Children attending school each day in the UK do so according to start and finish times that are fixed the same for each day of the year. Primary school hours are similar across the whole of the UK, although start and finish times vary by 15 minutes.
Normal primary school hours in UK daily
Vast majority of UK primary schools have a 32.5 hour school week, that equates to 8.45am to 3.15pm Monday-Friday term time. All schools choose the start time, break, lunch and end of school day. Primary school hours in Scotland at one school are:
|Lessons & School Breaks||Timings|
|Morning school starts||9.00 am – 12.15 pm|
|Lower school morning break||10.40 am – 10.55 am|
|Upper school morning break||10.40 am – 10.55 am|
|Whole school lunchtime||12.15pm – 13.00 pm|
|Afternoon teaching||1.00 pm – 3.00 pm|
|School day ends||3 pm|
The reason why some schools have staggered breaks and lunchtime times for pupils is they may have limited seating capacity in the diner hall or a small playground. A school for primary pupils in a UK village has a smaller playground and canteen facilities limiting how many students that can use them at anyone time.
Time primary school starts and finish in UK
In the primary UK school system start time can be 08.45-09.00 and finish 15.00- 15.30 each school day with the same official fixed hours all academic year.
The main reason primary school children start around 08.45-09.00 each day at school is to give them enough time in the morning to get ready and arrive on time. Younger children at primary school travel during daylight time for safety reasons. Both state and private primary fee paying schools and finish each day to accommodate young learners.
Allowing for a 09.00 school start time accommodates spring, summer, autumn and winter sunrise time with enough daylight that changes thorough the school year.
Typical primary school day in UK
|8.40am||Gates open for children to come onto school grounds then the bell sounds for pupils to line up.|
|8.50 am||Children arrive into class for registration & or assembly.|
First lesson starts around 9am until 10.30am.
|10.30 am||Morning break for all pupils lasting 15 minutes. Children go outside to the playground or field. When it’s raining classrooms are open for students to sit in.|
|10.45 am||Morning break ends and teaching session 2 starts up until lunchtime.|
|11.50 pm||Lunch for younger pupils first sitting in the school dinner hall and then children go out to the playground.|
|12.15 pm||Lunchtime for all other school pupils in the canteen afterwards they play or socialise in the school playground.|
|1 pm||Lunch for students finishes and afternoon teaching starts.|
|2 pm||Afternoon break for all pupils for 15 minutes in the playground.|
|2:15 pm||Teaching starts again until 3.15 pm.|
|3:15 pm||School teaching day ends for all pupils. Parents can pick up children outside of the school gate/grounds.|
UK reception school hours
England & Wales reception school hours vary although they are similar in timings 5 days a week, Monday to Friday.
|Reception||Morning Session||Afternoon Session|
|School day starts||08:50 – 11:45||12:45 – 15:15|
|Morning break||10.10 – 10.25|
|Lunch break||11.45 – 12.45|
|Afternoon break||14.20 – 14.35|
Many schools have shorter days 8.50 -12 pm or 1pm for the first 2-3 weeks then children attend full time.
Some schools have half day attendance until half term to allow reception children time to settle and adjust to school life before all day learning.
Reception school attendance
4 to 5 years old are reception pupil’s age in the first year of primary school in England & Wales where they are timetabled to attend school for the whole academic year. Children in UK from England, Wales, and Scotland aren’t legally required to attend reception school until the term after they turn 5 years old.
Parents can enroll a child in the reception year when they are in the later months of 4 years of age, keeping them of school if required if the child is experiencing difficulties adjusting to a 5 day week, 09.00-15.00 attendance timetable.
Although it’s not compulsory for a 4 year old to attend reception school it could be a good experience and a gentler introduction into school life.
A school may not be happy a parent keeping a 4 year old off as they are enrolled, although remember parents out rank the school, you’re decision and UK law is clear the school can’t do nothing to force a child to attend all or any days until a child’s 5th birthday.
Typically the reception year for pupils comes after nursery school and before year one of primary in England & Wales.
Reception year for school children in Scotland is P1 where parents can send children to a local school from 4 years of age.