Admissions for summer-born children
Starting school - the law
Children reach compulsory school age at the start of the school term following their fifth birthday. This means they must attend school on a full time basis from this point. Children are able to start school in the September before their fifth birthday. If your child was born between 1 April and 31 August, they don’t have to start school until a full year after they could have started. If you delay their start date, they will normally start in Year 1 but you can request that they start in the Reception year.
Flexible options already exist for parents who feel their child is not ready for full-time attendance such as part-time attendance or starting later in the school year. You can discuss your options with the school once the school placement is finalised.
Parents can ask for their child to be admitted outside their normal age group. But they do not have the right to insist that their child is admitted to a particular age group.
Admissions authorities must decide whether to agree or refuse a request for this type of delayed admission on the basis of:
- the child’s needs
- and must take into account the views of the head teacher of the school applied for.
They must make their decision in the best interests of the child.
See Department for Education guidance advice on the admission of summer born children.
Is my child ready to start school?
Moving from pre-school to reception is a significant step in your child’s education and can be a daunting time for families. The curriculum for 4-year-olds is the same in reception as it is in nursery; largely based around learning through play. This allows your child to have an individualised learning journey and make good progress from their starting point.
Teachers in reception classes are very experienced in meeting the varied needs of the youngest children and tailoring learning activities appropriately to each individual child. The best thing to do is talk to the school about what to expect in reception and how they can address any concerns you may have.
Things to consider before requesting delayed admission
Before making a formal request, consider all the options. For example, delaying for part of the year or taking up a part time place may be better possibilities for your child. To find out more, talk to:
- the School Admissions team
- your child’s pre-school
- your GP if you have any medical concerns
- and, most importantly, the schools you have an interest in.
Why delayed admission might not be in your child’s best interests
Some parents have found that delayed admission solves a short-term issue but causes long-term problems.
- Children mature at different rates and it may be appropriate for a child who has been admitted out of their normal age group to be moved to their normal age group at a later date. This could have a negative effect on friendships and performance
- Children can be upset if they feel they have been held back from moving up with their friends
- Children may be unable to join age-related activities with their classmates – such as under 9’s football
- Children can make their own decisions to leave school at 16 even if they are a year behind and haven’t been in year 11.
How do I request delayed admission?
We recommend you discuss your request with your preferred schools before applying.
You will need to complete 2 steps to make a delayed admissions application:
- Follow the normal application process. See Apply for infant, junior or primary school to find out more.
- At the same time, complete the Application for delayed admission to reception class (summer born child) form [87.6 KB] [docx]. Send a copy of this to firstname.lastname@example.org by the closing date.
It is for each admissions authority to reach a decision. At local authority controlled schools, a decision will be made on the information provided in consultation with the relevant head teacher.
Letting you know the decision
A response will be sent to you on or before the national allocation day in April.
If your request is agreed the application for starting school in September to the normal age group will be withdrawn. You will need to make a new application as part of the admissions process the next year.
Please note – you will not necessarily get a place at your preferred school. Also if the school you are offered has a different admission authority, they may not agree to allow your child to start in reception at that point.
If your request is refused a reception place will be offered for your child for to start school with the normal age group, and you will need to decide whether to accept or decline it.
If you decline the offer, you will need to make an in year application in time for your child to join Year 1 for the start of the next school year. This online application is available from early June each year. See Applying during the school year for more information.
Whichever year group your child enters, they will need to start full-time straight away if they have reached compulsory school age.
You have the right to appeal if you have not been offered a place at your preferred school. However there is no right to appeal against the year group in which your child has been offered a place.