The Summer Born Campaign‘s Michelle Melson is interviewed in episode 4 of a new BBC Radio 4 five-part series asking, Whodunnit?, The Calendar Conspiracy
Presenter: Michael Blastland
Producer: Katherine Godfrey
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4
“Children born in summer do worse than children born in autumn or winter. Continue reading
BBC Radio 5 Live’s presenter Sam Walker hosted an excellent discussion on the Summer Born Campaign this morning, with guests including Michelle Melson (campaign leader) and Fiona McGuckin (parent of a summer born child).
You can listen to it here (at 40 min, 1hr 55min, 2hr 13min), and below are some highlights from the debate.
Michelle Melson (pictured): “Tinkering with tests is not going to fix the summer born issue. It’s not the answer to children missing a year of school.” Continue reading
Anyone else miss out on a year of primary school?
A few years ago, I came across the discussion forum above.
It describes a chronological reorganisation of children in school, which does not appear to have considered their individual best interests, and includes the anecdotes below.
“…a girl in my brother’s class was suddenly found to be too old for his year, was put up to my year but was the youngest“.
“I think it has something to do with them changing the school years from “children born in 1974” to “children born from Sept 1973-August 1974” – as another friend (who I was with in the first year… was born in October 1974 but he stayed behind and completed his 1st year infants and didn’t leave for secondary school until September 1986 – a full year after me.” Continue reading
The Summer Born Campaign‘s Michelle Melson has been invited to participate in a special Learning Exchange (LEX) event in London this month, where she will discuss campaigning for change in education.
Re-imagining School is on June 24th and the topic is RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL EDUCATION CHANGE CAMPAIGN
Michelle Melson and Pauline Hull are the lead campaigners of the Summer Born Campaign Group. Both are parents of summer born boys who didn’t want them to start school a few months after their 4th birthday, and believed that it was in the boys’ best interests to wait until they reached compulsory school age.
On January 15, 2014, they published their Summer Born Report Continue reading
In today’s Leicester Mercury, Fiona Dryden describes Stephanie Walsgrove’s fight with Leicestershire County Council to allow her daughter, Amelia, to enter Reception class at CSAge in September 2017: Leicestershire mum wins battle to delay her daughter’s school start.
The article refers to this 2016 Local Government Ombudsman decision, and includes a statement from the council, saying “we agreed with the Ombudsman to make a small financial settlement to Mrs Walsgrove which recognises the time and trouble caused to her.”
This demonstrates yet another cost Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Stephen Hammond, Conservative MP for Wimbledon
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what progress the Minister of State for School Standards has made on assessing the potential costs of changing the Schools Admissions Code to provide more flexibility for summer-born children.
Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb
We are currently undertaking evidence gathering and analysis to estimate the potential costs of providing more flexibility for summer born children. However, it is complex and will depend on how we implement any changes, the level of parental take up and whether those children take up free early education. (Hansard source HC Deb, 11 January 2017, cW)
Summer Born Campaign
The DfE raised concerns about cost back in 2014 during an ‘Evidence Check‘, and we responded in detail to its concerns at the time: Response to the DfE’s ‘Summer Born Children’ Evidence Check for the Education Committee (MPs please read)
With many of the 7,200 members in the Summer Born Campaign group busy preparing admissions applications for primary school places this week, the shocking postcode lottery and differences in admissions authorities’ positions is more stark and stressful than than ever.
Copious letters, emails and telephone calls to many schools and councils as parents fight threats of Year 1 entry and a missed Reception class – or Reception entry with a school year to be skipped later on – with many others allowing a straightforward process of applying in the year of compulsory school age entry (see this article on Hertfordshire’s simple guideline for parents of summer born children). Continue reading
In this week’s Watford Observer article (Everything you need to know about applying for school places in Hertfordshire this year) Matthew Lennon highlights just how simple and straightforward some admission authorities are making the summer born application process.
Lennon reports: “In line with Department for Education guidance, parents of summer-born children (born between April 1 and August 31 2013) who do not believe their child will be ready to start Reception in September 2017 may instead apply for a place in September 2018 when that process begins next November. Continue reading
Head of Drama and English teacher at an Independent Preparatory School, Joanna Britland (Kingston)
There is a long standing obsession with keeping children taught in chronological age groups without looking at what is best for individual children. This needs to change. I have taught children in classes in the independent sector with ages ranging up to 17 months apart, and this has made no difference in my teaching methods or to the attainment and outcomes of the class. As a professional with 8 years’ experience, I would welcome parental choice on when a child starts school, and would welcome more flexibility in the system going forward. The rigid year groupings we have become culturally accustomed to needs to change, and although the government has made positive steps forward, I would like to see this secured in policy.
