • There is no financial support available from the local authority towards the cost of school uniform.

School directory

Our school AZ will link you to every Newcastle school website.

Find your nearest schools

Enter your postcode into the government’s school finder to find your nearest schools. These may be in a neighbouring local authority.

Page last updated: 
15 August 2017
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