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Your rights – Deferring your child’s primary school place

Most primary schools expect their new intake of reception children to start school in the September following their fourth birthday.  However, many schools recognise that some children might find it hard to spend the whole day at school, with some still needing an afternoon nap, so they offer a flexible arrangement where children can attend school for mornings or afternoons during the first term.  However, for those summer-born children, attending school full-time come January can still prove difficult for them, with some falling asleep during class or becoming distressed and upset as too much is expected of them. 

By law, you can defer your child’s school place until the term after which your child turns five.  The admission authority (usually your county council) must offer parents the option of deferring their child’s entry until later in the school year and the school must hold your place for your child until they start. However, there is a slight exception for summer-born children, who, although their official start date would be in the September of Year 1 (ie the first term after their fifth birthday), parents cannot defer their child’s place beyond the school year for which they applied.  So, if you did want to defer your child’s place until Year 1, you would have to make a new application to the school through the school’s standard application procedure (or start them a few days before the end of the school year in reception, before they move up to Year 1!).

There are some parents who may wish to defer their child’s school place for reasons other than age, while others may wish their child to start in the year ahead of their peers.  For clarification on how such requests are dealt with, My School Gate contacted Julie Jewers at the Department for Education, who told us:

“For developmental and emotional reasons, parents sometimes want their children to be admitted to a higher or lower age group than their peers.  This is a decision for the admission authority and the head teacher to take.*  Where there are good educational reasons for a child to be placed in a different year group, rather than with children their own age, we would expect any requests from parents  to be considered carefully and decisions to be made on the basis of the circumstances of each case.  Parents should be advised to think through the implications of such a request.  This is because any secondary or middle (junior) school that the child later moves onto will not be obliged to continue to educate the child outside its normal chronological year group.” 

If you are struggling to decide whether your child is ready to start full-time education, but you are worried they may miss out if you defer their place for a term or two, it is worth giving some thought to the following facts.  In the latest world education ranking report, PISA,  only one of the top ten countries, which include South Korea, Finland, Canada, New Zealand and Japan, expect a child to start their education before they are six (and in the case of Finland, and Estonia which ranked tenth, the start age is 7).  Two years is a big difference to any child’s development – it is half the life of a four year old.  Perhaps the government should reconsider the expectations it places on our youngest children.

*It is worth noting that neither the head nor the admission authority will have had any experience of your child at the point when they are due to start school, so it is highly unlikely that any decision made by either party could be one based on your child’s needs.

If you have deferred your child’s place or your child is in a different year group to their peers, we would like to hear about your experience. 

Articles to read: 

Bright children should start school at six, says academic

Summer born children at bottom of the class

School starting age ‘should be raised to six to prevent long-term damage to brighter children’

 

Comments

jj210

16th June 2012 at 9:53 am

I have a daughter who is an August baby and she wasn’t ready for school at all, but I had no idea at the time I could defer her place and she struggled through it. She had a really hard time, and would often fall asleep in the afternoon and would come home really irritable. She was off sick a lot with coughs, colds and stomach upsets and overall it was a pretty miserable experience. I would most definitely have deferred her place if I had known I could, at least for a term. Surely the school should make you aware of this option?

Sarah Nickolls

17th June 2012 at 10:51 am

I’m having exactly the same problem. My son is an August child and he is really struggling to cope. His teacher isn’t the most empathetic person either which isn’t helping and he is now at the stage of not wanting to go to school. It’s a bit late in the year to ask about him doing half days now – I wish I had known this earlier!

Jem

18th June 2012 at 3:03 pm

I deferred my daughter’s place until January (she didn’t attend at all until then). She started going full time in January, but was so tired I decided to pick her up at lunchtimes. The school didn’t like it, especially as a few other mums started doing the same, but at the end of the day it was in the interest of our children. My daughter would come home so tired and grumpy it wasn’t worth making her sit through a couple of extra hours for the sake of it. It wasn’t as if she missed anything – it was mostly ‘free-choosing’ in the afternoons which is where the kids just play with something in the classroom – or watching tv – which she can do at home!! She is in Year 1 now, and I am glad I did it, even if her teacher wasn’t too happy about it.

EMP

19th June 2012 at 3:32 pm

Does anyone know if parents have the right to send their children for half days? My 4 year old is starting reception in September and his school has just announced that all reception children are to go full time from September. Many parents feel this is too early, but we aren’t sure what our rights are in this matter beyond taking the child out or deferring until they are 5. I’d like to have my son home in the afternoons but I don’t know whether it’s all or nothing.

Apparently the school didn’t want to do this but were threatened with loss of funding if they didn’t and the whole Borough has to do it.

Administrator, My School Gate

21st June 2012 at 5:54 am

Dear EMP

We have put your question to the Secretary of State as it is one which many parents ask. We will post the answer here on the site once we receive a reply. Many schools offer the option of allowing children to attend school for mornings or afternoons only, for at least the first few months, and some don’t expect them to start full-time until January. The ‘loss of funding’ issue, if it is true, would no doubt apply to all state schools, so it will be interesting to hear whether this has been recently introduced as a measure to stop schools allowing part-time attendance.

Kind regards

My School Gate team

Ali

7th July 2012 at 8:07 pm

We deferred our son starting school and when he did he went into reception not year 1. He is thriving the best decision we ever made, he is confident has a reading age of a 9 yr old, he’s not 7 until August, the Head has been supportive in our decision, and plans are in place to ensure that he finishes primary school in the correct year ready for secondary and as it happens there are now 2 more pupils in his class who should be a year above too. It has made a huge difference to his social and emotional developement.

Lara

10th July 2012 at 9:16 am

My son is at an independent school and is one of six children (out of a year group of 20) who are in the year below that of their ‘birth’ peers. I also have quite a few friends at other schools who have opted to hold their children back a year so it is more common than people think, particularly in the private sector. I felt that my son wasn’t ready for school after just turning four and he was very slow to develop his language so would have really struggled. He had speech therapy during his ‘year off’ (he did go to pre-school part-time) and was much more ready to go into reception the following year. He doesn’t know any different and he is only a month or two older than some of the kids in his class so despite our initial doubts, it has worked out really well.

Adminstrator, My School Gate

11th July 2012 at 8:57 am

Dear EMP

I have received a reply from Patricia Meredith, of the ‘Education Choice and Access Division’ of the Dept for Education stating that:

“When determining the arrangements for primary schools that admit children below compulsory school age, the admission authority must make a number of things clear, including:

“that parents can request that the date their child is admitted to the school is deferred until later in the school year or until the child reaches compulsory school age in that school year;

“and that parents can request that their child attends part-time until the child reaches compulsory school age”

ie. You can choose if you would like your child to attend primary school part-time until they reach compulsory school age.

They did include information about funding in relation to part-time attendance and if you would like us to forward this to you, please send us your email address via the ‘Contact Us’ page. Your details will remain private and confidential and we will not disclose them to any third party.

I hope this helps,

Kind regards

My School Gate Team

Paula R

14th July 2012 at 9:16 pm

My son is a July baby and very young for his age so I will be deferring his place until January. He’s going to go mornings only which I arranged after reading this as the school never mentioned that it was an option. Quite a few parents starting in September want to do the same thing but are being met with resistance from the school which seems very unfair. (I think I ‘got in first’ with my request and now that lots of parents want to defer it is causing a problem). Although these parents know they are entitled to defer their child’s place, they are worried that if they do, it will be detrimental to their child as they will be doing so against the school’s wishes.