Primary school teacher and children’s yoga teacher, Amy Turton (Surrey)
In 2013, the Good Schools Guide advised parents to avoid getting pregnant between July and November, and this week headteacher Steve Woodhouse has given summer born pregnancy advice too.
Mr. Woodhouse emphasises how he has only very recently learned just how educationally disadvantaged summer born children can be, statistically, and his first instinct is to suggest that test results should take month of birth into account (an approach the Summer Born Campaign disagrees with completely, not least because academic attainment and achieving a league table veneer of improved results do not address the key issues).
After reading this guest blog by Mine Conkbayir, author of ‘Early Childhood Theories and Contemporary Issues’ and early years lecturer, researcher and NEYTCO training coordinator, I contacted Mine and asked her what she thinks about the issues so many summer born children are facing.
She told me: “I am very much in agreement about the detrimental effects of forcing younger children into Reception when they are not ready.
Children are not afforded the time to make the transition, often with detrimental effects on their emotional well-being. Continue reading
Here is a list of some of the councils and schools that now allow summer born children the automatic right to enter Reception class at CSAge – without any costly, combative and time-consuming requirements for parents to provide arbitrary reasons and evidence.
Also, unlike other admissions authorities, they do not require parents to submit a primary school application for age 4 entry while their age 5 entry request is being processed – there is no appetite or need for two bites of the cherry. We say thank you to: Continue reading
This week (October 19), the Lancashire Evening Post reported that ‘Lancashire tops chart for issuing fines to parents if kids miss school’.
The irony of this is not lost on parents of summer born children, many of whom are fighting for their children’s access to Reception class at CSAge – instead of missing an “essential” year of education (DfE definition) and going straight into Year 1.
In fact it’s shocking just how many admissions authorities throughout the country are willing to fine parents on the one hand, while advising parents of summer born children that even if they do enter Reception class at CSAge, they will be made to miss a whole year of school later on.
The phrase ‘Robbing Peter to Pay Paul‘ comes to mind with Lancashire County Council:
— Council Cries Poverty While Wasting £££s on Summer Born Admissions
— LGO Finds Fault with Lancashire County Council’s Summer Born Admissions Process Continue reading
The Local Government Ombudsman has upheld a complaint against Lancashire County Council, which was made by a parent member of the Summer Born Campaign.
In summary, the LGO concluded: “There was fault in the way the Council considered Mrs X’s request for delayed entry to reception for her daughter. It should arrange for her request to be reconsidered. There was also fault in the way the Council dealt with Mrs X’s complaint.” Continue reading
London Evening Standard 10/10/2016
The Summer Born Campaign has said this before and will say it again – if ALL summer born children are given the AUTOMATIC RIGHT to enter Reception class at CSAge, this will include those children born prematurely in the months of April, May, June, July and August.
And more importantly, it could also help those children born prematurely in the months of January, February and March via the existing provision under section 2.17 of the School Admissions Code (albeit currently underused), which allows for children to be educated in a different year group.
There is also the question of how administration of ‘due date’ would work?
Would children born overdue in September be allowed to start school one year early? What would decide a child’s due date? Menstrual cycle? Scan dates? What would the mediation process be (disagreement is rife in maternity wards on this point already)? What level of medical records would be required as proof? What about children who are not born in England? Would translation services be required to ascertain their due date? Continue reading
Thank you to Stephen Hammond, Conservative MP for Wimbledon, who has arranged an adjournment debate tonight on the subject of the School Admissions Code for summer born children and children born prematurely.
Mr. Hammond says he “will be raising the postcode lottery parents face and asking the Government [to] amend the code as soon as possible to end the uncertainty.“
- You can watch the debate live on Parliament TV (any time after 10pm).
- Also follow @sb_campaign (#summerborn) on Twitter for any updates.
Earlier this year, Mr. Hammond asked parents to contact him with their experiences of requesting CSAge entry to Reception, which many of us did, so he clearly wants to understand and improve the current situation.
This harrowing message from Ruth in Coventry needs no introduction, but it does need ACTION (by the DfE) to stop this shockingly unfair postcode lottery, as promised.
“Everyone is posting pictures of their sweet children who aren’t starting school this week, and I am so happy for you all that were able to do so.
Here is a picture of my two summer born children who have to start Year 1 (age 5 years, 3 months) and Reception (age 4 years, 1 month).
I have fought since June to stop this but was told no everywhere.
This is the biggest failure for me as a mother.”