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Deferring or delaying entry to reception year

All children have the right to start school in the Autumn term following their fourth birthday (the normal admission point). However, they do not legally have to start school until the beginning of the term following their fifth birthday (statutory school age).

Deferred admission

Children are normally admitted to school in the September following their fourth birthday, which is at the start of the reception year. However, they do not have to start school until they reach statutory school age, which is the term after their fifth birthday.

Terms in which a child reaches statutory school age
Birthday between Term in which child is statutory school age (and therefore needs to be attending school full time)
1 September 2017 to 31 December 2017 Spring 2023 (January) reception year
1 January 2018 to 31 March 2018 Summer 2023 (April) reception year
1 April 2018 to 31 August 2018 Autumn 2023 (September) year 1

Even if you want to defer the school place, you must still apply at the normal time of admission. To defer your child’s place until they are of statutory school age, please put this in writing to the head teacher once a place has been offered.

If the place offered to a child born between 1 April and 31 August has not been taken up by the beginning of the summer term, then it will be withdrawn and offered to another child if necessary.

Parents and carers of children who are not statutory school age until the summer term, but choose to start school in autumn 2023 (the start of year 1), will have to make an in-year application after the May half term 2023 for a year 1 place for September. Places are not reserved for this situation, so you may find there is not a place available for your child at your preferred school.

Delayed admission for summer-born children

Parents and carers of children who were born between 1 April to 31 August (also known as summer-born) can request that their child is admitted to reception a year later. A delayed admissions form must be completed and returned to us, together with your starting school application before the on-time application deadline of 15 January 2022. This is to give enough time for requests to be processed prior to the National Offer Day (19 April 2022).

Please note: This is a request and parents do not have the right to insist that their child is admitted to a particular age group. We will make a decision for the school.

In general, children will normally be educated in their normal age group, with the curriculum differentiated as appropriate, and requests for children to be educated out of their normal age group in certain circumstances will only be agreed. The Department for Education has issued non-statutory guidance which parents/carers should read if considering requesting their child’s admission is delayed.

We must consider each request based on the individual circumstances of the case. However, there is no legal requirement for us to grant the request if we don't believe it is in the child’s best interests. Similarly, we're not required to honour a decision made by another admission authority on admission out of the normal age group. Where a parent has more than one preferred school in their application, the relevant admission authorities will each consider the request and make their decision individually.

There is no guarantee that all will come to the same decision. If the request is granted, the parent will need to make a paper application as part of next year’s normal admission round and this will be processed within the normal allocation process. A place cannot be guaranteed at a particular school and in the case of oversubscription, places are offered in accordance with the school’s oversubscription criteria. Therefore, requesting a delayed admission is to delay a child’s application for a year, rather than an offer of a school place. If a place cannot be offered at the preferred school, which has agreed to the delayed admission, as it is oversubscribed, we will advise of the next steps. This could result in your child being offered a place at another school in your child’s normal year group.

If you have any queries regarding delayed admission then contact us on 0300 300 8037 or admissions@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

Points to consider when deciding whether to delay entry for your child

Teachers are skilled at working within the curriculum to meet a diverse range of needs and school will offer support to help your child settle into school. Before you decide to delay, we recommend you visit the schools you are thinking of applying to. The school will be able to explain the provision on offer to children in its reception year: how it works to meet the needs of the youngest children and how this will continue as they move up through the school. The school will also be able to discuss any concerns you have about your child’s readiness for school.

Places cannot be reserved. If you are offered a place in reception, then decide to delay entry and it is granted, the offer of a school place will be withdrawn. When you apply for a reception place in the following year, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to offer a place next year in the same school.

You may need to discuss with your current childcare provider if your child will be able to stay at your current childcare setting, if you make a request to delay entry. Your child may not be able to stay in your current childcare setting, if you request to delay entry for reception.

If your child changes school, for example transfers from lower to middle at the end of year 4, or primary to secondary education at the end of year 6, your child may, at the discretion of the receiving school, be placed in its chronological age group. This could mean your child will have to miss a year of the national curriculum.

A child ceases to be of compulsory school age on the last Friday of June, in the school year they become 16. If a child is educated outside of their normal age group (i.e. is in year 10 when this date is reached), the school will continue to receive funding for that child, but the child will no longer be of compulsory school age during the school year in which most children take their GCSE exams. This means that a child educated in year 10, but who is of year 11 age, could leave school at the end of year 10, but would still need to continue their education in an alternative setting, or would have to undergo training.

Questions and answers

I don’t think my child will be ready to start school in September after their fourth birthday, can I request to delay?

If your child was born between 1 September and 31 March

You cannot request a delay to admission into reception, but you can defer their admission until the term after they turn 5.

If your child was born between 1 September and 31 December

You can defer your child’s admission to reception until the spring term (January), which is the term after their fifth birthday.

If your child was born between 1 January and 31 March

You can defer your child’s admission to reception until the summer term (April), which is the term after their fifth birthday.

