Summer-born children - delaying entry to Reception by a full year
From 13 November to 31 December 2023, we are co-ordinating a consultation on admissions arrangements for 2025 intakes.
The School Admissions Code allows parents and carers of summer-born children (born between 1 April and 31 August) to delay their child's entry to school by a full year so they start school when they reach compulsory school age.
The expectation is that these children will enter in Year 1 and join their normal age group as they move from Reception to Year 1. Parents and carers can however, request that their child is admitted out of their normal age group (into Reception in the September following their 5th birthday).
- school admission authorities are required to provide for the admission of all children in the September following their fourth birthday, but flexibilities exist for children whose parents do not feel they are ready to begin school before they reach compulsory school age
- where a parent requests their child is admitted out of their normal age group, the school’s admission authority is responsible for making the decision on which year group a child should be admitted to. They are required to make a decision on the basis of the circumstances of the case and in the best interests of the child concerned
- there is no statutory barrier to children being admitted outside their normal age group, but parents do not have the right to insist that their child is admitted to a particular age group
Parents of summer born children considering delaying their child's start to school by a full year are advised to read the DfE's guidance for parents of summer born children.
A child reaches compulsory school age on the prescribed day following their 5th birthday (or on their 5th birthday if it falls on a prescribed day).
The prescribed days are 31 December, 31 March and 31 August (for example, a child born on 16 February 2019 reaches compulsory school age on 31 March 2024). Children must be in suitable full-time education as soon as they become of compulsory school age.
There is flexibility for parents who do not feel their child is ready to start school in the September following their 4th birthday.
Once their child has been offered a school place, they may defer the date their child is admitted to their allocated school until later in the school year following their fourth birthday, provided that they do not defer beyond the point at which they reach compulsory school age, or beyond the start of the final term of that school year. Their child may attend school part-time until the child reaches compulsory school age.
Parents/carers should discuss arrangements to defer a place and/or to start part-time with the allocated school.
Alternatively, parents of summer born children may wish to delay their child's start to school by a full year.
The term ‘summer-born’ refers to children born from 1 April to 31 August. These children do not reach compulsory school age until a full school year after the point at which they could first have been admitted to school, the point at which other children in their age range are beginning Year 1. This means that parents can choose to delay their summer-born child’s start to school until the September following their 5th birthday.
Most children thrive when starting school at the age of 4. However, there are some children, particularly those with developmental delays or medical conditions delaying their social readiness, who may benefit from a delayed start to school.
If parents/carers are considering delaying a summer-born child’s start at school, they should consider the implications and discuss their child’s situation with relevant professionals, ideally before the time when they would normally be expected to apply for a place for their child in Reception.
Parents or carers should be aware that their children still have lots of time to develop in the time between the parents/carers thinking about applying for a school place and the point at which they start school. The DfE has produced a document entitled ‘Summer-Born Children – Starting School: Advice for parents’ which all parents considering delaying their child’s start to school should read.
If parents wish to delay their summer-born child’s school start until the September following their 5th birthday, there are 2 options:
- parents can make an in-year application for a place for the September following their child’s 5th birthday. The child would normally start school in Year 1 (their correct chronological age group) as other children in the child’s age group already attending school will be moving from Reception to Year 1 at this point. It is important to remember that some schools are likely to be full and they may be unable to offer a place
- if parents do not want their child to miss their Reception year, they may request that children are admitted out of their normal age group, meaning into Reception instead of Year 1. This is a ‘request’ and parents do not have the right to insist that their child is admitted to a particular age group. The school’s admission authority is responsible for making the decision about which year group a child should be admitted to
Parents/carers of summer-born children who could start school in September 2023, but wish to delay their child’s school start and apply for a Reception place to start in September 2024, should still make their application for a Reception place for their child’s normal year of entry before the primary application deadline on 15 January 2023. If a delay is agreed, this application can be withdrawn.
Parent/carers should also, if possible, make their request for admission to their preferred schools out of the normal age group by the same date - 15 January 2023. This is to enable sufficient time for requests to be processed prior to National Offer Day (17April 2023). Requests will however still be considered after this date.
Parents should check the individual school’s admission arrangements on their website to see how this request can be made. In their request, parents/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 parents/carers to provide any additional evidence to support their request as this information will help the admission authority to make their decision, for example parents/carers may be able to provide a report from the child’s Early Years setting or evidence from a health or social care professional.
In considering a parental request, the School Admissions Code requires admission authorities to consider a number of factors:
- the parent’s /carer’s views
- information about the child’s academic, social and emotional development
- where relevant, the child’s medical history and views of a medical professional
- whether the child may naturally have fallen into a lower age group if it were not for being born prematurely
- the views of the head teacher
As the admission authority for one school is not required to comply with a decision made by the admission authority of another school, it is important to make a request (for admission out of the normal age group) to every school where you wish to apply for a place.
