One month ago, on July 6, Michelle Melson wrote to the Chair of the Education Committee, while I wrote to the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, and the DfE, to ask a number of questions related to the long delay in announcing the promised School Admissions Code consultation, and the Summer Born Campaign‘s concerns about DfE communication to parents in recent months that has not been as helpful or supportive as we would have expected, given its September 2015 public letter.
We understand that a change in the Code can take time, but further public announcements and/or greater pressure on admission authorities to stop the continuing postcode lottery could undoubtedly have helped more parents over the past year.
On July 7, the DfE contacted Michelle Melson to arrange a meeting to discuss the DfE’s progress on this issue, and we are currently awaiting confirmation of a date (the DfE referred to post-Brexit changes that are impacting all departments).
Today, Stephen Hammond, Conservative MP for Wimbledon, said he has written to the new Education Secretary, Justine Greening, to request a meeting to discuss the summer born issue too.
He says on his facebook page:
“I have written to our new Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening to ask for a meeting regarding school starting age for summerborn and premature children.
I held an adjournment debate in September on this subject, and the Government agreed to change the Schools Admissions code to give parents a right to delay their child’s start to school. Nick Gibb MP also wrote to all Local Authorities to ask them to give parents this right while the code is being amended.
Following this there is now a postcode lottery for these children. I have had emails from parents from all over the country where the Local Authority will not give them a right to defer until the code is amended, when nearby Councils do give parents that right. There are also many parents of summerborn or premature children who are under four years old who want to rely on this change to the Code but do not know when it will happen.”
As the 2016 September term fast approaches, there are numerous parents in our campaign group who are desperate for help.
Many of them relied on the DfE’s 2015 commitment to sort this problem out, and are fearful that it will be too late for their summer born child.
As such, we are very grateful for the help of all MPs who have shown their support for this campaign, and we encourage parents to continue to contact them locally too.
- Written by author and journalist Pauline Hull