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Preparing for school

Getting your child ready to start school for the first time.

Early years education

  • Early years education information from Oxfordshire County Council

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    We have information about what is available to you and how to find providers on our website.

Early Years Foundation Stage

Read about the Early Years Foundation Stage, a childcare and early education framework from birth to age 5.

Free early education for 3 - 4 year olds

Learn about the Early Education Fund for 3 and 4 year olds that entitles your child to 570 hours of free early education.

Childcare and early years education

Search for childcare options available to you, including creches, childminders and day nurseries. 

Apply for a nursery place

Find out about nursery admissions and get details about early years education providers.

Getting your child ready to start school

You are your child’s first and most important teacher, and the support you give your child will help them to develop into lifelong learners. Use everyday events to teach basic skills that they will need to be ‘school ready’ and ‘life ready’.

What is school readiness?

School readiness may mean several things to different people.  At Oxfordshire County Council, we have adopted UNICEF’s description of the three elements of school readiness.

  1. Children’s readiness for school
  2. Families and communities’ readiness for school
  3. Settings’ and schools’ readiness for children.

Children have the potential to become school ready when families, early years providers and schools work together to support the development of children’s confidence, resilience and curiosity.

A child who is ready for school will be:

  • curious and confident about learning
  • resilient and ready to take part
  • able to take risks, ask questions and find solutions
  • confidently active and healthy
  • independent with self-care skills
  • comfortable with making friends and taking turns
  • cared for and feel safe and secure
  • able to vocalise choices.

Is your child ready?

Ask yourself these questions to see if your child is fully prepared to start school.

  • Are they able to dress themselves?
  • Are they becoming confident and able to make friends?
  • Can they go to the toilet on their own?
  • Can they listen to others with understanding?
  • Can they explain how they feel?

The tracker below can help you and your child prepare for school.

  • Guidance from PACEY

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    The PACEY website has some great resources to help you get your little one ready for school.

Moving from childcare to school

The PACEY website's activity sheets will help you support your child get ready for school. It's not about the RAW (reading, arithmetic and writing) skills - rather helping children be curious, confident and ready to learn.

Toolkit to support school readiness

The PACEYtoolkit supports parents before school, during the first days and throughout the first year.

Blogs - learning and development

Many of PACEY’s blogs are written by experts in their field and explore the key areas of learning for young children. Choose an area of learning below to find out more.

Spotlight on being school ready

PACEY has gathered key resources to help you and your child prepare for their new adventure.

  • Developing strong foundations for literacy and maths

    boogie mites logo

    Boogie Mites transition courses engage families with pre-school children starting school in September.

  • Preparing your child for using the toilet at big school

    eric (children's bowel and bladder charity) logo

    Children need to be toilet trained where possible when they start school. Starting school can bring your child a new set of toileting expectations. Get advice about helping them cope on the Eric website.

  • School readiness

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    As well as helping with words and numbers, there's a lot you can do to get your child ready for school. Learn more on the Family Lives website.

  • Keeping safe at school

    NSPCC logo

    The NSPCC website includes advice for parents of children who are starting school for the first time.

Apply for a school place

  • Schools information from Oxfordshire County Council

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    We have information about starting school in Oxfordshire, including how to apply for a reception place.

Delay reception application

How to delay reception application for children born 1 April to 31 August.

Find out about schools

How to find out if a school is suitable for your child.

Travelling to school

You must think about how your child will get to school when you are applying for a reception place. We provide free home to school transport in limited circumstances.

Apply for a reception place

How and when to apply to reception at infant and primary school.

Special educational needs and disability (SEND)

  • Oxfordshire's local offer

    Oxfordshire's local offer logo

    Find out about the local offer for children in Oxfordshire with special educational needs (SEN).

  • Further information and support from Oxfordshire County Council

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    Get information about the support available for children with additional needs.

Early support for children with complex health needs or disabilities

Early Support is a way of improving the delivery of services for children who need support from a range of specialist community services.

Family Information Directory

The Family Information Directory lists activities and services for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

  • Speech and language therapy

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    Children's Integrated Therapies support children and young people with speech, language and communication difficulties in developing the best possible communication skills they can.

  • Speech and Language UK

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    The Speech and Language UK website includes a guide to the typical stages of speech and language development in babies, children and young people. You will also find guidance and resources if you are concerned about your child's communication skills.