Last month, I stumbled upon an article about London-based model Caprice’s biological twin boys Jax and Jett who, according to this report, were “born within weeks of each other in August and September” of 2013.
This makes one of the boys ‘autumn born‘ (most likely to start school in September 2018) and the other ‘summer born‘ (with a CSAge start in September 2018 or an ‘early’ school start in September 2017).
If Caprice decides she wants her twin boys to join the same year group, the difference in each of their admissions applications process will be palpable, and their right to a full, uninterrupted 12 years’ education will be different by virtue of their seasonal birth status.
This is not as unusual as it sounds – in our campaign group, we have cases where a child has been forced into the ‘early’ year group after being born shortly before midnight on August 31st, and while rare, it is possible for twins to be born on two different days.
2018 or 2019?
According to the School Admissions Code, parents of summer born children can only “request” entry to Reception class at CSAge, and an admission authority is at liberty to offer a Year 1 instead, with no right of appeal.
Loss of school preferences?
Yes, if a school’s head teacher and/or council wants to insist on an age 4 start. Parents of summer born children can’t simply visit schools and write down their application form school preferences by the January deadline. No – they must begin the whole application process one year early, while their child is still only 3 years old, and provide ‘evidence’ to justify their legal decision to enrol their child in school at CSAge. They must secure the agreement of all relevant admission authorities, and if they’re told ‘no’, decide whether to play chicken with their child’s future education and go head to head in battle the following year regardless (facing a Year 1 place only, or no school place at all if Year 1 is full).
12 or 11 years of education?
With no protection built into the School Admissions Code, despite persistent requests from numerous individuals and groups both before and during the Code’s consultation period last year, schools and councils are at liberty to make an annual decision about summer born children (who enter Reception class at age 5) as to whether they can remain in that year group – or be ‘bumped up’ to their correct chronological age group and simply miss a year of their education.
Against the parents’ wishes?
Tough – no right of appeal remember.
Complain to the DfE?
Futile – the department supports ‘localised’ decisions, despite the glaring absurdity of unfairness in these cases.
What is in the summer born twin’s best interests?
Putting aside for one moment the fact that a) this is an ‘exceptional case’, b) Caprice is likely in a position to privately educate and as such have more ‘school choice’ than the average parent, and c) we don’t know when she wants her summer born son to start school, her story clearly highlights how very easily the educational fate of two children born within weeks, days or even hours of each other, is being affected by the views and beliefs of admissions administrators to an extent that far outweighs the influence the choice and wishes of a parent as to whether their child stats school at age 4 or 5.
And the DfE, whose Ministers assured parents that they would be the decision-makers on this, and that the department would “take action if we find that schools are not paying attention to parental demand“, has done something worse than fail to act – it’s acted (with its 2014 Code) in a manner that has made a bad situation even worse.