Harriet

17th July 2012 at 11:28 pm

My son went part time until January this year despite being advised by the school that it would be better to start him full-time along with all the rest of the kids. A few other parents followed suit after finding that full-time was too much for their children. Neither of the reception teachers were happy with the arrangement but I can honestly say we are all very glad we made that decision. For anyone who is worried about creating an issue with the school over deferring their child, by the time your child starts full time, there are only a few months left before they will be moving up to a new teacher anyway and once they go into Year 1, from what I’ve heard it’s not an issue at all. To be honest, my son spends most afternoons playing in school, so all the work is done in the morning and he hasn’t missed anything significant.

hellofaday

23rd July 2012 at 9:14 am

I deferred my son’s place until January – he didn’t go at all until then – he wasn’t ready and it gave me four months to wean him off afternoon naps (which I have to say wasn’t easy at all) so he wouldn’t fall asleep during class. Part of my reason for holding him back was also because he was ill quite a lot the year before with upset stomachs, coughs and colds etc and he got very run down and going to school full time wouldn’t have helped. He started full time in January but after his first week, was so tired still (he had a natural tendancy to fall asleep at about 1pm – his nap time) I decided to pick him up at lunchtime for the rest of the spring term. I did worry if I was doing the right thing as he missed out on lunch playtimes which I thought might affect him making friends, but now he has just finished reception year and he managed to go full time the last term and he has settled really well.

significant other

26th August 2012 at 8:06 pm

I don’t understand why some schools are so reluctant to let parents defer their child’s place or go part time for a while, given that parents only choose to do this because their kids aren’t up to a whole week of full days. I had a really difficult time with my son’s teacher because I wanted him to just attend mornings. We tried letting him go all day and he kept falling asleep after lunch and then would come home in a real state. The teacher would let him lie on a beanbag and dose off but by the time he came home he would be so grouchy I didn’t see the point in carrying on with full days. You would have thought his teacher would be happy with a mornings only arrangement given that he wasn’t even awake for most of the afternoon but she made it quite clear that she didn’t agree with what I was doing and she was very frosty with me from then on. My friend’s school however, were absolutely great with her son and didn’t bat an eyelid about letting him do mornings only for the first term and a half. They even suggested it to her as he was too tired to go all day! I’m very glad I stuck to my guns though and delayed starting him full time. A few other mums wanted to do the same but perservered with full days because of the teacher and their kids had a really miserable time in her year and ended up not wanting to go to school at all.

Amanda

5th September 2012 at 4:00 pm

My son started Foundation September 2011. He was born 22 August so just 8 days from falling in the following academic year. The teachers of foundation came to my house in August and I was shocked that my child was expected to attend full time from September. I thought it would be half days. My reaction was so obvious that to try to persuade me that everything would be alright the teachers volunteered my son could attend mornings only for the first term. It was by accident that the admin staff informed me this could continue until the start of term 6 (the term before my son would turn 5). Other parents and children did question the arrangement and a couple amended their routine to ease their children into the full time routine. This was great for my son and our family. I think this has made him enjoy school and become a greater participant. It has also meant that he has had time to bond with his brother and sister, (We had our family close together for this reason).

This was a good compromise to ensure my child got into a local school. But I don’t think it is fair that this information is not clearly put across to parents on application, and I don’t think we should be forced to take a place in the foundation class just so our children can get into a local school to our homes.

I don’t think the foundation classes give the support that a child of 4 needs. My son needs to supervised, he needs reminding to where wellies and a coat if its raining, help with zips buttons. Help with sun lotion, on occassion wiping his bum. But foundation staff arent allowed to do these sorts of things like playgroup/nursery staff would. Also July/August babies have noticable short attention spans and comparing their verbal/written skills to that of a September/October child makes them appear to have some sort of learning disability. My son was referred to a speach therapist and their findings were he was actually performing for the age of a 5-6 (at age 4 nearly 5) so advanced/right for his age. But even on reporting these findings school still forgot he was 4 and said without thinking so he is a little behind then. AHHHH

Another parent I know declined the foundation application, made an application the following year and is now stuck with what is remaining; a primary school 3 miles from her home that nobody else wanted to attend.

The process is shameful, for schools its all about goverment grants and for government its all about parents being seperated from their children so the working class hurry back to work to pay for the unemployable. We get this time once let us enjoy it without being penalised by missing out on a local school.

I would like the goverment to look at flexible working to help get a policy together that actually holds water!

Helen23

13th September 2012 at 5:04 am

After requesting to send my 4 year-old part-time in Reception class and I was basically threatened with the Educational Social Worker by the Headteacher! I talked to the Head of Service for Early Education at my LA. She seemed to think that this is something that needs to be negotiated and compromised about with the Head, so she’s gone off to talk to him.

Here’s an excerpt from my subsequent letter to the DfE. I’ll let you know the outcome:

The basic facts of my situation: My daughter’s DOB is 8/7/2008 (she’s 4). She’s 5 in July 2013. She’s currently in Reception Class. We’re in Wales. I made a written request to our Headteacher for my daughter to attend Reception part-time and build up to full-time as the year progresses. However, his response was that this was not legally possible and went on to threaten me with the Educational Social Worker as a consequence of any non-attendances. He also said that I would have to seek persmission for holidays in term time and fill in holiday forms.

Feeling that I was indeed within my rights to have my 4 year-old attend part-time (as her schooling is not compulsory until she is 5), I checked this with the Head of Service for Early Education at the Local Authority. She has kindly offerred to negotiate and find a compromise with the school for me to achieve my aim. I am yet to hear of the outcome. She also explained that once registered with the school, ‘unauthorised absences’ in certain contexts, would be a child protection issue and could lead to a referals being made to social services.

However, I am still in the dark. I thought that I had the right to send my daughter part-time or even defer her entry in Reception year. Do I even need to ‘negotiate and compromise’ with the school or LA on this? If I am in the right, I feel bullied; I am happy to communicate my duaghter’s non-attendance to the school out of courtesy but I resent having to justify myself, whilst being threatened with social services over child protection concerns!

What are my rights and obligations in this matter? What are the rights and obligations of the school and the Local Authority?

Administrator, My School Gate

14th September 2012 at 12:46 pm

Dear Helen23

After receiving an email from the DofE regarding their policy on deferring a primary school place for under five’s, we requested further confirmation from them on whether a school was obliged to allow children to defer or attend part-time if the school does not usually exercise this option. Here is the response from the DofE, which we will also email to you separately:

“(You ask) can parents choose for their child to attend school part-time until they reach compulsory school age, even if the school in question does not offer part-time attendance.”

“Schools are required to provide part-time places where requested, until the child reaches compulsory school age. Before the child reaches compulsory school age there is no duty on parents to ensure their child receives full-time education.”

“Admission authorities have to admit in accordance with their admission arrangements which cannot discriminate on grounds of part-time places or deferral preferences.”

We hope this helps and will be in touch.

Best wishes

My School Gate team

Lincat

21st September 2012 at 4:14 pm

Hi,
Just been to see the head about my June born 4 year old (new to Reception) having a day or afternoon off school per week. She said that while she would love to (and has done prior to this term), she would be duty-bound to inform the EWO about regular missed attendance. She cited a DoEd letter dated 14 Sept 2012 saying that schools are now obliged to include 4 year olds attendance records with the school total. She also said that there is no allowance made for authorised (by the school) absence.
I asked how this fit in with not being legally required to begin full-time school until next year. She was unsure but seemed to think if I had never started her at all til next year I’d be ok. All or nothing, in other words.
Can anyone untangle this jumble?
Many Thanks
Lin

Kate

14th November 2012 at 6:19 pm

I have the opposite problem and am not sure where I stand legally. Both my sons are summer born, the school we chose for my eldest accepts children as soon as they are 4 (at any point in the school year) but only takes 4 year olds full time the term they are 5, which for both of my children is the summer. So my eldest did 2 term part time and 1 term full time in his reception year. Where as children who were born in September could in effect have a whole year part time and then their reception year full time.
This was ok for son number 1 however my youngest will be more than ready for full time school next September but has to wait until after Easter 2014 before he will qualify for full time education. Surely as parents we know our children best and if we can ask for them to buck the trend and go part-time until they are ready can we not do the opposite, it is their reception year after all. Can I insist that he attends full time? If yes what legislation can I quote when I speak to the school.

