Summer Born Semantics are Not Out of the Woods Yet – Code’s Wording ‘Must’ Be Clear

IMG_1750I don’t mean to be the party pooper, but I’ve noticed something concerning (albeit perfectly fixable) in the DfE’s announcement today.  Technically, we’ve been promised something we already have within the existing 2014 School Admissions Code:

The Schools Minister’s open letter says, “We have, therefore, decided that it is necessary to amend the School Admissions Code further to ensure that summer born children can be admitted to the reception class at the age of five if it is in line with their parents’ wishes, and to ensure that those children are able to remain with that cohort as they progress through school, including through to secondary school.

Section 12 of the Code clearly states: “The Code has the force of law, and where the words ‘must’ or ‘must not’ are used, these represent a mandatory requirement.” 

The word “can” is not mandatory, and any loop hole in the legislation will lead to the continued postcode lottery for parents applying to the admissions authorities that disagree with the government’s position.

That said, the Summer Born Campaign believes the Minister’s concerns are genuine, and this is exactly the type of scrutiny that will be needed when the draft Code is published.

We simply do not trust the admissions authorities that continue to make decisions in the interests of ‘bureaucratic neatness’ instead of the (obvious) best interests of the child.

As the sayings go, “the devil’s in the detail” and “it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings“.

Written by author and journalist Pauline Hull


10 Responses to Summer Born Semantics are Not Out of the Woods Yet – Code’s Wording ‘Must’ Be Clear

  1. Carol says:

    Yes you are absolutely right and this needs to be brought to attention. No scope for misinterpretation or dragging heels should be given. Trying not to be cynical but hard not to be when it’s all been sooooo difficult thus far


  2. Naomi says:

    A very good point. It’s easy to get excited by all this but until the wording has been superglued at the edges so the is no way for LAs to get around it, then we can all smile and know our children can have the best start.


  3. Graham says:

    What about older children with Summer birthdays, can they drop back down a year?


  4. I will be checking the wording of the draft legislation very carefully. From speaking to officials at my local authority I have every reason to believe that unless this is water tight they will do all they can to avoid agreeing to requests for reception starts at csa!


  5. Lena A says:

    Unfortunately, I have no reason to believe that our local authority (Surrey) will grant their approval to go into reception at CSA as they have denied so many people before me. Any loophole left in the wording will be exploited for the sake of bureaucratic neatness even if against child’s best interests. They are actively discouraging to apply in their “out of year admissions” policy and when I phoned the admissions they misled to think that my child would be admitted straight to Y1 at CSA. Have no faith at all in their judgement. The wording *must* be watertight.


  6. Carol says:

    Can I suggest that anyone who has contacted their local authority and are not happy with the response, contacts their MP and asks for their support? My MP has agreed to do this for me.


  7. Helen C says:

    Great article and it makes a really good point. Unfortunately many admissions authorities have managed to wriggle out of approving requests for reception start at CSA despite the current code stating “Admission authorities must make decisions…in the best interests of the child concerned.” When is it ever in a child’s best interests to miss a whole year of school?! It is therefore so important that the wording cannot be misinterpreted. Many admissions authorities are already demonstrating that they are ignoring Nick Gibb’s request (“We are going to make changes to admission rules – but we want councils and academies to take immediate action.”) so it follows that they will ignore/misinterpret the amendment unless the wording is water tight.


  8. Pingback: ‘Immediate Action’ Irony Given DfE Delay | summerbornchildren

  9. Pingback: Importance of Legal Semantics Highlighted Again in Minister’s Letter | summerbornchildren

  10. Pingback: Why does the Education Secretary’s Definition of ‘Summer Born’ Differ..? | summerbornchildren

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