Starting primary school (reception)

Information for parents about applying for reception places for September 2024.

6. Summer born children

Please read the information on this page if you are considering requesting a deferment.

If you wish to request to defer your child's admission until the following school year you will need to complete both:

For further advice, please contact your area education office.

Deferring or delaying school entry 

The Department for Education has produced guidance 'Advice on the Admission of Summer Born Children (September 2020)'.  The guidance is non-statutory and has been produced to help local authorities, admission authorities and parents understand the framework within which admission authorities must operate, and to dispel some of the myths that appear to have arisen around the admission of summer born children.

It should be read in conjunction with the statutory document, the Department for Education, 'School Admissions Code, which was published in September 2021 and the 'Summer Born Guidance for Parents' issued in September 2020.

You can access the above guidance on GOV.UK.

Compulsory school age

Children must be receiving full-time education by the start of the term following their fifth birthday.

  • For children born between 1 September and 31 December, they reach compulsory school age on 31 December and must be receiving full-time education at the start of the spring term (i.e. after the Christmas holidays, in January).
  • For children born between 1 January and 31 March, they reach compulsory school age on 31 March and must be receiving full-time education by the start of the summer term (i.e. after the Easter holidays, in March or April).
  • For children born between 1 April and 31 August, they reach compulsory school age on 31 August and must be receiving full-time education at the start of the new school year (i.e. after the summer holidays, in September).

Delayed admission to Reception

In Lancashire, we provide for the admission of all children in the September following their fourth birthday.  Parents of non-compulsory school age children (four-year olds) may request a pattern of part-time attendance or deferment if that best suits the needs of their child.  Parents will be offered the opportunity for their child to:

  • Start Year R (Reception) in September on a full-time basis from their first day of attendance or on a part-time basis up to the point of reaching compulsory school age.
  • Defer the date their child is admitted to the school until later in the school year but not beyond the point at which they reach compulsory school age and not beyond the beginning of the summer term of the school year for which the offer of the school place was made.

Deferred admission to Reception

Parents who are considering deferring their child's entry to school should be aware that teachers are skilled in differentiating the curriculum to meet a diverse range of needs.  Parents are encouraged to visit the schools they are thinking of applying for, where staff will be able to explain the provision on offer to children in Reception class, how it is tailored to meet the needs of individual pupils and how the needs of each pupil will continue to be met as they move up through school.

Whether a child attends primary school or an early years setting during the academic year following their fourth birthday they will follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum which is largely based on learning through play.

Where a parent wishes to defer their child's admission until the following school year, parents are encouraged to make requests to defer in good time before the closing date for the normal admission round.  Parents will need to provide the detailed reasons to enable their request to be given proper consideration and are encouraged to include any supporting evidence from relevant professionals.  Please complete the County Council's application form 'Application for a Lancashire school place for summer born children'.

Parents submitting a request for admission out of the normal age group are required to also make an application for a place in their child's normal age group at the same time.  If the application to defer is made by the national closing date for applications the admission authority will ensure that the parent receives the response to their request before the primary school national offer day.

All summer born requests for deferred admission will be considered by the individual admissions authority of each preferred school. Where requests are made for differing admission authorities, the request must be sent to the local authority that will co-ordinate the request and the decisions made.  If a joint agreement cannot be reached then the decision to defer admission will only stand for any named school that agreed the request. 

When considering a request for deferred admission for a community or voluntary controlled school the following factors will be considered:

  • any delayed social, emotional or physical development which may be affecting the child's readiness for school (supported by a relevant professional);
  • premature birth and the fact that the child may have naturally fallen into a lower age group if they had been born on their expected date of birth;
  • any medical incapacity, if this has prevented access to early years provision.
  • any significant learning or special educational needs (supported by a relevant professional);
  • the views of the head teacher of the preferred school (s);
  • the views of the parent

The request should demonstrate why it would be in a child's best interests to be admitted to reception following their fifth birthday, rather than year one. Requests that are not accompanied by professional evidence will however still be considered

Making a decision in the child's best interests                  

The Local Authority will share information provided on the application form and any supporting evidence with the admission authorities and head teachers of the school(s) parents have expressed a preference for. They will not however be informed of the order of preferences. These admission authorities and head teachers will then be asked for a decision as to whether they support the request for deferred entry as being in the child's best interests. The final decision will be for the admission authority to make.

In line with the Department for Education guidance there will also be consideration of the potential impact on a child of being admitted to year one without having attended school in the reception year. Ultimately however it is the parent's decision when a summer born child starts school as long as they are admitted when of compulsory school age. A primary school place in the reception year is available for all children in the September following their fourth birthday.

The Local Authority will then write to parent/carers to confirm the result of these decisions.

If the request to defer admission is approved, the application for the normal age group can be withdrawn.  A new application will need to be submitted the following autumn as part of the main admission round for the following year.

If the request to defer admission is refused, you will need to decide whether to accept the offer of a place for the normal age group, or to refuse it and make an in-year application for admission to Year 1 for the September following the child's fifth birthday.

Places are not held open for children who defer entry, so parent/carers must then reapply for a school place the following year for a place in Reception alongside children who are one school year younger.

Additional factors for consideration

Parents/carers should be aware that as the number of applications and preferences, and even the number of available places, may differ from year to year, that a deferral does not mean a place at the same school can be allocated one year later or provide any additional priority for a place.

Once a child has been admitted to a school it is for the head teacher to decide how best to educate them. The head teacher may consider that it would be appropriate for a child who has been admitted out of their normal age group to be moved to their normal age group. Any decision to move a child to a different age group would be based on educational reasons and in consultation with the parents.

For any child not being educated in the year group in which their chronological age falls there may be complications if a change of school is required or there is a move to another local authority. It will be for the admission authority of any receiving school to decide whether to admit the child out of their normal age group. This also applies at the time of transfer from primary to secondary school.

Any child who remains a year below their chronological age group will no longer be of compulsory school age during Year 11 of secondary school and therefore will be able to leave school before completing their examinations.

There is no formal right to appeal a decision made by the admission authority.  However, for schools where the LA is admission authority, a parent may request a review of the decision made.

Transfer to other schools

As children whose school start has been delayed move through the system, they will reach transition points. For children who have attended an infant school, this will be when they move up to junior school. In some areas of the country, this could be when the child moves to middle school. For other children, this will be when they reach secondary age. The decision by one admissions authority does not bind other admissions authorities.

If you wish your child to remain outside of their age group when they transfer to a new school, you will need to apply once again for an outside normal year group place. It is possible that a new admissions authority will decide that it is in your child’s best interests to return to their normal year group and so your child would miss a school year. 

Admission authorities must consider these requests in the same way as the original request but must also take into account the fact the child has been educated in a different year group up until this point.

For many children, it will be right for them to remain with their adopted year group but it is possible that others may be better off joining their normal year group. All decisions should be made taking the circumstances of the case into account and considering all of the child’s needs, including their social and emotional needs.

You should make this request alongside an application for a school place and should do so when their child’s normal year group are making applications for a school place.

This means that a summer born child that started in reception a year later than is usual, would apply for a secondary school place and for an out of year group place when they are in Year 5 rather than Year 6.


You will need to complete both:

  • an online application for a place in Year 7; and
  • the form 'Application for a Lancashire school place for summer born children' 

Home to school transport

Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide free home to school transport to eligible children.

To be eligible, a child must be of compulsory school age. If your child is eligible for free home to school transport, they will cease to be eligible for it when they cease being of compulsory school age even if they have not yet finished their GCSEs.

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The deadline to apply for a primary school place for September 2024 is 15 January 2024. Any applications received after the deadline will be classed as late.