The Summer Born Campaign group is aware of increasing numbers of parents (whose summer born children were forced to start school early and against their wishes), fighting for their struggling child to be allowed to repeat their Reception class year.
Some have already been successful, and others are fighting to repeat Years 1 or 2, when a summer born child’s difficulties are often even more exacerbated; the parents know there it’s a problem caused by a ‘too early’ school start, but the system, and the DfE’s summer born policy has failed to prevent or protect against these situations.
It Costs Less – in Every Way – to Get it Right First Time Round
- Cost to the Child
In the short-term, during the decelerating transition, there may be re-settling in difficulties for the child when their former classmates move on to the next year group, their self-esteem may wobble (though once in a year group they feel more comfortable in and are able to better access the curriculum, this has been shown to improve dramatically), but there was also the wholly unnecessary social and emotional cost to the child during their first Reception year, when they could have been enjoying a setting better suited to their developmental age, either at home or in a pre-school/nursery.
- Cost to other Children
In areas where oversubscription of primary school places is rife, and parents are desperate to secure places in sought after schools, they may not realise it but their lives are being adversely affected by the DfE’s ineffective and ambiguous School Admissions Code too. When a summer born child is not allowed to enter Reception class at CSage and is instead forced into school a whole year early, against a parent’s wishes, and then that parent successfully argues that their child has suffered as a result and needs to repeat Reception, two years of a school place are taken up by one child (or two children in the case of twins).
It is also sometimes the case where a parent has been pressured to apply for an age 4 Reception class place while a ‘decision’ about Reception class or Year 1 entry the following year is being made (a situation the DfE made worse in December 2014 when it published ‘Advice’ saying this is exactly what should happen), and the school place is ‘held open’ while their battle ensues. Parents can wait until the end of the first academic term to decide whether to accept the age 4 Reception class place or risk continuing their fight with the school (via a complaints process or contacting the LGO – again, all as per the DfE’s Advice), all in order to secure an age 5 Reception class place the following year.
The parents are not at fault here – it is the system, and therefore the government, that is causing all these costly problems and complications.
- Cost to Parents and Taxpayers
Local authorities are consulting with solicitors in their ‘chronological age’ obsessed battles with parents, decision-making panels are set up to evaluate a parent’s ‘request’ for Reception class at CSAge, complaints processes with all the letter/email writing and meetings these entail with these, head teachers spending time visiting pre-schools in order to ‘assess’ the summer born 3 year-old to determine if they really need to ‘wait’ until CSAge to start school; and the list goes on…
Scarce and costly NHS resources have been dragged into an education admissions process – councils sending out Educational Psychologists to assess 3 year-olds when a parent requests CSAge Reception class entry (something the DfE defended as being ‘good practice‘ when a parent complained to them), speech therapists and any other medical professionals that may be working with the child is asked to write letters and reports for submission to the school or local education authority; GPs are also asked to write letters of support (some do so for free, some charge a fee and others say they it is not in their remit to get involved with educational matters).
Then there is the cost of a child repeating a school year; it would be far more cost-effective to allow them to start school at CSAge as initially requested by the parents, with the child remaining at home or receiving their (statutory entitled) 15 hours of EYE funding.
theres no accountability for LEAs when a child is forced into reception before they are ready and it all goes wrong for them. But its the child, who has the least say in the matter, that suffers the most.
My son (August 2007) repeated year 1 after struggling all through reception and year 1. I knew straight away he wasn’t ready for reception but the school insisted he would be fine right up to spring term of year 1 when they finally admitted he would not cope with year 2. He has been diagnosed with some elements of dyspraxia. I have always believed he struggles with Sen issues because he never had the right educational experiences at the appropriate stage of his development.
Our son has not started school yet, we are in the process of trying to delay. The one supportive school we have spoken to suggested repeating reception year was an option instead of delaying . They seemed to think this was the way to get what we wanted and told us they had a child currently in reception who was repeating the year. It seems nonsensical to me that schools would advocate repeating a year instead of delaying.
My granddaughter, born on 31 August, started school aged just four against her parents’ wishes. She has no problems – she is just slightly young for her age perhaps. She lives in a village and attends a delightful school, but her first year was quite heartbreaking. Formerly a cheerful, friendly little girl she became an anxious and isolated loner, reacting aggressively towards the other children. It was absolutely clear to her parents that she would not cope with Year 1. The local authority and the headteacher eventually agreed to allow her to remain in reception for a further year. Her teacher reports that it is like teaching a different child. She is keen to put her hand up and join in, is meeting all her goals with ease and has just won child of the week for kindness to others. She still becomes anxious very quickly but this is improving all the time and I hope she will not be left with a lasting legacy from that terrible first year. I find it absolutely incomprehensible that the DfE are unable to deal quickly and efficiently with this problem of summer born children. It is arrogance of the highest order not to allow parents to judge when their child is ready to start school.
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