Returning Expats Told Summer Born Children Must Skip Whole Year of School

Thamira childrenThamira Andrews’ summer born children began their education at the age  of 5 in India.

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

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11 Responses to Returning Expats Told Summer Born Children Must Skip Whole Year of School

  1. Lena A says:

    What a horrendous experience 😦 Why won’t these bureaucrats consider the impact their awful inconsiderate decisions have on the children and their families? But no, they would rather get the nice neat chronological year groups, it just looks so much better.

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  2. H says:

    I am consistently exasperated when reading about the terrible treatment of young children and total disregard for the value of our education system. How can it ever be in a childs best interests to miss an entire year of their education. How can anyone or any policy deliberately deny a child a year of their education and throw them into an overwhelming and im certain frightening situation setting them up to fail and damaging their confidence and self esteem all
    alongside any fair chance at academic achievement. I totally agree with “lack of training to think outside the box” comment… I am stunned that individuals can be doing this to children in the name of a flawed policy. Personal responsibility is also missing here. However it is long over due that the DfE protect our youngest and most vulnerable children from this discriminatory and damaging practice. Which year if our UK education I wonder do these policies deem to be so worthless and throw away!??? Yet they fine parents for taking kids on holiday …. They are becoming a laughing stock and this is an abuse of power. I am disgusted.

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  3. Helen C says:

    I really cannot understand why any admissions authority would force a child to skip a year, sometimes two years, just for the sake of bureaucratic neatness. It is completely unnecessary and cruel and certainly never in the best interests of the child. How is that child expected to ever catch up with his peers and have the same life chances as them? Any change to the admissions code should take into account children transferring from other countries and also those who have been home educated and whose parents wish their child to be admitted to the year below that which they would be ‘expected’ to join if they had started a year early at 4 rather than on time at compulsory school age.

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  4. ellena outram says:

    This situation saddens me deeply. How can the SB guidance only apply to those entering Reception? The law desperately needs to be changed to apply to all children entering the English system ensuring a full and continous education. These children have enough upheaval without losing a huge chunk of their education as well. We are a multicultural, multi national country which means children often move country to country. On holiday we were speaking to an English family, living in Germany their youngest July born child remained in Kindergarten until 7 they cannot come home otherwise the same child would go straight into year 3! Bypassing KS1 entirely. I really hope the children mentioned in this story and others in a similar situation get their education protected soon.

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  5. RDutton says:

    This is truly awful.

    Doesn’t apply to summer born children arriving from overseas? Where is the logic? How are so many admission authorities being allowed to get away with this? This is discrimination and blatant disregard for children’s best interests. It is inexcusable. There is never any excuse to force a child to miss a year of education.

    The ridiculous thing is, if they lived in a more flexible county this might not be happening.

    The Schools Admission Code needs to be amended asap to ensure that this does not happen anymore.

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  6. Pingback: Press Release Exposes the London Children told they Must Miss ‘any’ Year of Primary School Education | summerbornchildren

  7. Pingback: Press Release Exposes the London Children told they Must Miss ‘any’ Year of Primary School Education | summerbornchildren

  8. jepetal says:

    What has happened to acting in the best interest of the child? Even the schools, who should be acting in their best interest, are acting in a bureaucratic manner. How is skipping a year acceptable to anyone.

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  9. Louise says:

    I currently live in Dubai & send my son to a UK ciriculum school, they are a lot more flexible on what year group suits the individual child & as such my just turned 4 yr old has been entered into pre-school, rather than reception with his “cohort”, and will be starting reception aged 5 & 2 weeks next year.
    If the UK doesn’t follow this open minded attitude & amend its laws to let the parent make the ultimate decision on what fits their child, us & many other expats will be forced to stay outside the UK for our children’s school life – something we really don’t want to have to do.

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  10. Rachel Birch says:

    So how can anyone prove the best interests of these children are served by them missing a year of education? The answer is, they can’t. It seems like bureaucratic neatness gone mad. Have the people making these decisions actually sat down together and asked the question, what is best for the children? Obviously not as we all know what the answer would be.

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  11. J Rid says:

    I know of a family who moved to Birmingham from overseas in 2008. They had three daughters. The oldest was forced to start her school in year 13 despite the fact that she had not followed the A-level curriculum in her previous country. Their second daughter was forced to start school in year 11 despite the fact that she had not followed the gcse curriculum in her previous country. Really crazy decisions.

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