Since the publication of the DfE’s press release and the Schools Minister Nick Gibbs’ open letter last month, regarding proposed changes to summer born children school admissions, there has been a predictable plethora of media articles and online opinion pieces.
I suspect that most of these pieces (by supporters and critics alike) are using the ‘summer born’ issue to highlight their own wider views on the education system as whole.
But what has been missed by many is that the issue here is about choice, and putting a stop to the unfair postcode lottery that exists throughout the country.
Parents already have the right to choose whether to send their child to school ‘early’ at age 4 or ‘on-time’ at compulsory school age (not ‘late’ as many seem to think); this right is enshrined in existing legislation, but is one that many admission authorities and schools are choosing to ignore, and they dictate that those summer born children starting school ‘on-time’ should be placed directly into Year 1.
Worse still, in many cases, admission authorities are applying vindictive and vexatious standards to get their own way, and make decisions to fit in with administrative protocols that have little or no regard for the best interests of the child.
The question that everyone should be asking of course is not whether a child should be ‘allowed’ to start school ‘late’ (since this is already a right) but whether children should be forced to miss a year of school by our state-funded school system (and remember it can be any year of their education that they are forced to miss, not just Reception class), solely for starting at compulsory school age?
Of course not, and what’s more, there is NO EVIDENCE whatsoever that making a child skip a year of school purely for administrative neatness is ever in their best interests.
There have been suggestions by some, that we should be age-adjusting test scores instead of ‘allowing‘ CSAge entry to Reception class or that these proposals will only be an option for ‘middle class’ parents, which the Summer Born Campaign disagrees with, but we will come back to answering these (and other) arguments in more detail at a future date.
Written by Michelle Melson and edited by Pauline Hull