Starting school

When will my child start school?

Generally, children in Scotland start school when they are aged between four-and-a-half and five-and-a-half. When they are eligible to start school depends on when their fifth birthday is:

  • If your child’s birthday is on or between 1 March-31 August, your child will usually start school in the August (the beginning of Autumn term) of the year they turn 5.
  • If your child’s birthday is on or between 1 September and the last day in February, your child will usually start school in the August (the beginning of Autumn term) in the year before they turn 5.

If your child is still 4 years old on the date they are due to start primary school, you can defer your child's entry to primary school by a year.

If your child is deferring entry to school for a year, you can:

  • automatically get an extra year of early learning and childcare funding if their 5th birthday is on or between 1 January and the end of February
  • apply to your local council and request an extra year of early learning and childcare funding if their 5th birthday is after the beginning of the autumn term, in August, and before 1 January. Your local council will decide if your child will get an extra year of funding. Even if your child is not granted an additional year of early learning and childcare funding, you are still entitled to defer their entry to school for a year.

Visit your local council’s website to find out more information about this in your area. More information on children’s birthdays, primary school deferral, and the early learning and childcare funded provision (which may be available in a deferred year) can be found on the MyGov website.

How will my child's school help to ensure that transitions go smoothly?

Primary teachers work closely with early learning and childcare staff to ensure that information about your child's learning and achievements are passed on. Staff will also share other information that will help the teacher support your child's learning, for example friendship groups, preferred ways of working.

How can I help?

To help prepare your child for a good start you can:

  • listen and talk to your child about this change in their lives
  • involve your child in getting ready for school by helping choose the things they will need, for example their uniform, lunchbox, schoolbag
  • talk to your school if you have questions or concerns
  • support staff in getting to know your child, let them know about interests and health issues
  • keep in touch with the school about anything that may affect your child's learning
  • find out how the school will communicate with you.

You may wish to read or download Parenting across Scotland's top ten tips - starting primary school.

How can I find out more about my child's school?

Attend induction events or introductory sessions - they are designed to let you and your child meet teachers and become familiar with the school. If you cannot attend an event, contact the school and ask if you can go along at another time.

Go prepared with a set of questions covering all the things you and your child want to know about.

All schools in Scotland that are managed by a local authority produce an annual School Handbook. This gives you information about the school, including:

  • Contact details – including information on how the school communicates with its parents and how parents can communicate with the school
  • Information about opportunities for parents to become involved in the school and in their child's education
  • a statement of the school's culture, ethos and values
  • Information on curriculum, assessment and reporting
  • Arrangements for support for pupils
  • School's performance and achievements
  • Range of school policies and practical information.

Find information on your child's school/local schools in the Find a school section of this website.

For further information, contact your local authority.