I read the DfE’s latest report on school exclusions in England (2013-14) in the knowledge that summer born children are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with SEN than any other group.
Interestingly, the report, published yesterday, links to another, 2012 Research Report (A profile of pupil exclusions in England), which tells us:
“When controlling for other characteristics, being a pupil with any level of Special Educational Needs provision has a stronger effect on the odds of being excluded than gender, Free School Meals eligibility or ethnicity.” Continue reading
In email correspondence with the Summer Born Campaign group member Gemma Adams, an official from the DfE’s School Organisation and Admissions Division has said:
“The Government recognises that this has been problematic in a number of cases…
…children are still being admitted to Year 1 against their parents’ wishes. The minister has, therefore, decided that it is necessary to amend the School Admissions Code further to ensure that summer born children can be admitted to reception at the age of five if it is in line with their parents’ wishes, and to ensure that those children are able to remain with that cohort as they progress through school.
The Department has begun the work necessary to implement that change and will be conducting a full public consultation in due course.“
Callum Gafford is yet another summer born child who faces losing a year of his education as penalty for starting school at CSAge, and his mother Natalie was interviewed by reporter Sean Killick on BBC South Today (02:58-07:59)
During today’s report, member of the Education Select Committee Caroline Nokes said, “I absolutely think that the decision should rest with the parents who do know their children best and that this has to be a decision in the interests of every child not for administrative neatness for a local authority.”
This was followed by a pre-recorded interview with Schools Minister Nick Gibb, who began by talking about the ‘parents calling for greater rights because of conditions imposed by councils‘ when they request Reception class entry at CSAge: Continue reading
A member of the National Governors’ Association has told the Summer Born Campaign that its June 5, 2015 newsletter reads:
“The NGA encourages governing boards who are the admissions authority for their school
to allow summer-born children to defer and begin reception a year later should parents wish for this to happen.”
The NGA’s newsletter article in full, which is applicable to governors of all state funded schools in England, reads: Continue reading
Because he ‘should’ be going to school in September…
Some parents, including Faye Sturgess in Northampton, face a doubly distressing battle to ensure their summer born children have the best start to their education.
Not only has her local school and council refused to agree to her request for Reception class entry in September 2016 when Theo reaches CSAge, but now Faye says the pre-school Theo attends doesn’t want him to return in September 2015.
All three – pre-school, school and council – are seeking to make the decision on timing of school entry instead of the parents; they conclude it is in Theo’s best interests to start school at just turned 4 years of age, against his parents’ wishes.
Yet Theo is the youngest of three summer born boys in his family, and his parents have first-hand experience of the “struggles” their eldest in particular has had in school; they want to avoid repeating this experience with Theo, and they know him best, – but they’ve been told if they don’t enrol him this year, he must start school in Year 1, and he’ll lose his pre-school place too. Continue reading
The Sydney Morning Herald has reported on the Summer Born Campaign in England in its special July 19 feature: When should children start school? Answer differs around the world.
Colleen Ricci writes, “The age at which children compulsorily begin their formal education has become a controversial topic in England…
“According to reports, these decisions are exacerbated by inflexibility in the system: parents of five-year-olds report feeling pressured by local authorities to forgo Reception and enrol in year 1, unless they can prove exceptional circumstances; while parents of four-year-olds report feeling compelled to enrol their children in Reception sooner than they would like, for fear they will otherwise be unable to secure a year 1 place in their preferred school the following year. Continue reading
The 2013 edition of the Good Schools Guide warns women:
“So avoid getting pregnant between July and November inclusive!”
When the Telegraph’s Economics Correspondent Peter Spence tweeted his concerns about a potential middle-class advantage of planning a child’s DOB, it reminded me I’d read this while looking for alternative Surrey schools when our son was facing forced Year 1 entry at CSAge.
But what’s perhaps more interesting in the context of Education Committee Chair’s comments yesterday (“admissions decisions need to be made in the best interests of the child, not administrative neatness“) is just how vulnerable the education ‘system’ is to admin processes trumping children’s best interests: Continue reading