skip to content

Newcomers and Visiting Scholars



If you are moving with your family, it is important to plan ahead and research the best options for your children’s education. Be aware that you will have to have a Cambridge address before you can apply for school placement.


Childcare Office

The Childcare Office oversees the facilities and assistance offered to University staff and students with children. They operate an Information Service, which aims to support families of the University community. The service offers information on family related issues including childcare, schooling, health care, financial support and local community resources.


Finding Childcare Provision

All nurseries, pre-schools and child-minders are regulated by a government body known as Ofsted and are periodically reviewed and rated. Ofsted reports are available online and they provide the clearest indication of how well the nursery is running and what facilities they offer your children. Also, ask your colleagues in your department for recommendations or advice.


Babies and Infants

The National Health Service (NHS) provides guidance and support for parents with babies and toddlers. Your GP can answer any questions and offer appointments. A health visitor, who is a qualified nurse, can also visit you at home for a new baby visit or to address any concerns.

Some GPs offer mother and baby, parent and toddler, breastfeeding, and peer support groups.


Pre-School, Nurseries and Childcare

Looking for childcare options for your child under 5 years old?  There are various nurseries and childcare facilities available in the local area. Here are some options you can consider:

  • Day Nurseries: Provides care for children from birth to four or five and beyond; they are often integrated with early education.
  • Local Authority Nursery Schools: They offer full and part-time hours, as well as before and after sessions. Parents usually pay for these sessions.
  • Child Minders: Usually look after children under 12 in their own home and collect school-aged children from a nearby school. They offer flexible hours, and look after children from birth to 16 years of age.
  • Pre-schools and Playgroups: Provide playtime and often early education to under-fives in local communities. They are usually affordable, as they are not-for-profit.
  • There are websites like and that list child-minders, nurseries, and pre-schools in Cambridgeshire.
  • The Cambridgeshire County Council's website has a "Family Information Directory" with details of all regulated child-minders, nurseries, and pre-schools, periodically reviewed and rated by Ofsted.



Schooling is compulsory in the United Kingdom for children between five and sixteen years of age, whether they are UK nationals or not. If your child is sixteen and will be with you as your dependent for more than six under months, they should be able to go to a state primary or secondary school free of charge. You may teach your child at home, full or part-time (“home schooling”), however you must inform your local council, if you choose this option.

Admission to state schools in Cambridge is governed by Cambridgeshire County Council. Please ensure you read the detailed guidance regarding admissions. This information sets out the policy on admissions of children from overseas and the procedures that need to be followed to gain a school place for your child.

The academic year for state primary and secondary schools is September through July, which is divided into three terms. Half way through each term, there is a holiday of one week. Education in the UK consists of primary education (5 to 11 or 12 years old), secondary education (11 to 18), further education (over 16) and higher education (18 and over).


Independent Schools

There is also a number of independent schools (private) schools in the local area. These schools are fee-paying and are largely self-governing. For a list of all private schools, see the Independent Schools Council.


Catchment Areas

If you have school age children and are keen to have them attend a specific school, remember that admission to state schools is based primarily on a catchment area which means where your child goes to school is dependent upon where you live. It is important to research schools whilst you are looking for a rental property as you will need to make sure you are living in the right catchment area for the school that you wish your child to attend. Please keep in mind there might not be enough school places in the school you prefer.


Selecting a School

To begin finding out more about schools in the area speak to your colleagues, ask advice from the Welcome Team and refer to the Independent Office for Standards in Education (‘Ofsted’) reports and School League tables. The Childcare Office will be able to offer support in the first instance.


Applying to a school

The most up-to-date information on school admissions policies can be found on the Cambridge County Council School Page.

Should you have a child with a disability or a specific learning difficulty, you should make contact with the Local Education Authority as soon as possible to discuss how your child's needs might be met.

The Parents’ School Preference Adviser is a free service provided by Cambridge City Council. The service can help parents with children between the ages of 4 and 16 with impartial information, advice, and support on a range of information, including:

  • Choosing and applying for primary and secondary schools
  • How the transfer and admissions process works
  • Admission policies and criteria for different schools
  • Provision for special educational needs
  • Changing schools during the school year
  • The appeals process and travel issues.

This confidential service is available to any parent resident in, or moving to Cambridgeshire. More information on the Parents’ School Preference Adviser can be found on the County Council webpages.