When children start primary school

The law says that all children must start school, full time, by the beginning of the September term after their fifth birthday.

However, all children are able to start in a reception class in a primary school in the September term following their fourth birthday.

Since September 2012, parents have three options when their child starts reception:

  • attend full time
  • attend on a part time basis until the term after the child's fifth birthday
  • defer entry to school until the term after the child's fifth birthday

Parents wishing to make arrangements for part time attendance or deferral should still apply for a place on time, but then inform the school concerned, in writing, of their intentions for their child's attendance at the school.

Parents of summer born children, dates of birth between 1 April and 31 August, also have the right to request delayed admission. This means that the child would start school a year later in reception instead of year one. Each request for delayed admission is individually assessed. Parents requesting delayed admission should contact the school admissions team for further information.

This page was last updated on 8 March 2016

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