BBC report – Summer baby school delays: Parents face postcode lottery

SB picParents who want to delay their child’s first year of school have varying success rates depending on where they live, a BBC investigation has found.

The Summer Born Campaign’s Rosie Dutton is quoted in the BBC’s article:

It has been over three years since that letter was released by Nick Gibb, and in those three years many children have been forced to miss reception or start school before their parents wanted them to.

We really need this legislation published quickly.

The BBC reports that a DfE spokesperson “suggested the majority of requests for delayed admissions were being agreed in line with parents’ wishes.

TUNE IN
Rosie is also talking on these radio stations, and others, today (scheduled times):

BBC Shropshire (7.08am)
BBC Hereford and Worcestershire (7.20am)
BBC West Midlands (7.30am)
BBC Berkshire (7.40am)
BBC Coventry and Warwickshire (8.08am)
BBC Cornwall (8.20am)

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78 Responses to BBC report – Summer baby school delays: Parents face postcode lottery

  1. Lia Aldridge says:

    The postcode lottery needs to end. Why should it be ridiculously difficult in one area for our children to start reception class at CSA in one area where in other areas there is no problem. Those of us who want our child to start at CSA simply want our children to flourish and not have to ‘cope’ with being placed in education at such a young age; which can lead to well- documented negative consequences.

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  2. T Coles says:

    It shouldn’t be down to post code what age your child gets to start school. Admissions authorities need clearer guidelines on how to manage this and parents need guarantees that children will not be forced to skip a year later in school life or if they move areas. Better still all children should only start school the term after they are 5 (reception) and should only move up to year 1 when they are ready.

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  3. We are fortunate, we live in Nottinghamshire and our son was cleared for a CSA start in reception after one email. It’s ridiculous, and grossly unfair, that people living just a couple of miles away, under Nottingham City council, have to fight tooth and nail for the exact same thing.

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  4. Nat says:

    The postcode lottery needs to end. I had to fight for 18 months for my son to start at csa. The fight with the local authority wasn’t fair and extremely stressful. We won our battle and my son is thriving not surviving.

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  5. jacqueline mann says:

    My son is happily settled out of his chronological year group. If we moved to another local authority there is no guarantee that he would not be forced into the year above, completely against his best interests. This post code lottery needs to end, with legislation that favours the best interests of the child.

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  6. L Cooksey says:

    The law states children do not have to attend school until the term after their fifth birthday, but why is it that parents of summer born children who decide to send their child at CSA have to fight for their child to be placed in Reception? Being forced to miss Reception and going straight into year 1 is surely damaging for any child. All children deserve to have access to a full education and shouldn’t be expected to skip a year during their academic career. It’s about time the government addressed these issues and put in place a blanket policy for all LEA’s to follow so parents are not faced with a post code lottery and uncertainty of what’s to come.

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  7. Esme says:

    The evidence is there, starting school so soon after a child’s 4th Birthday isn’t in anyone’s best interests. Please hurry up and change the beyond outdated system.

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  8. Michelle says:

    We applied for a reception start at age 5 (rather than 4) with Surrey County Council (SCC) . If it weren’t for the fact that I’m incredibly stubborn and persistent we wouldn’t have been allowed our request. The sheer amount of emails and nonsense paperwork required by SCC to approve our request was mind boggling.

    It is blatantly apparent that legislation needs to be published to guide councils and schools as to how they should efficiently deal with Summerborn requests.

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  9. Michelle Carnegie says:

    At the time of applying for school my August boy had undiagnosed SEN. He has since been diagnosed with autism. I knew something wasn’t right but I had no “professional” evidence to prove it. I was fortunate that the school near me was a community school in Hertfordshire and there was automatic right to start reception at CSA in community schools in this county (although not in the academies or VAs – including in particular some CofE schools). We started him in reception at 5 years and 2 weeks. He is now in year 1 and he has thrived, his confidence has grown and he is almost keeping up with the rest of the class. School is a very different experience for him than if he had joined at just 4 years and 2 weeks. It is appalling that this would not have been possible had we lived in a different county. There should be clear legislation on this point that all community schools, VAs and academies should be required to follow.

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  10. Kim says:

    Best thing we ever did for your two kids! A battle to get Surrey County Council to agree and the schools to see the value in a compulsory school age start but we got there. It doesn’t have to be this hard though and shouldn’t be such a struggle when a county immediately adjacent agrees all CSA starts. It’s been long enough in the debate now.. there just needs to be a resolution and policy that can be uniformly followed..

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  11. Jasmine Lomanto says:

    Here is Surrey the postcode lottery is continuing. There also seems to be a mis-guided feeling that the reason people don’t want to send their summer born children at just turned 4 is because parents want their 30 free hours for another year! This view is completely ignorant to the real feelings of parents who want their children to flourish at school and no merely ‘cope’. We were nearly bullied into sending out summer born son this year but we decided to do what was best for him and his emotional well-being but now we are faced with an uncertainty at which schools will accept him into Reception at the compulsory school age of 5. It is ridiculous and very stressful!

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  12. Carla Cole says:

    I have two summer born children ( one was really premature and I couldn’t get him delayed but that was 12 years ago ) I am also an early years teacher of 28 years . Please listen to the parents – there should be a choice ! Delay the summer borns if need be! Some struggle in class too – I know – I’ve taught them !