Jackie

25th November 2012 at 4:57 pm

A few people on here have succeeded in delaying entrance to Reception (not Year 1) and I wondered which areas this has been in please? I plan to contact my MP but with applications due in January 2013, I feel that this issue will not be resolved by then and I’ll feel forced to apply for Sep. 2013 for fear of losing out on a place entirely.

My back up plan is to send our son into Reception in the 3rd term of Reception, and even then only part-time if possible, but what I really want is for him to start Reception when he’s aged 5 – he’ll only be a few months older than the September-born children in that class, and therefore I don’t understand the argument against him doing this.

It feels as if you’re not allowed to do something different to what everyone else is doing, and in fact, the HT at our school told me that she has more parents coming into her office asking for children to start school full-term earlier than she advises (they have a staggered entry at Reception) than people like me asking to delay entry.

My son is 3 but not at pre-school yet (he is not ready for this and is happier doing activities with me being present than being left for 3 hours at a time) so I am not using up pre-school funding – I just want the same school funding as anyone else – just starting at a later date when our child is ready for school.

I’d really appreciate any information from anyone who has succeeded in deferring entry to Reception year (age 5), but also am concerned about what I’ve read above – that the secondary school a child moves on to does not have to honour any arrangement and could bump the child back up into their ‘proper’ age group (if I’ve understood that correctly?).
Thank you

Administrator, My School Gate

25th November 2012 at 10:22 pm

Dear Kate (14 Nov 2012)

Please find the following information in answer to the question about attending school full time from the beginning of reception:

Patricia Meredith, Dept for Education: “The 2010 Admissions Code provided that, for admission to the 2011/12 school year, and any subsequent years, admission authorities must provide for the admission of all children to free full time education, in the September following their 4th birthday. When determining the arrangements for primary schools that admit children below compulsory school age, the admission authority must make a number of things clear, including:

“that parents can request that the date their child is admitted to the school is deferred until later in the school year or until the child reaches compulsory school age in that school year”

“and that parents can request that their child attends part-time until the child reaches compulsory school age”

“The new simplified Code issued in 2012, sets out the continuing policy requirement to provide full-time places at primary school for all four year olds from the September after their 4th birthday. Whilst parents can choose to take up only a part-time place until their child reaches compulsory school age, or defer entry until the child reaches 5, the Code requires schools to make full-time provision available for those parents who wish for their children to take it up.”

Best wishes

My School Gate team

clarriebell

30th November 2012 at 11:30 am

My son was born in July, 2 months premature and started in Reception class this September. I chose to leave him part time as he still sleeps and is a very “young” 4 year old. The school are making it incredibly difficult for me, and the Headteacher monopolised our recent parents evening to tell us that our son should be full time. The Reception teacher agrees with him. Our son already is in bed by 5.30 he is so tired, and cannot cope with the reading homework, so is falling further and further behind with school work. When he has had his afternoon sleep he can cope with the reading, but this is not enough days out of the week for the school to be competent with his reading so they wont put his book level up if he has only read it twice! They are also saying they “forget” which days he is to be collected at lunchtime and make me wait for up to 30 minutes for him to be brought out to me. He does 1 or 2 full days, and I have given them a diary sheet so they know when this is, and they keep “loosing” the information!
He is also so small I cannot get uniform small enough, so although he is in blue trousers, they are not the uniform pair. The Head now says he cant allow this. We are in 12 month trousers – what can I do?
I have 3 other older children at this school, who are all fine, and coped with the September or January starts but no allowance is being made for my track record of being a “responsible parent”. I dread going to school because I wonder what they will do next.
He gets a cold every week, and is now able to make himself sick when he is tired. There is no recognition by the school of this, we were just told that all the children are tired and he will get used to it!
I have no idea what to do next.

Sarah

26th December 2012 at 8:23 pm

Just wondering if you there’s any further information relating to Jackie’s message (25th Nov 2012)
“I’d really appreciate any information from anyone who has succeeded in deferring entry to Reception year (age 5), but also am concerned about what I’ve read above – that the secondary school a child moves on to does not have to honour any arrangement and could bump the child back up into their ‘proper’ age group (if I’ve understood that correctly?)”
Many thanks

JO

18th January 2013 at 1:26 pm

My son was born in aug o8 and started reception sept 12 just after turning 4. I have been so upset feeling like a failure as a parent as we have been called in a number of times as he is struggling to read and write. Whilst the school appear to be supportive and helpful with ideas on how we can help him improve at home, I do feel they forget that he is an august baby. I had no idea about being able to defer and would have considered this. My son is reluctant to go to school and is so tired when he gets home to then complete the tasks that we are expected to do with him. He gets very frustrated as he knows now that he is struggling and this in turn is affecting his confidence. I will be questioning the school today on how they ensure they consider july/aug children in their teaching

Mel

1st February 2013 at 2:44 pm

My daughter was a September baby, and Im on the other side of the spectrum. She is really forward to the point she needed to start school earlier than she actually did. Now, she is excelling at everything, is top of her class with everything, where she is now complaining that she is bored! She is only in reception! I feel that maybe the defer is a brilliant idea, but I also think that children from September onwards should be given the opportunity to start school if they are ready to do so. But, I understand its a hard balance to find.

FuturaMama

13th February 2013 at 9:31 pm

Could anyone who has succeeded in getting their child to be allowed to delay starting school for a year, so they begin reception at 5, please give me advice on how you made this happen?

My daughter was born a week early on August, 27 and I am very keen for her not to suffer the well documented disadvantages of being the youngest in the year.

It would be a real struggle for us to resort to independent education, so anyone who has succeeded in getting their local school to acquiesce please post. Thank you.

UKmum

21st February 2013 at 1:39 pm

My ds will be 5 in August. I purposefully deferred applying for a reception class for him for Sept. 2012 as would have been his start according to his age. Instead I kept him home and only this year applied for a reception place for him. Prior to applying, I contacted the Admission team in my council and explained that due to my son’s late birth date and an emotional and personal immaturity, I found that it would be doing him injustice to send him to school and hence forth wanted to apply for a reception place 2013.I also mentioned that I was not interested in him missing the valuable reception year and just being put into year 1 as this would just not be fair to him and his thriving and succeeding altogether. I had a nice letter back from the admissions team and they have actually accepted my request. So my son will be starting reception 2013, rather than year 1. On the other hand, I think it is very sad, that the system is so stiff – that a birth date determines whether a child is given the chance to succeed.

Mia

24th February 2013 at 11:49 am

My daughter 4 (a July baby) started school in September with minimal problems in settling in, since starting she has been off school a number of times due to illness; repeatedly throat infections ect. A bulk of the time my daughter although well in herself not yet completed her antibiotics could not return to school, as the school first aider/nurse would not administer the antibiotics. This was alot different in my day. The head teacher has mentioned due to the recurring time off that the education welfare officer may consider contacting me. Baring in mind that my daughter’s attendance rate is at 86% not the 96% the head states it should be. Until starting school my daughter had a regular nap after lunch and once started school had roughly a 2 hour nap every day after, this soon became a problem affecting her bed time routine and weekends were a nightmare; but academically she was progressing normally; recently my daughter has stopped her afternoon naps but in doing so has not been sleeping during the night. Also by suggestion of her teacher has taken on extra reading tasks to address her now slowing progress. After reading the above comments what are my legal rights of a mother whose child is not yet 5 on deferring her place for maybe just a couple of weeks/month or so to give my daughter a chance to recuperate, and regain a normal sleeping pattern with the aim to return to school before the end of the school year with good health and therefore a better learning environment?

