Starting school

When will my child start school?

Generally, children in Scotland start school when they are aged between 4½ and 5½ years old. 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 at the beginning of the Autumn term in the August the year they turn 5.
  • If your child’s birthday is on or between 1 September – last day in February, your child will usually start school in the at the beginning of Autumn term in the August before they turn 5.

Deferred Entry to School

If your child is still 4 years old on the date they are due to start primary school, you can choose to delay your child's entry to primary school by a year. Children who have deferred entry to primary school are now entitled to an additional year of funded early learning and childcare (ELC).

Choosing to delay your child’s entry to school is a big decision. You will want to think carefully about what is in your child’s best interests. The Scottish Government’s   website provides information about things you may want to consider before you decide.

Look at your local authority’s website to find out more about how to apply for deferred entry and an additional year of funded ELC in your local area. Some local authorities have a cut-off date for applications.

Your child’s ELC setting and the primary school they will attend can also provide helpful information.

How will my child's transition to school be supported?

Almost all Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) settings and primary schools follow the same and Primary school ELC staff work closely together to ensure that information about your child's learning and achievements are passed on. ELC staff will also share other information that will help your child’s teacher support their learning. This might include for example, information about their interests and friendship groups. This is all done to help make your child’s transition to school as smooth as possible. Your child’s ELC setting or primary school will share information with you about the local arrangements to support your child’s move to school.

How can I help?

To help your child have a smooth transition you can:

  • listen and talk with your child about this change in their life – what are they looking forward to and whether they have any questions or worries;
  • involve your child in helping choose the things they will need for school, for example their uniform, lunchbox and schoolbag;
  • talk to your child’s school if you have questions or concerns;
  • support school 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 local authority schools in Scotland 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;
  • opportunities for parents to become involved in the school and in their child's education;
  • the school's culture, ethos and values;
  • curriculum, assessment and reporting;
  • arrangements for support for pupils’
  • the school's performance and achievements; and
  • range of school policies and practical information.

Find information on your child's school and schools near you in the Find a school section of this website.

For further information contact your local authority.