The challenges faced by many children born in the summer months is well documented, but since the Department for Education published its updated advice on the school admissions process for summer born children, and a new draft Code, the biggest influential factor and newest life lottery for our children’s education is now WHERE THEY LIVE.
From the mounting evidence of more than 1600 members of the Facebook Group ‘Flexible School Admissions for Summer Borns’, the admissions process for summer born children across England can best be described as inconsistent and unpredictable, both in state and private schools.
By all accounts, live in Hampshire and it’s an entirely straightforward process to apply for a Reception place at CSA and have the exact same right to three school preferences as any other applicant.
Live in some other areas and you’ll need to prove “exceptional circumstances” for your child to start in Reception – otherwise it’s a Year 1 start ‘where there is a place available’.
A 5 year-old child with severe learning difficulties can be refused a place in Reception class just a few miles away from a 5 year-old child with no SEN at all (no premature birth even) who is provided a place in Reception class at CSA.
‘Parents’ Duty’ in the Education Act Undermined
The DfE is leaving the decision-making for CSA admission to school in the hands of LEAs and head teachers, even in the knowledge that there have been battles fought already in which the LEA and head teacher disagree on which year group the child should join.
Parents have no right of appeal if the year group offered is Year 1 instead of Reception – or even Year 8 instead of Year 7 (yes, this is happening too), and some are so desperate that they have taken out high-interest loans to pay for private education or are considering moving house in order to be in a local authority that will offer their child a Reception class start to school.
I know that there are differences in admissions between different USA States and different Canadian provinces, but they each have their own admissions legislation.
We have one School Admissions Code, and “The purpose of the Code is to ensure that all school places for maintained schools…and Academies are allocated and offered in an open and fair way“. It’s also meant to reflect primary legislation, and ensure a “clear, fair and objective” admissions process for all children.
This is not the reality, and something needs to be done – urgently.