Could London be the Litmus Test for Admissions Reaction to DfE’s Decision?

IMG_0555We know the Schools Minister Nick Gibb has today told all admission authorities in England, “We are going to make changes to admission rules – but we want councils and academies to take immediate action.

But while one member of the Summer Born Campaign group received welcome news from her council (Phillippa Murphy’s daughter Poppy was facing forced Year 1 entry in Oxfordshire for September 2015), another member received this communication from the London Borough of Lewisham (an area affected by LIAAG communication – see our recent press release):

Lewisham’s policy about the summer born children and their start date at school remains unchanged for September 2016 as objections to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator were not successful.

The Government has indicated their intention to consult on amendments to the current School Admissions Code however, until those changes are determined and a new School Admissions Code is issued, the current Code and non-statutory advice continues to apply.

We are hopeful that more admission authorities will take the lead of Liverpool City Council, and we will keep readers updated with parents’ progress (many remain in the midst of battles with their local admission authorities), but if nothing else, communication such as the above will continue to clearly demonstrate why a mandatory change in the Code is necessary for the postcode lottery to end.

Written by author and journalist Pauline Hull

 

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21 Responses to Could London be the Litmus Test for Admissions Reaction to DfE’s Decision?

  1. happygrecian says:

    How does Lewisham justify it?! Absolutely flies in the face of reason and common sense. Unfortunately there still seem to be far too many jobsworths sitting in council offices. I have my fingers crosses that the cynic in me might be pleasantly surprised by my local LA, though I’m bracing myself for a bit of a battle over the next few months over whether my little girl, birthday 23 August starts in Reception in September 2016 when she’s only just 4, or 2017when she’s just turns 5. Anyone with an ounce of thought for what is best for her would agree with the 2017 start, but sense and doing what is clearly in the best interests of the child obviously STILL don’t seem to come into it, do they?

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  2. Natasha Read says:

    The Cllr responsible for this in LB of Hounslow has responded to my tweet asking if Hounslow will be implementing what is in Nick Gibb’s letter:

    He wants to discuss it at the November School Admissions Forum. I would really hope that Hounslow ought to clarify their position sooner than that seeing as the letter requests that councils act immediately.

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  3. Kirsty Willimer says:

    Peterborough city council are still digging their heels in. They told me the latest my son could defer was April 2016 for reception, and that the new legislation is only applicable to children meant to be starting sep 2016….that if I want my son to wait until CSA, he will have to go into year 1.,,not happy.

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  4. L says:

    Shocking that councils can deliberately ignore Government policy, as well as ignoring what’s best for children. It’s absolutely indefensible. What’s in it for these councils? What do they stand to lose by agreeing these requests from parents? Nothing. It’s appalling.

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  5. Justyna says:

    Kirklees Council after seeing the letter from Nick Gibb said they are not going to change their approach regarding summer born’s, as the letter is just a statement not the policy.
    Why is this still a post code lottery? Some councils have already changed the rules!

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  6. Carol says:

    Bradford council response (email, 09/09 and 10/09) to my query about whether they had plans to implement changes yesterday indicated that they would continue to adhere to their current code and had no plans to alter their policy (which is guided by the massively out of date 2007 Rose report and the IFS 2011 report, which they have clearly cherry picked to suit their stance) and will still rely on panel input from schools, medical professionals etc. It clearly will not be sufficient for a parent to request it. They advise that since their approach is not to admit to directly to year one, and in fact do allow reception entry (a very recent change), this letter wasn’t intended for them, it was intended for other councils who have this practice. They didn’t acknowledge that their process makes it virtually impossible for a parent to achieve this outcome though, as you have to present a compelling case, with evidence, and this is something they are sticking with. In a later email they then went on to say that Nick Gibbs letter is unclear and therefore they need to wait until the official guidance comes out after the consultation. So in Bradford it looks very difficult; the council aren’t budging until forced, and my local school head teacher is very anti deferment too, so no support there. It’s all tied up with the fact the schools are over subscribed, which is another can of worms entirely.

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  7. Sarah hall says:

    Gutted. Just finished a conversation with Kent admissions team leader and she has told me that Kent are not changing their admissions policy until/if the code is formally and legally changed (after the full public enquiry) and that they have interpreted Nick Gibbs letter to be contradictory and therefore they are refusing to change their stance. I therefore have to get the head teachers, from the three schools I am applying to, to agree to ‘out of year admissions’ as they are still calling it. These schools refused my request last year- what are the chances of them having changed their minds?
    Hate the fact that it’s still a postcode lottery and that if I lived somewhere else I could be posting a picture of my daughter still being at nursery for a year with a reception place for next year but instead I am faced with a battle on my hands and the prospect of no place for her this time next year.

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  8. Ellena Outram says:

    Our LEA (Derbyshire) are currently not making any changes in light of the open letter and press release. I have emailed back asking for timescales for their indicated review as I have no idea where this now leaves us for our August 12 daughter.