Any advice would be much appreciated x

Administrator, myschoolgate

24th February 2013 at 8:41 pm

Dear Mia

“By law, you can defer your child’s school place until the term after which your child turns five. The admission authority (usually your county council) must offer parents the option of deferring their child’s entry until later in the school year and the school must hold your place for your child until they start. ” (Sec of State).

As your daughter is not 5 until July, she is not legally obliged to attend school at all until Year 1. There should be no problem requesting some time off until she has time to adjust to her new sleep pattern – I would suggest talking to the head teacher, explain your concerns, agree some time off and a gradual return to school (eg mornings only) until she is ready to go full time.

Best wishes

Myschoolgate team

Shelby75

28th February 2013 at 12:35 pm

UKMum,

That’s brilliant news. Would you mind sharing your story on the googlegroup “Campaign For More Flexible School Admissions For Summer Born Children”. There are many of us on there trying to achieve what you have been so successful at. So glad your LA took onboard your request.

denti248

10th March 2013 at 9:33 am

I was wondering if anyone has any information on the following. My 3 year old twins were born on 24th August 2009 and as such should be starting reception in September when they are only just 4 by 1 week!!! At the moment they attend nursery school with 3 year old funding and I was planning to start sending them to the nursery attached to primary school after Easter. I then wish to defer their entry to Reception until January and then possibly only still half days. My question is this: Can they have funding for nursery school for a term in September and then have that transferred to funding for reception in January. I’ve been told this is not possible but I just want to know I’m not being fobbed off. The school wants me to start them in September and stagger their entry which I do not believe will suit them (After all if they had been singletons, they would have been born at least 2 weeks later anyway. Twins are always or nearly always delivered at least 2 weeks early due to complications and I had pre-eclampsia) Thanks

clarriebell

15th March 2013 at 12:27 pm

To denti248
In our county the school does not receive funding for Reception aged children until the January anyway, and its done on those who are full time in the January of that particular academic year.
This would be worth checking with your county council rather than the individual school.
Plus even if you delay their start until that January, you do not have to send them full time until the term AFTER their fifth birthday.
My DS is still part time and he started in September 2012 but still sleeps and gets tired and run down, being a prem baby and summer born.
Good luck x

despair

16th March 2013 at 9:52 am

I have a late July born daughter who is due to start school in September 2013 (just 4) and a daughter who turned 5 at the beginning of September 2012 and so in foundation this year. My husband and I are primary school teachers and really feel that primary education is not child centred at all.

I would like my youngest to start the foundation stage when she is supposed to start year 1, but I know that won’t be possible. I despair of young children being made to learn spellings, being under great pressure, knowing their targets, doing tests etc etc. You’d think they were working in sales!

In my ideal world, they would be being encouraged to enquire, explore, experiment, develop their imaginations, enjoy hearing stories, making plays, doing art and craft etc so they have confidence and self esteem and all the foundations for being good readers, writers and mathematicians when they are ready to excel at it.

My eldest is doing well with reading, but I’m sure she would also well if she was a little older and could be having a much more stimulating time not learning phonics etc now. The drive to push children and fill them up like foie gras will leave those that aren’t ready stressed, labeled ‘special needs’ and turned off learning. What a travesty.

While I’m having a rant, we have a massive obesity problem. Young children are designed to exercise a lot. The system as it is requires them to sit still and not fidget for most of the day, then go home and do homework. We seem to be setting young children up to fail on many levels!

20th March 2013 at 10:19 am

As Shelby75 mentions above there is a google group for parents who wish to delay their summer born childs school start – https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/schoolstart and a facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/121613774658942/?fref=ts
Those of you considering doing the same or who have already had success in doing so please come and join us. We’re in the process of seeking legal advice as a group and are looking to start campaigning for changes to how local authorities do things. Some of the group met with David McVean from the DfE and I have had emails from another senior officer and basically councils have no grounds to enforce a Year 1 start for children starting at compulsory school age.

Our son was 4 in August and therefore expected to start in September gone. For various reasons we didn’t believe he was ready and so decided to wait until he was compulsory school age to send him. This year he has continued to attend nursery and fits right in with that year group (he has been assessed as performing below age related expectations although not enough to have a certificate of SEN) and we’re happy that this was the right decision for him. However the council have refused to process our application for Reception class in September and want him to go straight into Year 1. This is a decision made solely on their policies and has not considered whats in our sons best interests and therefore we are continuing to fight it. They have agreed to look at it again and should they deny it we have the option of complaining to the local government ombudsmen and then the secretary of state.

For those of you wondering about part time reception this is a right you have and should have been informed of. You do not need permission if your child is not at compulsory school age. The fact is that when the school year starts in September every single child in Reception class is there voluntarily (unless they’ve been successful in having there school start delayed). September – December born children do not reach compulsory school age until January, January – March born children not until April and April – August born children September. Until they reach compulsory school age they do not have to be in school, nursery or even be home educated or they can attend school or nursery on a part time basis without permission from the school or local authority.

Sally

20th March 2013 at 4:50 pm

can anyone advise Plse. My daughter is 4 on 31/08/2013 (2hrs later she wouldn’t be due to school til sept 2014!!!!)

I really don’t think she is ready for school can I delay it until next sept?

Hazel

26th March 2013 at 5:01 pm

Hi All,

As mum to an IUGR, VLBW, July born child, I was able to defer entry to primary school, i.e. She will start in reception the academic year after she is five years old. We attempted her start her in her appropriate year group, but it became clear quite quickly this was not going to work. If I can help anyone else out there negotiate this for their summer born children, please feel free to get in touch…

Thanks,

Hazel.

14th April 2013 at 7:48 pm

This explanation above on rights states, “However, there is a slight exception for summer-born children, who, although their official start date would be in the September of Year 1 (ie the first term after their fifth birthday), parents cannot defer their child’s place beyond the school year for which they applied.”

May I ask where the author of this text found this information please?

In which specific legal document or official statement does it say that the compulsory age definition specifically means that summer born children must begin in Year 1?

This is what I have read:

“Myth: Where the parent of a summer born child wishes to defer their entry to school until they reach compulsory school age, they must be admitted to Year 1 rather than Reception.

It’s important to note that parents of summer born children are not asking for a school place to be deferred until the following September’s Reception Class (i.e. held open specially for them), but rather that their 5-year-old child is allowed to apply for a place in that Reception Class (a year later), equally and alongside other applicants.

No special treatment, and no forced entry into Year 1.

ausmum

16th April 2013 at 2:19 pm

Hello all,
I am a mum to three children (7,4 and 4). We have just moved over from Australia to the UK. Our 7 year old turns 8 at the end of May and our 4 year olds turn 5 in June. As the schooling system is so different between the countries our oldest daughter will just be basically doing one term of Yr 3 and then move on to Yr 4 meaning that she has missed out on 3 terms of what would have been her Year 2 in Australia. A lot of learning not done. We asked if we could start her off in Yr 2 and then give her a full school year of Year 3 in September but were flatly told no. With the twins also we wanted to keep them back and start them in reception in September as they would be put into Yr 1 instead. We have also been given a flat no but they are expected to know how to read and write in Yr one. This is not encouraged in Australia until they start Kindergarten when aged 5 in Australia and it is not done before. Yes they can count but as far as knowing their phonics they are not taught this until Kindergarten in Australia. Is there anyway that we can work around this as I am worried that they are going to be behind from the beginning.

