Ukrainian migrant support hub

A gateway for Ukrainian migrants and those who support them to access information, events and services.
Шлюз для доступу до інформації, подій та послуг для українських мігрантів та тих, хто їх підтримує.

Education guide

Children under 16

All children are entitled to free education in a state-run school. Private schools exist, but these are expensive (around £15,000 per year). It is a legal requirement that your children get a full time education between the September after their 5th birthday, until the June after their 16th birthday. 

Starting ages

Most children start school in the September after their 4th birthday, but this can be a year later if you don’t think they are ready. Schools will vary in which ages they cover. Primary schools teach children until they are 10 or 11. Secondary schools teach children from age 11 to 16. Whist these age brackets are the most common, some schools cover different age periods. Each school will advertise which ages they cover.


At age 16, all children will be tested on all of the subjects they have been taught. The qualifications they get from these are called GCSE.

Registering your child at a school
Choosing a school

Usually children will go to the school that is nearest to them, but you have the right to apply for a school you prefer. Good schools will however get more applications than they can provide for, so your application may be rejected.

You will need to research which schools are available in your area. There are several websites which can help you do this. You should consider how easy it will be for your children to travel to school and whether the school provides a bus service. The quality of education they provide is also very important. A government body called Ofsted regularly inspects all schools and provides a rating and a full report you can find on their website. All schools also provide open days, where you will receive a tour of the school and hear from the teachers.

You also need to look at any requirements a school may have. Some schools may have entrance exams which your child will need to pass to be accepted. There also religious schools which will preference families who are part of their religion.


If your child will be starting school at the start of a new academic year, you should follow the council’s standard application process. You will apply via the local government website. You will need to do this before their published deadline, or you will be less likely to be considered for your first choices.

What if my child needs to start school in the middle of an academic year?

If your child is starting in the middle of an academic year, there is a different process which you can also access via the council website.

Receive an outcome

After all applications have been processed, you will be informed of which school place your child has been given.


If there are exceptional reasons why you believe your child needs to attend a particular school, that you do not feel have been taken into account, it is possible to appeal. In practice, it is very unlikely that this will change the outcome.

School uniform

Each school will require your child to have a uniform and clothes for sport. They will tell you where these can be bought from. Large supermarkets are often good places to buy items such as smart trousers, and shoes which will may be part of the uniform.

What should I do if I can’t afford school uniform?

You should contact the school. They may be able to help getting second hand items, or provide other support.

You could also try looking for second-hand school uniform via websites like 'nextdoor' or Facebook Marketplace.

Arranging transport

You should check if the school can provide a bus service to your house. 

Attending school
Being absent

It is important that your child doesn’t miss days, unless it is unavoidable due to sickness or medical appointments. If there is a medical reason, you should contact the school in advance to let them know if possible, or contact them on the day.

If your child is regularly missing days and this has not been agreed with the school, you can be liable for a fine.

Home schooling

You are allowed to educate your children at home. The government provide information on this option.

Children with disabilities and special educational needs

If your child has a disability, learning impairment or otherwise struggles to understand things, concentrate or socialise, you may be able to get additional support for them. If they are in a school or nursery already, you should talk to the staff to discuss what support they can get. If they are not in a school, you should talk to the local council, or get advice from your local IAS Service.

Where to get help
Birmingham City Council
Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS)
The school year and holidays

The specific dates each school will be open will vary every year, and each school will publish this information in advance. The school year is divided into 3 terms. The first starts in September and runs until December. There will be a 1 week holiday in the middle of this period, followed by a Christmas holiday at the end, which is usually 2 weeks. The spring term starts in January and ends shortly before Easter. There will be a 1 week holiday in the middle of this period, and an Easter holiday at the end, which is usually 2 weeks. The summer term starts after Easter, and ends in July. There will be a 1 week holiday in the middle, followed by a long summer holiday. This is usually 6 weeks long.

Education and training for children age 16 – 18

All young people must continue either in education or training until their 18th birthday. Most continue to end of the school year after their 18th birthday.

Many children staying in academic education will study 3 or 4 subjects at their school or college. At the end they be tested in these subjects. The qualifications they will get are called ‘A Levels’.  They may be able to do these in their secondary school (where it is usually called a ‘Sixth Form college’), but not all schools offer this. They may also choose another school or college if they prefer, or if the school doesn't run A-Level courses.

There are also practical courses which are focused on training people to move directly into work. These may be learning a trade such as carpentry or hairdressing. The most common qualifications are called BTECs and NVQs.

Registering your child at a college
Choosing a college

You will need to research which colleges are available in your area. A government body called Ofsted regularly inspects all colleges and provide a rating and a full report you can find on their website. All colleges provide open days from time to time, where you will receive a tour of the college and hear from the teachers. Colleges choose which subjects they will teach, so you will want to look at which match your child’s interests or career ideas.


You will need to apply directly to colleges you’re interested in. Each will have their own process, which will may involve coming to an interview.

Universities and higher education

From the age of 18, you can attend a university or higher education college. 

Cost and financial support

University education is not free in the UK (except Scotland). Most students pay for their fees and costs while studying with an interest-free loan provided by the government. You can find more about the support available from the government website.

You can search for courses across the country via the UCAS website. 


You will usually apply to courses via the UCAS website. You will find more information about deadlines and the process on their website.

Adult education options

Any adult is able to study for the qualifications taught to children up to 18, or attend university. There are also many other courses and workshops that you can attend in your local area or complete online. This will include training for specific jobs, or general skills such as literacy, numeracy and using computers.

Where to get help
Department For Education
Find A Skills Bootcamp
Learn English

English is the primary language of the UK, and it will be much harder to find work and navigate daily life without basic English skills.

There are many options for learning English – but the most common is to take ESOL classes. You can also find courses online, or use free apps such as Duolingo to help you build your skills. In many areas you may also find free conversation clubs where you’ll meet with others and get to practice your English skills.

Where to get help
ESOL Hub Birmingham
Search for support options
Education for people with disabilities
Children under 16

All publicly funded nurseries and schools have a responsibility to help children with special educational needs and disabilities. The person to speak to at your school is called the ‘Special Educational Needs Coordinator’. They are responsible for planning the support for your child.

People aged 16 and over

Colleges should have a staff member who you can talk to. Speak to them to find out about what support they can provide.

In universities, the student services centre can give you information about support that's available for disabled students. If you have physical needs and will be staying in university accommodation, speak to the accommodation office to arrange an accessible room. You can also go to the students' union, who may be able to tell you about disability advocacy groups or peer support groups, or help you deal with problems you may have had with student services.