    “The Authority has only been recently made aware of the announcement from Nick Gibb so at present our policy on summer born children remains the same. However, this is an issue we will be reviewing and should any changes be made to our process following that then we will let you know”

    I am hoping this is just a case of slow turning wheels and the LEA will adhere to the Education Secretary’s wishes sooner rather than later, but if these and others fail to do so what action will the Government take as this issue is affecting real children and their futures now.

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  9. Samantha Bullock says:

    I forwarded by email a copy of Nick Gibbs open letter to Authorities and schools to my local Authority Kirklees to check how they wanted me to proceed with our delay for Reception 2016 at CSA for our daughter. I was hopeful that the actions of Kirklees following Nick Gibbs announcement may have changed and they would be favourable to an automatic delay now. Unfortunately this is not meant to be and they have advised me this morning that at this point it’s a statement of intent and therefore their situation remains the same and I should now submit a written application to delay to Reception 2016 at CSA together with any supporting information before the 21 st Seotember. Very disappointed .

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  10. Chloe Shilling says:

    I phoned Kent County Council to ask about deferring our summer born son who also has a language delay of between 9-12 months. They were extremely unsympathetic and then claimed to know nothing about Nick Gibbs letter at all! They have told me I have to get the head teachers, from the three schools I am applying to, to agree to ‘out of year admissions’ as I would of have to in the old system. What if they say no? or what if they say yes and then I don’t get a place in one of my requested schools. If my son goes to school at just 4 he won’t cope. He still sleeps for over 2 hours in the day and is not potty trained, he is trying so hard with his language but has still got a long way to catch up. He needs an extra year to catch up. If he starts in September he will need a lot of extra support in the classroom (costing Kent County Council even more money) and will still struggle. If he start when he is 5 he is likely to have caught up and be able to make the most of his education with hopefully no extra support in the classroom.
    It is not fair that it is still a postcode lottery and if I lived somewhere else I could be sure our son was having his needs met and a bright future in education in front of him, instead I am worried he will be failed by Kent County Council and will spend his time in education desperately trying to catch up and never reaching his potential.

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  11. Kashmif fatima says:

    Bradford council have refused to change procedure until it is enforced sadly.

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  12. Katherine says:

    I guess there’s pride at stake got these councils. They’ve held out so long against summerborns starting reception at compulsory school age, that they don’t want to back down until they absolutely have to. It’s awful that they think it’s acceptable to mess with children’s lives like this.

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  13. Lotte tregear says:

    Hi there

    We first asked lewisham about their policy over the phone in April. I was told my son would automatically join year 1. This group now tells me that response was not within code.

    In July, August and September have been emailing and chasing for an update on policy – and no response until this week ( post the nick gibb mp speech and letter) and was given the response this article quotes

    Have since emailed them nick’s letter and asked them to check this doesn’t change their position. No response yet

    We are ready to apply to defer but deeply concerned the lack of updates policy will mean we do not get allocated a school place – something of real concern in our borough

    Any advice welcomed

    Lotte

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  14. Lotte tregear says:

    My view is – to do this, I will pay for extra childcare, I will probably have to delay my career reboot for longer, I will probably have my son at home a year longer in later life – but I am happy with these sacrifices for his well being

    All the council appear to have to do is give me a new school admissions code, which hardly feels like a huge piece of work

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  15. Lotte tregear says:

    Does anyone have the details to contact the ombudsman on this topic?

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  16. Lena A says:

    It is such a shame that all these councils can think of is bureaucratic neatness and ‘efficiencies’ instead of best interest of children they, by law, have to consider. No surprise that home education is on the rise. Surrey has told me on no less than four different occasions that if I want to consider sending my daughter at CSA she will have to join Y1 with her “correct” chronological cohort. Only when I challenged the person answering the phone and asked for a more senior officer was i told that they will be issuing new guidelines and I have to call back. That was several months ago November – April. I did not call them yet following the most recent announcement by Nick Gibb about change in the Admission Code. Frankly, i don’t see any point and it is clear to me that the only way to ensure that my daughter will be “safe” in the school system in terms of continuity of education is if the low lever local authority bureaucrats are not allowed to use the loopholes for the sake of their agenda. So, yes, I think the changes to the Code cannot arrive soon enough.

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  17. Sarah Davies says:

    Attributes of a successful education system:
    1) Three, equal length semesters which start and end on the same dates.

    2) Each semester contains 2-3 core weeks when all schools and universities are expected to be open for the purpose of simultaneous assessments.

    3) Outside this core, schools are free to set 4 weeks holiday per semester.

    4) School semesters are 17 weeks long with only 7-8 days fixed universal holiday over the core Christmas / new year week.

    5) Children start school the semester after they are 5, and leave the semester they turn 18.

    6) exams / assessments are taken at the end of every semester (children may do topics / content in different orders). Key age milestone general competency exams can also be done similar to bacc.

    7) this gradually spreads to university, which also has 3 intakes and three releases each year. Students do 10 semesters, the tenth being a dissertation and special project semester to reflect on their learning.

    Benefits:

    1) no summerborns disadvantage
    2) no holiday peak prices
    3) a steady trickle of school leavers and graduates into the jobs market, benefiting the economy
    4) no annual cramming and stress culture
    5) higher attainment

    There, now just need to get the teaching profession to agree.

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