Kent: Boy Forced to Miss Year of School with Devastating Consequences and Unnecessary SEN

100_3152Please read this whole post – it’s more than one mother’s story – it exposes what this council said to the DfE in 2014, and what the DfE did as a result…

Three days ago, the mother of a summer born child posted this on summerbornchildren.org:

Our 24 wk boy was allowed to repeat reception in a faith school in North London. Allowing the board of governors ability to over throw Haringey’s adamant decision to send a child born on 6 Aug ( due 24 Nov) to school a year too early. The results were extraordinary. He was able to flourish as an equal.

We then moved to Kent and they bumped him from year 1 to year 2. The results have been devastating. He is now in special needs classes as a measure to help him catch up.We are also sending him for an extra hours tutorial a week.

His self esteem is shot to pieces and he is confused and has said things like” I have a stupid brain here mum”. So young to break the news to him that this is certainly not true but that the adults in authority who have taken this decision most certainly have.

It is more than obvious these children are merely stats and budget victims and that there is no one with enough strength of character and work ethic to take on the challenge to create a precedent.

We are doing everything in our power to move back to Muswell Hill to Our Lady of Muswell. Where a wonderful teacher taught him for a year then stuck her head above the parapet and spoke of it being immoral to expect a child to adapt to learning when they are not developmentally at the same stage as their classmates.

Fundamentally setting the child up for failure.

*          *          *            *          *          *

Now let’s just remind ourselves how Kent County Council responded to the DfE’s consultation of its proposed School Admissions Code changes in 2014 (my emphasis below):

The significant challenge here is that there is a distinction to be made between children ready for school able to be taught alongside their peers and parents who are not yet ready for their child to start school because of their anxieties, and children for whom it would genuinely not be in their best interest to be in school. Where the former is the case, parents invariably will not be best placed to take that decision objectively

KCC’s preferred solution which would provide far greater clarity to process would be for children (without a statement or EHCP) to be required to apply at the correct time associated with their chronological age group regardless of their individual needs.

Hobson’s Choice

And now look at what the DfE added to its new December 2014 Summer Born Advice:

We therefore recommend that the process local authorities and admission authorities put in place:

  • requires the parent to make an application for their child’s normal age group at the usual time, but enables them to submit a request for admission out of the normal age group at the same time

If their request is refused, the parent must decide whether to accept the offer of a place for the normal age group, or to refuse it and make an in year application for admission to year one for the September following the child’s fifth birthday.

And finally, let’s look again at the ‘flexibility‘ three separate DfE Ministers have assured parents of, and ask yourself, who did the DfE take most notice of?

Councils like Kent – or parents and children..?

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23 Responses to Kent: Boy Forced to Miss Year of School with Devastating Consequences and Unnecessary SEN

  1. Samantha McCormick says:

    “Parents who are not ready for their child to start school… ” Wow, because yes, getting the best for my child’s education and mental well being is all about me… !

    Like

  2. H says:

    Even though I am in the midst of a request to delay my son I find the entire situation totally bamboozling and overly complex. Any regular person can see the total lack of sense in this case and the fact that there is a little boy at the midst of this that for no sensible reason is the victim of mindless bureaucracy. It’s quite clearly a disgrace. How in this day and age this type of treatment of our citizens & this small boy and so many others can be allowed to continue is beyond me. As a working mother & a tax payer I expect a lot more protection for my children,their education and their emotional well being. This boy must be given what he so desperately needs, right away….. Why on earth not I ask!?????

    Like

  3. Akanksha says:

    This clearly shows that DfE needs to just understand the heart of the issue. If a child isn’t ready, a child isn’t ready. What’s the point of setting children up for failure. Letting them start reception at compulsory school age shouldn’t be a fight or a favour. It’s a right. Not sure why they have created more and more problems while trying to resolve it.

    The bottom line is parents should be able to ( and not allowed to since that means they are seeking permission which isn’t the case) start their child at compulsory school age in Reception. Without any evidence or convincing any authority in question. We need to do away with the bureaucratic setup and understand that people in education have a duty towards parents and children and the duty is to work in their interests. The whole concept of having panels and admission authorities having a greater say than a parent in a child’s future is fundamentally flawed.

