A report published in The Financial, ‘Researchers Pilot Plans for New National Birth Cohort Study‘, provides information about a new UK-wide study that aims to follow babies born in the 2020s for more than 70 years, beginning in 2024.
The researchers will first test the viability of their Early Life Cohort Study over a 2 year period, and The Financial highlights summer born research that can be conducted over time:
On March 23, Darren Jones, Labour MP for Bristol North West, and Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee asked the Secretary of State for Education:
“whether his Department has plans for summer-born children to be given automatic admission to secondary school for children who currently have a delayed start.”
Nick Gibb, Minister of State for Education, replied:
“The Department remains committed to legislating to change the School Admissions Code to allow summer born children to be automatically admitted to Reception at the age of five, where that is what their parents’ wish, and to remain with that cohort throughout their compulsory education.
The Office of the Schools Adjudicator determination can be read in full here.
In brief, the “objection refers specifically to explanatory note 16.9 in the arrangements which says that:
• there is an “expectation” that, where parents of summer born children decide not to
apply for a school place until their child reaches compulsory school age, the child will start school in Year 1; and
• “substantial and exceptional evidence” is required to be provided by parents who
delay entry for a year and then make an application for their child to start school in
Reception.” Continue reading
Before the COVID-19 crisis, many parents of summer born children had unanswered questions, unresolved battles, ongoing concerns about their children’s education, and worries about their children’s social and emotional well being.
With the government’s effective closure of schools and nurseries, these all remain, and now there are understandably new questions and concerns too (there have been a number of discussions in our Facebook group). Continue reading
The Summer Born Campaign was contacted about this initiative in Surrey, and is happy to share it here.
With thanks to the Late Birthday Project:
Surrey-based sports initiative helping young players overcome the ‘late birthdate’ disadvantage
On March 12th, Stephen Hammond, Conservative MP for Wimbledon asked:
“The Government are rightly committed to levelling up and creating opportunities. Two small changes to the admissions code would change the life chances of so many summer-born children. Could we have a debate in Government time on making changes to the admission code, to benefit the summer-born?”
Jacob Rees-Mogg, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons responded:
“With children born in June and July, I am well aware of the issue that my right hon. Friend raises. I think an Adjournment debate would be a suitable place to begin, but that is in your hands, Mr Speaker, not mine.”
There have been numerous media reports today about a new book aimed at teachers that reportedly says headteachers should not allow parents to enrol their summer born child in school at CSAge, and adjust their test scores later on instead.
This is an issue I wrote about back in August 2013 (Flexibility Exists in Law – Please Let Parents Use it), and while I haven’t yet read the book, I’m concerned whether the authors recognise CSAge legislation or include research evidence on outcomes beyond academic.
The Summer Born Campaign is quoted in The Independent’s online coverage:
Schools should adjust test scores by age to tackle disadvantage facing summer-born children, experts say Continue reading
It’s School Today
Dry your eyes, be brave, I say.
You’ve just turned 4 but it’s school today.
Let’s roll up your trousers, they’ll fit one day.
Now dry your eyes, be brave, I pray.
An exchange between Stephen Hammond MP and Schools Minister Nick Gibb, during a House of Commons debate on Monday, highlighted their shared concern that flexibility for summer born children entering school Reception class at CSAge might have “unintended consequences”.
The DfE has published a new report this week:
“Delayed school admissions for summer born pupils Research report (September 2019)”
The 2019 report conclusion confirms an ongoing postcode lottery:
In January this year, I registered the Summer Born Campaign as a Stakeholder for an update of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline: Social and emotional well-being in primary and secondary education of guideline
In May, I submitted comments on the draft Scope (my comments and NICE’s responses can be read on pages 84-119 of the Stakeholder comments table).
The final Scope was published here on July 31st, and the NICE guideline development team has recognised the issues faced by summer born children (both generally, and for those who enter school at CSAge; see bold text below) in its Equality impact assessment: Continue reading
In answer to a DfE written question on July 8th, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, Lord Agnew of Oulton, said “a public consultation… will be launched in the autumn.”
The question in Hansard (HL Deb, 8 July 2019, cW) does not directly address the issue of summer born children admissions, and the information does not appear to be listed in the government’s latest DfE news, but this is a welcome development.
The Summer Born Campaign‘s Rosie Dutton provided an update on her daughter’s progress after starting school at age 5, instead of age 4.
In this week’s Guest Post, A later start can be the best thing for many children, Rosie says Olivia is grateful for her mum’s decision, and as she approaches the end of Year 3, she has a better understanding of admissions law than some adults. Continue reading
Following years of complaints from parents of summer born children, the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman has published new ‘Guidance for practitioners‘.
Unfortunately, the LGO supports the practice of parents applying one year early, for a school place they do not want, so that admissions authorities can make a decision about which year group their 3 year-old summer born child should enter when they turn 5.
This additional layer of bureaucracy was recommended in the DfE’s 2014 (non-statutory) Advice on the admission of summer born children, but it does not appear in the 2014 (statutory) School Admissions Code, contrary to the LGO’s inaccurate assertion (see bold below). Continue reading
Parents who want to delay their child’s first year of school have varying success rates depending on where they live, a BBC investigation has found.
The Summer Born Campaign’s Rosie Dutton is quoted in the BBC’s article:
“It has been over three years since that letter was released by Nick Gibb, and in those three years many children have been forced to miss reception or start school before their parents wanted them to.
“We really need this legislation published quickly.” Continue reading
This was a Q&A on summer born admissions in Parliament yesterday (Hansard HC Deb, 4 June 2018, cW):
Tracy Brabin Shadow Minister (Education)
“To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the increase in the number of school start deferral requests for summer-born children between 2015 and 2017.” Continue reading
The Summer Born Campaign welcomes the DfE’s Delayed school admissions for summer born pupils report, as it confirms:
– the DfE is fully aware of the admissions postcode lottery
– the DfE knows children are being forced to miss a year of school
– parent requests for CSAge entry are increasing
– the DfE needs to improve communication of admissions information, and ensure equitable access for, all parents (as we predicted in 2014)
– the DfE needs to widen its focus from academic attainment to social, emotional, cognitive and behavioural benefits (these don’t appear in the report or parent survey)
What’s wrong with the report?
Just some key points:
1) Exclusion of summer born children with SEN
“We have limited this analysis to pupils that do not have a SEN flag in both Reception year and Year 1.”
This hides important data. Continue reading
In recent weeks, parents of summer born children have been receiving correspondence confirming whether or not their child can enter Reception at CSAge without further battle.
The educational fate of these children is entirely in the hands of subjective opinion and a postcode lottery, and Stephen Hammond (Conservative MP for Wimbledon)’s efforts to push for promised progress have yet again seen the DfE stalling.
The DfE says it’s still busy “gathering evidence“, concerned that “the costs could be significant“, but given the lack of action since Nick Gibb MP‘s promises in 2015, it’s very likely that this evidence will be designed to justify a decision that has already been made.
Even the simplest financial calculation can recognise the cost-savings in SEN support alone, but the DfE will likely focus on the problem of summer born children finally getting access to the same 6 terms of pre-school funding as autumn born children.
These are Minister of State for Education’s latest responses to Mr. Hammond’s questions on March 27: Continue reading
Numerous media outlets are reporting the Schools Minister Nick Gibb’s comments at the British Library this week; e.g. The Telegraph’s Parents of summer born children will be allowed to start school aged five, minister says
Education Editor Camilla Turner reports that he said, ‘once the Department for Education (DfE) has completed a review of evidence, ministers will instigate a change to the admissions system to ensure that all summer born children have the option of starting in reception at age five.’ Continue reading