Children normally start full-time school at the beginning of the autumn term after they are four (eg they would join the reception class at the beginning of the 2015 Autumn Term, when they had their fourth birthday on or between 1st September 2014 and 31st August 2015).
Parents can request that their child attends part-time until they reach compulsory school age (see below for definition of compulsory school age), at which time the child must attend full-time. This should be discussed and agreed with the head teacher. Parents can also defer their child’s entry to school until their child reaches compulsory school age, and then their child must start full-time school.
A child reaches compulsory school age on the prescribed day following their fifth birthday (or on their fifth birthday if it falls on a prescribed day). The prescribed days are 31December, 31 March and 31 August.
Therefore, if you are offered a reception class place at a school, you can opt to defer your child’s start date, but they MUST start full time school following their fifth birthday by the dates given below:
- children born on or between 1 September and the end of December must start full time school by the beginning of the spring term in January
- children born from 1 January to the end of March must start full time school on 1 April
- children born from 1 April to the end of August must start school at the beginning of the autumn term in September.
This means that children with a birthday on or between 1April and 31 August whose parents do not want them to start school until the September (beginning of the autumn term) following their fifth birthday will be a year 1 pupil when they join, and therefore their parents would need to apply for a year 1 school place for the September following their child’s fifth birthday, using the in-year application form.