School Readiness & Starting School

School Readiness & Starting School

What is School Readiness? 

The concept of school readiness typically refers to the child's attainment of a certain set of emotional, behavioural, and cognitive skills needed to learn, work, and function successfully in school.

During your child's time at Toad Hall we put in a great deal of preparation but you as parents can help a great deal too by:

  • Reading books to your children
  • Spending time with your children
  • Creating routines
  • Encouraging and answering questions from your children
  • Engaging in reading and counting activities
  • Familiarise children with the world around them
  • Promoting play that helps to develop skills
  • Encouraging responsibility

Some of the expected characteristics that should be displayed by a child to show school readiness;

  • Independent in toileting
  • Able to dress themselves
  • Understands expected levels of behaviour
  • Confidence and self-esteem
  • Can take turns and share
  • Can sit still for a short period
  • Can separate from parents/carers
  • Communication and language skills needed to communicate needs and listen to others
  • Can actively learn and creatively and critically think

Some of these characteristics may be difficult for all children to achieve and this shouldn’t leave parents concerned that a child isn’t school ready. The important thing is that we are aware of these characteristics and can put steps in place to ensure a child is developing the skills. Getting support and identifying any areas of weakness early is critical in ensuring the gaps are narrowed, and all children are given the opportunity to reach their full potential. 

Many activities or experiences can be offered to children to help school readiness. Some of these include:

  • Encouraging a child to wipe their bottoms, using routine posters can be useful to remind a child of the necessary steps when toileting such as, toilet, wipe, flush, wash hands.
  • Encourage children to take off and put on own jumpers or cardigans; it can be easier and quicker to do this for them but supporting a child to do it themselves will help them to learn the skills needed to be school ready. This can also be done with putting on own shoes and socks.
  • We use golden rule charts to show children the expected levels of behaviour in the setting. We keep it positive and express the behaviour we would like to see rather than the behaviour we don’t want see, i.e., we are kind to our friends instead of no fighting
  • We use praise and encouragement, this is done as part of every day EYFS practice, we promote this further through sharing proud moments, we allow children to display the work they are proud of on display boards rather than practitioners choosing what goes on there.
  • We play games, hold circle time sessions that are fun, share stories, sing songs and hold a show and tell sessions. All these encourage communication and language development, turn-taking and listening skills.

School readiness is essential for development and determines a child’s future outcomes so promoting these skills as early as possible is the best way to ensure every child gets the support they need to succeed.


When can my child start school?

You have the right to start your child at school on a full-time basis from the September following their fourth birthday, providing you been been allocated a school place for your child. For more information go to the Essex County Council website at and search 'schools admissions'. Most children begin attending an infant or primary school during the school year in which they reach five years old. Parents living in Essex must apply to Essex County Council for their preferred primary or infant schools. The Essex Common Application Form (CAF) is the only way you can apply for a primary or infant school place for your child. The CAF can either be completed and submitted online at or you can send it by post. Some schools will need extra information to rank your application against their admission criteria. These schools will ask you to complete a Supplementary Information Form (SIF). Most schools of a religious character will ask you to complete a SIF. 

When you sign up with Toad Hall your child's place and sessions are secured until 31st August of the year that they are due to start school. Children start in the Reception Year at school from the September following their fourth birthday. A school year runs from September to the following August. Essex County Council's policy is that children start start school in the year that they are due to start (the September following their fourth birthday). If you require a place at Toad Hall after this date you will need to check that we have places available, please see the dates below of when school starts, when your place ends at Toad Hall and the date you can apply for a school place. Again, if you defer your child's school place you will need to check that we have space available for them to stay up to an extra year. 


Important dates for starting school:

Born on, up to and including School Start Date Apply for a school place
1 Sept 2016-31 Aug 2017 Starts in Sept 2021  (place ends at Toad Hall 31 Aug 2021) Nov 2020
1 Sept 2017- 31 Aug 2018 Starts in Sept 2022  (place ends at Toad Hall 31 Aug 2022) Nov 2021
1 Sept 2018- 31 Aug 2019 Starts in Sept 2023  (place ends at Toad Hall 31 Aug 2023) Nov 2022
1 Sept 2019- 31 Aug 2020 Starts in Sept 2024  (place ends at Toad Hall 31 Aug 2024) Nov 2023



  • A Parents Guide to School Readiness

Parents guide to School Readiness

School readiness, what is all the fuss about?

