Due to the outrageous situation that exists in England’s schools (i.e. children forced to start school prior to compulsory school age, against their parents’ wishes), and the strictly imposed chronological batch cut off for each year group, in schools that opened their doors for the autumn term this week, summer born children aged just 3 years-old were entering Reception class for the first time.
Why? Because the cut off date is today, August 31st, but some school terms begin earlier than this.
And even if your child is born at 10pm on August 31st (as happened to one of our campaign group’s parents five years ago), your school and/or council can effectively force your child to start school a whole year earlier than compulsory school age, and the Department for Education will simply say ‘decisions are best made at a local level‘.
Mmmm… Are they always? Really?
This abdication of responsibility by the DfE for what’s in the best interests of some of the youngest and most vulnerable children in our education system (bearing in mind that the least affluent and educated parents will be able to exercise ‘choices’ such as private school alternatives or possibly home schooling) is quite possibly one of the longest running education scandals in this country.
Talk about setting children up to fail…
The School Admissions Code is going to change – and the Department for Education is seeking YOUR views on its proposals for new revisions by September 29, 2014.
Consultation is OPEN TO ALL – you just need to read the proposed Draft Document and submit your comments.
The Summer Born campaign group has repeatedly pointed to problems within the current School Admissions Code. For example:
*Ambiguity in the School Admissions Code has reduced the Compulsory School Age in England to 4 for Summer Born children
*It’s the Code, Stupid
*The Complex Web our Admissions System Weaves
To prevent the subjective, biased and discriminatory process that exists now, this is what we’d like to see in the Code:
“Parents who wish their summer born (April 1st – August 31st inclusive) child to enter Reception class at compulsory school age must submit an application for the relevant academic year. The application must be treated equitably with children starting school prior to compulsory school age, and the child can remain with that year group cohort for the remainder of their education.”
In the new 8-part radio series of interviews, The Educators, Sarah Montague interviews the people whose ideas are challenging the future of education (e.g. Sir Ken Robinson and John Hattie). Links to all episodes are here.
Most if not all these interviews may now be completed, but just in case Sarah Montague is not aware of one of the greatest educational challenges facing summer born children who start school at compulsory school age – – – simply being able to access a full 7-year primary school curriculum – – – the tweets below might be of interest in any future series.
@Sarah_Montague Did you know that summer born children who wait to start school at 5 are forced to miss a whole year of primary school? RETWEET
@Sarah_Montague The DfE is allowing teaching in chronological age batches to trump compulsory school age legislation. Age 4 start is forced. RETWEET
Earlier this year, the Gentle Parenting website kindly published a special guest article written and edited by Michelle Melson and Pauline Hull.
With the school start just around the corner, you can read it again here:
Starting School for Summer Born Children
But what will it mean for the chances of compulsory school age summer born children being allowed to access a whole education and a full curriculum?
It’s too soon to say, but like countless others with education issues, summer born parents will have their eyes peeled and ears to the ground for any shred of hope that the new Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, will understand that forcing children to start school early or miss an entire year of their education later on is not in their best interests.
Listening to LBC’s Nick Abbot show on Saturday night (July 12, 2014), he reminded listeners that very often the real policy and decision makers are the Cabinet department officials, and not the Ministers themselves.
And as many parents of summer born children know, communication from the Department for Education in the last year has been inconsistent and changing, despite ever growing evidence of huge problems being experienced nationwide.
Perhaps the only hope of correcting the DfE’s current ‘chronological’ course is a strong Education Minister, and one that truly understands what it means for summer born school admissions to be CLEAR, FAIR and OBJECTIVE.
In an April 2014 summer born interview, Conservative MP and current Chair of the Education Select Committee, told trainee journalist Fayrouz Shehrezade Essack, “Personally I think that giving parents the right, so that they don’t lose their positions in terms of gaining access to the school by putting them in at five is something worth examining.” Continue reading
In October 2013, in correspondence to a parent, the Department for Education wrote, “It is the government’s view that there should not need to be any exceptional reasons for a summer born child to be admitted to the reception class rather than year one at age 5.“
But on June 12, 2014 the DfE published new guidance (this time for free schools) advising them that “deferral may be appropriate in exceptional cases such as where a child has missed a lot of school because of a severe* illness, or if they are extremely gifted“.
And despite assurances by Ministers in the past year (e.g. Elizabeth Truss MP’s promise to ”empower parents‘ and her assertion that “It should be the parents who are the primary decision-makers” on this issue), this new DfE advice says, “it is up to you as the admissions authority to decide whether you accept a request” and “No“, parents cannot appeal against your refusal to allow Reception class at CSA.
And incredibly, the document just gets worse… Continue reading