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
On June 15, 2014, Pauline Hull and Michelle Melson published the following Press Release:
‘FINAL DECISION’ by Local Government Ombudsman Condones Discriminatory Admissions Practices for Summer Born children
In a controversial Final Decision published on May 14, 2014 (in a complaint that was ‘Upheld’ against County Durham Council on January 11, 2014), the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has determined that primary school applications from parents of summer born children entering Reception class at compulsory school age (CSA) can be left at the bottom of the pile, with theirschool places allocated ONLY AFTER all other 4-year-old children have been allocated Reception class places. The Summer Born Campaign group says this discrimination is just the tip of the iceberg.
Media coverage of the report’s publication can be found in the News section of our site.
Regular readers will recall that last month, a Norfolk County Council staff newsletter incorrectly advised that, “Legally… children must start school in the academic year after they become 4“.
The Summer Born Campaign contacted the council, which to be fair, said, “we’re sorry about this. We’ve recirculated this article to staff and made sure the original version of the newsletter is no longer available… It is a fairly complex system and I know that publishing incorrect information won’t have helped people’s understanding of it“. However, the new information is STILL WRONG:
It says, “children who turn five between April and August must start school full-time, by law, by 31 August – and before the end of the academic year, which is why some summer born four-year-olds are required to take up their reception school place before they turn five.” Continue reading
Annette Brooke MP (Photo courtesy of @NCE2014)
More details to follow soon, but the feedback so far from a Parliamentary seminar in the House of Commons this evening is very positive for summer born children.
The seminar asked, “What is the future for Early Years Education?” and speakers including Professor Richard House and Annette Brooke MP highlighted the injustice facing the very youngest children in our schools – i.e. our (just) 4 year old boys and girls being forced to embark on their formal education a whole year early or else face losing a whole year of their education later on.
Read more here: Continue reading
You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Norfolk County Council, in its May 21, 2014 aptly titled “Improving Times – Children’s Services” staff newsletter, has laid down the law on school admissions for children – without realising that the real law (primary legislation) says something different entirely.
If the following isn’t proof that admission authorities look no further than the School Admissions Code for legislative guidance, I don’t know what is, – and it demonstrates why GOVE’S CODE NEEDS TO BE MUCH CLEARER THAN IT IS.
Norfolk: “Recently we have received challenges from some parents looking to defer the start of school for their summer born children. Legally in England and Wales (not Scotland), children must start school in the academic year after they become 4 – but schools do have the ability to stagger admissions, so that younger children attend part time up until the Easter term. Continue reading