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

Placement of pupils outside their normal age group 

Children in England are usually educated in school year groups based on their date of birth.  Parents do not have a right to insist that their child is educated in a different year group.  They can request that this is considered.

Department for Education guidance states that children:

'...should only be educated out of their normal age group in very limited circumstances’

A guidance document is available here:

Delayed entry to the reception year is covered in a separate Cornwall Council document shown in the next section on this page.

Starting school: deferred or delayed admission to the reception year 

Most children start school full-time in the September following their fourth birthday.  Sometimes parents believe that it would be better for their child to start:

  • part-time; or
  • later in the school year; or
  • a year late in reception.

Parents may choose deferred or part-time entry to the reception year for their child.

They may also request delayed entry to reception for their summer-born child (i.e. holding their child back a year).  

A child is summer-born if their birth date is between 1 April and 31 August.

Summer-born children are not required to start school until a full year after the point at which they could first have been admitted. This is after their fourth birthday.  This would mean that they would be due to enter year one not long after their fifth birthday.

Some parents/carers think their child should be admitted to reception instead of year one.  In this case they may request that they are admitted outside their normal age group. This would mean they would start in reception a year later than normal. This is called ‘delayed entry’.  

There are some options to consider and sources of support and information:

  • you could speak to the Family Information Service for advice;
  • you should request a meeting with the headteacher of the school where you have been allocated a place or where you hope to be allocated. This may include other relevant professionals to help support them with this important decision;  
  • each case must be considered individually and with the best interests of the child in mind.


Making a decision

When making the decision it is important to remember that:

  • schools have to work within the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework; 
  • schools are very aware of the needs of young children, especially those starting school very soon after their fourth birthday;
  • schools are committed to ensuring that the reception class meets every child’s needs;
  • teachers should use different approaches. This can meet the needs of individual children;
  • the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum is:
    • flexible and responsive
    • play-based
  • the EYFS curriculum is also a requirement of pre-school provision;
  • with the appropriate levels of support, very few children need to be admitted late to a reception class.

Useful information

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.

For advice on delayed entry to school for summer-born children please contact the School Admissions Team. Contact details can be found on this page.

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