Asylum seekers and education

The primary objective of GEMS (Gwent Multi-Ethnic Education Service) is to raise the achievement and attainment of black and minority ethnic (BME) learners aged 4-19 across Newport. 

Telephone: (01633) 851502

Children and school

Parents of all children living in the UK must make sure that their children attend school between the ages of 5 years and 16 years.

In Wales, children can normally attend school from the beginning of September after their 4th birthday.

Contact GEMS above for help in finding a suitable school for your child.

All schools in Newport are for girls and boys. 

You will be informed by letter if a place is available in a school and you must then contact the school to make an appointment to visit the school. 

If you arrive in Newport and have applied for asylum you will be seen by the asylum-seeker co-ordinator if you have school age children.

At this meeting details of previous schooling, any special needs and medical details will be noted.

This meeting is an opportunity for families to learn about the education system and what schools can offer.  

GEMS will do their best to ensure that your child receives support from a specialist language teacher who can also help if there are any general difficulties.

Children 4 years and under 

Children under 4 years old may attend nursery schools or nursery classes in primary schools. The choices are:

  • Nursery schools or classes in schools run by Newport City Council
  • Council social services nurseries - if there are particular problems a social worker may recommend this
  • Private nurseries not run by the council - people whose children attend these pay the owner
  • Crèches run by colleges - college students pay for their children to be looked after while they study
  • Playgroups and parent and toddler groups – based in the local community and often run by parents, there is usually a charge

Read more about nursery provision in Newport

Children 11 years and under

There are different types of primary schools for 4 to 11 year olds:

  • Infant schools for children aged between 4 and 7 years, known as Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, also called Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
  • Primary schools for all children aged between 4 and 11 years, covering Reception, Year 1, Year 2 – the Foundation Phase - and Year 3, Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6 – Key stage 2
  • Junior schools for children aged 7 to 11 years old and covering Year 3, Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6 – Key stage 2

Read more about primary school education in Newport

Read about junior school education in Newport

The school year starts in September. If your child is already at school a place automatically be reserved by the current primary school.

If you have just arrived in Newport and have claimed asylum you will be contacted by the asylum-seeker co-ordinator at GEMS who will arrange a school placement. 

If you don't hear from the coordinator within 2 weeks please contact GEMS.

Children aged 11 to 16 years 

Children go to secondary or comprehensive school in September after they are 11 years old and education stages are:

  • Year 7, Year 8, Year 9 – called Key stage 3
  • Year 10 and Year 11 – called Key stage 4
  • Year 12 and Year 13 – called Key stage 5 and the sixth form

Children leave school after they are 16 years old in the June of year 11 and can then choose to stay at school or go to a college until they are 18 years old.

Newport's local college is called Coleg Gwent and is for students aged 16 years or over.

If you have just arrived in Newport and have claimed asylum you will be contacted by the asylum-seeker co-ordinator at GEMS who will arrange a school placement. 

If you don't hear from the co-ordinator within 2 weeks please contact GEMS.

School meals and uniform

Children and young people are entitled to free school meals if their parents or carers receive certain benefits.

Although parents usually have to pay for school meals, if you are claiming asylum your children will be entitled to a free school meal at midday. 

School uniform

Year 7 pupils starting secondary school who are entitled to free school meals may also be entitled to a school uniform grant.

Schools decide whether or not children need to wear a school uniform. If you are claiming asylum the GEMS asylum-seeker co-ordinator will help you purchase a school uniform for your children.

Read more about free school meals and the uniform grant

Read about travelling to school - home to school transport 

Problems at school

If your child is unhappy at school or has other problems it is important to discuss this with your child’s teachers at a parents’ evening or you can contact the school to make an appointment. 


GEMS staff are available in some schools to help you, contact GEMS if you have any problems or need advice about your child's education.