If your child was born between 1 April and 31 August

If you feel that your child is not ready to start school in September, you can either:

  • defer your child’s start till later in the year; your child must start school by the summer term (April), or the place will be withdrawn and offered to another child – you will need to submit an in-year application for a year 1 place for autumn term (September) after your child’s fifth birthday, from May onwards
  • delay admissions by a year – you will need to submit a delayed admissions request with your application

In all cases, you should first apply for a school place in your child’s normal age group.

How do I defer a reception place for my child?

Once a place has been offered, if you decide to defer your child’s start in reception, you will need to contact the head teacher of the school, to discuss your reasons for deferring and if agreed, put in writing when you intend for your child to start.

If your child was born between 1 September and 31 December

They must start school in the January following their fifth birthday.

If your child was born between 1 January and 31 March

They must start school in the April following their fifth birthday.

If your child was born between 1 April and 31 August

They must start school in the summer term (April) following their fourth birthday. If they don't, the place will be withdrawn and offered to another child, meaning you will have to apply for a year 1 place for the September following your child’s fifth birthday.

How do I make an application to delay reception for my summer-born child?

If you decide to delay reception for your child, you need to complete a delayed admission request form (PDF). You must submit the delayed admission form to us, with your application form, by the closing date of 15 January 2022 so that it can be processed before the National Offer Day.

Requests received between 16 January 2022 and 30 May 2022 closing date for the receipt of requests, will be deemed as late and once received can take up to six weeks to process. However, school term times and statutory obligations and deadlines such as National Offer Day and the admission appeals period may delay this.

What information do I need to put on the form?

When completing the form, parent and carers should provide some information about their child to explain why they think that their child should be educated out of their normal age group. It is important for parent and carers to provide any additional evidence to support their request as this information will help us to make our decision e.g. parents and carers may be able to provide a report from the child’s early years setting or evidence from a health and social care professional.

We, along with the head teacher for the school, will consider a number of factors and the combined impact for your child including:

  • the needs of your child and the possible impact of them entering the year 1 class without having first attended reception class
  • whether delayed social, emotional or physical development is adversely affecting your child’s readiness for school
  • whether they may naturally have fallen into a lower age group if they had not been born prematurely and whether their development has been affected by this
  • any relevant medical history and the views of medical professionals

When will I receive the result of my request for delayed admission?

If we receive your delayed admission form before the on-time closing date of 15 January 2022, we aim to inform you of the outcome within six weeks of receiving the request.

If the request is granted, your preferences will be withdrawn and no decisions will be made on the basis of the original application. Places are not held open for children who delay entry, so parents and carers must then re-apply by 15 January the following year for a place in reception alongside children who are one school year younger.

If your request is not granted, your preferences will be processed, and you will be informed of the outcome on the National Offer Day of 19 April 2022.

Requests received between 16 January 2022 and 30 May 2022 closing date for the receipt of requests, will be deemed as late and once received can take up to six weeks to process. However, school term times and statutory obligations and deadlines such as National Offer Day and the admission appeals period may delay this.

What happens to my request after it has been submitted?

Once a delayed admission request has been received, we will share this information with any other admission authorities and the head teachers of the school(s) parents and carers have expressed a preference for. These admission authorities and head teachers will then come to a decision as to whether or not they support the request for delayed entry. The final decision will be for us to make.

Once a decision has been made, we will write to you with a decision. Where possible, requests will be dealt with within an intended six weeks from receiving the request. However, school term times and statutory obligations and deadlines, such as National Offer Day and the admission appeals period may delay this.

What happens if I want to request to delay after my child has been offered a place?

If you made an application for your child’s normal year of entry, have been offered a place in reception, but you later change your mind and wish to delay your child’s entry to reception, you should, in the first instance, discuss your options with the head teacher of the allocated school. A request to delay applying for a reception place for a summer-born child will not be agreed if the reasons for the request are based on dissatisfaction with the place offered or if a place has not been offered at a preferred school.

Once you have discussed your reasons for delay with the head teacher, you will need to complete and submit a delayed admissions form to us, to request the delay, by 30 May 2022. The place offered for reception in the normal year of entry will remain allocated to the child until the delay has been agreed.

If the request is granted, you will need to write to us to confirm that you wish to withdraw the place offered within 5 school days. If we do not hear from you, the offer will be withdrawn and offered to another child is necessary.

Where possible, late requests will be dealt with within an intended six weeks from receiving the request. However, school term times and statutory obligations and deadlines such as National Offer Day and the admission appeals period may delay this.

Can I request a delay in any year group for my Summer born child?

No, delaying a year group for summer born children only applies when a family want to defer their child’s expected start date into reception until the September of the following year, not other year groups.

What happens if I later wish to change schools or move to another council area?

If your child has to move schools, or you apply for a school in a different council area, the decision to keep the child in a younger age group has to be made again by the admission authority of the schools being applied for. An admission authority is not required to honour a decision made by another admission authority on admission out of the normal age group and may decide that it’s in the child’s best interests to return to their normal year group. Therefore, it is advisable to discuss your request with each school you are applying for before you submit an application. It is possible that different admission authorities may come to different conclusions and do so for good reasons. It is also possible that different head teachers who work for the same admission authority may disagree. Some schools may be more equipped to support a particular summer born child’s needs if he or she starts school before compulsory school age than others.

