The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has issued new guidance on how complaints about school admissions for summer-born children are handled.

Parents of children born between 1 April and 31 August can ask to delay their school start date until they reach compulsory school age at five years old. However, the new guidance suggests that local authorities, not parents, should make the final decision on whether a summer-born child can join Reception at age five. Although parents can decide not to send their child to school until they reach compulsory school age, the guidance says they cannot insist their child is admitted into a specific year group.

The new guidance has prompted a renewed call for the Government to amend the Schools Admissions Code to give parents more of a say about their child’s future by enabling them to send their child to Reception at age five, rather than Year 1.

Neil Leitch, Chief Executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said:

“It has now been more than three years since the schools minister pledged to give summer-born children the right to start Reception at age five — and yet the admissions process is as confused and inconsistent as it ever was.

“The Government has acknowledged that the current approach needs to change, and that it is for parents, not admissions authorities, to decide what is best for their children on this issue. Why, then, is it dragging its feet on making this change official?

“It’s time that the DfE took definitive action on this to ensure that no parent is pressured into placing their children into school before they feel that they are ready.”

The full guidance for practitioners can be found here.

Last reviewed 17 December 2018