Due Date Demands Add Unnecessary Administration to Summer Born Admissions

img_4633

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

Advertisement
Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, MEDIA COVERAGE, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT | 1 Comment

Summer Born Adjournment Debate in Parliament Tonight

vide 4x3 parliamentThank 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.

Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION | 2 Comments

Summer Born Sadness – and Madness – of a Forced Early School Start

ruth-twins-starting-at-age-4-against-wishesThis 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.”

Posted in EXAMPLE CASES | Leave a comment

Summer Born Son Struggles in Year 1

bailey-feely-age-5-entered-reception-at-age-4

Bailey, age 5 in Year 1

What happens to a child who is forced to start school early, at age 4, against his parents’ wishes, and against the 2015 request of a DfE Schools Minister?

One year later, at age 5, and having only just reached CSAge, his parents are told he’s ‘academically one year behind‘ and ‘needs to catch up‘.

It’s not a new story, and certainly not a unique one; it’s just another example of how too many admissions heads and public officials would prefer to throw SEN money at ‘fixing‘ a problem they’ve created, rather than admit that were wrong for fighting parents in the first place, and causing a child to suffer.

Bailey’s mum Cat says to other parents, “This is to tell all of you not to give up, however hard the council admissions in your area make the battle for you. Don’t give up! Continue reading

Posted in EXAMPLE CASES | 2 Comments

Why does the Education Secretary’s Definition of ‘Summer Born’ Differ..?

IMG_6842On September 14, the issue of summer born children was raised by Michelle Donelan MP during an Education Committee public evidence session, as part of its inquiry into the responsibilities of the Education Secretary.

In response, Ms Justine Greening referred to summer born children as those born in the ‘summer term‘ of school: “One of the things I’m looking at is, summer born children is really summer term.

I think the reality is that the challenges are faced by, probably parents of middle, late June and August; July, sorry, and August children. So I think what I want to make sure we do as we take this forward is that we’re clear about, yeah, who we particularly want to give more options to.

Two things.

The reality is that summer born is defined as a child born between April 1st and August 31st, and this is confirmed in the School Admissions Code (p25), and the DfE’s own advice, Admission of summer-born children in schools (p3). Continue reading

Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, EDUCATION COMMITTEE EVIDENCE, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT | Leave a comment

Summer Born Smiles Starting School Age 5

This is just a selection of #summerborn children from our ever growing campaign group who very happily started school in Reception class this month – at compulsory school age.

They are the lucky ones, who have won the postcode lottery (school or council) in the areas of East Riding of Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Powys Wales, Bristol, Kent, Essex, Poole, Lambeth, Surrey, Norfolk, Devon, South Devon, West Sussex, Suffolk, Whitley Bay North Tyneside, Redbridge London, Hammersmith and Fulham London, Isle if Wight, Barnstaple Devon, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cumbria, Sutton Coldfield Birmingham, Sheffield, Wiltshire, Lewisham London, Dorset, Mid Devon and South Gloucestershire.

Continue reading

Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, EXAMPLE CASES | 7 Comments

‘No matter what you say we’re not going till CSA’

sb-melanie-charnock-picIt’s become somewhat of an accidental tradition on this website to publish an annual poem by the parent of a summer born child – by Rosie Dutton in 2014 and Lauryn Douglas in 2015.

This year, Melanie Charnock says she was inspired to write about her horrendous admissions experience to date – a request for her twins’ CSAge entry to Reception class was agreed in Lambeth earlier this year but since relocating to Leicestershire, her request there is being refused.

Melanie’s experience epitomises the postcode lottery now at play:

No matter what you say we’re not going till CSA

So you want us in school today
but we’ve just turned 4 so we’re not going – no way!

We’re not ready to sit still,
legs crossed, arms folded, at your will Continue reading

Posted in EXAMPLE CASES | Leave a comment

Summer Born School Start is Parents’ Decision

2016-09-15 16.35.00.jpgIt’s YOUR decision WHEN your child starts school (or alternative education).

CSAge is CSAge. End of.

You don’t need to be telling admission authorities why your child is ‘not ready’ for school at age four. That is irrelevant.

This is NOT about ‘school readiness’, this is about primary legislation.
CSAge and best interests AT THAT POINT.

Ask THEM to prove why missing reception would be beneficial to your child.
Ask THEM to prove why a Year 1 start would be in your child’s best interests.
You have no explaining to do. They do. Continue reading

Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES | 3 Comments

B is for Book, Bored and Below Compulsory School Age

IMG_1859I am not an early years teaching expert, but I have witnessed firsthand how ingrained a hatred of reading can develop in some children, and was acutely reminded of this when I watched the BBC 4 documentary ‘B is for Book‘.

As a former secondary school teacher who has tutored numerous children in English for more than 15 years (boys in particular), I could plainly see how easily a love of books can be jeopardised very early on in a child’s life.

