Campaign Does Not Support “2 Bites of the Cherry” for Summer Born Children

obesity storyThe Summer Born Campaign wants all parents of summer born children to have the automatic right – without penalty (i.e. loss of school preferences and threat of or actual loss of school year at any point during child’s education) – to decide whether to apply for a Reception class place at CSAge or one year early.

But there is an important loophole that needs closing too. In 2014, during the DfE’s Code consultation, local authorities submitted concerns that parents of summer born children could apply for age 4 entry and then try again the following year if they didn’t get a place in their preferred school – thus giving them two bites of the cherry.

We agree this would not be a fair system – but the solution is simple.If parents are unsure about when they would like their summer born child to start school, they could apply for entry at age 4 but then if they change their minds, WITHDRAW their application BEFORE the April 16th OFFER DAY.

The majority of parents who choose a CSAge start are clear in their minds that this is what they want, and for other parents, much of the indecision and confusion that currently exists is a direct result of the DfE’s ambiguous summer born policy.

Many parents are only finding out that a CSAge start is allowed through media stories, and unfortunately not all of these reports contain accurate legislative information.

Other parents are fearful of the threats schools and councils have made regarding their child being forced to leapfrog a year later on (the NAHT even said this would happen –  a BBC interview last month).

Fairness and Equality

We are campaigning for our children to have equal access to Reception class, equal application rights and no forced leapfrogging of a school year later on.

If we are given two chances to apply and use the option of starting a year later as an opportunity to get a second stab at the school place we want, then we would have an advantage over other parents – and that’s not fair.

There are tens of thousands of parents without their preferred school place this year, and while that is absolutely a crisis in itself, it’s distinct from the admissions scandal that we are campaigning against.

But remember, it’s the DfE’s own Summer Born Advice that is encouraging a “two bites” system, and one that we have been highly critical of since its publication in December 2014.

The DfE recommends that parents apply for a school place they don’t want – and advises them to hold on to it while they continue to battle with their admissions authority about being allowed to apply for a Reception class place the following year!

The DfE’s policy wastes valuable school places for all children.

We’re asking the government for just ONE SCHOOL PLACE for each summer born child – in the Reception class entry year of our choice (early or at CSAge).

Pauline Hull
Author and Journalist

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6 Responses to Campaign Does Not Support “2 Bites of the Cherry” for Summer Born Children

  1. Pingback: Campaign Does Not Support “2 Bites of the Cherry” for Summer Born Children | birchrm's Blog

  2. Elena says:

    I guess there is another way to handle the “2 bites” issue and that is to process applications for second-timers after the first-time applicants, but this introduces a unnecessary layer of complexity. Withdrawing before the national offer day is fair and straightforward. Given the mess of the admissions, making up the mind 4 months before the school start is the reasonable.

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  3. birchrm says:

    We first requested a reception place for our August born son at CSA in February 2014. Our request was at our first choice school where we are guaranteed a place due to an older sibling. We provided all the evidence to show that this was feasible and that there were ‘no statutory barriers’ and ‘no exceptional circumstances’ were required. The school seemed sympathetic but said they would seek advice from the LEA, even though the school is its own admissions authority. I knew from speaking to the LEA that their advice would not be in our favour. After being refused entry at CSA twice we applied for this September even though we knew we did not want the place. After careful consideration we wrote to the LEA 3 weeks before national offer day to withdraw our place, this request went unanswered and we were offered our first choice school. We do not want the place but have not yet refused it because we are still being told we could end up with a year 1 place, but not in a local school as they will all be full. The form still sits completed on the table in front of me declining the place. It has not yet been handed in because of the ‘fear’ of not getting a reception place, or a local place in year 1 next September. We know from personal experience about not getting a place at a chosen, local school. To turn down the place is a huge risk, I believe we will take that risk but for now the form still sits on the table.
    Given the chance we would not have applied at all this year. We did try to withdraw our application before national offer day. We want only one bite at the cherry, a reception place at CSA. However with the current mess of an admissions system we are not being allowed that.

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  4. Good article. Currently, our local school states on their admission guidance that you should apply for entry at four with an accompanying request for deferment, forcing parents to apply twice!

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  5. Pingback: DfE Disappoints and Digresses – Again | summerbornchildren

  6. Pingback: Admissions Authorities with Automatic Summer Born Admission to Reception Class at CSAge | summerbornchildren

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