When a child starts school in Reception, the offer of a place is made with the expectation that attendance will be on a full-time basis, from September.

However, parents have a legal right to decide that their child will start attending school in Reception on a part-time basis, or that their entry into Reception will be deferred until later in the academic year.

Deferred entry

Deferred entry is where the child starts school in Reception but later on in the school year, for example, after Christmas (at the start of the Spring term). Deferred entry may be beneficial for children who are not ready to start school in September due to a medical condition, or because they are a summer-born child and their parents/carers feel that a deferred start would be beneficial but delaying entry would not be necessary.

If parents/carers choose to exercise their right to defer their child’s entry to school until later in the academic year, then the access to free early years entitlements will continue until the child attends school on a full-time basis.

Part-time admission

Part-time admission is where the child starts school in Reception in September but attends for fewer hours, either for a short period or more long-term. Part-time admission could be beneficial for a child who tires easily, possibly due to a medical condition.

Where parents/carers choose to exercise their right to send their child to school on a part-time basis initially, the parents/carers will be responsible for sourcing and paying any childcare provider for any days/hours that the child is not in school.

What you need to do next

In both cases, an application for a school place must be made in line with the coordinated admissions process for the child’s chronological year group and all relevant deadlines adhered to. This is so a school offer can be made prior to the request for part-time admission or deferred entry being made by the parent/carer. Such requests must be made in writing, directly to the headteacher of the school at which an offer has been made and accepted.

In each case, the child must have started attending school in Reception on a full-time basis by the time they reach Compulsory School Age.

Alternatively, parents/carers may wish to home educate their child. However, this will still need to be on a full-time basis once the child has reached CSA.