I think this is a question about 'how does this work'. We live in Norfolk, UK, and my toddler is coming up to 2. We understand that she should start attending some kind of nursery / preschool thing. But it seems that the preschools lead into primary schools - is this normal?

Do we get a choice on what primary school she goes to, or is that already decided? Someone told us we should be looking to get on a list?

I'm a little concerned about the little'uns social skill development. She goes to a couple of things, but doesn't really get much time to interact with other toddlers, and spends the rest of the day running round the house causing chaos. She seems to be a bright young thing, but doesn't talk really, just ... chaos.

2 Answers 2


There is no requirement to send your child to pre-school, that's a choice that's left up to you. Obviously, there are pros and cons for whether or not you send them, which can be discussed elsewhere.

As for picking schools... you supply a list of three preferences to your local authority the year before your child is due to start school. Then, based on a series of criteria, your child will be allocated to a school. If you're not happy with the options provided, you can appeal and try to get the local authority to make an amendment.

That's the broad overview but there's a lot of devil in the detail. Each local authority has its own rules and guidelines that you should be aware of before starting.

The Norfolk schools admission guidelines for reception places are here:


.. and it quotes: Distance, Siblings, Special Needs and Feeder Schools as defining factors, before your child hits the "Random Allocation" phase.

  • In addition to this, I'd add that an increasing number of primary schools now operate attached nurseries. (As well as being very convenient for parents who happen to have both school-aged and nursery-aged children, I believe they're pretty good money-spinners.) If the school you're aiming to send your daughter to has one of these, I'd recommend it - it will give her an early chance to socialize with the children who are likely to be her classmates.
    – tobyink
    Commented Jan 17, 2014 at 20:15

To address the specific part about "should": most children will join a "Reception" class at an infants school in September when they are 4 years old. In theory you can keep them out until after they are 5, but its not a good idea unless you are planning to do some home education: they will join a class full of children who have already been at school for a year and know the ropes. You can start a child at a nursery before then. Opinions vary as to whether this is a good idea or not, how much is best etc.

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