mumof2

12th May 2013 at 3:53 pm

I have a 4 year old son – born in January – who is due to start school this September. He has several additional needs, including immature attention or ADD, speech and language difficulties and is physically very small for his age. Developmentally, he has been assessed as being 1 – 2 years behind that of his peers, he is not toilet trained (despite our best efforts) and it is probable that he will not be toilet trained by the time he is meant to start school. This is a result of his developmental delay. I strongly believe that he would benefit enormously from starting reception one year later. I don’t want him to start straight into year 1, due to his speech and language difficulties, he has some trouble interacting with his peers and this would be increased if he moved into a class with many ready-formed friendship groups.
I have spoken to the specialist teaching service, who have advised that legally, he should start school this September. I do not want to home educate.
If ANYONE has ANY advice on how I can build a case for my son, and how I/we can make LEAs realise that some children are NOT developmentally ready to begin school aged 4/5, I would be MOST grateful.
Surely, if my son is developmentally aged 2-3, then he should be allowed to defer his start to school until he is developmentally aged 4-5!??

sel

14th May 2013 at 4:25 pm

I have a daughter born 22/08/2009 she is expected to start school in september 13 not long after her 4th birthday. She is a premature baby and so should not have even been starting school till sept 14 but like lots of people we feel we have been forced to apply for a school place for her this September. If we defer the place she would have to join her academic year group and miss reception which we dont want her to do. I have been advised to contact out local early years advisor and speak to the parent partnership in our local area. I will pont out the school are more than happy to let her delay her entry by a year and go into reception when she had just turned 5 it is the local council who will not allow it. More needs to be done for these children

Caroline

20th May 2013 at 9:08 pm

I am having problems getting my daughter into a school, we put down 6 and wasn’t offered any of them, we are 15 mins walk from 3 schools and not offered one of them.

Called council today to discover we are numbers, 18, 21, 30, 60 on the waiting list for schools we did want.

We declined the school offered to us as it has a failing Ofsted report this year and it was a 45 min walk.

Has anyone else experienced this??

Lucy

17th June 2013 at 11:33 am

My son is a June birthday and was six weeks premature so would have been end of July. He should be starting school this September and although I’m not concerned academically or socially I am worried about how tired he will be, which will in turn affect hi socially and academically.

I’ve requested he attends part time until January, has anyone had any success with this? The school do not want to allow it.

Carla

26th June 2013 at 4:01 pm

I’m a psychologist and firmly believe that for my summer born little girl it is best for her to start school as late as possible. There’s lots of research around this subject suggesting that keeping the ratio of carers (parents, grandparents, nursery staff) to children as high as possible for as long as possible helps the child to develop secure attachments due to the being sensitive and responsive to their needs. Good, quality relationships in the early years are linked to enhanced social and emotional development. These are the greatest predicative factors in relation to long-term developmental outcomes (including academic performance).

Summer birth children struggle at school early on in their education. The later a birth child starts school, the less pronounced these developmental differences will be as the gap in developmental ability shrinks.

When my little girl was accepted at her local school I called them to see what they needed me to do regarding deferring her place. I was told, “We don’t offer deferment at this school. All our children start at the same time”. After speaking to my local education council they contacted the school to tell them that this was my legal right and that they were required to hold the place. The council told me that schools don’t like it because they doesn’t get any funding for the place until my little girl starts school. However, they told me that I could defer entry to any point in the school year and that if I wished, my little girl could also go part-time.

So far I have only dealt with the school secretary who seems to have the misguided notion that she is the headteacher. She has been very passive-aggressive in her interactions with me “Perhaps you should research the effects on your child of dipping her in and out of school”. This was in response to me telling her that my child would start at the beginning of the last school term and go part-time (mon-fri) for two weeks prior to that.

carly churchill

1st July 2013 at 10:19 am

I am struggling with “what is right for my twins born at 34 weeks on the 4th july 09 I do not feel they are ready to start school full time in sept but their school seem to make me feel that I am in the wrong and holding them back as do many of my friends I stand by my decision however but hate all the negative comments I get I guess I just need some reassurance

Shelby75

12th August 2013 at 9:03 pm

This recently published advice from the DfE may help. You are not in the wrong, you know your twins best.

This advice was put together by collaboration between the campaign group ‘Flexible school admissions for summer-borns’, the charity BLISS and the DfE.

http://www.education.gov.uk/f00227046/advice-on-the-admission-of-summer-born-children

PDF version: http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/a/advice_summer_born_children.pdf

lisa21

17th August 2013 at 1:01 pm

my dd is starting school in september 13, shes 5 in january(12th) we are going on holiday in december during term time, can the LA fine us for taking her out even tho shes not legally obligated to be there, we can defer until january with no problems and no fine, but she is ready to start in a couple of weeks. the holiday was booked when we were originally going to defer but since then we have changed school preference and are now starting her in september.

Shelby75

24th August 2013 at 6:57 pm

Would anyone send this to their MP? Please. It will take 5 minutes. Early Day Motion 213 is being discussed in the House of Commons on 4th September, so not much time left.

Dear [MP]

I am concerned about the inflexibility of the school admissions process for summer-born children in England.

Section 8 of the Education Act 1996 states:

“A person begins to be of compulsory school age –
(a) when he attains the age of five, if he attains that age on a prescribed day, and
(b) otherwise at the beginning of the prescribed day next following that age.”

The important words here are;

1. “a person”

Each child is a person in their own right and deserves to be treated as such and the child’s best interests are what should be driving any admissions discussion. Not what the admissions authority administrative system wants to happen for its convenience. And;

2. “compulsory school age”

The vast majority of summer-born children don’t reach this until the September term after they have turned five.

Reception class is defined by Section 142 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 as:

“A class in which education is provided which is suitable to the requirements of pupils aged five and any pupils under or over that age whom it is expedient to educate with pupils of that age”.

Reception Class is therefore aimed at children aged five, yet parents are being forced to enrol their child up to a whole year earlier than compulsory school age or have their child’s education entitlement reduced by one year with obligatory entrance into Year 1, completely missing Reception Class.

When forced to enrol at just four years old, most of these children never reach compulsory school age during their attendance during that academic year.

There is a wealth of empirical evidence that clearly demonstrates the harm that can be done to summer-born children should they start school too early.

Here is some written evidence from TACTYC that you may have already seen as part of a Sure Start inquiry.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmeduc/writev/852/m27.htm

The current system of inflexible cut off dates for school entry does not allow for the normal range of children’s development, every child is different after all and needs to be considered in that light if their “best interests” are to be ensured.

Administrative constraints take precedence over the well-being and future life chances of a substantial number of our youngest children.

School Admission Code 2012 – Page 8, Section 1.2 and Footnote 12
“Published Admission Number (PAN) – As part of determining their admission arrangements11, all admission authorities must set an admission number for each ‘relevant age group12.

12 This is the age group at which pupils are or will normally be admitted to the school e.g. reception or year 7 (Section 142 of the SSFA 1998).”

As ‘relevant age group’ refers back to the Section 142 of the SSFA 1998 and the legal meaning of ‘reception class’, this puts summer-borns firmly within the age of reception class.

School Admission Code 2012 – Page 21, para 2.16
“Admission of children below compulsory school age and deferred entry to school – Admission authorities must provide for the admission of all children in the September following their fourth birthday. The authority must make it clear in their arrangements that:
a) parents can request that the date their child is admitted to school is deferred until later in the academic year or until the term in which the child reaches compulsory school age, and
b) parents can request that their child takes up the place part-time until the child reaches compulsory school age.”

It would appear that provisions of 2.16 sub-paragraphs a) and b) gives parents the option to choose when their child enters school and places an obligation on the Admission authority to ensure that this right is made clear to parents. Admissions authorities do not make this clear and infact do not observe the principles set out in this paragraph 2.16 insofar as they appear rather to seek to frustrate parents desires to take up their rights under 2.16 (a) and have their child enter the school system after she/he has reached compulsory school age, alongside the legal meaning of reception class.

School Admissions Code 2012 – Page 21, para 2.17
“Admission of children outside their normal age group – Parents of gifted and talented children, or those who have experienced problems or missed part of a year, for example due to ill health, can seek places outside their normal age group. Admission authorities must make decisions on the basis of the circumstances of each case, informing parents of their statutory right to appeal. This right does not apply if they are offered a place in another year group at the school.”