There seems to be an endless stream of boxes that need ticking when it comes to our children, their care and our parenting. Another one of these is school readiness. We all want our children to be ready to enter school, equipped with all the essential skills required to self-care, think like a responsible little person and behave like an angel. The reality is very different.

While the government is clearly focused on school readiness for children from deprived or vulnerable backgrounds as evidenced in the Allen Report which encouraged promotion of early intervention schemes to ensure that all children are ready to start school by age 5. It is important to note on that basis, that all children are at risk of not being ‘school ready’ by age five, for one reason or another and through no fault of the child or parent.

This may be age related, one child may have only just turned four whereas his classmate is about to turn five. There is a wide gap in abilities in that fact alone. Your child will be ready in their own time, all children develop at their own pace and as long as parents and carer’s are supporting them in their work towards responsible self-care and self-regulation, that is the best that can be done. The rest will come in time. Here are some issues to consider around school readiness and your child.

It would be fair to say that there is huge professional debate surrounding the term ‘school readiness’ as this is based very much on the performance indicators and outcomes logged by organisations such as children’s centres or similar providers of early intervention programmes.

So what does ‘school readiness’ mean? Again, there is much debate surrounding this term but to parents, the direct translation is something along the lines of ‘is my child ready to start school’. Again, depending on the pedagogical approach used in early childhood education curriculums such as those used in nursery or pre-school settings will have an impact on how ‘ready’ a child is by a particular age. Below is an outline of what could be deemed logical ‘school readiness’ in real terms.

School readiness:

✔ Between the ages of four and five, children should be prepared to be separated from their parent or main carer.

✔ Children should be able to clearly demonstrate their ability to listen and follow age appropriate instructions

✔ Children should show an interest in a variety of subjects, paying attention to the subject or activity they are taking part in

✔ Children should have enough of a range of vocabulary and language to express their needs, feelings, thoughts or ideas

✔ Children should be able to identify themselves by name, age, state factors in their life, name family members etc…

✔ To be able to interact in an age appropriate way with another child or adult

✔ Children should be able to interact, share and play, taking responsibility for their actions, understanding repercussions for their actions

✔ Focus on and also show interest in the work they are undertaking

✔ To be able to observe, notice, discuss and ask questions about their environment and experiences

✔ To be able to engage with books, have some understanding of words and language

✔ Respond to boundary setting

✔ Vocalise their needs such as toileting, thirst, hunger illness etc…

As a parent, you would hope that your child has all of these abilities. In reality, for many children the above list is a work in progress. There are obvious issues such the need for being toilet ready and no longer needing naps during the day and there is support available to address all of these issues in time for school. On the other hand, schools will also work with parents, enabling a coordinated response to needs as they arise, supporting children and their families as they work on issues that can hamper school readiness.

Parents who feel they have a child who is behind or struggling to meet some of the ‘school readiness’ markers should contact their health visitor, GP or children’s centre. All of whom are well placed to provide the early intervention required to support parents and children through the transition from toddlerhood, pre-school years and on into later childhood.

Looking further ahead:

It is important to consider each child as an individual. Their social, emotional and behavioural needs also need to be considered. Some children may have developmental delays in these areas and again, this can be supported through early intervention programmes and packages of support to address the issues.

You can also consider your child’s physical development. Do they have age appropriate fine motor skills and the ability to care for themselves in dressing, toileting and eating and drinking. This then goes further into activities such as ball kicking, riding a trike, scooter or using other interactive toys.

As a parent, you can encourage good communication through modelling language, explaining things, questioning, showing, encouraging and providing interactive play and engagement throughout the day.

For children who attend a nursery, pre-school or childminder setting where the Early Years Foundation Stage or similar is implemented, there is ample opportunity for children to learn, grow and thrive. These settings also provide the ideal environment for identifying any potential issues that may take longer to resolve or may require professional input in order for a child to become ‘school ready’.

It could be argued that it is not only down to the child to be ‘school ready’ but it is also the responsibility of the parents and school setting to be ready to support the child through their transition from home or other childcare setting, into the school environment which is far more structured than any other form of prior childcare.

There is strong evidence to suggest that children who attend good quality, structured childcare settings where the early years foundations stage is delivered by qualified childcare providers, have an increased chance of settling well into school life, equipped with the social and emotional skills necessary to be ‘school ready’. It is also important that the childcare providers work closely with parents and carers to ensure that what is being taught in an early childhood setting is being echoed at home. This level of continuity will ensure that children have a solid foundation on which to build their skills, giving them the best possible chance of being ready for school when the time comes.