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Infant school


Infant school

An Infant school is a term used primarily in England and Wales for school for children between the ages of four and seven years. It is usually a small school serving a particular locality.

An infant school forms part of the local pattern of provision for primary education. In England and Wales children start at infant school between the ages of four and five in a Reception class. They sometimes attend part-time (mornings only or afternoons only) for the first term or two. Reception is not compulsory. Pupils then transfer to Year One in the September following their fifth birthday, and to Year Two the following year. These two years form Key Stage 1 in the English education system. At the end of this time, pupils will move to a linked Junior school.

In some areas of England, provision of education at this age is made in First schools catering for pupils aged up to eight or nine. In some parts of the Welsh valleys a child can attend infants school from the day after their third birthday.


The first infant schools were established by Samuel Wilderspin, influenced by the schools set up at New Lanark by Robert Owen. They influenced development in continental Europe and North America.

When education became compulsory in England from 1877, infant schools were incorporated into the state school system.

Infant and junior schools were often separate schools, but the final three decades of the 20th century saw many infant and junior departments coming together as single primary schools. The late 1960s and 1970s saw hundreds of infant schools in Britain abolished in favour of 5-8 or 5-9 first schools, but some of these were abolished in favour of a return to infant schools by the early 1980s and most of them have now followed suit.

The introduction of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 meant that classes in infant schools in England and Wales are limited to no more than 30 children per school teacher.[1]


  1. ^ School Standards and Framework Act 1998

See also

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