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
Is still a postcode lottery here in the south east. Some councils are willing to take children at csa in reception, others (like Kent) are still demanding evidence and saying it should only be in exceptional circumstances. Is totally unfair that because of where we live we are not allowed the same rights as other parents. The postcode lottery needs to end.
Spot on. Many admission authorities, head teachers, health professionals, administrative staff and the like are still telling parents there is no option to ‘delay’, their summer born child has to be in school at age four. Misinformation is rife, not only amongst professionals but in the media articles too. Many making out that children don’t already have the option to start school at compulsory school age, like this is something new! Well, it’s already happening, just not for ALL children.
The postcode lottery needs to end to ensure fairness for all.
I agree that the postcode lottery needs to end. However I would not want my summer born to miss his reception year as I believe it is vital in enabling him to access the ever-shifting academic standards expected of young children in this country. However i do agree, with sadness, that the choice to keep your summer born from starting school until CSA will be more accessible to middle class families. This is not only due to financial or being able to afford childcare for an extra year, but also because they may have more access to more informed opinion, simply by having friends who work in education etc.
The media and Nick Gibb were wrong to splash this headline all over the media whilst still debating the matter. My friend is in pieces because her son is also August born, however, Birmingham and Solihull councils have told her that they don’t have the right information to advise her and have told her to apply by Jan 15 or risk not getting a place for him. The media portrayed it as a done deal: if your child is summer born you can simply hold them back until the following year whereby they go in and remain with that cohort throughout their school years. Unfortunately, my friend was told she has to apply for a place, accept the place and then write to defer. If deferral is accepted by that admissions authority/academy, (and because it is not yet law, they are likely to say no!) she then has to reapply for Reception again the following year!! A possible nightmare for someone who works full time and finishes work when council offices etc have closed for the day!However, she feels completely guilty and feels that if she doesn’t try she is failing her son and not doing her best for him. Deferring a year and then joining a reception class is not going to be easy S you will have a fight on your hands depending who you are and where you live!
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