Campaigners apprise solicitors of changes to the DfE summer born advice

question marksOn May 9, I wrote about an update to the DfE’s July 2013 advice, and the fact that the DfE no longer wants parents to contact the Education Secretary when local school complaints processes have been exhausted. This was the key change, but because the DfE’s own update information page didn’t mention its ‘Don’t contact Gove‘ change, it’s led to more confusion for everyone – with even education law specialists complaining that even they don’t know what on earth is going on…

Yesterday, Michelle Melson (co-author of our January 2014 report) sent me this article from the Stone King solicitors’ education blog, which perfectly demonstrates the level of confusion that can ensue whenever the DfE communicates on this issue:

That clarification is hard to spot. It actually consists of an amendment to a footnote which is useful but hardly dramatic and certainly did not warrant the blaze of publicity given by recent articles in national dailies…

It’s a puzzle. How is it that the press picked up on the story? We have not located any press release or DfE news item. Was it leaked? If so, why? One thought that we have heard expressed is that it is a move to persuade sizeable numbers of parents to defer entry this September so as to reduce the current pressure on primary places. Can DfE really have had that in mind? Was it seen as a possible, if partial, answer to a political hot potato? Whatever the truth, primary head teachers are now having to deal with parental enquiries on the subject and need to be sure that they give suitable legal as well as educational guidance on the implications of deferred entry.

More importantly than why the press covered it (my understanding is that the journalists involved saw the DfE’s update and decided to cover an issue in detail that they had not been available to report on last July) is the fact that even education solicitors – both now in May 2014 and back in a September 2013 article on the same subject – have numerous questions about the legalities and practicalities of summer born children’s entry into primary school at compulsory school age, and what the DfE is trying to achieve with its non-statutory ‘advice‘.

The irony is palpable – Gove promised that his 2012 School Admissions Code meant “You shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer to navigate the school system“, but while we know that numerous parents of summer born children have had to do just that, the above demonstrates that never mind parents, schools and councils, EVEN EDUCATION LAWYERS THEMSELVES ARE HAVING A HARD TIME NAVIGATING THIS ISSUE. 


This entry was posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, MEDIA COVERAGE, THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Campaigners apprise solicitors of changes to the DfE summer born advice

  1. I’m assuming the press attention was partly due to the brilliant campaigning of the Summer Born group?! If only parents were being encouraged to defer if they wanted. I know from my situation it’s still the opposite. You’re right, if lawyers themselves can’t understand it then what hope do schools have, never mind parents!


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