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