Usually, children start reception the September after their fourth birthday. However, applications can sometimes be deferred.

School admission authorities are required to provide school places for all children in North Yorkshire to start school in the September following their fourth birthday. On our timelines page you can work out what you should do next based on your child's date of birth. 

Timelines and dates for this year

If your child is not yet old enough to start school, there are various other options available to you. Find information about early years education, funded places and how to choose a childcare provider here.

What if I think my child is not yet ready to start school?

Parents offered a place in reception for their child have a right to defer the date their child is admitted, or to take the place up part-time, until the child reaches compulsory school age. Places cannot be deferred beyond the beginning of the final term of the school year for which the offer was made.

Child's fifth birthday Date on which the child reaches compulsory school age Child must start school
Between 1st September and 31 December inclusive 31 December Spring term
Between 1 January and 31 March inclusive 31 March Summer term
Between 1 April and 31 August inclusive (summer born) 31 August Autumn term (along with new starters from the age group below)

You can submit a request for deferred admission to reception by contacting the admissions team well in advance of the normal application deadline. Admission authorities must consider parental requests and make decisions based on the merits of each case. You will be told the outcome of your request for deferred entry before the primary national offer date.

Summer born children

Children born in the summer term (after 1 April) have the right to begin Reception in the September following their fourth birthday along with the rest of the children in their age range, but this is not obligatory. As the chart above shows, they could have a delayed entry to Reception, a full year after the point at which they could first have been admitted - the point at which other children in their age range are beginning year 1.

If this is your situation, you should still submit your application for your child's normal age group at the usual time - this is in case your request is refused. At the same time, you can submit a request for admission out of the normal age group by contacting the admissions team well in advance of the normal application deadline.

You will be told the outcome of your request for a year's delayed entry before the primary national offer date.

  • If your request is agreed, your application for the normal age group has to be withdrawn before a place is offered. You must make a new application as part of the main admissions round the following year.
  • If your request is refused, you must decide whether to:
    • accept the offer of a place for the normal age group
    • refuse it and make an in year application for admission to year one for the September following your child's fifth birthday. 

Children with special educational needs

If you are a parent of a young child with SEND, you might be unsure about your child starting school when they reach statutory school age. If so there are two options you may like to explore.

It might be possible to arrange for your child to have a deferred entry for less than one academic year, as with the examples for summer born children. Alternatively you may wish to consider a deferred entry of one year for your child. This would mean that your child would enter school in the academic year that they turn 6. In this case you need to decide whether you would like your child to stay with their chronological age group and go in to year 1 or go into the Reception class. You would need to discuss this with the admissions team and make a formal application which would need to be agreed by the local authority.

If your child has an education, health and care plan, the professionals involved in writing it will help you decide on the most appropriate type of school for your child and help you to apply for the school that is best suited to your child's needs. 

There are lots of things you can do to help prepare your child for school. You can help them to be independent by dressing themselves and playing with other children. You can tell them stories about what school is like, and get them used to a new morning routine. 

You can give them emotional support by talking in a positive way about school life, giving them confidence and listening to their worries and concerns. Try not to pass your own worries onto your child. Ask the school how they manage the first school days and talk through with your child what is likely to happen so that they are prepared.

There are many benefits for a child staying with their age group at this time. Not only do they start at the same time when everyone else is also new, but they get to move on with their friends too. They will also be surrounded by positive role models for communication, social skills, and independence.

You may be asked to provide evidence or a statement in support of your application for deferred or delayed entry to school, to demonstrate why it would be in your child's interest. This may be an account of the parent's views; information about the child's academic, social and emotional development; where relevant, their medical history and the views of a medical professional; whether they have previously been educated out of their normal age group; and whether they may naturally have fallen into a lower age group if it were not for being born prematurely.

The school authority will make a decision on the basis of the circumstances of the case and in the best interests of the child concerned, taking into account the views of the head teacher and any supporting evidence provided by the parent.

Parents must also indicate which schools they are likely to preference as different types of schools have different admissions policies. Please note, the admission authority for a school may change, for example, when a school becomes an academy. The new admission authority has the legal right to re-consider the request at the time of application.

The Department for Education has issued some non-statutory guidance, "Advice on the Admission of summer born children".

The Department for Education guidance states that:

  • "It is reasonable for admission authorities to expect parents to provide them with information in support of their request - since without it they are unlikely to be able to make a decision on the basis of the circumstances of the case. This should demonstrate why it would be in the child's interests to be admitted to reception rather than year one.
  • In some cases parents may have professional evidence that it would be appropriate for them to submit, for example, when a child receives support from a speech and language therapist. However, there should be no expectation that parents will obtain professional evidence that they do not already have.
  • Admission authorities must still consider requests that are not accompanied by professional evidence. In such cases the supporting information might simply be the parent's statement as to why they have made their request."

The right to appeal

Parents have a statutory right to appeal against the refusal of a place at a school for which they have applied. This right does not apply if they are offered a place at the school but it is not in their preferred age group.