For parents, the first determinant of when a child starts at school is the child's birthday. While probably not something that parents will consider when they think about having a baby, an August birth may be treated very differently to a September baby, even though they are only born weeks apart.
At What Age Should My Child Start School?
Your child will start school the September term after their fourth birthday. Your child will turn five within this first school year.
If your son or daughter was born between the 1st of September and the 28th (or 29th February if a leap year) then you should reasonably expect he or she to start schooling in the September term after their 4th birthday. If you child was born during the summer months then there may be a possibility that you can defer their start date until January.
A deferred admission is the right of any parent whose child is of statutory school age but who wishes to defer their admission until the January term when their child will be that little bit older. For example if your son or daughter was born in a summer month, which would make them a particularly young four-year-old in September, then you can in some instances defer their starting date until the Spring term which commences in January of the following year.
Parents do not have a legal obligation to make arrangements for their child to attend school until the beginning of the term following their 4th birthday, so if that fourth birthday falls between 1 January and 31 August, for example, parents can request to defer admission until the beginning of January the following year.
In this case, parents must have an allocated school place before asking for the deferral, and must inform the school. Please note that not all schools will allow children to start in January and will have only one start date, that being in September.
Whatever the circumstances however you should make every effort to thoroughly investigate the options prior to applying for a school place. You should make enquiries well in advance to all the schools that you are considering for your child.
The individual schools in question will be able to provide you with details of their admissions criteria and whether or not they operate a split term start scheme. Your Local Education Authority will be able to provide help and advice as to how to best tackle this issue and should also be able to provide you with details of how the schools within your catchment area deal with split term starts.
Benefits and Disadvantages of Starting School Earlier
There are various debates about the relative merits and disadvantages of starting school younger. For example, some studies have shown that children who start earlier are more intellectually curious and benefit from the educational stimulation in the school environment. Children who do start school in the September benefit from interaction with peers, improved knowledge base and a potential behavioural boost.
However, some other studies have shown that children can benefit from starting school later on, because they are free to use their own imagination in a more play-emphasising environment at home or at nursery school. In countries such as Sweden and Israel, children do not start school until they turn six, because of the perceived benefits of this period of free-forming imaginative play.
For this reason, some parents might opt for their young four year olds to wait to start school in January when they are that little bit older. Yet the results of such a decision will obviously be dependent upon each individual child - not all kids born in summer fall behind or see their development suffer, but if yours is particularly young-seeming you might want to consider deferring the start of school. Equally, if your child is thriving at nursery and shows a keenness to learn more, a September start might work well.
My son started reception sept 2015 he turned 4 beginning of August. I know it is early days but I feel now he is not ready. He's teacher is also saying he is having difficulties understanding instructions but he does have a speech delay.Can I take him out of school and re-start next year. Any advise appreciated.
As specified in the article, a deferred admission is the right of any parent whose child is of statutory school age but who wishes to defer their admission until the January term when their child will be that little bit older. According to the CAB, A child born from 1 April to 31 August need not start school until the September following their fifth birthday and a parent can ask for the child to be admitted out of their normal age group - to reception instead of Year 1, link here. Therefore, I suggest you speak with the school directly, or to your LEA, if you have concerns.
GetTheRightSchool - 29-Sep-15 @ 11:40 AM
My son started reception sept 2015 he turned4 beginning of August. I know it is early days but I feel now he is not ready. He's teacher is also saying he is having difficulties understanding instructions but he does have a speech delay.
Can I take him out of school and re-start next year. Any advise appreciated.
RK - 28-Sep-15 @ 9:59 AM
I have 2 August born children's, and i really can see the big disadvantage compared to the autumn born children. I really wish i can have them put back a year.
al - 9-Sep-15 @ 8:44 PM
So many inaccuracies here, I suggest doing some proper research and providing people with the correct information!
MrsF - 1-Mar-15 @ 10:09 AM
My advice Liz, on your September child, would be to discuss this with the preschool. They should be progressing him to his own level. He should not be bored! He should be much better where he is as the ratios are much higher. Ask them what his next steps are to ensure they are still progressing him, ensure they are planning to his interests. Please don't rush him into school too early, these early years are not the precursor to going to school they are valuable in their own right.
CuriousCat - 1-Mar-15 @ 8:10 AM
Whoah, what? Children don't need to legally start schooling until the term after their FIFTH birthday! True story. Read the Department for Education Guidance please?
eb - 1-Mar-15 @ 7:06 AM
@Liz - I'm afraid in this instance you may have to contact your LEA for that information. Or as specified in the article the individual school in question, which will be able to provide you with details of their admissions criteria and whether or not they operate a split term start scheme.
GetTheRightSchool - 25-Feb-15 @ 12:02 PM
My son was born on 2nd September 2011. Do any schools in England do split term admissions anymore? in other words could he start school early say January 2016? He's such a bright young boy and I feel he is ready for school now and already getting a bit bored with his younger peers at his pre school Thanks
Liz - 23-Feb-15 @ 12:30 PM
@Caz - this is a tricky one. Were the parents given a terms and conditions contract to sign prior to the trip? It might be worth looking at the small print to see if there is anything mentioned regarding any cancellations and whether they'd have to pay. However, it it seems a touch harsh of the school to make you pay the whole bill if the child was hospitalised. Surely they should have their own insurance as things like this must happen all the time? It's worth chatting directly to the school or alternatively penning them a letter outlining your case.
JohnL - 24-Oct-14 @ 11:43 AM
Hi just looking a bit of advice thanks
my friend had to cancel school trip for her daughter at short notice as her daughter was hospitalised
she thought she would lose the deposit but her daughter has been handed the full bill on her return to school with the teacher saying your health insurance should cover it
As it was a uk trip my friend has no insurance
would there be any insurance from the school? Teachers not being very helpful at min
Would appreciate any input thanks