Deferring, delaying and flexible school attendance

If your child was born premature you can defer, delay or request flexibility for when your child starts school. Find out more about these options and what might be best suited for your child.

Deferring school entry

Deferring school entry allows your child to begin school at a later date than September but still join their own age peer group. 

This could mean anything from missing one term to missing the whole of the reception year and starting straight in Year One. 

You have the right to request that your child defers their school entry at any point up until their fifth birthday, and this can be done when you apply.

Delaying school entry

Delaying school entry allows your child to join a school year outside of their normal age group. 

This will mean your child will start their reception year when they are 5 and year one when they turn 6. 

This will need to be approved by the admissions authority when you apply for your child’s school place.

Flexible school attendance

If you are unsure whether deferring or delaying school entry is right for your child, you may want to consider requesting to have some flexibility when your child begins in their reception class. 

This could include attending school on a part-time basis, or a staggered approach, which would involve beginning with part-time hours and slowly working towards a full day.

Which is the best option?

No two children born premature will have exactly the same needs and it is important that you think carefully about which option would be best suited to your child. 

Generally it is easier to request for your child to defer their school entry rather than to delay it. Applying for a delay can be a difficult process, with the outcome not guaranteed. 

If you think you want your child's school entry to be delayed, we strongly recommend that you read our fact sheet below for more information.

Delaying primary school entry in England - a fact sheet for parents

If you would like more information please download our Delay fact sheet.

The information on this page is more than two years old