Please note: The admission authority for all Community and Voluntary Controlled schools is West Northamptonshire Council, whereas the admission authority for Academies, Voluntary Aided, Foundation and Free Schools, is either the Governing Body (VA and Foundation Schools) or the Academy Trust (Academies and Free Schools).
If parents/carers have more than one preferred school, they must make the request to delay their child’s Reception application to each of the schools.
The following steps will be required, depending on the type of school you are applying for. You can find out what type of school your preferred schools are by using the Schools Directory.
A. If the preferred school is a Community or Voluntary Controlled School:
- parents/carers make a formal written request (with reasons for the request) to School Admissions at West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) (as this is the admission authority for these schools)
- parents/carers can supply School Admissions with supporting information from professionals and/or Early Years practitioners, if this is available, at the point of request
- school admissions will consult with the Head teacher of the preferred school and take into consideration any evidence supplied in order to make a decision
- school admissions (on behalf of WNC) will inform the parents/carers of their decision in writing, providing reasons if the request is refused
B. If the preferred school is an Academy, Voluntary Aided, Foundation or Free School (or the preferred school is a Community or Voluntary Controlled school outside Northamptonshire):
- parents/carers make a formal written request (with reasons for the request) to the preferred school
- parents/carers can supply the school with supporting information from professionals and/or Early Years practitioners, if this is available, at the point of request
- the preferred school will then pass the request to the admission authority of the school, with the reasons and evidence supplied by parents/carers, so that a decision can be made in consultation with the Head teacher of the school
- following the admission authority’s decision, the school should then inform the parents/carers of their decision in writing, providing detailed reasons if the request is refused
- if the admission authority of the school accepts the request, both the request and written confirmation from the admission authority of the preferred school agreeing with the parent’s/carer’s request to delay their application to Reception for a year, must be sent to School Admissions at WNC by either the parent or the school so that our data system can be adjusted to accept a Reception application for the following year
What happens next?
A. If the request is agreed:
- school Admissions will write to the parents/carers confirming that an application for that school can be made in the following year. A copy of the letter sent by School Admissions to the parents/carers will be sent to the Head teacher of the school(s) concerned
- if parents/carers have made an application for Reception in the normal year of entry, this application will then be withdrawn and a place will not be offered on National Offer Day (17 April 2023)
- parents/Carers should name the school/s on their application whose admission authorities have agreed to the delay for Reception the following year. If schools are named and there has not been an agreement with that school’s admission authority, the school may refuse to allocate a place in Reception. Please note: the current online system for applying for a primary school place is not set up to accept dates of birth which are outside the normal year group of entry, meaning it will not be possible for parents who have an agreed delay to make an application online. School Admissions will send a paper applications form to parents/carers for them to complete and return to School Admissions, ensuring it is received by the deadline of 15 January 2023. A copy of the paper application form can also be found on our website. The paper form may be printed, completed and returned to School Admissions
- parents/carers should only apply a full year later for a Reception place at schools whose admission authorities have agreed to a delayed application for their child
- the new delayed application will be processed as part of the normal admissions round in the following year, according to the oversubscription criteria of each school stated as a preference
- while a school may agree to a delayed application, there is no guarantee that the child will be allocated a place at that school in the following admissions round as other children may have a higher priority within the school’s oversubscription admission criteria. No additional priority will be given to an applicant applying under the summer born policy, nor will they be penalised. The application will be treated in the same way as all of the applications made in that admissions round
- if it is not possible to offer a place at one of the preferred schools, the Local Authority will make every effort to allocate a Reception place (rather than a Year 1 place) at an alternative school. However, because WNC is not the admissions authority for all schools, any school approached as an alternative school would have to agree to the delayed entry
- if the Local Authority is unable to offer a place at one of the parent’s/carer’s preferred schools, it may not be possible to offer a place in Reception at another school. If a school cannot be found that will agree to the child being admitted out of normal age group, parents/carers will be offered a place for their child at a school in Year 1 at the nearest school to their home address that has a place available
B. If the request is refused:
- parents/carers will receive a letter from the admission authority of the preferred school providing reasons for refusal
- assuming that an application for a Reception place for the normal year of entry was also submitted on time (15 January 2023), parents/carers will receive an offer of a school place on National Offer Day (17 April 2023)
- parents/carers) then need to decide if they will accept the place offered for their normal year of entry on National Offer Day. If they still wish to delay their child’s school start for a year, they should decline the place that has been offered for 2023 and subsequently apply in June for a Year 1 place for the following September when their child is compulsory school age. If a parent/carer chooses to decline the place, they must inform School Admissions team of their decision in writing (information about how to do this will be on your offer email)
- parent(s)/carer(s) who have not yet applied for a Reception place in their normal year of entry will need to apply as soon as possible if they decide that they would prefer their child to start in Reception rather than waiting until they reach Compulsory School Age and start school in Year 1. Applications received after the deadline of 15 January 2023 will be classed as late applications (see our website for more information on late applications)
Frequently asked questions
Yes. If parents/carers change their minds about wanting to delay their children’s school start by a whole school year (whether the plan is for their child to start in Reception or Year 1), they may still apply in the normal round for a place in Reception 2023 following their child’s 4th birthday.