There is no definition of ‘normal age group’. However there is a definition of ‘relevant age group’ in the Code which refers back to Section 142 of SSFA 1998 and the meaning of reception class. “”reception class” means a class in which education is provided which is suitable to the requirements of pupils aged five and any pupils under or over that age whom it is expedient to educate with pupils of that age”. This again puts summer-borns firmly within the age group of reception class.

Many admission authorities have blanket policies that prescribe a Year 1 start for children that enter school at compulsory school age; this is unlawful.

I would like to see admissions authorities adhere to legislation and stop making parents choose between either sending their children too soon before compulsory school age (in some cases by up to a year) or sending their children at compulsory school age but losing a year’s education i.e the reception class.

It is not acceptable for a summer born child starting school at compulsory school age to be forced to start in Year 1.

I would be grateful if you could raise these concerns with Rt Hon David Laws MP, Minister of State for Schools.

Annette Brooke MP has tabled Early Day Motion 213.

Richard House, C. Psychol. and Senior Lecturer in Psychotherapy and Counselling at the University of Roehampton, other parents and campaigners have assisted Annette Brooke MP in wording, and which was tabled in Parliament on Monday (see full text, below).

As you’ll see, it has all-party launch support; and I’m taking the liberty of attaching links to two articles describing the struggles parents face and a link to a recent BBC News article. As you’ll see, this campaign and the rights of children to thrive is one that deserves full support from all fair-minded MPs; it would be great if you would sign it and urge other MPs to do the same.

Early day motion 213
SCHOOL STARTING AGE FOR SUMMER-BORN PUPILS
Session: 2013-14
Date tabled: 10.06.2013
Primary sponsor: Brooke, Annette

That this House notes with concern the robust and consistent evidence from around the world on birth date effects, which in England shows that summer-born children can suffer long-term disadvantages as a result of England’s inflexible school starting age; believes that the Government should ensure that parents of summer-born children are able to exercise their right to defer their child’s school start up until the statutory school start time, if that is their choice, without losing a place offered at the school of their choice for the September after their child’s fourth birthday because of funding issues; and calls on the Government to ensure that parents also have the choice of placing their child in a school reception class, rather than Year 1, at statutory school age, that is the September following their fifth birthday.

http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/article/1135571/father-fights-back-school-age-admissions-policy
http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/article/1166427/parents-win-deferred-school-entry-daughter
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22904054

Yours sincerely

[Name]

[Address]

[Contact Number]

[Constituency] Constituent

sp

2nd September 2013 at 8:49 pm

My son is 5 November 2013 starting school in September. I also have a holiday booked for December and worried about a fine.

Berry nice

5th September 2013 at 2:33 am

I have only just discovered that I can defer my daughter’s start date for reception until January, which is great news. But I have a complicated situation. My daughter has just started reception in an independent nursery/school where we currently live. She is very happy at this tiny, child-centred school and we were very comfortable with her moving up to reception with her nursery friends.

However, we are moving house and applied for a place in a local school. We have been allocated a place for September in the new town we are moving to, and we have been told we can defer this until January but only if my daughter does not start school elsewhere. I can’t find this requirement anywhere in the guidance, and I’m wondering if it’s even applicable where she’s in a private setting anyway. Any guidance or experience in this area gratefully received!

Sarah Blue

6th September 2013 at 9:19 pm

Can anyone offer any advice on the definition of ‘part time’? I have an August boy just started in Reception and I am the only parent to request part time. Ideally I want him to do 2 or 3 full days as this is what he is used to from pre school, plus 2 or 3 mornings only. The school have said he needs to do just mornings or full time. Can they stipulate this definition of part time?

Many thanks

Treefrog

8th September 2013 at 11:31 am

My son is five in December and started class 1 last week but the problem I have is that the school has spilt the class into 2 groups, A and B. Group A is in, in the morning and group B is in, in the afternoon for the first week then week 2 the other way around. This is happening for seven weeks ? In various ways. I am not happy about this as starting school full time means full time. My partner spoke to the class teacher but she gave him the excuse that its the government, and that it gives the teachers themselves a chance to get to know the children properly ?? Which is all rubbish to me !
I intend to go and speak to the headmaster next week but I would like to know the rules ?
Any answers grateful thanks

Anna

22nd September 2013 at 10:06 am

My son was born 28 June and has only attended nursery 3 afternoons a week for the last year. He has been in school for the last two weeks. Reception does mornings only for everyone for first three weeks. He is tall, has an excellent vocabulary and can write his own name (which actually is not a help in some ways as people think he is older than he is). However, I not think he is emotionally ready for school – the last two weeks he has been so tired (even on weekends), having temper tantrums at the smallest thing, even hitting out at me. His teacher is lovely and even before he started I did mention a partime start for him and the headmaster said they offer it up to Xmas hols but that most children seem not to need it. I’m going to speak to his teacher this week (as I definitely want him to remain part time – and this is last week where all children are PT) but can you please advise me – I want him to go for three days (9 to 3) as I think the whole mental process of getting ready for school etc is tiring for him and that three full days would be better than five part time ones. Sorry for long story!! My question is, can I tell (nicely!) the school which part time daysmornings he will attend or do they say which ones they offer? Thank you!

J

24th September 2013 at 6:40 am

Just reading this thread as a parent and secondary teacher! I find the argument that schools say that a child born in July/August would be chronologically out of sync with there piers wrong! How is being 2 months older than a September born baby chronologically more out of sync when they come to secondary school than being 12 months younger!

Floss

24th September 2013 at 9:11 pm

My 4 and a half year old daughter has just started reception and I asked her head teacher is she could go part time doing 4 days a week until her 5th birthday in March. The meeting with the head was difficult, she was immediately resistant and negative to the my request, she felt my daughter might fall behind, miss out on class etc. I explained that I thought my daughter would be tired and would benefit from being at home with me. I was asked what we would bo doing on the day off, I said I would be home schooling her. She eventually said: ‘Are you doing this for yourself or you daughter?”!
Eventually she seemed to realise that I wasn’t going to agree to her suggestions that I might sometimes take my daughter home early if she’s tired, she said she would find out the legalities.

So the following week we had a meeting with her and she flatly said no. She had spoken to the local eduactional welfare officer who told her the decision was at the headteacher’s discretion. So the Head therefore decided if she said yes she would then be setting a precedent for other parents to send their children to school part-time, and that she would then have to monitor their home schooling.
So I’m feeling frustrated and sad that my young girl has to go to school 5 days a week which is too much. My daughter is happy at school, but predictably is tired, and this morning said she wanted to stay with me.

My School Gate’s administrator quoted on 11 July 2012 someone from the DofE:

“and that parents can request that their child attends part-time until the child reaches compulsory school age”.

This though doesn’t then say how a headteacher can respond to that request, meaning that they do or don’t have to honor it.

Can someone tell me what rights a 4 year child has with this request? Is my daughter’s headteacher right: that it is her discretion, or rather decison? Therefore effectively if a headteacher decides to say no it makes the legal right of a 4 year to go part-time null and void?

Thanks for your thoughts in advance.

vlade

2nd October 2013 at 5:54 pm

The current policy is quite simply idiotic, and 100 years after it was introduced it might require some attention (for example looking at why it was four/five years, and whether the argument still holds).

Majority of research, as well as practice in countries like Scandinavia, show that starting schooling at age 4 is WAY too early – or even 5, for the matter. Finland starts schooling at age 6, and is consistently in the top 3 places outcome-wise.

