What age do you start and finish school?

Many children start school in the September after their 4th birthday. However, children can start in the September after their 5th birthday if you don’t think they are ready or they are younger (born between 1 April and 31 August). All children should be in school by the September following their 5th birthday at the latest.

All children in England between the ages of 5 and 16 are entitled to a free place at a state school.

State schools receive funding through their local authority or directly from the government. The most common ones are:

  • Community Schools, which are sometimes called local authority maintained schools – they are not influenced by business or religious groups and follow the national curriculum
  • Foundation Schools and Voluntary Schools, which are funded by the local authority but have more freedom to change the way they do things – sometimes they are supported by representatives from religious groups
  • Academies and Free Schools, which are run by not-for-profit academy trusts, are independent from the local authority – they have more freedom to change how they run things and can follow a different curriculum
  • Grammar Schools, which can be run by the local authority, a foundation body or an academy trust – they select their pupils based on academic ability and there is a test to get in

Children move to secondary school in September after their 11th birthday and must stay until they are 16. In England, all students must continue with either study or training until they turn 18. They can choose to do this in school or at college.

Find out more about options for study or training in Leeds for over 16-year-olds here.

Leeds Pathways

The school year

The school year starts in September, ends in July and there are three terms during the school year. Many schools are run by the Council, and you can find out the exact term dates on the Leeds City Council’s website. For other schools, they choose their own term dates, so it is best to contact them directly.

Leeds City Council Schools Term Dates

Find schools near you

This link has a search function to find your nearest primary school and secondary school:

Search for a School in Your Area

You can also compare schools in your local area, based on assessment scores and reports made by the Government department of the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, also known as Ofsted:

Comparison of local schools

Ofsted Reports of individual schools

Last Updated: 28 May 2024

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