Shockingly, the BBC film showed children who were not yet naturally interested in reading and writing independently (much less the daily monotony of phonics and lacklustre books) being deprived of precious playtime, as punishment for academic failure, at just 4 and 5 years old.

Why are we doing this to children???” I wanted to know. Continue reading

Posted in EXAMPLE CASES, MEDIA COVERAGE | 8 Comments

Important News: Lord Nash now Responsible for Admissions in DfE Ministerial Update

IMG_6841Following Theresa May becoming Prime Minister, the DfE has announced its final ministerial team, and moved responsibility for admissions to Lord Nash.

In February 2016, Lord Nash wrote this in answer to a Parliamentary question on admissions, which the Summer Born Campaign agrees with entirely:

The School Admissions Code exists to ensure that places in all state funded schools are allocated in a fair and transparent manner. It is particularly important that parents feel confident that their concerns are listened to and acted upon.

We also believe that it should be possible for parents to hold those responsible for implementing the School Admissions Code to account, especially since the current processes available for summer born children are evidently not working.

And despite the words of then Education Secretary Michael Gove in 2011, “You shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer to navigate the school system”, we know that it’s not just parents contacting solicitors on the summer born issue, but tax-payer funded admission authorities too.  Continue reading

Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION | Leave a comment

Have Your Say at DfE Meetings This Month

SB twitterParents of summer born children: Your chance to tell the Department for Education what you think…

LONDON –  Tue 16th August – 11.30 – 13.00
SHEFFIELD –  Wed 17th August – 11.30 -13.30
DARLINGTON –  Tue 23rd August – 12.00 – 13:30
MANCHESTER –  Wed 24th August – 12.00 – 14.00

The  PTA UK website reads: “PTA UK met with the Department for Education (DfE) recently to discuss giving parents a say on future education policy and what happens in our schools. We are pleased to say that the DfE is running informal discussion sessions in August to give you a chance to share your experiences and ideas. Continue reading

Posted in THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION | 3 Comments

Campaign Update and MP Support

Michelle MelsonLinkedin pic - sepiaOne month ago, on July 6Michelle Melson wrote to the Chair of the Education Committee, while I wrote to the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, and the DfE, to ask a number of questions related to the long delay in announcing the promised School Admissions Code consultation, and the Summer Born Campaign‘s concerns about DfE communication to parents in recent months that has not been as helpful or supportive as we would have expected, given its September 2015 public letter.

We understand that a change in the Code can take time, but further public announcements and/or greater pressure on admission authorities to stop the continuing postcode lottery could undoubtedly have helped more parents over the past year.

On July 7, the DfE contacted Michelle Melson to arrange a meeting to discuss the DfE’s progress on this issue, and we are currently awaiting confirmation of a date (the DfE referred to post-Brexit changes that are impacting all departments).

Today, Stephen Hammond, Conservative MP for Wimbledon, said he has written to the new Education Secretary, Justine Greening, to request a meeting to discuss the summer born issue too.

He says on his facebook page: Continue reading

Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION | 3 Comments

Nick Gibb to Remain Schools Minister

Be Like Nick 1Good news for the Summer Born Campaign.

It’s been confirmed today that Nick Gibb will retain his position as Minister of State for Schools in Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet shuffle.

You can read more in the TES and Schools Week reports.

Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION | 2 Comments

Minister’s Letter Highlights Again the Importance of Legal Semantics

IMG_0655In September 2015, when the Schools Minister Nick Gibb published an open letter urging admission authorities to allow entry to Reception class at CASge for summer born children, I highlighted the importance of the next School Admissions Code ensuring its legal wording is absolutely watertight: Summer Born Semantics are Not Out of the Woods Yet – Code’s Wording ‘Must’ Be Clear

I was reminded of this again when a parent in the Summer Born Campaign group shared a letter she received from Mr. Gibb a few weeks ago, which said: “I would like to assure you that we want parents who have genuine concerns about their child’s readiness for school at the age of four, to be able to ensure they are admitted to reception at age five. June 28th 2016.”

Yesterday, I wrote to the Minister, expressing concerns about how this might be interpreted to imply that there are some parents whose concerns may be less than genuine, and that someone or something might be expected to assess this. Continue reading

Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION | 3 Comments

‘Immediate Action’ Irony Given DfE Delay

SB picTen months ago (a significant amount of time in a child’s life, and a whole primary school admissions cycle that left hopeful parents once more distraught and disheartened), the Schools Minister Nick Gibb published an open letter announcing the DfE’s proposed changes to summer born admission rules and asking “councils and academies to take immediate action.

His letter, and the accompanying DfE press release, set out “the government’s plan to make a change to the school admissions code. The change would mean that schools can… admit summer-born children to reception class at the age of 5, if their parents want this [and] make sure the children can stay in this year group as they progress through school.

