Families of some children due to begin either Primary One or Pre-School in September 2023 can request to defer their child’s entry until September 2024 from tomorrow.
Deferral Request forms will be available from the Education Authority’s website on Tuesday 10 January.
Deferral of Primary One is available for children who were:
Families who choose this option will see their child start primary school in September 2024 when they are aged 5, instead of September 2023 when they are aged 4.
Deferral of Pre-School is available for children who were:
Families who choose this option will see their child start pre-school in September 2024 when they are aged 4 and primary school in September 2025 when they are aged 5.
Is deferred entry right for my child?
The decision to defer your child’s primary or pre-school entry is a personal one.
These long-awaited changes are designed to give families greater flexibility and choice when deciding what is best for their Young for Year or prematurely-born child.
Research shows that entering formal education too soon can have a negative impact on some children born prematurely1. Similarly, available evidence suggests that children born prematurely may experience some academic deficits once they reach school-age2. TinyLife believe that allowing children who are Young for Year or born prematurely to defer school starting age can enable them to be happier, more confident and to achieve more academic success.
For more information about how the deferral process works, please visit the Education Authority’s webpage.
More about the School Age Act
These changes were enacted by the Department of Education’s School Age (NI) Act, which became law in April 2022. Prior to the introduction of this legislation, Northern Ireland’s primary school starting age was one of the youngest in Europe.
TinyLife championed and helped to develop this important legislation, ensuring that children born prematurely were included. which enables families of Young for Year children and children born prematurely to make the right decision for their child.
You can listen to TinyLife’s CEO, Alison McNulty, discuss the legislation and the impact of deferral on U105.