During a Parliamentary debate in the early hours of this morning, Schools Minister Nick Gibb publicly confirmed his intention to amend the School Admissions Code, hopefully putting an end to the education inequality and postcode lottery that currently exists for many summer born children.
He said, “we have therefore now decided that it is necessary to amend the admissions code further to ensure that summer born children can be admitted to Reception at the age of five if this is what their parents wish, and to ensure that those children can remain with that cohort as they progress through school.
We have already begun the work necessary to implement the change; we will conduct a full public consultation in due course and subject to Parliamentary approval we will introduce these further changes to ensure that no child is forced to start school before they are ready.” (Read full transcript of the debate here)
Conservative MP Stephen Hammond had tabled an adjournment debate for the evening of September 7, 2015 to propose his suggested changes in the face of summer born children being forced to miss any year of school.
His upcoming debate was reported in the Independent yesterday by Matt Dathon, and the Daily Mail‘s Gerri Peev also reported on our latest press release; there was also radio and television coverage involving various members of the Summer Born Campaign group.
Today’s news is certainly positive, but the problems parents of summer born children are facing right now will not easily be resolved while we await the completion of a Code consultation and final publication.
There are still some very stubborn admissions authorities operating their admissions process within strict 12 month chronological age group policies, adamant that summer born children must miss a year of school at any age if their parents insist on enrolling them at CSAge – or if they started school at age 5 in another country.
Liverpool City Council has set an excellent example, and the Summer Born Campaign will continue in its efforts to encourage others to do the same – before the law makes them.
The Summer Born Campaign has been working very hard for the past few years to convince the DfE, the public, local authorities and the media that the pressure on summer born children to start school at age 4, the admissions postcode lottery and application disadvantage can only stop if the Code is changed.
The support we’ve received from MPs has been excellent, especially with raising the issue in Parliament as Stephen Hammond MP has done.
Very special mention must go to Annette Brooke, former Liberal Democrat MP, who last month was awarded Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire; Annette gave us her full backing and Parliamentary support before retiring earlier this year, and tried in vain to stop the inadequate December 2014 Code becoming law.
And thank you to Stephen Twigg, Labour MP, for giving us his formal support, and for his constituency office’s help in securing the recent unprecedented admissions authority response from Liverpool City Council.
Thanks also to Neil Carmichael, Conservative MP for Stroud (and current Chair of the Education Committee) for his encouraging words, Caroline Nokes, Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North (and member of the Education Select Committee) for her support, and Graham Stuart, Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness (and former Chair of Education Committee) for meeting with the Summer Born Campaign last year, seriously considering the issue, and initiating the important March 4, 2015 Evidence Check.
“It takes two to speak the truth – one to speak and another to hear.”
Henry David Thoreau
Thanks to all the MPs who have been contacted by members of the Summer Born Campaign, and who really heard what we were saying. Not all of you did.
Written by author and journalist Pauline Hull