School holidays and term dates in 2018-2019 in the UK

When does the new school year start?

In most of the UK the school year begins around the beginning of September. It then runs through to the following July. The longest school holidays come in the summer, with other holidays for Christmas and Easter.

In Scotland the dates are slightly different. The school year begins a few weeks earlier, in mid August. It also ends earlier, in late June. The school holidays for Christmas are a bit longer, going into January, because the New Year celebrations called Hogmanay are an important event in the Scottish calendar.

In Northern Ireland the Christmas holiday is very short, at just over a week long. However, the school holidays in the summer season are much longer, filling all of July and August.

The exact dates for the school year are different depending on which school you go to. So you need to make sure you know the dates for your school.

Why does the school year start in September and not in January?

Many people think it’s strange that school starts in September. After all, it would make more sense to start in January and finish in December. In fact, the school year that we use now dates from back when schools were first being established.

In those days the school year had to fit around the farming calendar. Most children in farming communities would help their families by working in the fields. There was a lot of labour to be done during the annual harvest which took place during the summer. The long summer holiday when we now enjoy a break from school was originally the main harvest season. The school calendar began after the harvest was finished, in September. So the school year has remained the same since the beginning of the formal education system.

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How do I find my school term dates?

Not everyone goes back to school on the same date. Different schools start and end their terms on different dates which can be as much as a week apart. This can cause complications for parents with several children at different schools as they must remember the different term dates and arrange childcare accordingly.

For state schools, the terms dates are arranged by the local council. You can find your school term dates in the table below, or search on your local council’s website. You can also go to the government website here and enter your postcode in the box provided. It will then take you directly to the term dates page on your local council’s website.

Private schools are allowed to set their own term dates. If you attend a private school, you’ll need to ask the school directly to find out exactly when the new school year will start.

How long is my school term?

Most schools split the year into three terms. The Autumn term runs from September until December, when there is the Christmas holiday. The Spring term runs from January until Easter, when there is the Easter holiday. The Summer term runs from just after Easter through until July, which marks the end of the school year and the beginning of the long summer break.

Each term has a half term break that is usually one week long. Some schools run a two-week half term during the longer Autumn term. Some councils split their term dates into six shorter terms, instead of three longer terms, but the dates are the same.
Your school will also be closed on a few other days of the year, such as bank holidays and inset (teacher training) days. You will find these marked on your school calendar.

Outside the UK, other countries operate their own systems for school term dates. For example, in the US there are two semesters in every year, rather than the three terms of the UK. In Australia the school year begins in January and runs until December, with the Australian summer holiday taking place in December and January.

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School Term Dates By Region

Here are some examples of school term dates for the 2018-2019 year for various regions around the country. You can see that the dates are slightly different according to where you live.

Local Council Autumn Term Spring Term Summer Term
Kent County Council 3rd September - 19th December 3rd January - 5th April 23rd April - 23rd July
City of Edinburgh Council 15th August - 21st December 9th January - 5th April 23rd April - 28th June
Hertfordshire County Council 3rd September - 21st December 7th January - 5th April 23rd April - 24th July
Northern Ireland 3rd September - 21st December 2nd January - 17th April 29th April - 28th June
East Riding of Yorkshire County Council 3rd September - 21st December 7th January - 5th April 23rd April - 23rd July

 

In London the term dates are set by the London Borough you are in as shown in this table:

London Borough Autumn Term Spring Term Summer Term
Royal Greenwich 3rd September - 21st December 7th January - 5th April 23rd April - 23rd July
Lambeth 3rd September - 21st December 7th January - 5th April 23rd April - 23rd July
Hammersmith & Fulham 3rd September - 21st December 7th January - 5th April 23rd April - 23rd July
Bromley 3rd September - 21st December 7th January - 5th April 23rd April - 23rd July

 

As you can see in these examples, the dates are the same at schools in these London Boroughs. This is useful for parents with children at schools in different boroughs. However, don’t forget that students at private schools may go back to school on a different date. We recommend you always check directly with your school’s office to find the exact terms dates and other dates of closure for your school.