Starting School – did you know?

Thanks very much to “M” for providing today’s post.

Starting School – did you know?

Did you know that the Local Authority has to provide a full-time YR school place from September for every child who turns 4 between 1st September the previous year and 31st August that year? I bet you did.

But did you know your child does not have to start full time school aged 4? (see previous post on NHM)

Children reach compulsory school age (CSA) at the end of the term they turn 5 (31st December, 31st March, 31st August) and must be in full time education from the beginning of the next term (January, March/April – after Easter holidays, or September).

If both you and your child are ready to start full-time school in September – great.

If not, you have a few options:

Part-time attendance

Children can attend school part-time until CSA. The exact pattern of the attendance is to be discussed with the school. Schools have a specific code for marking agreed non-attendance for children below CSA – so the child’s / school’s attendance figures will not be negatively affected.

From personal experience: not all teachers, even head teachers, may know this. I was told by one deputy head that children are legally required to attend full time aged 4 – but she was wrong (the LA is legally required to provide the place, but families are not required to take it up). A few head teachers did not know how to mark a 4yo’s agreed non-attendance and were worried the school’s figures will be affected – this is not the case. Some head teachers also tend to scaremonger parents (holidays in term-time and fines for non-attendance) – not realising that there is a difference between CSA children and younger children.

Starting school later on (in the same academic year)

This is called deferred entry – children usually start in January or April. Again, this is to be discussed with the school, but they have no legal power to make the child start in September.

From personal experience: I was told by a head teacher: “We don’t do deferrals because we’re over-subscribed.” She was wrong – they have to hold the place. They may not like it, because of funding, but they cannot refuse.

Starting school in the next academic year

Children born between 1st April – 31st August (summer born children) reach CSA in September – a full year after the LA has to provide a school place. Depending on the child’s individual circumstances, they can start school aged 5 in YR or in Y1. If they start in YR aged 5, it is called ‘delayed’ or ‘decelerated’ entry. If parents want the child to start in YR aged 5, they have to seek approval from the school’s admission authority. If the school’s admission authority is the LA: if they approve, they will find a YR space; and if they don’t approve, they will find a Y1 space – however the school may not be local or preferred by the parents.

From personal experience: Many head teachers don’t know children can start YR aged 5, or do not support them to start YR, and Y1 places may not be available (especially if the school is over-subscribed).

School does not appeal at all?

Children have to receive full time education from CSA – but this does not have to be at a school.  Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 applies to England and Wales: “The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education …  either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.” Parents can educate their children themselves, or put in place other arrangements.

If children don’t start school aged 4, they continue to be eligible for the government funded Early Education until they reach CSA (currently 15 hrs / week term time).

More information:

starting school in Hampshire (not only for summer borns):.

summer born children (flexible admission / starting YR at CSA):

education outside of school

Related Posts

Summer born children 

My experience: Starting School – Three months before September start date

Homeschooling in Basingstoke and North Hampshire

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