My request for delayed admission has been granted. What do I need to do now?

Where we agree to a delayed entry application, we will write to inform you which schools have agreed to your request to delay admission. The letter will explain:

  • if your request was received before 15 January 2022 and granted, your application has been withdrawn for the school(s) that have agreed the delay
  • if your request was received between 16 January and 30 May 2022 you will have 5 days to withdraw your application or decline any place offered
  • that this does not guarantee a place in a particular school in the next school year and if another admission authority does not agree to educate your child out of chronological year group then we will seek a place in Year 1 if places are available at your preference school
  • you will be able to apply for the following year when your child is over 5 on 1 September, using a paper application and only apply for the schools who have granted a delay
  • any agreement to a delayed entry application does not guarantee a place a t the preferred school(s), but the application will be considered alongside all other applications for a reception place.
  • this decision does not bind any other admission authorities and so you will need to apply separately for education out of year group to any other schools
  • that if you move to a new school, for example transition to separate middle, secondary or upper school, then they may not agree to educate your child out of their chronological year group (it is advisable to have a discussion with the school you wish your child to move to, so that they are aware of your reasons for the delayed admission)

What happens if I apply the following year but my child is not allocated a place?

As part of a coordinated scheme, we will consider all of your preferences and allocate the highest preference available. If none are available, we will offer the nearest school with space available which is prepared to offer a delayed entry place. If this is not possible, we will offer a year 1 place at your preference school(s) if places are available or offer the nearest school with place available in year 1.

My request for delayed admission has been refused what do I do now?

If your request for delayed admission has been refused, the application will be processed during the normal admission round, and we will write to you with an outcome on the National Offer day. If you decide to defer the place and start reception at a later date, you will need to discuss this with the head teacher of the school you have been offered and, if agreed, put in writing the date your child will be starting school. If your child does not start by the summer term (April), of the academic term, the place offered will be withdrawn and offered to another child if necessary.

If you decide not to send your child to school until they reach statutory age (5), you will need to inform us in writing that you wish to withdraw your offer of a school place. During the term when your child reaches statutory school age, you will need to complete an in-year application for a year 1 place for the September after they turn 5, from May onwards.

Can I appeal if my delayed admission request has been refused?

Parents and carers have no statutory right to appeal this decision, as the purpose of the appeals process is to consider whether a child should be admitted to a particular school, not the year group into which they should be admitted. However, parents can make a complaint about our decision not to admit their child outside their normal age group, either using the our complaints procedure (for community and voluntary-controlled schools) or the school’s complaints procedures for academies, aided, foundation or trust schools.

If I decide to delay my child’s entry into reception, can he/she stay at nursery?

Where a delay has been agreed, your child may have the option of continuing at their current nursery. However, this would need to be agreed with the head teacher of the nursery at the point the family advises they wish to remain rather than moving into reception, and would be dependent on whether places were still available.

Your child remains entitled to a funded early education place of 15 hours a week for 38 weeks of the year until the end of the term in which they are five. Find out more about free early education (GOV.UK).

What happens when my child moves to middle, secondary or upper school?

When your child transfers to middle, secondary or upper school, there is no obligation for the next school to adhere to the agreement which was put in place for delayed entry in reception. If the new school disagrees that the child should be educated out of their chronological year group, they may be obliged to join their appropriate age cohort and may therefore completely bypass a whole year of education. It is advisable to have a discussion with the school you wish your child to move to so that they are aware of your reasons for delayed admission.

If a delayed admission is agreed, can my child’s year group be changed if I change my mind?

No, as the place would be withdrawn when the delayed admission was agreed. The only option will be to make an in-year application, but there is no guarantee the same school will be offered as all places may have been offered to other children.

My child is a summer-born child and started reception this year, but is struggling. What should I do?

You must speak to your child’s school about your concerns. Together with the school, you may consider schooling on a part-time or defer their entry until the summer term. As your child is already attending reception, you may not apply for a reception place for the following year.

Will my child be able to start Reception part-time?

There is no requirement for a school to offer flexible part-time hours in reception prior to your child attending full-time. It will be for the school to detail the part-time arrangements available to parents. It is recommended that part-time provision will be equivalent to the 15 funded hours per week available at early years settings. Schools may feel it is appropriate for children to attend for whole morning or afternoon sessions.

If my child is educated outside of their normal age group, when will they take their exams?

Children are assessed using SATs when they reach the end of a key stage, not when they reach a particular age. There are no age requirements as to when children must take their GCSEs or other assessments.

It is important to be aware that a child ceases to be of compulsory school age on the last Friday of June in the school year they become 16. If a child is educated outside of their normal age group, they will no longer be of compulsory school age during the school year in which most children take their GCSE examinations and cannot, therefore, be obliged to attend. However, they will be required to continue in some form of education or training until the age of 18.