But when the family returned home to England in July, Thamira says she was told in no uncertain terms by both her local London admission authority and the first school she approached that it is not their practice to place children ‘out of year groups’, regardless of the individual circumstances.
Shockingly, the children must skip a whole year of their education and enter their ‘correct chronological age’ year groups.
For Milan-Felix, this means moving straight from Year 1 into Year 3 and for Radha-Olivia, moving from Year 3 into Year 5.This is despite the fact that the children attended an International school in India that followed the Cambridge Curriculum (an English curriculum leading to IGCSE’s, which is very similar to England), and means if the children miss a whole school year there will be huge gaps in their knowledge.
Their education will seriously suffer.
Thamira also says the local authority and school told her “we won’t put them back a year“,
and that the 2014 School Admission Code amendments don’t apply to summer born children arriving from overseas – only those with applications for Reception class.
Thamira told the Summer Born Campaign, “Whilst individuals in the local authority admissions office acknowledged the new School Admissions Code and its implied changes, they didn’t actually know who should be implementing these changes.
Whether this ‘authority’ lies with the LEA or the schools themselves, or even who these new rules apply to.
Ultimately I would put the responsibility for the lack of coherence, within the schools and the local LEA, on how to best apply the Code to real life cases, on the DfE.
The DfE rewrote the code and then left it for everyone else to interpret it without any training or guidance – and people aren’t trained to think outside the box.”
This is by no means the first case of this forced miss year for expat children that we have heard of (and we know military families are disproportionately affected by transfers even within the UK because of the admissions postcode lottery), and it will not be the last – unless protection is given to the uninterrupted education of summer born children who begin their education at compulsory school age 5 – and not before.
Whether that education began in India, Australia, Canada or anywhere else, it makes no sense – and is certainly not in their best interests – to treat these summer born children ‘as if’ they began their education in England, at age 4.
Written by author and journalist Pauline Hull