Being 'school ready' means different things to different people, but it is simply about making sure that children are ready and have the support they need to meet the new and exciting challenges when they start school at the age of four.

Families, early years providers, health providers and schools are expected to work together to support children's development from birth to build their confidence, resilience and curiosity. This includes identifying areas where a child might need additional support.

In Warrington, we've adopted UNICEF's description of the three elements of school readiness:

  • Ready children
  • Ready families 
  • Ready services and schools.
Ready children

Most children who are ready for school will be able to:

  • Ask for help when they need it
  • Be away from his/her family without getting upset
  • Button and unbutton their clothes, use a zip and put on their own shoes and socks
  • Distract themselves when things go wrong
  • Follow instructions
  • Go to the toilet by themselves
  • Hold a pen and write their name
  • Link at least 5 words together in a sentence
  • Play and interact with other children and adults
  • Recognise numbers and quantities in everyday environments
  • Share toys and take turns
  • Sit and listen to a story
  • Use a knife and for

If you're concerned that your child is not able to complete these tasks, please speak to your child’s health visitor or visit your local children’s centre.

Ready families

To prepare their child for school, families should:

  • Eat together at a table
  • Play together
  • Read together
  • Chat together
  • Attend their children’s health appointments, including immunisations and health review’s at six months, 12 months and 2.5 years
  • Attend nursery or school regularly and on time
  • Look after their own emotional wellbeing and mental health
  • Provide a stable home 
  • Have a good support network
  • Access help and support when they need it
Ready services and schools

Everyone working with young children and their families play an important role in supporting children to be school ready and should:

  • Share information about where the child is at in their development with their parents
  • Share ideas about how parents can support their children’s development at home
  • Provide challenging opportunities for each child which will support their communication and language skills, physical development and social and emotional development
  • Demonstrate high expectations of children while at the same time raising aspirations and building the child’s confidence
  • Respect and respond to the children’s backgrounds, circumstances and culture
  • Consider the changing school readiness needs of children as they enter different phases of their development and work in partnership with others to ensure these needs are met.

If you have a concern about a younger child’s development then a referral should be made to the early years inclusion panel by completing a Multi Agency Request for Services (MARS) Form.

Further guidance on the assessment and provision of support for younger children with special educational needs and/or disabilities can be found in our graduated response to need online resources for early education providers.

Warrington School Readiness Pathway

Ready, Steady, Go!

Ready – 0-3 years

Relationships – Parents and carers, midwives, health visitors, dentists and doctors surgeries work together to support the development of young children

Early Support - Children centres, early help, family support, children’s centre sessions, speech and language therapy and portage, graduated approach

Ages and Stages - 2 year health and development review in partnership with your childcare provider and health visitor

Development – Children are supported to develop the prime areas of learning - physical, personal, social and emotional and communication and language

You - Children develop a sense of self, their likes and dislikes and a sense of belonging

Steady – 3-4 years

Self-care – Children start to develop self-care skills like putting coat on/taking off, drinking from an open cup

Toileting – Children can use the toilet and are dry during the day

Education – Funded childcare for all three and four-year-old's living in Warrington

Adults - Make a difference by interacting, listening and talking with children

Development – Children are supported across the prime areas of learning - physical, personal, social and emotional and communication and language – and the specific areas of learning - literacy and numeracy.

You – Children start to develop their independence and self-confidence and learn to manage feelings and behaviours


Go - 4-5 years (Reception School)

Going to School – Good transition plans are in place for children as they move from nursery to school

Onwards and upwards – High Aspirations for all children in the early years

School Readiness Resources