please help me understand the English system

(18 Posts)
Chachah Fri 27-Jun-14 11:04:48

I've done a fair bit of googling, but I'm still confused. Please could you confirm to me that I have it right?

Dd was born in October 2013. As I understand, she'll be entitled to 15 hours a week of free education, the January after she turns 3. But from browsing mumsnet, it sounds like it's not all that simple to get these hours? that's what confuses me :-/

And then she'll start primary school when she turns 5. I think. Depending on where we'll be living. But then Wikipedia tells me that "Reception year" is from 4 to 5, so what is this Reception year? does it or does it not count as primary school, and is it state-funded or not?

hmm

Bonsoir Fri 27-Jun-14 11:09:52

All DC in England start school in the September in which they are 4 these days, in YR (Reception), even though the law says that they must only attend school from the term after their 5th birthday. In France, all DC must attend school from the September of the calendar year in which they turn 6 but all DC in practice attend maternelle from the September of the calendar year in which they turn 3.

Your DD will therefore start YR in September 2018 - she will be 4, soon to be 5. That is the year in which she would have started Grande Section in France.

If you want to send her to pre-school there are various options and you may be able to get the 15 funded hours. But this is more of a variable feast!

BertieBotts Fri 27-Jun-14 11:13:22

Whether it's simple or not depends on whether she's in nursery already.

There are two kinds of nurseries, pre-schools which operate from age 3 to 4 and only operate 15 hours a week anyway, they'll be either mornings or afternoons five days a week. This is extremely simple to get, you just walk into the one you want to go to and sign up your child around 6-12 months before they're due to start.

The other kind of nursery takes children from younger, often from 6 or 8 weeks (although most people start at 8/9 months when they finish maternity leave) and are all day, these are for childcare if you go to work, and are called Day Nurseries. Confusingly people refer to both day nurseries and preschools as "nursery". If you have a child in a day nursery, they still get the funding, but they might only be allowed to use a certain portion of it - for example if your child goes full time three days a week, they would probably only get 9 hours (3 days x 3 hours) because of the way that the funding works. Also, if they are with a childminder or nanny rather than a day nursery, it works differently again.

They start reception the school year they turn five. So if their birthday is October, they start at 4 years, 11 months. It is the first year of school and it is state funded. It is compulsory, unless you home educate, but legally you don't have to send your child until the term they turn five. For you this won't apply because your DD turns five in the first term. In any case it's an important "foundation" year, it is still very play based but it gives them the idea of what school is about and they will lay down a foundation of things like numbers, letters, colours etc as well as lots of other interesting things.

You need to apply to the local authority with your choices of schools (the number of choices you get varies by area) by the January before the September they would start. Usually the application process begins in the August before that January but it doesn't matter if you get your application in early or late in that Aug-Jan period, they are all given the same weight.

PeterParkerSays Fri 27-Jun-14 11:18:49

"If you have a child in a day nursery, they still get the funding, but they might only be allowed to use a certain portion of it - for example if your child goes full time three days a week, they would probably only get 9 hours (3 days x 3 hours) because of the way that the funding works."

Are you sure Bertie? I thought the nursery had to give you all 15 hours free (during term time) if your DC was at the nursery for more than 15 hours a week. DS went 2 full days and 1 half day and definitely got all 15 free hours. I don't think nurseries are allowed to reduce the number of free hours as your post suggests.

BertieBotts Fri 27-Jun-14 11:20:45

It depends on the area but this is what was happening to my NCT friends - It could have changed because this was around 3 years ago.

BertieBotts Fri 27-Jun-14 11:22:36

The term time thing is an issue though for day nurseries, I forgot about that part. Because they operate all year round. Some of them spread the discount out over the year so that payments don't change but this makes it work out as less savings than the actual cost of 15 hours (because school terms only cover about 39 weeks of the year, not 52.)

Chachah Fri 27-Jun-14 11:24:14

thank you, Bonsoir and BertieBotts! much clearer now.

Bonsoir, I never really missed France until I had Dd, but right now I'm getting pretty nostalgic about it. My mom was a petite section teacher, I started school with her when I was 2!

TweeAintMee Fri 27-Jun-14 11:28:24

To answer part of your question about the Reception Year at Primary School - it is part of state funded education. Technically your child is not obliged to be educated until he/she is 5. However you would risk losing the place at school if you waited until then.

beccajoh Fri 27-Jun-14 11:28:39

Only getting the 9 hours was probably because the government pays a fixed amount for the 15 hours. In some areas this will cover the full cost to the provider of the 15 hours, but in other areas it doesn't. Most providers ask parents for a top up, or you just have as many hours as the government payment covers.

Chachah Fri 27-Jun-14 11:34:16

subsidiary question: if I understand the school start dates correctly, it means Dd (born in October) will be among the older children in her class, right?

Yes, she'll be one of the oldest in her class. The youngest will be nearly a whole year younger, born August 2014 (so in fact not born yet! grin).

You'll need to apply for her school place basically as soon as she turns 3 (the deadline is mid-January but applications open in September normally). Depending on where you live you can pick 3 or 6 schools, list them in the order that you prefer but make sure you list at least one school that you have a very good chance of getting in to.

If you wanted, once you apply and accept a place at a school, you could defer her entry for a term so she started after Christmas age 5.3 instead of in September age 4.11. The school/LEA can't refuse you that, although they might not be too happy about it.

Bonsoir Fri 27-Jun-14 12:18:28

Chacha - she will in fact be a year behind versus the French system. In France she would take her bac at 17 years old, in 2031. In England she will do A-levels at 18, in 2032.

crazymum53 Fri 27-Jun-14 12:20:22

"You'll need to apply for her school place basically as soon as she turns 3 (the deadline is mid-January but applications open in September normally)"

This may be true for a child with a Summer birthday Rueawakening but is not correct for a child with an October birthday.

I have a child with an October birthday, you will be applying for a school place at approx the time of your child's 4th birthday. You apply to your LEA (local education authority i.e. your local council). This is usually done on-line via the Council website.

For pre-school education (from 3 onwards) you apply directly to the nursery or pre-school. I would recommend applying in the September before your child's second birthday.

Chachah Fri 27-Jun-14 12:42:40

thank you all flowers

HouseofEliot Fri 27-Jun-14 13:18:23

A lot of the pre schools here you have to sign them up from birth they are that popular. My niece is due to start in 2 years time there is already 90 on the list for 24 spaces. It is done first come first served not on distance.

BertieBotts Fri 27-Jun-14 13:50:16

I've never seen that with a preschool. Maybe if they're really exclusive ones. You're right though that preschools are done first come first served or whatever their selection criteria is. But primary school places are allocated by the LEA and everyone gets a fair shot.

HouseofEliot Fri 27-Jun-14 21:14:29

The ones at the five local schools are all like this. Certainly not exclusive just inner city ones in an ok area. The only ones you would get here applying 6 months before would be the ones in the deprived areas.

crazymum53 Sat 28-Jun-14 16:24:24

Pre-school and LEA nursery are not first-come first served in my area, but use admissions criteria similar to schools.
I meant that you apply ONE YEAR before you start pre-school not six months.
I would check on your local board what criteria are used locally to you.

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