Of course they already ‘can‘ do this, but the 2014 School Admissions Code provided them with the loopholes they needed to refuse, and so the postcode lottery got worse.

More recently though, there have been concerns from parents that communication from the DfE is not always as helpful or supportive as they might expect, given Mr. Gibb’s vehement support in his September 2015 letter, and it is on this point and others that I have written to the Minister and DfE today. Continue reading

Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION | 9 Comments

Summer Born Parents Can Complete New University Survey

IMG_0654Professor Dieter Wolke, at the University of Warwick, is conducting a new survey in which he asks for parents’ “opinions on delaying your child’s school entry for a year.

For those of us with summer born children who want our children to start school at compulsory school age, this might be a good opportunity to engage with researchers, and to explain our reasons for making this choice.

There is also a question on your experience of enquiring about or applying for a CSAge start, which will no doubt evidence the postcode lottery currently at play in England.

And remember, Professor Wolke published research in 2015 that showed (despite media headlines) it is detrimental to a child’s education to miss their first year of school.

 

Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES | Leave a comment

Postal Delay for Parents of Summer Born Children

SB - Leo2

Leo Awaits School News

While most parents in England found out today which primary school has offered their child a place, for parents of some summer born children, like Leo in Surrey, they won’t find out until the postman arrives with a letter tomorrow (or later in the week).

It’s the exact same story as last year, with online systems unable to process summer born children’s DOBs, meaning parents must apply on paper and be notified on paper (or sometimes they can phone).

  • Also interesting today is BBC News online and radio coverage describing how “Parents of four- and five-year-olds have been finding out which  schools their children will attend next year”. In fact it’s “Parents of three- and four-year-olds” in the main (an April-born 5 year-old could be entering Reception this year).This is important because there can often be a public and cultural perception that children start school later than they actually do, and when ‘shocking’ stories about ‘school-age children still in nappies’ are reported, it’s easy to forget just how many children are still only 3 years-old just weeks (or even days) before starting school.   
Posted in CAMPAIGN UPDATES, EXAMPLE CASES | 10 Comments

Cambridgeshire MP Supports Summer Born Children

SB - Steve Barclay

Steve Barclay MP

There are a number of councils (and schools) in England that are stubbornly refusing to implement the Schools Minister’s call for action in September 2015, to allow summer born children to enter Reception class at CSAge if this is their parents’ wish.

They say they will only change their policies if the law is changed.

Cambridge is one such area, and fortunately, MPs like Steve Barclay (MP for North East Cambridgeshire, who was actually in the Chamber when Minister Nick Gibb communicated his summer born intentions), are willing to help parents in the Summer Born Campaign group by putting pressure on the local powers that be: Cambs County Council should change its admission policy for summer born children (“I am supporting a Chatteris mum in her bid for a change in school admissions policy from Cambridgeshire County Council, so that it reflects the new thinking in the Department of Education on summer born children rather than being stuck in the past.“).

 

Posted in EXAMPLE CASES, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT | 1 Comment

An Overseas Perspective – Letter to Stephen Hammond MP

IMG_6572As a former resident of Surrey, I have written the letter below to Stephen Hammond MP, as per his invitation via Twitter yesterday. Dear Stephen Hammond MP,

I applied for a Reception class place for my summer born son at compulsory school age – to start in September 2014 – and both the school (which is its own admissions authority) and the council said he would have to go straight into Year 1.

Two local private schools were happy to enrol him in Reception class at CSAge, and another maintained school head teacher agreed to accept him in Reception Class too, but her professional view was overruled by the council. The council even produced a special document for head teachers that emphasized the importance of teaching children in their correct chronological age groups.

The ‘Placement of children out of their chronological age group‘ document that was used to make a decision in our son’s case said, “…it would be expected that they would be subject of a statement of SEN and be subject of an IEP and Annual Review“. Worse, even if we had been able to achieve Reception class entry at CSAge, the guidance made clear that remaining in his entrance year group was not guaranteed: “Parents must request for their child to remain in the out of chronological year group and provide the up to date supporting professional evidence at each of the transfer stages.

I am writing to you now with an OVERSEAS PERSPECTIVE, of how the current postcode lottery affects children like our son, including those in military families. If we decide to return to Surrey, our son would be made to miss a whole year of primary school (as others before him have), simply so that he is educated in his ‘correct’ chronological age group. Continue reading

Posted in EXAMPLE CASES, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT | 4 Comments

MP Asks For Summer Born Stories

16-Apr-04 Stephen Hammond MP tweetStephen Hammond, Conservative MP for Wimbledon, Raynes Park, Morden & Motspur Park, has asked parents of summer born children to email him with their experiences of trying to arrange Reception class entry at CSAge (i.e. the Postcode Lottery), ahead of another proposed debate in Parliament.

Posted in EXAMPLE CASES, MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT | 9 Comments