Families moving to Leeds with children between the ages of 5 and 16 will need to find out about the UK education system and plan where they will go to school.

Finding a school 

All children must go to school between the ages of 5 and 16 in the UK. 

You can visit the Leeds City Council website and contact the Leeds City Council to find out about how to search for available school places and apply for a free school place.

Through the Leeds City Council website, you can also find information about what you need to do if you are moving to Leeds or want to change schools in Leeds. Including information on what to do if you are moving to Leeds from outside the UK and want to begin the application process for a school place before arriving in the UK. 

Some schools will accept children from the age of four. If your child is aged between 16 and 19, they can attend a local adult education centre or college, but may have to pay fees. All school ages of UK children are calculated on the 1 September, as this is the start of the UK academic school year and runs through to 31 August in the following year.

State schools

The UK state school system is divided into three types of school:

  • Nursery school - for children aged between three and five years of age
  • Primary school - for children aged between four-five and 11 years of age
  • Secondary school - for children aged between 11 and 16 years of age

If you would like to apply for a free school place at a state school, you will need to apply online through the Leeds City Council website. 

The Leeds City Council website contains information about state primary and secondary schools in Leeds and links to each school’s website. There may be many schools with vacancies in the area in which you live. 

Independent schools

In the UK, schools that charge fees can be called ‘independent’, ‘private’ or ‘public’. The Independent Schools Council (ISC) lists all schools in the country that charge fees. In order to apply to an independent school, you will need to contact the school directly as each school will have a different application process, and may require the child to complete a test or examination.

School holidays

The academic year for state primary and secondary schools runs from early September to late July. The academic year is broken into three terms. Half way through each term there is a holiday of one week and there are longer holidays at Christmas, Easter and during the summer. Term dates for schools are available on the School Holiday and Term Dates section of the Leeds City Council website. Be sure to make a note of the dates so that you can arrange extra childcare if required.

Taking children out of school

In the UK, parents don't have the automatic right to take their children out of school during term time. Parents can be prosecuted if their children fail to attend school. Once your child is registered with a primary or secondary school, the school will expect that child to attend throughout the term.

If you need to take your child out of school, for example if you need to travel abroad, you should discuss this with the school as soon as possible.

If your child is unwell or is unable to attend school for another reason, you should contact the school as soon as possible either by telephone or by going to the school in person. If you're unhappy about the way your child is being schooled, you should discuss this with the head teacher and then the Chairperson of the school’s board of governors.

Pre- and after-school clubs

Some schools offer clubs before and after school to help parents who have to drop their children off early or collect them late. Ask your child’s school about pre- and after-school clubs.