Government considers legislation about school age admissions

The government is contemplating introducing legislation to reinforce changes to the School Admissions Code that offer children born in the summer the option to delay entry to reception until they have passed five years old.

Currently, local authorities have the discretion to grant parents permission to delay the school starting date for their children aged four but who will turn five during the school year. Parents of children born between April and August can already ask to delay entry to reception for a year but some local admissions policies then require these children to miss a year later on.

Other local authorities say children who do not start school when they are four should go straight into year one when they turn five.

In an open letter to local authorities, Nick Gibb, the schools minister, wrote: “Some parents feel forced to send their child to school before they are ready and before they are required to do so, or else miss out on their reception year at school where the essential teaching of early reading and arithmetic takes place.”

Some research suggests that children starting school too early continue at a disadvantage to their peers through their schooling.

Mr Gibb said the government had decided it was necessary to amend the School Admissions Code to ensure summer-born children can be admitted to reception at five if this is what their parents want. The proposed changes will also allow these children to remain with the same year group.

“Parents know their children best and we want to make sure summer-born children can start reception at the age of five, if their parents think it is in their best interests,” Mr Gibb wrote.

Mr Gibb said a consultation would be carried out and the changes would need to be approved by Parliament.

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