Covid should not delay pupils starting school, says DfE

DfE commits to updating school admissions code but says delaying summer-born children's start dates needs legislation

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Catherine Lough

Coronavirus should not prevent children from starting school in September, says the DfE

The government has said it does not expect pupils to delay starting school for the first time because of the pandemic.

In an updated statement regarding the admission of summer-born pupils, the Department for Education said: "We do not anticipate that, as a general rule, children will need to delay their admission to school purely as a consequence of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

"Schools will be planning carefully to take the impact of the outbreak into account in their teaching and their support for children.".


Background: Summer-born children 'should have test scores adjusted'

Starting school: Huge increase in summer-born pupils delaying school

Related: Early schooling 'helps narrow boys’ disadvantage gap'


The statement also refers to a government commitment to amend the school admissions code so that summer-born children can be admitted to Reception at age 5 if that is what their parents wish.

It says that the government remains committed to making this change, but that it requires legislation that will be scheduled "in due course".

Guidance on later school starts to be updated

The statement welcomes the fact that local authorities are "increasingly flexible" in responding to parents' wishes regarding a later Reception start date for pupils, but says that there are still some cases where "prolonged disputes" had taken place between LAs and parents.

"For this reason, we intend to publish updated guidance for local authorities this summer," the statement says.

However, it adds that the government does not expect for it to become the "norm" that summer-born children would start school at age 5.

"Whatever the school starting age, there will always be children who are the youngest in their age group, and most children thrive when admitted to school at age 4," it says.

"Evidence shows that the youngest children make the fastest progress and that the majority meet the required standard," the statement says. 

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