More Broken Promises – this time Empty Election ones from Conservative Education Secretary

crossAccording to the Daily Mail Nicky Morgan says, “The Tories will give parents of summer-born children the right to delay their entry to school“, except that’s not what she told Mumsnet today.

And remember former Tory Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education Elizabeth Truss just this month warned, “we need to beware of politicians making promises“…

…which of course summer born children already know to their detriment following Truss’ own broken pledge in 2013: “What we want to do is to empower parents… It should be the parents who are the primary decision-makers when it comes to deciding which route is most appropriate for their child and which environment will enable their child to thrive. We are absolutely clear that parents should be able to say to a school, “We want our child, who is aged five, to enter reception”, if they feel that that is in the best interests of their child.”

If this first Minister promise had been kept, this website wouldn’t exist – but even more tellingly, Nicky Morgan isn’t even making this same promise – she says the Code is already ok(?).
Moreover, the Summer Born Campaign has serious concerns about Nicky Morgan’s apparently contradictory and defensive communication on the summer born issue today (my own highlighting below), and is not at all convinced that what she says translates to the optimistic headline in the Daily Mail:

On the Mumsnet Election Webchat today, she replied:

Hi Springtimemama,

Lots of questions about summer born children today, hope you don’t mind if I try and group them together.

Firstly I completely understand that this is an issue for many parents and something we’re going to look at again if we’re in a position to after the election.

But we have already done some work in this area – we’ve actually revised the government’s guidance to make it more flexible because we do believe that the parents of summer born children should have greater choice about this. The new guidance stresses that these decisions should be made locally by admissions authorities in conjunction with parents and taking into account the views of head teachers. Ultimately it’s about what’s best for the child and we have now formally written that into the guidance we have published.

As the schools minister Nick Gibb told the Education Select Committee just last month, admissions authorities and headteachers do need to do what’s in the best interests of the child and it’s right that decisions on whether to admit a child outside of their normal age group are made at a local level based on the individual circumstances of each child.

The select committee has now asked us to consider what more we can do and we are happy to look at that, but the guidance is absolutely clear that the flexibility is there and the interests of the child should always be put first.

The Daily Mail reports:

An aide to Mrs Morgan said: ‘She intends to order officials to undertake a review of the way the current rules are working as one of the first things she does if she’s back post after 7 May.

We have already made the guidance more flexible but if it transpires it’s not being implemented in the best interests of children we’ll see what more we can do.

‘We’re determined to make sure the system works in favour of pupils and parents and that we’re open minded about how we make sure that happens. We will be monitoring the way councils implement the rules carefully.’

One possibility is bringing in a right to appeal so parents can challenge decisions, for example to put their child in reception rather than year one.

Pauline Hull
Author and Journalist

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This entry was posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, MEDIA COVERAGE, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to More Broken Promises – this time Empty Election ones from Conservative Education Secretary

  1. psw260259 says:

    The media are very good at printing the wrong headlines and taking things out of context, that people then believe. My daughter (who is mother to twin summer borns, who have been disadvantaged by the admissions policy) contacted me to say that the Tories were going to allow summerborns to enter reception at 5. She was delighted that although too late for her twins, her niece who is another summerborn would benefit. So if someone who is reasonably knowledgeable about summerborn issues, believes the stories in the media, what is the impact going to be on the general public?

    Thank you for very clearly providing evidence about the facts behind this story in the media

    Like

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

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