Research published by the Department for Education shows that the number of requests to defer a school start rose by 84 per cent between 2015 and 2017.
Among the local authorities surveyed, 916 requests were received to delay school entry from 2015-16 to 2016-17. A year later, 1750 requests to delay school entry were received by the same number of local authorities, equivalent to 0.5 per cent of the five-year-old population.
In both periods, 75 per cent of requests were granted.
The research says that as this trend is based on data from a relatively short period, just two years, it is not possible to predict whether this rate of increase is likely to continue.
The data is based on responses from 92 local authorities.
Local authorities' summer-born admissions policies
Source: Delayed school admissions for summer born pupils, DfE, May 2018
Children are considered to be summer-born if they are born between 1 April and 31 August.
If a parent wishes to delay their child’s admission to Reception until compulsory school age, the ‘prescribed day’ following their fifth birthday, or their fifth birthday, they must request they are admitted out of their normal age group. (Prescribed days are 31 December, 31 March and 31 August.)
The DfE research summarises the findings of two surveys, one sent to local authorities, and the other sent to parents of summer-born children, and covers 2015-2017.
Parents were asked questions on household income, their reasons for delaying entry to Reception, qualification for the 30 hours of funded childcare, ethnic background, month of birth of their child and prematurity.
Parents with higher incomes were significantly more likely to delay their summer-born child’s admission, with 47 per cent having a household income of £50,000 or more. The vast majority (79 per cent) had a household income above £25,000.
A majority of children whose admission was delayed were born in July and August, 22 per cent and 53 per cent respectively.
Nearly 85 per cent of children whose admission was delayed were White.
When asked for their reasons for delaying their child’s admission, the most common reason given was, whether parents felt their child was ready for school, followed by evidence about summer-born children, and advice from pre-school/ nursery (47 per cent).
Around one in five parents (21 per cent) cited the cost of childcare, and the availability of childcare (18 per cent). Parents were able to give more than one reason.
Reasons given by parents for delaying their child’s admission
- Whether I felt my child was ready for school 97 per cent
- Evidence I had seen about summer-born children in… 77 per cent
- Advice from pre-school/ nursery 47 per cent
- Medical condition/ developmental delay 38 per cent
- Advice from the school/teacher/ head teacher 29 per cent
- Advice from friends 22 per cent
- Cost of childcare if I delayed my child’s school entry 21 per cent
- Availability of childcare if I delayed my child’s school entry 18 per cent
- Availability of places in my preferred school 13 per cent
Download the report here