They must apply by the deadline on 15 January 2023. Applications received after15 January will be treated as late applications according to the current WNC late application policy.
If a child is given an Education Health and Care (EHC) Plan after the parent has made the decision to delay their child’s start to school and has the agreement of their preferred schools, the EHC Plan will override any agreement made and will specify which school the child will attend and which year group the child will be in.
Parents/carers who have made online applications for their normal year of entry and have been offered a place in Reception, and who later change their minds and wish to delay their child’s entry to Reception, should, in the first instance, discuss their 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.
Parents/carers should follow the same procedure outlined above to request the delay. The place offered for Reception in the normal year of entry will remain allocated to the child until either a delay has been agreed, or the parents/carers decide they would prefer their child to wait and start school when compulsory school age is reached, even if that means entering school in Year 1. In this case, parents should decline their allocated place by emailing School Admissions at WNC as outlined on their offer letter.
Any complaints should be addressed directly to the admission authority of the school in question.
Parents/carers can request to delay their application to more than one school; a request may be refused by one school and agreed by another. There is no limit to the number of schools parents can approach to request a delay.
Parents/carers whose requests for delayed entry to Reception are refused 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.
Other Local Authorities may have different arrangements for how they deal with Summer Born requests and this may affect parents who move to another county before taking up a school place in West Northamptonshire.
Once a child has been admitted to a school, it is for the head teacher to decide how best to educate them. In some cases, 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, but in others it will not. Any decision to move a child to a different age group should be based on sound educational reasons and made by the head teacher in consultation with the parents.
Where a child has been educated out of their normal age group, the parent may once again have to request admission out of the normal age group when they transfer to Junior or Secondary school, or if they wish to move schools.
It will be for the admission authority of that school to decide whether to admit the child out of their normal age group. The admission authority must make their decision on the basis of the circumstances of each case and in the child’s best interests; they will need to consider the age group the child has been educated in up to that point.
Parents/Carers must make a new request as outlined above prior to applying for an out of normal age group place in Junior or Secondary school.
Children are assessed when they reach the end of each 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.
A child ceases to be of compulsory school age on the last Friday of June in the school year they turn 16 years of age. They are not legally required to attend school after this point. A summer born child who has been educated out of their normal age group will cease to be of compulsory school age at the end of year 10. This means such children will be under no obligation to attend school in Year 11 when most children take their GCSEs. The school will not ask your child to leave because they are no longer of compulsory school age, but the school may not be able to enforce their attendance.
Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide free home to school transport to eligible children. To be eligible, a child must be of compulsory school age. If your child is educated out of their normal age group, and is eligible for free home to school transport, they will stop being eligible before they finish secondary school. Local authorities can choose to continue to provide free transport at this point, but they are under no duty to do so.
Local authorities have a duty to make arrangements for the provision of suitable education, other than at a school, for children of compulsory school age who otherwise will not receive a suitable education, whether that is because they are ill, have been excluded, or for another reason. This duty will not apply in relation to a child who ceases to be of compulsory school age before they finish secondary school.
Some sporting organisations organise teams based on age. For children who are educated a year behind their normal year group, this may mean children would be eligible for a different sports team than their classmates and may not be able to participate with them.
If an admission authority has agreed that parents can delay their Reception application by a full year, parents must ensure that School Admissions team has received a copy of this confirmation and have sent an official email confirming the delay. The WNC data system can be adjusted to show that your child will start in Reception a full year later and you should be able to request your funding as normal.
In order to ensure that the Early Years setting can secure the funded place for children for September 2023, parents/carers should notify their Early Years setting before the end of the Spring Funding Block (Term) - 31 March 2023. The Early Years setting can then take into account the number of summer born children continuing for another year when allocating places for September 2023. If parents/carers do not notify their Early Years setting until after nursery allocations have been released, nursery schools and classes will be under no obligation to offer a place above their normal intake number. Children can, of course, be considered for a place through the normal waiting list process.
Last updated 04 May 2023