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  13. Niamh Wherity says:

    My son began at compulsory school age this term and is flourishing. I feel frustrated however for other parents who tell me that they were not aware it was even an option. The summer born campaign supports the premise that parents know their own children and are best places to determine school start date. Respecting this and putting some flexibility in the system can only benefit us all.

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  14. Julia Burgoyne says:

    In my area, unless you have a supportive head teacher, the local authority will refuse to grant you permission to have your child educated out of their chronological age group. I was fortunate that the head of my local school was sympathetic, and my daughter is benefiting from being educated out of her ‘chronological age group’, but I know others living 5 miles away from me who didn’t and had to make the decision to either send their child to reception age 4 and a few days or to keep their child at nursery and miss the whole of reception and and send their child straight into year 1. How is this fair? Why should the process be so subjective? My daughter is now in year 2 and I recently looked at changing schools but the local authority said I would have to go through the whole process again to prove it is right for her to be educated out of chronological age group.

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  15. Lynda russell says:

    It’s ridiculous that this is even an issue. As parents, the people that know OUR children the best, we can not make the decision as to what is in their best interests!

    We have not sent our summerborn daughter this year and she WILL go next year at CSA however we are now fighting Surrey CC and an academy to agree to reception start. We have three schools agree to reception- why do those hears think it is in our daughter’s best interests to start reception but others don’t?

    Why is there such inconsistency? Why are they playing with the future of our children? Why is this not legislated properly?

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  16. Louise says:

    My son started Reception when he was 5 yrs and 2 weeks. He is now in Year 1 and a happy boy at school. We are fortunate to live in an area where this is allowed. However, I’m conscious that moving house could cause us issues and that staying in his Year for Secondary school is not guaranteed. Postcode lottery is unfair and needs to end.

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  17. Mrs Chohan says:

    We have had to write to individual head teachers in the area and I have three in agreement and one (closest school) not in agreement. Totally unfair that my son cant go to his closest school because of the personal opinion of one headteacher- who doesnt even want to look at the ‘evidence’ I have had to provide in order to make her decision. Just a blanket no policy. My son is 20 August born with speech delay and global developmental delay and possible ASD. How can the views vary so widely when its absolutely in his best interest to start Reception a year later. Not only for academic reasons, but for social, emotional, and phsycological reasons. We are in Surrey and the entire process has caused us as parents so much stress already having to fight for our son, and we havent even got a decision yet.

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  18. D says:

    I’m really pleased that this topic is getting more and more awareness. It shouldn’t have to be a fight for parents, they know their children best, and 4 is such a tiny age to start school!

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  19. Nasreen says:

    Parents will always want what’s in the best interests of their child and if they feel a CSA start is better for their child this should be given serious weight by the decision making authority. It shouldn’t be about school policy or an individual teacher’s view and if a request is made the question should be “why not?” rather than having to justify why a parent wants a CSA start. Postcode lottery in general is an unfair and unjust approach to decision making especially when they are in conflict with published Government guidelines.

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  20. Sunita says:

    It’s a real shame there is not more consistency. Every child should have the right to start school in Reception year in the term after they turn 5. The UK really needs to catch up with other European countries on this matter.

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  21. Laura says:

    I agree that this is something which needs to be discussed more and have more awareness. It is a total postcode lottery as to whether you will be granted a CSA reception start for your child and often within the same county or town the various schools will have different policies. Parents do not take a decision such as this lightly and it would be helpful to know there is more support and understanding out there. In continental Europe children start school later and on the whole achieve better academically, it’s so sad we still think that 4 is the optimum age for children to start school in this country.

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  22. As a parent of two summer born children I really think this has gone on long enough. Over three years since the government promised to amend the code.

    We have put our life on hold because of the lack of action this government has taken. We have had four schools agree but have to stay in our current location to get our son into one of these schoolsz the local school for the area we want to move into is very unaccomodating of parents requests for a cds start in reception. The postcode lottery is appalling.

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  23. Georgia says:

    I would love to delay my end of June 2016 born daughter, but have been completely put off by the fact that she would miss reception which is ridiculous. The schools I have spoken to in Devon have been fiercely unsupportive of my questions surrounding delaying her until she is CSA. It’s exhausting and overwhelming and I can’t work out how to make it work without dealing with a lot of hostility from our local schools. Please can this become easier and more supportive?

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  24. Catherine says:

    The law says CSA is 5. If you exercise your right to send your child at this age it should not be down to what area you live in whether they receive their full entitlement of education or not.

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  25. Miriam Claire Richards says:

    Can’t believe that the government hasn’t legislated to remove the ‘post code lottery’ yet.

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  26. ann says:

    Hounslow were an absolute nightmare, and underhand. I had to fight and submit complaints to get them to agree. Voluntary schools, who seemed to not fully understand their own admissions policies were being incorrectly advised and confused by Hounslow. If it hadn’t been for the fact I was tenacious and contacted all the schools repeatedly for their decision it would have been turned down. Luckily our private nursery agreed with me. A friend’s child attended a school nursery and were nit so lucky. My child is late August born premature, and for the sake of 2 days would have been September, and none of this tortuous process would have been necessary.

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  27. ecsa1 says:

    Parents who choose a CSA start for their summer born child should not have to fight so hard to get a reception start agreed. No child should be made to miss an entire foundational year of education. There are inconsistencies everywhere, not just from one part of the country to another but also within one town. Here in Surrey we have agreement for a reception start at CSA from 6 schools, however our closest school, an infant academy school, is maintaining that a Year 1 start at CSA is in our sons best interests. We are fighting this.

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