Can we delay our sons from starting in year 1?
Our twins were born in August 2018, so are summer-born children. We strongly wanted to delay their school start to reception a year later with the highest support available, so one of the twins would be able to start mainstream education, and we think he will be ready for that, as he is making great progress. Our LA did not agree to this agreed for this. Can they force us this way to not defer boys? Obviously, we need to choose the option where they will get extra support.
Parents have the right to request that their summer-born children are educated out of year group and start school a year later than their peers. You can find the advice for parents and advice for LAs on the government website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/summer-born-children-school-admission.
The LA advice states that where a parent requests that a child starts school a year later but is admitted into Reception class rather than year 1, the LA is responsible for making the decision on which year group a child should be admitted to and this decision should be made “on the basis of the circumstances of the case and in the best interests of the child concerned”. This is also reflected in the School Admissions Code (available here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1001050/School_admissions_code_2021.pdf) in para 2.19 which states:
2.19 Admission authorities must make decisions on the basis of the circumstances of each case and in the best interests of the child concerned. This will include taking 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.
You could therefore ask the LA how the decision was made and challenge this through the internal complaints procedure if you believe the Code was not followed or the LA is using a blanket policy.
The reference to consultation with specialist schools suggests that the twins have EHC plans. If this is the case, then education out of year group can be considered special educational provision and therefore included in section F of an EHC plan, meaning that the LA would have to secure the provision under s42 of the Children and Families Act 2014. For such provision to be added into the EHC plan, you would need professional reports or evidence that it is required, so we would suggest that you speak to those involved in the children’s care about this, including their current nursery and any medical or educational professionals.
With regards to the children remaining in the nursery for an additional year, you may find it helpful to look at the information on the IPSEA website regarding naming a placement in an EHC plan: Choosing a school/college with an EHC plan | (IPSEA) Independent Provider of Special Education Advice