Starting primary school can feel overwhelming for any child, but it's important to also consider whether it is appropriate for your children to be deferred or delayed with their start into education.

There are certain circumstances in which this might be the best thing for them, for example if:

  • The children were born prematurely, or with low birth weight.
  • They have significant health problems.
  • They were born late into the school year (e.g summer born babies).
  • They've experienced delays in learning to walk, speak, or acquiring fine motor skills.
  • They demonstrate any other signs or behaviours that suggest they aren’t ready for school yet.

These decisions often affect parents of multiples as they are more likely to have been born early, at low birth weight, or experience developmental delays.

We understand that this is a big decision for any parent, so we've brought together some information about the frequently asked questions to help you with this decision making. If you need any support during this phase, our Twinline helpline is available.


Who should I speak to about whether to delay my children's start at school?

If you're considering whether to delay or defer your children's start at school, you need to speak to the local authority of the preferred school to support your case.

Prior to this, it's recommended that you speak to any nursery or preschool workers that have regular contact with your children to ask how they feel your children would benefit from starting school, or delaying school start.

There is the alternative option of phasing in the start of school, starting with half days and building up to full-time school hours. This is something to speak to your school about. This could be a good option if one sibling is ready for school but the other needs a little more home-time before they can settle into the full-time routine.


A younger brother stands behind two older sisters, all in primary school uniform


If my children start a year behind, will they have to catch up later in the school process?

If you choose to keep your children at home for an extra year, you should request to delay one year and for this to be guaranteed throughout the children's schooling. This will avoid them having to 'jump' a year later in school.

It's always advisable to get official confirmation from the local authority, even if the preferred school has accepted the delayed start, as this can have implications with funding at a later date.


What happens if I choose to delay my children's start to a later school term?

If you agree your children would benefit from starting school at a later term in the year, rather than in September, they will start Year One at the same stage as the rest of the school year. This means they will have less time in the reception year, but they will then stay with their age group throughout the rest of their school life.

In this event, it's worth remembering that they will have missed some of the Early Years curriculum. Parents can compensate for this, as can preschools or nursery settings, but it does mean they don't have as much time to get accustomed to school routines before they start more formal learning in Year One.


If I want to delay my children's start to school, when do I apply for their school place?

It's important to still apply for school within their actual age group deadlines, for example the year that they will turn five, even if you don't want them to start school that year. Once you have been allocated your school places, you can then apply to defer or delay their start. We would also recommend talking to the school first about what they can do to support your children if you are worried about their readiness for education.

It's important to apply for school electronically through the normal deadlines so that you have a better chance of being accepted at your preferred school.


Preparing your twins, triplets and more for primary school

Starting school is a huge milestone for any child, so we've created resources, guides and advice to help you navigate this big step.

Preparing for primary school


Further help and resources from Twins Trust

We understand that there are a lot of questions around your children starting primary school - especially when twins and triplets are more likely to experience developmental delays and prematurity. The below resources can help you feel confident and supported with this next stage of parenting.

Online community

Our online community groups offer a supportive environment for parents or carers of twins, triplets or more.


Our helpline, Twinline, is here to support you, answering questions about feeding, sleeping, starting school, friendships, getting to grips with the teenage years, or anything else multiples related.

Professional Referral Service

We have a team of volunteers - all professional experts in their field - who can help families of multiples with educational and development issues.


Access downloadable content as a Twins Trust registered user
Register as a free user, or if you are already registered sign-in, to access further information, including our individuality factsheet.



Personal stories from parents of multiples
Let it go
Whether you're punching the air or weeping into the sink, Twins Trust’s Co-Head of Family Services, Louise Bowman, offers tips on a good start at school.
Over to you
Together or apart can be a vexed question for parents when multiples start school. But what do the children think?
Second time lucky
Twin mum Verity Snook on her triplet childhood and the lessons learned from some less than sensitive school handling.