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Pupils: Age

Volume 459: debated on Wednesday 2 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if he will make a statement on the rules regarding school starting age for children; (133767)

(2) what steps he is taking to ensure that parents are informed that it is not compulsory for a child to attend school until the term after his or her fifth birthday.

Children become of compulsory school age at the start of the school term after they reach the age of five. Admission authorities may allow children to start school before they reach compulsory school age but, if they do so, parents offered a place at the school may ask that the date that their child is admitted be deferred until later in the school year or until he or she reaches compulsory school age in that school year. Where parents choose this option the place offered to them must be kept open and cannot be offered to another child. The school admissions code requires that this be made clear in published admission arrangements

Local authorities have a duty to provide advice and assistance to all parents in their area when they are choosing schools for their children and are required to publish a composite prospectus for parents each year with information about all the admission arrangements of all schools in their area. This includes admission to reception classes and the right parents have to request that admission be deferred.