Stephen Hammond, Conservative MP for Wimbledon, Raynes Park, Morden & Motspur Park, has asked parents of summer born children to email him with their experiences of trying to arrange Reception class entry at CSAge (i.e. the Postcode Lottery), ahead of another proposed debate in Parliament.
MP Asks For Summer Born Stories
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Dear Stephen Hammond,
The relative disadvantage of children born in the summer quartile is only the extremity of the problem. Research indicates that children born in every month younger than the September born suffer increasing disadvantage in our system of education. One beginning of an answer is to attach age weighting to national tests of attainment and it is vitally important that the baseline assessment of the educational potential of four year olds allows for the age difference of up to an entire year. Without age weighting misdiagnosis will occur. Internally, schools should hesitate to stream or otherwise segregate children according to unweighted test results — the lower streams and sets have been shown to contain a disproportionate number of younger children in the academic year.
Yours sincerely, John Coe National Association for Primary Education
Dear John Coe,
Age weighting national tests of attainment focuses on academic attainment alone (though I appreciate you describe this as one beginning of an answer), and it ignores the issues surrounding the social and emotional wellbeing of our children. It also presupposes that academic attainment is the key issue for parents of summer born children when it isn’t. I would suggest that age weighting is more of an issue for schools and league tables.
With regard to the baseline assessment of four year-olds, summer born children beginning their formal education at compulsory school age (i.e. the term following their 5th birthday) are not in school to take these tests at age 4, so any allowance would be unnecessary.
The Summer Born Campaign recognises that there are other issues within primary and secondary school education, but our focus is on the specific area of primary legislation that is ‘compulsory school age’. Parents should not be forced to enrol their children any earlier than this if they believe it is not in their child’s best interests, and their children should not be penalised with the loss of one year of education simply for starting school at CSAge.
Finally, entrance to Reception class at CSAge is already happening in schools and councils throughout England, and has been happening in many private schools for years, so our focus now is ensuring an end to the postcode lottery that exists.
We want a clear, fair and objective admissions system for all summer born children.
Very good point,
I don’t care so much about early academic attainment or about my child being the youngest in the class. She gets on very well with older children and there are no developmental concerns.
(As a side note, my worry about academic attainment is mostly due to ability grouping that is practiced in the schools around here and how that determines the path for the rest of the child’s learning throughout the school; Tammy Campbell has done some interesting research from summer born children perspective…)
What I am worried is the pressures of early academic instruction, relentless testing that and ever so diminishing opportunities for unstructured play. I worry about my child having access to activities that help her developing executive function – ability to assess risks, prioritise, focus, self-regulate, develop “grit”. Research shows that thigher executive function is both associated with higher academic attainment at any given point in time and predicted future high performance, more so than even IQ.
Oops, posted too soon…
Anyway, I want my child to have another year of free play. I want to send her to school when the law says I must at compulsory school age and I do not want my local council have the power to force her to miss the entire year of learning opportunities in reception or any OTHER year of school just because she is a summer born and was send to school at CSA.
There is absolutely no basis why children should be missing out against parental wishes and the law should reflect that. Change the Code now!
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My daughter is currently due to start school this September, I am holding her start date back to the following September to when she will be five instead of four, I am currently having a lot a trouble and what I would class as close to bullying tactics from my local council threatening that I will not get a place in my requested school if I do not send her this September, (I am unsure if they will/can make there decision out of spite?) They have also said she will have to miss reception and start in year one. It seems very odd that dispite recommendation from an MP the council still rule the roost making decisions that they want rather than what may be best for the child.
Let’s hope the government can speed this lengthy debate up so we can bring our education system more in line with our role model Scandinavian countries.
I applied for deferred entry for my son and it was approved by the LA. He has a late July birthday but was eight weeks premature so should have born in September. I am not concerned about his progress academically and am confident that he would cope on this level should he start school this September. However, he is very immature and, as a Headteacher, I know that some summer born boys struggle primarily because they are not emotionally mature enough to start school. On the surface this decision by my LA would appear to be a good result. However, it is possible that my son will attend a local independent school for his secondary schooling which has created a new dilemma. They are not happy for children to be educated outside of their CAG because of the impact that this will have upon competitive sport as individual sporting regulators do not allow children to play outside their CAG. They use the 31st August as the date for determining which age group the children are allowed to play in, eg, U11s must be under 11 on the 31st August but can then turn 12 at any point during the season and still be deemed an U11. My little lad is going to be sporty and competitive (I can see it in him already) and I don’t want to make this area of school life difficult for him. However, I really don’t want him to start school this September and nor do I want him to miss out on his Reception year. This has brought home to me how this is a much wider issue. If the Government change the Code of Practice (as they say they will), how are the regulating bodies for other school activities going to react? Unless all bend to meet the needs of the revised code it becomes little more than another either or situation.
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