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Deferred entry for children to start school

The normal age for a child to start school is in the September following their fourth birthday. 

If parents feel their child is not ready to start school, they can defer their child’s start until they are of compulsory school age. This is the start of the term following their fifth birthday.

Compulsory school age

Table showing the compulsory school age for children starting school

Child's birthday is on or between:

Compulsory school age

1 September and 31 December

January following their 5th birthday

1 January and 31 March

April following their 5th birthday

1 April and 31 August (summer-born children)

September following their 5th birthday

Birthday is on or between 1 September and 31 December

If your child’s birthday is on or between 1 September and 31 December, they will become of compulsory school age the January following their fifth birthday. This is defined as the start of the spring term.

They will start in Reception where they will spend 2 terms. The following September they will start in Year 1.

Birthday is on or between 1 January and 31 March

If your child’s birthday is on or between 1 January and 31 March, they will become of compulsory school age the April following their fifth birthday. This is defined as the start of the summer term.

They will start in Reception where they will spend 1 term. The following September they will start in Year 1.

Birthday is on or between 1 April and 31 August (summer-born children)

If your child’s birthday is on or between 1 April and 31 August, they will become of compulsory school age the September following their fifth birthday. This is defined as the start of the autumn term. It is important to note that this could mean that your child will start in Year 1 and miss the Reception year of education. If you wish to do this, any application or offer made for a Reception place will be withdrawn and you will need to make an In-Year Application for a Year 1 place the summer before your child’s fifth birthday. The offer of a place in Reception cannot be transferred to a Year 1 place.

Alternatively, you can request to delay your child's entry into Reception. Please see our delayed entry into Reception for summer-born children page.

How to defer your child's start to school

If you feel your child is not ready to start school, you can defer your child's start date until they are of compulsory school age. This is the start of the term following their fifth birthday.

If you want to defer your child’s entry you will need to make your application at the normal time for a school place. For more details please see our when do I apply page

Then, once an offer of a school place has been made and accepted, you need to meet with the headteacher of the school to discuss and agree your child’s start at the school.

For summer born children, you can defer your child's start date until the start of terms in either January or April following their fourth birthday. If you wish to consider delaying their start by a whole year, please read our delayed entry into Reception for summer-born children page.

Contact information

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