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Statement for local authorities, schools and admission authorities on the admission of summer-born children to school, from Baroness Barran, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the School System – GOV.UK

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Updated 21 July 2022

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In 2015, the then-minister, Nick Gibb, made a commitment to legislate so that summer-born children can automatically be admitted to a reception class at the age of 5, where that is what their parents want, and can remain throughout their education with the cohort with which they were admitted. This commitment was in response to certain individual cases in which children were being forced to miss their reception year because admission authorities did not approve parental requests for their child to be admitted out of their normal year group.
Data suggests that the system for summer-born admissions is now working much better than it was in 2015. I would like to thank local authorities, academy trusts and governing bodies for both their continuing work on this and their understanding. The decision for the admission authority is not whether the child should start school aged 4, but, where a parent has decided to delay their child’s start at school until they are aged 5, whether it is in the child’s best interests to join reception out of their normal age group, as is required by the School Admissions Code (the Code).
It can seldom be in a child’s best interests to miss the essential numeracy and early literacy that takes place in the reception year. Our latest research survey report shows that the majority of requests for delayed entry to reception are now approved, with almost 9 in 10 approved annually. This data reflects the clearer understanding admission authorities now have of their duties under the Code.
I am reassured that good progress has been made on this issue and that these improvements suggest the system is now working well. Taking all of this into account, I do not intend to continue to pursue legislation on this issue at this time, but will keep this position under review if the situation changes.
More summer-born children who started school in reception aged 5 are starting to transfer to secondary school. The Code requires parents who delayed their child’s start in reception to apply again for them to be educated out of their normal year group in secondary school, and for admission authorities to consider these requests in the same way as the original request. However, it can rarely be in the best interests of a child to miss a year of school. I would like to take this opportunity to remind admission authorities of the advice for local authorities and school admission authorities on the admission of summer-born children, which asks them to take into account the fact that the child has been educated in a different year group until that point and, unless there are sound educational reasons to do otherwise, the assumption should be that they will remain outside of their normal year group. Children educated out of their year group should not be disadvantaged at secondary transition.
We continue to support the right of parents to decide whether to send their child to school before they reach compulsory school age. I am grateful to the sector for their co-operation in ensuring that decisions on the admission of summer-born children continue to be taken in the best interests of those children.
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