Starting school

Schools offer places to all children from the September following their fourth birthday

By law, children do not have to be in school until they reach compulsory school age.

Starting School in Hampshire - A guide for parents, carers and practitioners to help ensure the best possible start to school for Hampshire’s children.

Compulsory school age

Children reach compulsory school age the term following their fifth birthday:

  • children born between 1 September and 31 December must be in full-time education by the start of the Spring term
  • children born between 1 January and 31 March must be in full-time education by the start of the Summer term
  • children born between 1 April and 31 August must be in full-time education at the start of the new school year
Starting school options

Most children start school full-time in the September after their fourth birthday. There are other options for parents of four year olds who feel their child is not yet ready for school.

Parents have the opportunity to:

  • start their child in September on a full-time basis from their first day of attendance or
  • allow their child to attend on a part-time basis until the start of the term after the child's fifth birthday or
  • defer their child's entry to school until later in the school year. This must not be beyond the start of the term after their fifth birthday or beyond the start of the final term of the school year

You must discuss with the school how you would like your child to start school.

Parents of summer born children (those born between 1 April and 31 August) only can also:

  • request to delay their child’s entry to school until the September after they turn five
Free pre-school places

Under its early years education scheme, Hampshire County Council will fund 570 free hours in a pre-school setting for your child's eligible year.

However, there are restrictions. You cannot access a free pre-school place if your child attends, or is due to attend another County nursery school, mainstream or special school (including nursery or special unit) in the same term.

If you wish to defer entry to school your current free pre-school setting may or may not be able to continue to offer your child a place. You must discuss your request with them.