The School Admissions Code requires school admission authorities to provide for the admission of all children in the September following their fourth birthday, even though children do not reach compulsory school age until after their fifth birthday.
Currently, parents can defer their child’s attendance if they do not feel their child is ready to start school before compulsory school age. Alternatively, their child may attend school part-time until they reach compulsory school age.
Children born in the summer term, however, are not required to start school until a full year after the point at which they could first have been admitted, the point at which other children in their age range are beginning year 1.
If a parent wishes their child to be admitted to reception, rather than year one, they may request that their child is admitted out of their normal age group.
The local authority will use the procedure shown in the flow chart (see "Documents section below) to consider requests for children to be admitted out of their normal age group. As part of this process the admission authority has two separate decisions to make:
- it must first decide on the age group the child should be admitted to
- only once that decision has been made can it apply its oversubscription to decide whether a place can be offered in that age group.
In practise, parent(s)/carer(s) will need to submit a normal common application form (CAF) or an online application form for admission into the normal school year. At the same time parent(s)/carer(s) will need to submit a request for admission for their child out of their child’s normal age group.
Admission authorities will need to respond to the request for a full year delayed primary
start before the primary national offer date.
If their request is agreed, their application for the normal age group may be withdrawn before a place is offered. If their request is refused, the parent(s)/carer(s) must decide whether to accept the offer of a place for the normal age group, or to refuse it and make an In-year application for admission to year one for the September following their child’s fifth birthday.
Parent(s)/carer(s) should note that if their request is agreed, they must make a new application for the next main admission round the following year.
One admission authority cannot be required to honour a decision made by another admission authority on admission out of the normal age group. Parents, therefore, should consider whether to request admission out of the normal year group at all their preference schools, rather than just their first preference schools.
Parental appeals and complaints
There is no statutory barrier to children being admitted outside their normal age group, but parents do not have the right to insist that their child is admitted to a particular age group.
Parents who are refused a place at a school for which they have applied have the right of appeal to an independent admission appeal panel. As the purpose of the appeals process is to consider whether a child should be admitted to a particular school, parents do not have a right of appeal if they have been offered a place and it is not in the year group they would like. However, they may make a complaint about an admission authority’s decision not to admit their child outside their normal age group.