To be honest, I’ll rather emigrate to a sensible country than subject my child to schooling at age 4, unless she’s a genius who wants to (and even then i’d look to dissuade her)

Deborah

24th October 2013 at 4:15 pm

To Floss,

By law you as a parent are given the right to defer entry and/or send your child to school part-time until compulsory age. I was told by the school admissions secretary that the school did not offer deferment, however when I spoke with my local education authority they confirmed that the school has to offer this by law. They liaised with the school and now my little boy will start reception in April and go part-time.

Jane

26th October 2013 at 8:29 pm

My daughter is a summer baby and started in reception this year, September 2013. She was in fact well and truly ready and is absolutely thriving. I know however this is often not the case and have friends with children now in full time education and a lot older in the year group but still struggling and getting very tired. Before my daughter began school the teacher did a home visit and during which because of her age we were very actively encouraged to just go part time until January or Easter. This was set out a lot in literature received. We did not follow the recommendation and our daughter is doing well however in her class (of 30) about a third of the children are part time until January at least now. Although not right for us I think it’s great the way the school encourages this staggered entry and highlights it an if fact be detrimental to the education if the go full time to early. Just for information the school is outstanding, a flagship school and very well sought after with exceptional results and grammar entry. I think they have it right and not all children fit into the same box. All that said I don’t know any other local (non independent) schools who foster the same approach!

Jane

26th October 2013 at 8:43 pm

Having read through a lot if the comments I’m not sure if the issue of holiday has been covered, appologise if it has! We are looking to take our 4 year old out if reception next year, before she turns 5. Does anyone know where we stand on this, I’ve read mixed comments on the issue. I understand that children are not legally obliged to attend school until 5 but once they are in full time education then they are part of the schools statistics on absence etc. but then I have also read that they do not count towards the statistics before they are 5? Is anyone able to answer difinitively where we stand? Thank you.

Sha

19th November 2013 at 10:58 am

Hi, our 3 and 1/2 year old daughter is currently in nursery. She is struggling to be there 5 days a week from 9-3pm. We spoke to the Head recently and asked if she could do 3 and 1/2 or 4 days instead of 5. Head wasn’t very encouraging. He said it will disrupt the nursery (can’t imagine how, it’s all play from what I can see) and he said if our daughter’s attendance isn’t great, she will lose her place because the nursery is over subscribed and someone else can have her place. I thought nursery attendance isn’t counted?

Also, she will start reception when she is 4. I imagine having a conversation with the same Head about either defering her place, or asking him to allow her to school part time. I know he will bring up attendance figures again. Any advise?

Thank you.

Anne Blau

12th December 2013 at 11:46 am

Our twins started school in September 2013, just four years and four month old. We are from Germany, where children start school only when they are six or seven. Our twins will reach their compulsory school age – the term after their fifth birthday – only in September 2014. Nevertheless, we sent them to school already, because coming September they would have started with year one otherwise.

Before our twins started school, we agreed with the school that they will do 2 full and 3 half days (9:00-13:30). After the first couple of weeks, just before half term in October, we spoke to the head teacher again. We wanted to further reduce their hours, because we felt that even the reduced hours were too much for them. For example, our twins still have a nap during the day. However, the head teacher and the reception class teacher were not happy about our request. Apart from educational reasons, the main problem appears to be the attendance register. If they do not attend school (for whatever reasons) they can not get their tick in the register and that will result in a failure of the whole school. Even though we meant to reduce the hours, they tried to talk us into actually switching to full time. Anyway, in the end we agreed that we continue with the previous arrangement until December before we review the situation again.

We are now worried that they will not allow us to continue with the part time arrangement. Therefore we would like to know what our rights are.

Have you ever heard about the problem with the attendance register? Is there a way to get around it? In general, we are very happy with the school and do not want them to get into difficulties. However, we would of course like our children to be relaxed and happy and not stressed and overtired.

Your feedback is much appreciated!

Elnoren

18th December 2013 at 6:32 pm

I don’t have children, and am not British-born, (in the country I grew up in, a child started full-time schooling the year he or she turned six)… I came upon this website while doing research for a novel I am writing. I have to say- I am totally appalled by all of this!

The anxiety and stress of all the parents posting here comes across so clearly, to say nothing of the suffering of the children being made to adhere to this system. How on earth can anyone believe it is in the best interests of a four-year old to be kept away from home for the majority of their waking hours?

The bullying attitudes of so many of headmistresses is nothing short of criminal- it is wrong. Just wrong. I don’t understand what the point of it is… and I’m so sorry all of you have to go through this. Good luck to all of you!

Nicholas

20th December 2013 at 9:41 am

Recently arrived from Australia, my wife and I are horrified at the compulsory UK starting date. Worldwide, there is a movement for children to start school later because it is cognitively better for the child.
Aside from this, I am appalled at this thread; threats by head teachers, inflexibility and department involvement. Our daughter is four in July next year. We already feel she is too young to start school next year, but WE will make the decision on whether OUR child is ready. How dare these schools turn this basic right on its head. Disgraceful.

natalie

22nd March 2014 at 12:55 am

hello can anyone please help on who I contacted about my son starting school the year later ,, he should be starting this September he will only just be turned 4 he is not ready at all its very upsetting .. please help on this for me .. thank you ..

lynette

25th March 2014 at 6:12 am

We are in a living hell my son was born premature we msnage to get him deffer s full yeat, he had been in hospital for a year snd is statemrnted 0nly to fond when itvwas his time to go to thr big school lytjam saimt Annes in this instsnt they couldnt care less and he lost his defferment THE SCHOOL SAID THEY DIDNT BELLIVE IN DEFFMENT he strugged so much amf lost sll of his friemfs is on home education now .

amma

22nd April 2014 at 10:18 am

I am a mum of three sons 6 yrs, 3 yrs and 2 yrs.
My second son turns 4 on the 12 th September and will be allowed to stsrt reception next september 2015
The problem is my youngest also turns 4 next year before september And will be allowed to start reception with his older brother in 2015.
Please guide us how can we send them in different years cuz they arent twins and it will affect them emotionally ifthey are in the same year being not the same age and obviously living together!!
Please help

CanadianMummy

23rd April 2014 at 5:02 pm

Hi Everyone,
We are moving to the UK from Canada this summer and I am stressing about registering my two young girls for school from the Canadian school system into the UK system as it seems to be quite different.
After looking at the national curriculum and what is learnt during reception and year 1 I can confidently say that although I was told Junior Kindergarten and Senior Kindergarten which are suppose to be the Canadian equivalents aren’t!
I feel my girls who are both 5 at the moment (10 1/2 months apart… The first born in May 2008 and second born in April the year after) are clever and although they go to school full days here in Canada, I know they are not at the same level as what’s expected based on the UK guide. They haven’t learnt the same material and their literacy is definitely much lower then what seems to be expected by Year 1
Come September of next year Ava will be 6 (birthday is May) and Lexie will be 5 (just had her birthday in April). So this would mean that Ava would be expected to start year 2 and Lexie year 1 right?
What if I don’t think they are at the right level? Can I opt to have them both in Year 1 or even Reception for Lexie and Year 1 for Ava?
Any advice or help would be really appreciated. I’m beginning to really stress out about the transition and I didn’t want school to start off so hard for them.
Thank you!

MumKaren

28th April 2014 at 9:43 am

HOW DO WE PUT OUR CASE FOR DEFERRED RECEPTION START BY 1 YEAR?? Our daughter born 27 July is due to start Reception this September 2014. Due to her age and the fact that she is a late, rather than early, developer we feel it would be very detrimental for her to start this year. She is already struggling in Pre School, is always “last” and the Pre school teacher is getting her extra help. She does not have learning difficulties, but is just a relatively late developer, combined with being the youngest in her class group. She is already accepting her role of being last in everything, and it is starting to affect her self confidence.
To request a deferred start in Reception to 2015 we need to put our case to the school and/or LA. Her Pre school teacher agrees and will support us. If anyone has done this and can give us ANY advice/help/suggestions of how to put forward our case (we will start with meeting the school Head Teacher tomorrow) please help us. NB The Pre school teacher has already warned us that the school will probably resist as they won’t want to set a precedent, though they won’t admit this officially.
Please help urgently as we need to do this asap.

