What happens to a child who is forced to start school early, at age 4, against his parents’ wishes, and against the 2015 request of a DfE Schools Minister?
One year later, at age 5, and having only just reached CSAge, his parents are told he’s ‘academically one year behind‘ and ‘needs to catch up‘.
It’s not a new story, and certainly not a unique one; it’s just another example of how too many admissions heads and public officials would prefer to throw SEN money at ‘fixing‘ a problem they’ve created, rather than admit that were wrong for fighting parents in the first place, and causing a child to suffer.
Bailey’s mum Cat says to other parents, “This is to tell all of you not to give up, however hard the council admissions in your area make the battle for you. Don’t give up!
“When my summer born son was three, I knew he wouldn’t be ready to enter Reception when he was four, and I entered into a five-month battle with the council over it.
I had the most impressive, large file of paper work, I’d done more research than I ever thought possible, I had an answer for everything, and I was on the ball with every single meeting I had with them.
But after five months, the council set up a meeting with the school, and they all ganged up on me, telling me it was a firm no to delaying. Reluctantly, I accepted flexi-schooling instead.
Reception worked out lovely; he went in the mornings only and adjusted well, and we spent the afternoons doing nice things together; I decided it wasn’t so bad after all.
Then last night we had Year 1 Parents’ Evening, and SURPRISE SURPRISE we were told our son is academically one year behind – especially in his writing and drawing.
Well of course, I wasn’t surprised because he cannot do the homework he’s sent home with, but my God I felt cross.
Looking back, I am so cross I gave in when we had that big meeting at the school with everyone; I was intimidated, and now my son is paying the price.
What I should have said to them all back then is, “Ok, well we will reapply for Reception again next year, and face this situation then, because I know my son and he is not ready“.
Because now, here we are, I was right, and he is having to play catch up.
I feel like screaming at admissions and saying, “I TOLD YOU SO! LOOK WHAT YOU HAVE DONE.”
I am going to complain, but what I really want to do is tell other parents who are currently facing the admissions battle- DONT GIVE UP, don’t be bullied. Fight on for your children!
And good luck.”
* * * *
Unfortunately for some parents, no matter how hard they fight, the worsening postcode lottery, and extremely stubborn admissions authorities, means their child might be one of the ‘unlucky’ ones.
And until the School Admissions Code is changed, only the luckiest children, like these, will be given the chance to thrive (not just survive) at school.
Their parents requested entry into Reception class at CSAge, and their schools and/or councils agreed without any altercation.
This is as it should be – and could be.
There is enough in a child’s life that can be affected by ‘luck’ (good or bad), but a summer born child’s ability to enter and progress through the state education system with the same opportunities as his age group peers shouldn’t be one of them.
- Written and edited by author and journalist Pauline Hull