Deferring or delaying admission to school and educating pupils out of their chronological year group


Starting school: deferred or delayed admission to the reception year

A detailed guidance document is available here, in addition to the information below:  Starting school: deferring or delaying admission to the reception year.

The majority of children start school full-time in the September following their fourth birthday.  However, in some cases parents believe that starting part-time or starting later in the school year would be more appropriate for their child, particularly where their child was born prematurely and would otherwise have been due to start school a year later. There are a number of options to consider and sources of support and information. 

Parents could speak to the Family Information Service for advice (contact details below) and request a meeting with the headteacher of the school where they have been allocated, or are hoping to gain, a place and any other relevant professionals to help support them with this important decision.

When making the decision it is important to remember that schools have to work within the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework and are therefore very aware of the needs of young children, especially those starting school very soon after their fourth birthday.  They are committed to ensuring that the reception class meets every child’s needs and the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum – which is also a requirement of pre-school provision – is a flexible and responsive play-based curriculum which supports this. 

Some useful information can be found on the Foundation Years website and the 4Children website.  Individual children’s needs will usually be met through the different approaches that teachers should identify and use and with these appropriate levels of support, very few children need to be admitted late to a reception class.

However, parents may choose deferred or part-time entry to the reception year for their child or request delayed entry to reception (i.e. holding their child back a year) and each case must be considered individually and with the best interests of the child in mind.

Admission of summer-born children

The guidance on delaying entry to the reception year provided on this page is written in accordance with the current School Admissions Code 2014.  However, the Government is currently considering the impact of this Code in relation to summer-born children and requests for delayed entry and this information will be updated once any changes are implemented.  More information can be found in the Department for Education Press Release.

Placement of pupils outside their normal age group

It is usual practice in England for children to be educated in school year groups as determined by their date of birth, however there is no statutory barrier to children being admitted outside their normal age group.  Parents do not have the right to insist that their child is admitted to a particular age group but may make a request for this to happen. 

Department for Education guidance states that: ‘The government would agree that, in general, children should be educated in their normal age group, with the curriculum differentiated as appropriate and that they should only be educated out of their normal age group in very limited circumstances’.

A guidance document is available here:

Admission of pupils outside their normal age group (except for delayed entry to the reception year) – Guidance and frequently asked questions for parents and carers, schools, professionals and admission authorities

The specific considerations relating to delayed entry to the reception year (i.e. a child starting in reception when they should, according to their age, be starting in year one) are covered in a separate Local Authority (LA) document at the top of this page.

Need advice?

If you need further information or advice, you could contact:

  • the headteacher where your child has been allocated a place or where you are hoping to secure a place;
  • your child's current headteacher or class teacher;
  • the Family Information Service - who can put you in touch with a representative of the Local Authority if necessary: Telephone: 0800 587 8191;
  • or for general enquiries to the Local Authority please use the contact details on the right hand side of this page.