Starting reception class

In the UK children normally start reception class when they are four years old. This means they turn five during their reception class year. This is a time of significant change for many children and their families.

If your child is born between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2017 they would normally start reception class in September 2021. You must apply before 15 January 2021 even if you wish to delay or defer their start in reception.

If you are concerned about your child starting reception class you should talk to the headteacher of the primary school they will be attending (or the schools you want to apply for). They will explain how the school can support your child as they move into reception class.

Delayed start

After a school place has been offered you have the right to delay your child’s start in reception class by one or two terms depending on their birth date. You can also request that your child attends school part-time when they first start reception class. In both cases you must speak to the headteacher of the school first.

Deferred entry

If your child was ‘summer-born’, i.e. born between 1 April and 31 August 2017, you can request to defer their admission to reception class for a full year.

If you wish to defer your child’s start into the reception class from September 2021 until September 2022, you must apply in the normal way for a reception place in September 2021 (deadline Tuesday 15 January 2021).

For Hackney community schools Hackney Education, as the admission authority, will decide whether your request to defer will be agreed. You must follow the process outlined below to request deferral.

For all other schools (including academies, free schools, voluntary aided/religious schools and schools outside Hackney) the decision is made by the admissions authority of the school ie. the academy trust, governing body or local authority (for community schools). You must make your request to defer directly to each of these types of school.

If you are unsure about how you should request deferral please contact the Admissions and Pupil Benefits team (contact details at the bottom of this page).

Requesting deferral at Hackney community primary schools

You must submit a ‘Request to defer reception’ form by Tuesday 15 January 2021.

Please note: Requests to defer received after 15 January 2021 will be considered until 31 August 2021 only. Requests received after 31 August 2021 will not be considered by Hackney Education. If you decide you want to defer after the start of term you must make the request to the headteacher of your child’s allocated school. Any decision to educate your child out of cohort must be agreed by the headteacher. If you did not apply for a Reception place before 31 August 2021 you will be required to make an In Year Reception application which will be dealt with in accordance with the In Year admissions process.

You may wish to provide evidence to support your request from relevant professionals working with your child/family that demonstrate why it is in your child’s best interest to be placed outside their normal age appropriate cohort.

Considering your request

In line with guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) and the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) Hackney Education acknowledges your right to delay your summer born child’s start at school until they reach statutory school age i.e. the term after their fifth birthday. By requesting deferral before 31 August 2021 you indicate your intention to exercise this right.

Hackney Education will consider your request to defer during Spring/Summer 2021. Hackney Education will decide whether, in September 2021 at age 5, it is in your child’s best interest to enter Reception, out of cohort, or enter Year 1 directly, skipping reception entirely.

Decisions for Hackney community schools will be made by the Head of Admissions and Pupil Benefits on behalf of Hackney Education. Decisions will be based on your child’s individual circumstances including your views and the views of the headteachers of your preferred schools and evidence of your child’s social, academic and emotional development.

Hackney Education places significant weight on the views of the headteacher of your preferred schools because they have the best knowledge of their school and how the children joining their school can be supported.

How will I be advised of the outcome of my request?

If you submit your reception application and your request for deferral by 15 January 2021 you will be advised of the outcome of your request in writing prior to national offer day (16 April 2021).

If your request for deferral is received after 15 January 2021 it is likely you will hear the outcome after national offer day. Additionally, requests made at the end of the 2020/2021 academic year or during the summer holiday may not be decided until September 2021.

Requests received after 31 August 2021 will not be considered by Hackney Education. If you decide you want to defer after the start of term you must make the request to the headteacher of your child’s allocated school. Any decision to educate your child out of cohort must be agreed by the headteacher.

You will be advised whether your request has been agreed for each Hackney community school listed on your application. With this information, and the responses you have received directly from academies, free schools, voluntary aided/religious schools and schools outside Hackney, you must then decide whether you will withdraw your application for a September 2021 start and reapply in the September 2022 cohort. You will not be permitted to hold a Reception place in two different year groups.

If you choose to defer your child’s start in Reception please note the following information carefully:

  • There is no statutory barrier to your child being admitted outside their normal age group but you do not have the right to insist they are admitted to a particular age group
  • There is no right of appeal against the decision to refuse your request for deferral however you can make a complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman
  • One admission authority cannot be required to honour a decision to allow deferral made by another admission authority
  • Your child reaches statutory school age at the start of the term after their fifth birthday and must start school at that point
  • If deferral is agreed and your child currently attends a nursery class in a Hackney primary school, you will need to re-apply for them to continue in the same class. Note that there is no guarantee your child will continue in the same nursery class they currently attend
  • If deferral is agreed, when submitting your deferred application for your child to start in September 2022 you should list only schools that have agreed to allow deferral. If you list a school that has not previously agreed to allow deferral and they remain unwilling to accept an application out of cohort then the preference will not be processed
  • If you are unsuccessful gaining a place at any of the schools you list on your deferred application then your child may be required to enter Year 1 directly and skip reception if the alternative school offered is unwilling to educate your child out of cohort
  • If your child is educated out of cohort and they change schools there is no requirement for their new school to continue to educate them out of cohort.
  • Secondary school are not currently required to accept a child into Year 7 at secondary transfer who has been educated out of cohort during their primary education. This means that your preferred secondary school(s) may insist your child enters Year 8 directly skipping Year 7

Advice and information about childcare

If you have decided to delay your child's start in reception class and are looking for an alternative, please contact the Hackney Family Information Service to support you in finding a suitable early years nursery, pre-school or childminder. The service also offers advice on childcare funding options.


Admissions and Pupil Benefits Team

020 8820 7000

Our office at Reading Lane (including the 2nd Floor Reception) is currently closed

This page was last modified on: 17 Jun 2021