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Summer-born children - delaying entry to Reception by a full year

Deciding to delay your child's admission

If you are a parent or carer of summer-born children, you can delay their entry to school by a full year. Summer born children have birthdays between 1 April and 31 August.

Summer-born children do not reach compulsory school age until a full school year after they could first have been admitted to school. By this point, 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.

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).

Your child must be in full-time education when they reach compulsory school age.

Your child reaches compulsory school age on 31 December, 31 March or 31 August following their fifth birthday – whichever comes first. For example, a child born on 16 February 2019 reaches compulsory school age on 31 March 2024.

Please keep in mind that other Local Authorities may have different arrangements for how they deal with Summer Born requests. This may affect parents who move to another county before taking up a school place in West Northamptonshire. 

Making the best decision about when a child should start school

Most children thrive when starting school at the age of 4. However, there are some children who may benefit from a delayed start to school. This may be because they have developmental delays or medical conditions that delay their social readiness.

If you are considering delaying your summer-born child’s start at school, you should consider the implications. Some examples of implications are listed below:  

Some sporting organisations organise teams based on age. Children who are educated a year behind their normal year group may be eligible for a different sports team than their classmates and may not be able to participate with them. 

If your child has been educated out of their normal age group, you may again have to request admission out of their normal age group when they transfer to Junior or Secondary school. You may also have to do this if they wish to move schools.  

The admission authority of that school gets to decide whether to admit the child out of their normal age group. They 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.

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. 

We have a duty to arrange the provision of suitable education, other than at a school, for children of compulsory school age who otherwise will not receive a suitable education. This could be because they are ill, have been excluded, or for another reason. If a child is no longer of compulsory school age before they finish school, this duty will not apply to them.    

We 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. We can choose to continue to provide free transport at this point, but we are under no duty to do so. 

A child is no longer 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 they 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.    

Consider discussing your child’s situation with relevant professionals. You should do this before the period of time you would normally apply for your child’s place in reception.

Be aware that your child still has lots of time to develop in between when you start thinking about applying and when they start school.

For more guidance, read the DfE’s advice on Summer-born children starting school.

Deferring a child's start date: your options

If you feel your child is not ready to start school in the September following their 4th birthday, you have flexibility.

You can:

  • defer the date they are admitted until later in the school year
  • have your child attend school part-time until they reach compulsory school age
  • delay your child’s start to school by a full year

Last updated 06 June 2024