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There's a lot to think about as a Primary parent — homework, packed lunches, extracurricular activities… But don't panic, CGP has some top tips just for you!


When they start school, children take a short ‘Baseline Assessment’, which tests their maths and communication skills. It’s used as a starting point to measure the performance of the school, not your child — so it’s certainly nothing to worry about!

Key Stage 1 (Years 1-2)

  • In Year 1 pupils take a ‘Phonics Screening Check’, which checks whether they know their letters and sounds.
  • At the end of Year 2 pupils sit some tests in English and Maths called ‘Key Stage 1 SATs’.  However, from 2023 schools are no longer required to administer these tests, so your child may not need to take them.

Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6)

  • At the end of Year 4 children do a ‘Times Table Check’ — to make sure they know that nine eights are seventy-two.
  • In Year 6, children take tests in English and Maths called ‘Key Stage 2 SATs’.  And if your child is trying to get into a selective secondary school, they may also take the 11+ in Year 6.

And then it’s a teary farewell to Primary — and off they go to secondary school!

CGP's superb new Parents' Guide

Our new 'How to Help your Child at Primary School' guide is packed with the best advice for Primary Parents...

  • Everything from starting school to sitting SATs
  • Subject-specific homework tips
  • Tackling the trickiest topics, including phonics
  • Making friends and the perfect packed lunch

Applying for a School Place

Top Tips for Choosing a School

  • Read up about the schools you’re considering online and see what’s on offer, e.g. special clubs and sports teams
  • Check whether you live in the catchment area
  • Visit the school (e.g. on open days) — this can give you an idea of whether it‘ll suit your child
  • Check out the Ofsted reports and the SATs results 
  • Talk to parents of current pupils — you can get a feel for what the school is like (but it’s best to seek several views)
  • Consider the practical things — how easy it’ll be to get your child to and from school every day, and also whether the school’s before and after school care will work with your schedule

When to Apply

  1. In England and Wales, children normally start Reception in the September following their fourth birthday
  2. For the best chance of getting the school place you want, it’s vital you don’t miss the 15th January deadline for applications, so start considering school options in the previous autumn

If you don’t think your child will be ready to start school by then, you must still apply at the usual time — but you can request a later start date. Your child must be in full time education at the beginning of the term after their fifth birthday

First day of School Advice

  • Have a practice run of getting ready — it’ll prepare you both for the big day and might even generate some excitement
  • Being able to ask for help is really important — tell your child that at school, if you want or need something you have to put up your hand
  •  If your child is still an afternoon-napper, try replacing naps with ‘quiet time’ – e.g. a half-hour when they sit quietly and look at some books
  • Pack a spare pair of underwear – you never know when they'll come in handy!

Spotlight on: History Homework

Fun ideas to help your child learn
  • Talk about your child's own past — create a family tree together and make a photo album. Chat about how life is different now and how much their life has changed already.
  • Take a walk locally and look at the different buildings — try looking for clues which show when they may have been built.  Churches are a good place to start.
  • Explore local museums.  Some national museums like the British Museum offer online tours so you don’t need to make an expensive trip.
  • Watch history programmes, like Horrible Histories, and children’s films based in historical settings.

For more subject-specific homework advice, check out our new Primary parents' guide.

More wonderful Primary Books from CGP

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