Norfolk staff newsletter says CSA is 4 – unless the law changes!?!?

Norfolk CC on Summer Born Children pg 1You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Norfolk County Council, in its May 21, 2014 aptly titled “Improving Times – Children’s Services” staff newsletter, has laid down the law on school admissions for children – without realising that the real law (primary legislation) says something different entirely.

If the following isn’t proof that admission authorities look no further than the School Admissions Code for legislative guidance, I don’t know what is, – and it demonstrates why GOVE’S CODE NEEDS TO BE MUCH CLEARER THAN IT IS.

Norfolk: “Recently we have received challenges from some parents looking to defer the start of school for their summer born children. Legally in England and Wales (not Scotland), children must start school in the academic year after they become 4 – but schools do have the ability to stagger admissions, so that younger children attend part time up until the Easter term.

As a local authority we can, and do, grant exceptions in medical cases, or where there is a developmental delay, to defer. However until there is a change in the law, other year long deferments are not something local schools are happy to consider and we will support them in this.

Note to Norfolk:

  • Compulsory School Age (CSA) is the term following a child’s 5th birthday, but the law allows for children to be admitted to school earlier than this.
  • Parents of summer born children seeking access to Reception class at CSA are not requesting a ‘deferral’ but what is called a ‘delay’ (though not everyone agrees that the word delay is appropriate given the legal definitions of CSA and Reception class).
  • Yes, schools do have to offer deferral, and admission arrangements should make clear this flexibility to parents as per paragraph 2.16 of the School Admissions Code, as confirmed by the DfE: “Parents cannot be required to send their child to school, or to ensure they attend full-time, before they reach compulsory school age – so a school could not refuse a parent’s request for their child to be admitted part-time or to be admitted later in the academic year.
  • Our campaign group has been advised by parents in Norfolk parents that they have found supportive schools but that these schools are being over ruled by Norfolk CC. We have also seen correspondence showing that the Schools and the Children’s Support Services team office say its out of their hands, and Norfolk CC just won’t allow it. It would appear it is more the case that Norfolk CC are not happy to consider entry into Reception class at CSA – rather than all local schools…?

June 12, 2014 update.

Response from Norfolk to Summer Born Campaign via Twitter:

You’re right, there was incorrect info about the admission age in the newsletter, we’ve recirculated new information to staff and have made sure that old version isn’t on the web anymore. We’re sorry about this as we know it may well have caused some anxiety.

Unfortunately, so much of our campaign work results in admission authorities tidying up what they have ‘in writing’, while the ‘practice’ of denying entry to Reception class at age 5 – or children being made to skip a year of their education if this is allowed – still continues.

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15 Responses to Norfolk staff newsletter says CSA is 4 – unless the law changes!?!?

  1. Catherine Mackinlay says:

    I’ve have just read myself and completely shocked at the unlawful policy. I have forwarded this to the Equality Advisor and Support Services for further investigation as discriminatory to summer born children as a homogenous group. Will be interesting to receive their response. I will post their reply in full.


  2. kelly wright says:

    I wonder how these policy makers would feel if they themselves had a summer born child that this ludicrous blanket policy affected.
    I hope that the careful pressure that is being applied by the campaigners in this group make them change their minds and the sea of resistance to this continues to flood through.


    • Abi says:

      Norfolk’s HoA told me two of his children are August born and they did fine.
      While I was pleased to hear this, it does not acknowledge that some children will not and could be allowed to flourish and thrive and have a very positive school experience.


  3. psw260259 says:

    What hope do parents have of understanding this issue? The law is clear – but when you read stuff like this from those that should know ……..


  4. Susan King says:

    Norfolk are possibly the worst offending LEA in the country in terms of putting ease of record keeping ahead of the needs of our Children. It is surely more sense to educate children in batches of readiness to learn, not date the were born. If feel ashamed to admit I am from a county that is prepared to treat its very young children this way!


  5. Ruth Patterson says:

    The fact that a staff newsletter says that “challenges have been received from parents” is disgraceful, surely these have been “heartfelt requests made by devoted, knowledgable and caring parents who simply have their own child’s best interests at heart”, do they not deserve to be looked as individual cases with genuine conversations to give all children the best start in life? after all we are not doing this for fun because believe me…it’s anything but!


    • Abi says:

      Exactly! I am offended by their wording. For over a year I have been requesting for my son to start reception at CSA in Norfolk. I have spent hours and hours researching, talking, considering, agonising and deliberating about what is best for my son and what rights he has to a fair and enjoyable education. They denied our request on the back of their early years advisor writing 5 lines saying he should enter in Y1. We have been treated appallingly.


  6. Hannah Fairbrother says:

    Surely such complicated admissions procedures only serve to penalise the most vulnerable and perpetuate preexisting social and educational inequalities. It is incredibly difficult for parents to find clarity on the matter and many will, sadly, be put off ensuring their children receive their full primary education.


  7. Holly Watts says:

    This is shocking that an LEA can have such a dire understanding of their own policy. More so, how disappointing that there seems to be such a lack of understanding as to why some parents of summer born children are requesting their children don’t start school earlier than necessary. Surely a parent wanting to support their child at hone for longer should be supported. There seems to be such a blatant dismissal of the overwhelming evidence showing the disadvantage of summer borns by the people and bodies that should be most concerned, its really a real concern.
    At what point does this become a case of discrimination against summer born children, in my opinion it already has…… I want my son to start school when he is compulsory school age, not because of any special needs or delays but because I have seen the evidence and want him to have the best possible start into school life (starting with reception) at 5 years, however for some ludicrous reason this seems almost an impossibility.


  8. JC says:

    I hope that parents in Norfolk are reading here and finding out what the truth _actually_ is!
    A child does not have to be educated until they reach statutory school age which is the term AFTER they turn 5. For a summer born child, this will be the school year AFTER they turn 4.


  9. Gem says:

    Completely unfair on Norfolk children. As a Norfolk taxpayer I am dismayed at how readily Norfolk CC will waste our money battleing parents in order to deprive children of the most suitable education.


  10. Ellena says:

    Oh my! What an horrendous statement. Why will they not take the time to learn and understand primary law, not the admissions code, primary law. The Education Authority has a duty of care to ALL children. Norfolk just seem to have complete disregard. The Head of Cjildrens Services should be sacked for incompetence, his/her staff immediately te-trained and a full, open and honest review by their legal team. I cannot believe that such irresponsibility is being allowed to errode the rights of our summer borns…


  11. Pingback: Norfolk Gets the Law Wrong – Again | summerbornchildren

  12. Pingback: Summer Born Campaign group submits Evidence to the Education Committee | summerbornchildren

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