Minister Says School Admissions Code WILL Be Amended – and Summer Born Scandal Stopped

Olivia Dutton on 15-Sep-07

Olivia Dutton sends key message to MPs in Parliament late last night

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)

Background

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

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

22 Responses to Minister Says School Admissions Code WILL Be Amended – and Summer Born Scandal Stopped

  1. Louise thomas says:

    When is Wales going to be included in the summerborn rules? My twin sons who were 10 weeks premature and born on 8 August have had no choice but to start reception this year but they are so not ready for full time school.

    Like

    • beckirose says:

      Reception is an optional year. They are not required to start until year 1 by which point they may be ready….

      Like

      • happygrecian says:

        I’m a primary headteacher and I would strongly argue that you do NOT want your child to be missing the Reception year, “optional” or not. Much better for very young children to be able to spend their first year in school in Reception when they are ready, rather than miss it and have to start in Y1 doubly disadvantaged compared to their classmates.

        Like

  2. Fantastic news! Thank you everyone involved with this. I live in Stephen Hammonds constituency and the schools admissions have been terrible with helping summer born children. Hopefully this will trigger some changes and they will realise it’s time to listen to the parents

    Like

  3. Wonderful news! Brilliant victory for this campaign and a much better start for so many summer born children. Can’t thank you enough for all your hard work!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It was a late night, but certainly worth waiting for! I am now looking forward to the consultation so that I can make sure my views are heard (which are without question the same views as the campaign!)

    Fair and equal access to reception for all #summerborn children starting at compulsory school age, and stay with that cohort throughout their school life!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. RDutton says:

    This is much welcome and positive news for so many parents of #summerborn today.

    In the meantime I do hope admission authorities take note of this information and act in THE best interests of the child concerned. Too many children currently still being forced into year one this year and many still battling away for next year.

    A proactive approach from admission authorities needed. We need to work together for the future and wellbeing of our children.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Claire Watkins says:

    I cannot thank you enough. What started for me as the right for my twins to enter the school year they should have been born into, became a crusade against my local County Council to allow fair and equal access for all children to the vital reception year. I am also looking forwards to the Public Consultation so that my voice can be heard. Our children deserve to have their Government working FOR them, not against them. Thank you again!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Zeni Koutsi says:

    Brilliant, fantastic, excellent news! Thank you so much for your hard work, constant support and deep care and understanding about our childrens’ rights! Our family will be eternally grateful! Now off to continue our battle with the local authority! Hopefully after so many negative months, now we will have more voice and appreciation

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Such good news ( though too late for my second son). My two boys were born in Australia and my first (summer born) was given the option to go the year he was ‘supposed to’ or defer. I can remember his kindergarten teacher at the time saying, ‘Let him play for another year – it could be the difference of surviving or thriving at school’. We kept him back that year. It was the best decision we made. He started prep (reception) just after his sixth birthday and was so ready, confident and eager to learn. We returned to the UK a year later and he went straight into year 2 and did his Key Stage one SATS 5 months later. He achieved the expected national levels and he had only been in schools for 17 months! I feel by keeping him back he really did thrive and was confident and not scared at taking risks with his learning. On the other hand my August born younger son has had to go through the English system and so started reception just two weeks after turning 4! (two whole years difference from my first son). He is doing okay, but does lack confidence especially with his writing. He has now just turned 8 and others in his class were turning 9 last week! Given half the chance I would have deferred him!

    Like

  9. Sandra Greenbank says:

    Just brilliant news. Amazingly well done. None of this would have happened without this campaign. A lot of people will have you to thank for this, and never underestimate the positive effect this will have on summerborn children and their families.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Karen says:

    I have 2 summer born boys, and whilst this bill is too late for my eldest (born in August and now in Year 3) it could help my youngest. He’s a May born boy and due to start school in Sept 2016, however he also has delayed expressive speech and both my husband and I feel he would really benefit from another year in pre school. If anyone does have any advice on delaying the school start for a year (and having their child go into reception and not jump a year) I would be hugely grateful.

    Like

  11. 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.

    Like

    • Sam says:

      Hi did you have any luck?
      My son was born on 28th August and I’m from Kent. The primary school said its fine but I’m not confident. I would hate him to start year one next year and not reception.

      Like

  12. AliHaji says:

    I feel so grateful to you for this campaign. My daughter turned three in June and is bright and sparky – knows her letters and numbers – but despite being out of nappies since January she has big problems with bladder control and woe betide she doesn’t haven’t a big daytime nap. She doesn’t have the motor skills to dress herself yet either. Just some of the reasons why we know she’s not ready for school. But will the law change in time for us? Do I apply for her school place now at the risk of the law not changing in time for us? Do I apply and then have to turn down a place next May if the law changes? Then will I have to apply all over again. There’s so little clarification. I’m in knots worrying about it. I’ve written to Nick Gibbs’ office asking for clarification but are my husband and I alone among the parents of 2012 Summer babies in worrying if the law will change clearly and concisely for us?

    Like

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