Children, pregnancy and schooling
What happens if you’re pregnant or your child is born in the UK, and information and advice on finding childcare and schools in the UK.
If you’re pregnant and on a Student Visa, you must talk to an immigration adviser at the University as soon as possible.
You’ll need to take a minimum of 2 weeks off after the birth, but of course you may wish to take a longer period of parental leave. Both parents are entitled to take a period of parental leave.
Leave of absence
If you need to take a leave of absence due to pregnancy or after the baby is born, you and any dependants may have to leave the UK, then apply for new entry clearance in order to return to the UK and resume your studies. This will depend on how long you need to take off and how much time is remaining on your current visa.
If you’re studying at the University on a dependant visa, you can take a leave of absence without it affecting your visa.
If you’re a sponsored student you may need to check with your sponsor.
For more information, visit:
If your child is born in the UK but is not a British citizen, it is lawful for them to remain in the UK without making an immigration application. However, your child will need immigration permission to re-enter the UK after any travel abroad.
Being born in the UK does not automatically make a child a British citizen. They’ll need to have a parent with British citizenship or settled status in the UK in order to be born British.
If you don’t apply for a student dependant visa and don’t pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge, your child will only be entitled to free healthcare for up to 12 weeks after the birth.
If you’re not applying for a visa for your child, you may wish to consider private medical insurance to cover any health costs.
To apply for a dependant visa, your child will still need to meet the usual dependant visa requirements.
If you're applying for a visa for your child after you've submitted your own visa application, you can apply using the link below.
For babies and preschool age children the most common options are nurseries and registered childminders.
- Childminders are self-employed and usually take care of children within their own home.
- Day nurseries offer care for children from birth to four or five years old. The number of children attending may vary between different nurseries. There are different types of nurseries including private, community, local authority and workplace/University nurseries.
- Home Childcarers (e.g. Nannies or Aupairs) will look after the children in your home. Nannies tend to be qualified and will be paid a salary. Au pairs may be a young person, likely to be staying in your home, who may work on a more flexible basis and less likely to be a qualified child carer.
If you have older children at school, you may need childcare before and after their school hours, as school days are typically from 8.45 to 3.15pm. Some schools may offer their own breakfast or after school clubs, but places can be limited.
There are also holiday clubs which may offer childcare for children up to age 11.
There is no real provision of childcare for children at secondary school, aged 12+.
For more information, visit:
How to find childcare
The Students’ Union Nursery provides childcare for children from 6 months to 5 years for students and staff at the University. It’s open from 8am-6pm Monday to Friday.
To find other regulated childcare providers in Sheffield, visit Sheffield City Council’s Sheffield Directory.
There can be waiting lists for nurseries and childminders, so it is worth planning ahead.
You’ll need to ensure that you have sufficient funds to cover your childcare needs. These will vary depending on the provider but can be significant.
If your children are here as your dependants, they’ll be eligible for a free school place from the age of 5 - 16. You will have to pay for any before or after-school care your child needs.
Some of the additional free childcare provision offered by the UK government is only available to those who can access public funds. If you hold a student visa, you and your dependants will be subject to a condition, which states No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF). Seek further advice if you are unsure.
However, if you have a student visa, you and your dependants can receive:
15 hours per week free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds
If your child is under 5, and attends a qualifying childminder or nursery, you may qualify for a part-time early learning place for 3 – 4 year olds for 15 hours per week in school term time (38 weeks of the year). In England, all children aged three and four are entitled to 570 hours of free childcare or early education each year, which must be taken over at least 38 weeks.
This is available to your children even if your visa includes the condition that you have no recourse to public funds.
For further information, visit:
The UK education system
Education is compulsory for children between the ages of 5-16 in the UK. While some families educate their children at home, the majority send their children to state schools which are free, or to independent schools which charge a fee.
There are five ‘Key Stages’ (KS) in education:
KS1 – 5-7 years (infant school)
KS2 – 7-11 years (junior school)
KS3 – 11-14 years(secondary school)
KS4 – 14-16 year (secondary school)
KS5 - 16-18 years (sixth form, further education college)
The law requires that young people continue in education, training or employment until the age of 18.
Dependant children can attend further education college and sixth form for free.
School hours can vary but are typically 8.45am until 3.30pm.
The school year lasts from early September to late July and usually has three terms. Halfway through each term, there is usually a one- or two-week holiday; you should check details with your allocated/selected school.
There are formal examinations at the end of KS4 (GCSE’s) and KS5 (A levels).
Further information is available on GOV.UK.
Types of schools
State schools (free)
State schools are publicly funded and provide free school places to children aged between 5-16 years old. Your dependant children can attend a state school for free.
They will also be entitled to free education up to age 19 if attending sixth form or college, for example to study A levels.
Adult dependants can also study at University (subject to ATAS conditions) but they would have to pay International Student fees.
Any children in the UK with leave to remain as a Visitor cannot attend a state school.
The Local Education Authority will provide a place free of charge for your dependant children in a state school, usually near to your accommodation.
Details of schools in Sheffield and their locations are available on the Sheffield City Council website.
Both primary and secondary schools are inspected by Ofsted, an independent body that regulates state schooling. The results of school inspections are published online. They can be rated from Outstanding to Inadequate. State Schools are also required to publish information about their performance and key policies on their websites.
Independent schools (cost)
Independent schools are private and will charge a fee payable each term. There are a number located within a short distance from the main University campus.
The Independent Schools Council provides more information about independent schools and how they are rated.
You can contact or arrange to visit a particular school to find out more and assess if it will be a good fit for your children. If your children speak little or no English, you may want to ask the school about what support they can offer for teaching children with English as a second language.
How to apply for a school place
You must have an address where you will be living in the UK before you can pre-book a state school place.
Once you have this, you should contact Sheffield City Council’s School Admissions Team.
If you’re new to Sheffield, you should be offered a meeting with the Children Missing from Education Team who will ask you some questions and help you to complete an application form. You can contact them on:
- Tel: 0114 273 6462
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
They’ll then process your application form and you’ll receive a letter confirming which school your child has been allocated to.
You must then contact the school to arrange a date for your child to start. By filling in an admissions form, you’re requesting a place for your child at a particular school. This does not mean your child is registered at the school.
For further guidance on the school admissions process, visit:
If you’re applying to an independent school you must contact the school directly.
How school places are allocated
Each state school has a local catchment area, which is a list of streets surrounding each school. If you live within this area your child should get allocated a place at that school, but this can depend on the availability of places.
You may not be allocated a place at your first choice or closest school, if a school or year group is full. This is more likely if you’re joining a school part way through an academic year. If that happens, the Local Education Authority (LEA) will offer you a place at the next closest school to your accommodation which has availability.
Please note that some schools close to the University can be oversubscribed.
You can request places in schools out of your catchment area, but again this will depend on availability of places.
The LEA will try and place siblings in the same school where possible but cannot guarantee children will be placed together.
If you’re not satisfied with your allocated school you may be able to appeal.
For more information visit:
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