Summer

28th April 2014 at 6:31 pm

Dear Canadian Mummy

I would suggest that you speak to the head teacher at the school you have chosen and explain your dilemma. You are absolutely within your rights to have concerns over your children being exposed to a sudden change in the formality of the setting which is expected within Years 1 and 2.

Although this is very much dependent on the class teacher, from my experience, quite a lot is expected of what really are very young children and if they aren’t yet used to discipline (what children really are at that age!) then it is definitely worth looking into sorting out a solution with the Head. Let’s face it – if your head teacher has the interest of your children truly at heart – he or she will want to do everything to allay your concerns and help them.

It’s also worth following up with the LEA if you are unhappy with the outcome and if that doesn’t work – you could just take the situation into your own hands for a while and keep them off for a couple of days every week intermittently so you can give them regular breaks from the routine and teach help them to catch up in a more relaxed setting (at home!).

At the end of the day – you know your children better than anyone and if a head or a teacher tries to convince you that your children are ready for a class environment which you believe they are not – then that should ring alarm bells because how could they know anything about your children if they have never met them!

PollyPutTheKettleOn

28th April 2014 at 7:07 pm

Mum Karen – I hope you get this in time for tomorrow.

My understanding of the current law with regard to admissions is that schools are only legally obliged to allow parents to defer a place until the term in which a child is five. So, technically your daughter is five in the summer term of Reception year in 2015 – so she wouldn’t have to start until then.

HOWEVER – AND THIS IS A HUGE HOWEVER:, after reading what the Dept for Education have stated:

“For developmental and emotional reasons, parents sometimes want their children to be admitted to a higher or lower age group than their peers. This is a decision for the admission authority and the head teacher to take.* Where there are good educational reasons for a child to be placed in a different year group, rather than with children their own age, we would expect any requests from parents to be considered carefully and decisions to be made on the basis of the circumstances of each case. Parents should be advised to think through the implications of such a request. This is because any secondary or middle (junior) school that the child later moves onto will not be obliged to continue to educate the child outside its normal chronological year group.”

…I would suggest that you have a very strong case – otherwise – why would this even be allowed?

I would start off in your meeting tomorrow with a positive approach and and try and gauge the head’s initial reaction. If she comes round to your way of thinking then that’s great – but in the event that she is totally against the idea then I would try taking a different tack…for example:

- what would the most preferable option be to the head:

1. That your daughter starts school in June for the summer term of 2015 and doesn’t attend at all until then (this is perfectly with your rights)

2. that your daughter defers and starts at the beginning of term in September 2015…

You could also explain that you are going to be taking this matter all the way to the top ie Sec of State – and write to Michael Gove and send a a copy of your daughter’s pre-school teacher s letter and your own.

In all honesty – generally – very few parents request that their children be deferred and when they do – they do it in the best interests of their children. Most heads know this and I fail to understand why, when children are so unique and have such different needs, it is not a generally accepted fact that some children will be better off all round if they start a bit later. Let’s face it – your daughter will be practically a whole year younger than a significant proportion of children in her year and if she is also currently at a different place developmentally (which has absolutely NO bearing on her ability – you should watch Ken Robinson’s video in this blog…) – it makes absolute sense to start her JUST AFTER SHE’S TURNED FIVE (In September 2015!!).

I sincerely hope that you get the deferral you need – but one word of advice – whatever the outcome – unless you decide to change schools – if you can’t defer immediately (and get it in writing) keep your place and deal with afterwards – as you do not want to lose the place altogether and you can’t 100% guarantee that if you chose to opt out this year that your daughter won’t be expected to start in year 1 if you re-apply.

A MASSIVE good luck!

PollyPutTheKettleOn

agentsmith

2nd May 2014 at 11:05 pm

The earlier question by “Floss” doesn’t appear to have been answered: is a school within its rights to deny a request for part-time attendance? The Schools Admissions Policy gives no commentary guidance beyond stating that parents have the right to make the request – a bit pointless if the response is predetermined!

Can the DfE provide some clarity on this ?

Apple

18th May 2014 at 11:37 pm

I would also like to know if a parent of a non compulsory school age child has a legal right for their child to attend part-time?

ZK

26th May 2014 at 8:14 pm

I too, would like to know the answer to the questions posed by Apple and agentsmith. Can a school deny our request for part time attendance for a child not yet five? Nowhere I’ve checked is able to shed a light on this.

agentsmith

30th May 2014 at 7:48 pm

Well, I’m glad my post generated at least *some* interest, if no answers (yet?). To put the query in a little more context:
My little boy turns 4 late July, and whilst he has attended nursery/pre-school (part-time), can be strong-willed and independent, and is reasonably bright, my wife and I don’t feel he’s ready for an immediate 5-day week come September. When at pre-school for a full day he seems to hold it together until picked up, then his behaviour deteriorates as he’s just shattered! And I’m not convinced he’s emotionally mature enough.
We have a “new parent’s evening” coming up at his primary school, and I was hoping to tool myself up with the facts in advance. As it is, my wife had broached the subject with one of the teachers there and was told “we don’t allow children to attend part-time”, which is clearly a pre-determined response! I’m certainly prepared to challenge that.
I’ll post an update in due course, but would love to hear from others either with the same problem or with some (positive?!) experience.

CLN

30th May 2014 at 10:59 pm

Apple and ZK. See administrator comment on 14th September 2012

“Schools are required to provide part-time places where requested, until the child reaches compulsory school age. Before the child reaches compulsory school age there is no duty on parents to ensure their child receives full-time education.”

So glad I can across this discussion :)

Anita

5th June 2014 at 4:07 pm

Hello there, I have August Baby as well and I would like her to attend reception part time this September, how do I go on about it? What do I write?
I was also thinking to send her to preschool instead of reception and send her to reception next year (not year1) is that even possible?

Nicola

15th June 2014 at 10:12 pm

I have a four year old July born boy and plan to defer. I desperately want to start him in Reception at 5 years old as deferring for just a few months will still mean he remains the youngest in his class.i have serious concerns regarding low self esteem etc. when faced with the abilities of peers 12 months older than himself. Does anyone know where I can go for help and advice?

WPL

3rd July 2014 at 7:44 am

I have a three year old girl (four in Aug) and I plan to defer her. I also want to start her in reception at five years old for the same reasons as Nicola above.
The school she’s going to start at is not keen and wants her to do part time reception, starting this September but that would be even worse.
She would fall behind from start and still be the youngest.

What rights do I have?

I find it cruel to force just turned four year – olds into school.
They are so young, they have just started their lives.
I’m Swedish and I started school at 7 years old!
Statistics shows that starting school later is much more beneficial.

SJN

7th July 2014 at 11:24 am

My son is March born and is due to start school in Sept. He had delayed speech and whilst he has come on so much from two years ago he is still not up to speed with his (would be) class peers.
His nursery have been fantastic and think they can do more for him than school can do, they have asked if I had considered defering his school entry for a term or two, which I had but then did not pursue. After thinking it over I then spoke to the head teacher, who has been supportive of other parents defering and she also knows a bit about my son as he has siblings at school. The headteacher said she didn’t think it would be the right decision in his case, that getting in with other pupils his own age would be beneficial. His speech therapist also said he would be fine to start school. She did say they could be very flexible with his attendance until he was 5.

I just wanted to know, if he attended school part time, could I also send him to nursery or would he no longer be entitlted to a grant?

If not entitled to a grant could we pay for him to attend nursery part time?

I really want to do the best for him but I also think he needs the social grounding of school as at present he tends to play with younger children that are more to his understanding level.

Any help would be appreciated.

 

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