Duke of York's Royal Military School

Deferring Primary School Entry

Children usually begin Reception year at school the September after they turn four. For those whose birthday is in September or October, they are almost five by that point, and most are more than ready. Those born later in the academic year though are considerably younger when September rolls around; some may have only just turned four. As well as creating a massive difference between ages and abilities in the classroom, many parents feel that their summer born children are just not ready to begin school yet.

The government has changed the rules so that parents of children born between April 1st and August 31st can apply to defer their child’s school start date for a year. In fact, between 2015 and 2017, there was an 84% increase in the number of parents asking for their summer born children to delay admission to Reception year.

How Do You Apply To Defer Primary School Entry?

To defer your child’s start date, you should apply to your chosen school for your child to start at the normal time (when they are four). You should submit your request for deferred entry at the same time; the school will tell you how to make this request.

The law states that the school and/or the local authority should then make a decision, based on the child’s individual needs and abilities. Therefore it is worth making sure you submit any and all relevant information along with your request. This may include reports from professionals such as a health visitor or any therapists, or it could just be a statement from you. You should be told whether your request has been granted before primary school offers are sent out mid April.

If Your Application To Defer Primary School Entry Is Denied

The local authority/school are within their rights to deny your request to defer primary school entry and offer you a place in an alternative year group. At present there is no appeals process - though you can make a complaint which the school must consider.

If You Are Refused Any Place At The School, You Can Appeal This Decision.

Many parents do find that unless they can prove "exceptional circumstances” their application to defer primary school entry is denied.

Does Deferred Entry Make A Difference?

A recently published study found that there was an increase in phonics scores of 0.87 marks for summer-born children who had delayed their entry to primary school. This is not a very large improvement, in a test which is used as the benchmark for learning at the end of Year 1.

Many parents feel that deferring entry for their child makes more of a difference to their child’s social and emotional development, allowing them a slower transition to a more mature environment.

It is worth bearing in mind though that children who attend nursery or pre-school before primary school are usually well prepared for school, regardless of when their birthday falls. As well as this, Reception year teachers are highly skilled and well trained in teaching the whole range of ages and abilities they will encounter within a class.

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