On the very same day I read this in the Guardian – Cuts, cuts, cuts. Headteachers tell of school system ‘that could implode’ – a parent in our Summer Born Campaign group described how no fewer than three head teachers had attended a meeting with her to decide the school entry fate of her summer born child.
In total, the local authority had convened a panel of seven specialists, including the three heads, an educational psychologist, and early years specialists, to spend two hours trying to convince the parent (a teacher herself, with the child’s nursery’s full support) that she does not need to ‘delay’ her child’s entry to school.
Two hours spent (wasted) answering the wrong question.
Another parent in our group described how head teachers in her area are being asked by the local authority to complete an educational assessment for each summer born admissions request to determine whether or not it is appropriate for the individual child to delay or accelerate their entry into school – again, the wrong question.
When is the DfE going to act and stop all this waste of time and money?
Legal action is very likely the next step for parents, and this will only cost more money.
The only question schools and councils are entitled to answer is which year group is in the child’s best interests to join at CSAge – Reception class or Year 1?
The only known research on this decision demonstrates adverse outcomes for Year 1 entry, and the DfE has not outlined any situation in which it would be in a child’s best interests to enter school in Year 1, and yet this situation continues whereby schools and councils spend £££s on fighting with parents.
These are some of the comments from head teachers in The Guardian article, and you can easily spot the areas that could be eased if summer born children were automatically allowed to enter Reception class at CSAge, if this is their parent’s wish:
“Everything has been cut. We used to spend lots of money on speech therapy, especially in primary, but the number of hours has been cut… With everything, you’re just trying to find ways of penny pinching.
“You end up with a teacher with 34 children in a class, with many with special needs and medical problems, and you don’t get medical support [which used to pay for a member of staff to be specially trained] any more.”
Meanwhile, the National Association of Head Teachers (@NAHTnews) has followed through on none of its communication with the Summer Born Campaign (including a meeting in person with Michelle Melson and Rosie Dutton, and numerous emails)
In January 2015, the NAHT published this press release on the 2014 School Admissions Code (including a mention of summer born children), but we remain concerned, especially given the stories parents regularly tell us about their communication with some head teachers, that the situation we highlighted in March 2015 remains a serious problem:
Why aren’t more head teachers up in arms about the threat (and actual) loss of whole years of education for summer children?
Why the acquiescence?
- Written by author and journalist Pauline Hull