Summer Born Admissions and A New Normal Post-Coronavirus

IMG_6926Before the COVID-19 crisis, many parents of summer born children had unanswered questions, unresolved battles, ongoing concerns about their children’s education, and worries about their children’s social and emotional well being.

With the government’s effective closure of schools and nurseries, these all remain, and now there are understandably new questions and concerns too (there have been a number of discussions in our Facebook group). 

We cannot expect answers to all of these just yet, and schools and councils themselves are currently looking to the DfE to advise how admissions processes should continue and evolve this year, and requesting patience from parents (e.g. Council bosses are asking parents to be patient as they await government instructions on how to deal with school admissions appeals this year).

In the meantime, the Summer Born Campaign remains hopeful that previous promises made, regarding summer born children’s access to Reception at compulsory school age and an uninterrupted education, will be upheld.

Regular readers will know that assurances from Nick Gibb began as early as July 2015, and the government’s assurances go back further, to 2013, and you can search this website for other examples of these.

A New Normal

I also thought I’d share this article by Mark Wallace (@wallaceme), chief executive of the political blog ConservativeHome*:

Do we want to go ‘back to normal’? Coronavirus could be an opportunity for genuine reform 

He suggests, among other ideas, “If children are delayed in starting school this year, at least take the time to study whether our school starting age is correct or whether other countries are wise to start later.

…let’s take this chance to think big, rather than pledging to go straight back to normal – without a thought as to whether “normal” was the best way to do things.

Realistically, I don’t see a later school starting age becoming the new normal in England any time soon, and it’s likely that the NHS and economy will receive the most ministerial attention in the immediate future (as is to be expected).

But when the education strategy going forward is being reviewed, the Summer Born Campaign‘s position is that there remains an urgent need to update the current School Admissions Code, and to end the admissions (and continued education) postcode lottery that exists for summer born children.

*Also see Stephen Hammond MP: The changes we need to help summer-born and premature children succeed (ConservativeHome September 12, 2015)

We’d like a new normal to look this this:

– Each and every parent informed about the legal meaning of ‘compulsory school age’, and what that might mean for their child (including options to defer entry to Reception)

– The automatic right for summer born children to enter Reception when starting school at compulsory school age (saving time, money and stress wasted on administration, health professionals’ involvement, correspondence, complaints and appeals).

– A guarantee that summer born children who start school at compulsory school age will not be made to miss a year of school later on, and ‘return to their correct chronological age group’ against their parents’ wishes.

– Recognition that measuring educational outcomes should involve social and emotional well being, as well as academic performance, and that proposals to age adjust test scores are of no real value to anyone (NICE guidance will hopefully help with this).

It really isn’t too much to ask.

Especially given that many schools and councils are already on board…

…and that the DfE has already confirmed its intention to ensure the second and third points above (automatic right and guarantee) are enshrined in legislation.

And so to those progressives, we say thank you.

  • Written by author and journalist Pauline Hull

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