Using cheque books used to be ‘the norm’ for almost everyone. Until debit and credit cards came along and cheque usage fell dramatically.
But when in 2009, the UK Payments Council announced plans to close its central cheque clearing facility, there were complaints and in July 2011, the government answered the question, Are cheques being phased out? with an emphatic… “No. The Payments Council announced on 12 July 2011 that cheques will continue for as long as customers need them. A previously announced target for closing the cheque clearing system by 2018 has been cancelled.”
Yet when it comes to allowing our summer born children to receive a full primary school education – a right already enshrined in law… …(compulsory school age is the term following their 5th birthday and Reception Class is defined as an entry class to primary schools providing education suitable for children aged five and any children who are under or over five years old whom it is expedient to educate with pupils of that age) – the fact that ‘it’s not the norm‘ to wait until age 5 anymore has left parents forced to choose between early entry for their child at age 4 or losing Reception Class altogether.
The laws already exist to allow this choice, so why hasn’t the government stepped in just as readily for children as it has for cheque books?
The School Admissions Code fails to mention summer born children at all, and a Myths and Facts document published by the DfE leaves the decision regarding year of entry for summer born children (Reception or Year 1) entirely at the discretion of local admission authorities. They almost universally designate children to Reception at age 4 or Year 1 at age 5 – a decision often based purely on chronological age and ease of administration ‘process’.
I believe it’s unjust, in a society where a consumer’s right to continue using cheques is protected, that a child’s right to receiving a full education (and their parents lawful right to decide the age at which this education starts) is not.
The government needs to urgently answer the question: “Are you going to do anything to stop the almost complete phasing out of the statutory school starting age of 5 by local admission authorities?”
Author: Pauline Hull