B is for Book, Bored and Below Compulsory School Age

IMG_1859I’m not an early years teaching expert, but I have witnessed firsthand how ingrained a hatred of reading can develop in some children, and was acutely reminded of this when I watched the BBC 4 documentary ‘B is for Book‘.

As a former secondary school teacher who has tutored numerous children in English (boys in particular) for more than 15 years, I could plainly see how easily a love of books can be jeopardised very early on in a child’s life.

Shockingly, the BBC film showed children who were not yet naturally interested in reading and writing independently (much less the daily monotony of phonics and lacklustre books) being deprived of precious playtime as punishment for academic failure at just 4 and 5 years-old.

Why are we doing this to children???” I wanted to know. Continue reading

Posted in EXAMPLE CASES, MEDIA COVERAGE | 1 Comment

Important News: Lord Nash now Responsible for Admissions in DfE Ministerial Update

IMG_6841Following Theresa May becoming Prime Minister, the DfE has announced its final ministerial team, and moved responsibility for admissions to Lord Nash.

In February 2016, Lord Nash wrote this in answer to a Parliamentary question on admissions, which the Summer Born Campaign agrees with entirely:

The School Admissions Code exists to ensure that places in all state funded schools are allocated in a fair and transparent manner. It is particularly important that parents feel confident that their concerns are listened to and acted upon.

We also believe that it should be possible for parents to hold those responsible for implementing the School Admissions Code to account, especially since the current processes available for summer born children are evidently not working.

And despite the words of then Education Secretary Michael Gove in 2011, “You shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer to navigate the school system”, we know that it’s not just parents contacting solicitors on the summer born issue, but tax-payer funded admission authorities too.  Continue reading

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Have Your Say at DfE Meetings This Month

SB twitterParents of summer born children: Your chance to tell the Department for Education what you think…

LONDON –  Tue 16th August – 11.30 – 13.00
SHEFFIELD –  Wed 17th August – 11.30 -13.30
DARLINGTON –  Tue 23rd August – 12.00 – 13:30
MANCHESTER –  Wed 24th August – 12.00 – 14.00

The  PTA UK website reads: “PTA UK met with the Department for Education (DfE) recently to discuss giving parents a say on future education policy and what happens in our schools. We are pleased to say that the DfE is running informal discussion sessions in August to give you a chance to share your experiences and ideas. Continue reading

Posted in THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION | 1 Comment

Campaign Update and MP Support

Michelle MelsonLinkedin pic - sepiaOne month ago, on July 6Michelle Melson wrote to the Chair of the Education Committee, while I wrote to the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, and the DfE, to ask a number of questions related to the long delay in announcing the promised School Admissions Code consultation, and the Summer Born Campaign‘s concerns about DfE communication to parents in recent months that has not been as helpful or supportive as we would have expected, given its September 2015 public letter.

We understand that a change in the Code can take time, but further public announcements and/or greater pressure on admission authorities to stop the continuing postcode lottery could undoubtedly have helped more parents over the past year.

On July 7, the DfE contacted Michelle Melson to arrange a meeting to discuss the DfE’s progress on this issue, and we are currently awaiting confirmation of a date (the DfE referred to post-Brexit changes that are impacting all departments).

Today, Stephen Hammond, Conservative MP for Wimbledon, said he has written to the new Education Secretary, Justine Greening, to request a meeting to discuss the summer born issue too.

He says on his facebook page: Continue reading

Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION | 3 Comments

Nick Gibb to Remain Schools Minister

Be Like Nick 1Good news for the Summer Born Campaign.

It’s been confirmed today that Nick Gibb will retain his position as Minister of State for Schools in Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet shuffle.

You can read more in the TES and Schools Week reports.

Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION | 2 Comments

Minister’s Letter Highlights Again the Importance of Legal Semantics

IMG_0655In September 2015, when the Schools Minister Nick Gibb published an open letter urging admission authorities to allow entry to Reception class at CASge for summer born children, I highlighted the importance of the next School Admissions Code ensuring its legal wording is absolutely watertight: Summer Born Semantics are Not Out of the Woods Yet – Code’s Wording ‘Must’ Be Clear

I was reminded of this again when a parent in the Summer Born Campaign group shared a letter she received from Mr. Gibb a few weeks ago, which said: “I would like to assure you that we want parents who have genuine concerns about their child’s readiness for school at the age of four, to be able to ensure they are admitted to reception at age five. June 28th 2016.”

Yesterday, I wrote to the Minister, expressing concerns about how this might be interpreted to imply that there are some parents whose concerns may be less than genuine, and that someone or something might be expected to assess this. Continue reading

Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION | Leave a comment

‘Immediate Action’ Irony Given DfE Delay

SB picTen months ago (a significant amount of time in a child’s life, and a whole primary school admissions cycle that left hopeful parents once more distraught and disheartened), the Schools Minister Nick Gibb published an open letter announcing the DfE’s proposed changes to summer born admission rules and asking “councils and academies to take immediate action.

His letter, and the accompanying DfE press release, set out “the government’s plan to make a change to the school admissions code. The change would mean that schools can… admit summer-born children to reception class at the age of 5, if their parents want this [and] make sure the children can stay in this year group as they progress through school.

Of course they already ‘can‘ do this, but the 2014 School Admissions Code provided them with the loopholes they needed to refuse, and so the postcode lottery got worse.

More recently though, there have been concerns from parents that communication from the DfE is not always as helpful or supportive as they might expect, given Mr. Gibb’s vehement support in his September 2015 letter, and it is on this point and others that I have written to the Minister and DfE today. Continue reading

Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION | 7 Comments