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There are lots of things to think about and lots of questions you may have about school, uniforms, stationery and even what to bring for your child's packed lunch! This section should help answer those questions you may have.

Finding a school place

You can apply for a school place online at

There are 65 primary and secondary schools in the City of York Council area. There are also a number of private schools in York where you will need to pay fees. All schools are happy for parents to visit to help them choose a school. If you would like to do this, you should contact the school. You can take your children to look around and it will be a good opportunity to ask questions.


If your local school is more than 3 miles away (2 miles for primary school) you can sometimes get a free bus pass. Find out more at on the main City of York Council website.

School Terms and Holidays

School terms and holidays

There are three terms in each year.

  • Autumn – September to December
  • Spring – January to March
  • Summer – April to July

There is a week-long holiday half way through each term called “half term” and a longer holiday at the end of each term.

You are not allowed to take your children out of school for holidays during term time without the head teacher’s permission. You may lose your child’s place if you do not make an arrangement with the head teacher. If you have a special reason for taking your child out of school during term time, the school will give you a holiday form. You must give your reason on the form. If you take your child out of school in term time for a holiday or trip home you can be fined or prosecuted.

A list of holiday dates can be found on the City of York Council website.

Your child’s school will also be closed for five days for teacher training each year. You should ask your child’s school for a list of dates as each school has different training dates.

Compare Schools Performance

The Department for Education provides an online tool to help people find and compare local schools’ performance. For the first time on the Department's website, people can:

  • select the schools that interest them and compare performance side by side
  • view a full list of schools in England and filter to find schools with similar characteristics
  • use an interactive map to view local, regional and national averages for school performance


Primary schools provide all the equipment your child needs (except for a P.E kit - see below). They may ask you to provide a water bottle and a book bag.

In secondary school you need to provide more equipment including stationary, maths equipment and more, as well as a P.E kit. Your secondary school will give you a list of equipment to buy.


Dress and Articles of Faith

Children can wear religious clothing and jewellery but health and safety must always be the priority. The school will give you advice.

Primary School

Children do not have to wear uniform in primary school but most schools prefer children to wear school colours. You can order uniform with the school logo from the school office. You can buy cheaper uniform without a logo in many children’s clothes shops and big supermarkets. Ask the school what you need to buy.

Secondary School

Children have to wear uniform in secondary schools. The school will tell you what you need. They will tell you which shops sell uniform with the school logo but you can buy school trousers and shirts in many children’s clothing stores and big supermarkets. They will also advise you on the school’s uniform policy regarding clothing and other articles of faith which have religious or cultural significance.  Some families may be eligible for financial assistance to buy uniforms.

Physical Education Kit

In primary school your child may need:

  • a plain white t-shirt,
  • a plain pair of shorts (usually black or dark blue)
  • a pair of trainers

Secondary schools often want pupils to wear PE kit in the school colours. The school will give you a list of what your child needs and where to buy it.

Sometimes your child may be able to go swimming.  They will need a swimming costume/trunks and a towel.  Swimming sessions are usually mixed gender.  Please talk to your school if you would like to discuss this. 

Girls can cover their arms and legs for PE and swimming if they wish.

Food and Meal times


Children up to the age of seven will get a piece of fruit to eat at either morning or afternoon break. Children in the reception class (FS2) will also get a drink of milk. All children will be encouraged to drink plenty of water throughout the day. You may need to give your child a plastic drinks bottle to take to school. Most schools try to encourage healthy eating and do not let children eat crisps, sweets or chocolate.


At lunch time, you can choose to have a school meal or bring some food from home often called a “pack-up” or “packed lunch”.

A healthy packed lunch should contain:

  • Some bread, rice, potatoes or pasta
  • Some meat, fish, egg or beans.
  • A dairy item. This could be cheese or yoghurt.
  • Vegetables, salad or a portion of fruit.
  • A drink of water or juice – not fizzy pop

Some schools do not allow nuts because there may be pupils with allergies. Check with your child’s teacher before putting nuts in lunchboxes.

You will have to pay for school meals and families on benefits may get free school meals. If your child cannot eat certain foods please tell the school. There is always a vegetarian option available as part of the menu.

Support with financial costs

Some families may be eligible for Free Schools Meals or help with the cost of school uniform. Find out more information on available benefits to help with the cost of meals and uniforms.


Children in primary schools get homework about once a week but older children get homework every day.

Primary schools ask children to read their reading books at home everyday. You can listen to your child read and talk about the book in your home language.

Secondary schools give pupils homework diaries. They write their homework tasks in these diaries. There are many ways you can help your child with homework. For instance, by discussing what they are learning in your own language.

York FIS