    Feel so sad and angry.

    Like

  4. That poor child! I find it really insulting that Kent accuses parents of not wanting young children to start school at barely four due to their own anxieties, despite all of the evidence showing that summer born children struggle more than their older counterparts, and that starting school at a later age is generally beneficial for children. It seems very much like they are looking out for their own interests and for an easy ride, rather than looking out for the interests of each individual child.

    Like

  5. Samantha says:

    my son (born 22nd August, 3 weeks early) is in a very similar situation.
    He is currently in year 2 with no confidence and constantly saying he is stupid and not as good as his friends which breaks my heart. We do 1 hour of extra reading at home and 1hour of extra math and literacy every day as he is that desperate to catch up but this leaves him very little time to play, rest and be a child. I didn’t even know requesting a delay was an option when he started school. He is being pushed so hard to pass his national phonics and maths tests that he is stressed at the age of 6. I fear that as time goes on and his confidence continues to fade, that he will end up in a special needs class when in actual fact he just needs to be in with the correct year group.

    Like

  6. Jeanette Marr says:

    This story shocks me. How is it in the child’s best interest to teach him in a different group from his peers – not along side them- ignoring the previous schools assessment and of the parents. When are the DFE going to step up and protect these children? This is unacceptable to the child and their human rights.

    Like

  7. Zoe Wordley says:

    This is scandalous- how can they expect a child to entirely miss a year of school? It’s devastating the effects this shall have on his confidence and his entire school life.
    The needs of children are clearly not the top priority-just to keep everything simple for the councils.

    Like

  8. wattsh says:

    Disgraceful, Kent LEA and the powers that be should be ashamed of their blatant disregard of what is in the best interest of the child. How is the department of education supporting a situation where such awful decisions, are being fostered by the admissions code which is so remarkably flawed.

    Like

  9. Johanna Lim says:

    so disgusted by this. Bureaucracy and inflexibility creating so much long term damage in a young psyche. DfE should be ashamed this is allowed to go on

    Like

  10. Susan King says:

    This is not an issolated incident, almost exactly the same thing happened to my son in Norfolk. He began school age 5,4 days old. Because he was born 72 hours the wrong side of the bureaucratic date line he was forced to miss out the crutial year 1 curriculum and jump straight from reception to year 2. It too distroyed his confidance, left him with a faulse diagnosis of SEN and ripped him away from all his friends. his mental health was so affected that we had to remove him from school at the end of year 4. There was simly no reason to put him through this in the first place. he was happy and settled in the reception cohort and stood a good chance of meeting the literacy and numeraucy targets for the year. he went from just learning to write his name to being expected to hand in work writen in paragraphs in the space of one summer! 😦 the code needs amending now to stop children fauling into these bureacratic blackholes!

    Like

  11. SHall says:

    Unfortunately this does not surprise me in the slightest. Kent County Council are fast getting a reputation for being inflexible and contradictory in their advice to parents and to schools. We are about to start our battle with them for our daughter (22.8.11) to defer for the year because there is no way that I will be placing my child, in less than 6 months time, into a system that is so blinkered and uninterested in the ‘whole’ child and so incredible patronising to the parents.

    Like

  12. Kelly says:

    I cant believe that this has been allowed to happen. Why hasn’t someone intervened! Local authorities aren’t making decisions in the child’s best interest at all, just what suits them. Parents do and always will know what is right for their child. How can the Dfe sit back and not fix the problem they’ve created!!!

    Like

  13. vicky mcq says:

    This is shocking. How can this be in the child’s best interest? Disregarding common sense, and more importantly parental choice based on knowing their child best. This is not to do with parental selfishness but wanting the best for their child, to start school when they are emotionally and academically ready, giving them the best start in life. So disappointed in Kent’s response.

    Like

  14. Naomi says:

    Sadly until the schools admission code changes to ‘any child starting school at CSA (Compulsory school age – 5yrs) is offered a Reception place unconditionally should the parents wish’ this ridiculous postcode lottery battle will not stop!
    The people of the LEA’s have far too much power over the decisions for our children.
    I really feel for this boy and his family. We are in a similar situation.

    Like

  15. Gem says:

    So sorry to hear of yet another of these awful storys.

    Like

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