Reference to summer born children appears in the DfE’s new white paper ‘Educational excellence everywhere‘ (pg.67), which was published on March 17th.
Setting out the government’s plans for the next 5 years, it says:
“4.61. We intend to make a number of changes to make it easier for parents to navigate the admissions system. We will also seek views on making admissions processes clearer and simpler, including proposals to better support parents who want to delay entry of summer-born children so they can start reception at age 5, and clarifying that those children can remain with that cohort as they progress through school. We will streamline functions of the Office of the Schools Adjudicator so objections to admission arrangements are resolved more quickly.”
Most parents of summer born children would argue their children are not ‘delaying‘ entry – but rather starting AT compulsory school age instead of one year ‘early‘.
That said, what matters most is for this option to be become genuinely available for every summer born child, in every part of the country, without adversely affecting their equal standing in the admissions process – and putting an end to the postcode lottery.
More information can be found here.
Earlier this month, in the BBC News report ‘Lancashire County Council at ‘cliff edge’, says leader‘, the council’s leader, Jennifer Mein, describes the struggle to balance budgets in the face of steep cuts over the next two years.
And yet – the council appears to have sufficient finances and staff resources to fight parents who simply wish to enrol their summer born children in Reception class (not Year 1) at CSAge.
Perhaps instead of complaining to the government that it needs more money, the council should implement the DfE’s proposed changes, – as other councils have done – and stop wasting money fighting against what is in the best interests of children?
A number of parents in our Facebook group have described lengthy correspondence, phone calls and complaints to Lancashire CC (a costly trail of unnecessary bureaucracy), and this is despite the fact that Continue reading →
On February 11, 2016 the Schools Minister Nick Gibb responded to another MP who asked for an update on the Code consultation, but there was still no news:
Jonathan Lord, Conservative MP, Woking:
To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent progress she has made on amending the School Admissions Code to ensure that summer born children can (a) be admitted to reception at the age of five if this is in line with their parents’ wishes and (b) remain with that cohort as they progress through their education.
Nick Gibb, The Minister for Schools:
Subject to parliamentary approval, the Department for Education has decided to amend the School Admissions Code to support summer born children who are not ready to start school at the usual age. This will delay entry to reception year until they are five years old and enables those children to remain with that cohort as they progress through school. We want to make these changes as soon as possible; however, we are taking this opportunity to consider what other changes it would be appropriate to make to the Code at the same time. We will be conducting a full public consultation in due course.
They Work For You Schools: Admissions – Department for Education written question – answered on 11th February 2016. Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 11 February 2016, cW)
Literally up until midnight, parents of summer born children were debating whether or not to apply by today for a 2016 school place they do not want, – with many being told they must do this before their 2017 Reception class entry request will be processed.
Some have applied unwillingly, under threat of a forced Year 1 entry in 2017 if they don’t.
While others – whose admission authorities have responded swiftly and positively to the Schools Minister Nick Gibb’s recent call for action and/or communication from the Summer Born Campaign – have chosen freely whether to apply for early entry or wait until Reception class entry at CSAge with an uninterrupted education guaranteed.
More than three years after the Summer Born Campaign first highlighted this problem to the DfE, the summer born admissions lottery remains unclear, unfair and subjective – the exact opposite of everything the School Admissions Code promised to be – and for children and parents like these, the Minister’s promised new Code can’t come soon enough: Continue reading →
In September 2015, Schools Minister Nick Gibb published an open letter asking for “immediate action” by councils and academies to “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” and in November 2015, the DfE advised that the Code consultation would take place “in the New Year“.
However, with just hours to go before the January 15 deadline for this year’s primary school application round, there is still no confirmation as to when this will be. Continue reading →
The Summer Born Campaign supports the efforts of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, since the FOI Act has been hugely important in our work.
If you want more information or if you want to get involved (e.g. sign the petition), there is further information here. Continue reading →
Every week, the Summer Born Campaign hears from parents whose head teachers and/or admission authorities have responded to their enquiries and requests for Reception class entry at CSAge.
Some responses are encouraging and positive while others are defiant and shocking. For all the latest updates, posted on Twitter by Michelle Melson, follow @sb_campaign.
Stanford’s Graduate School of Education has highlighted a new study titled, The Gift of Time? School Starting Age and Mental Health, which authors Professor Thomas S. Dee and Hans Henrik Sievertsen say “could help parents in viewing the pros and cons of postponing enrolling their child in kindergarten up to a year later.”
Journalist George Zapo reports on their findings in his October 22 article, Delayed Kindergarten Enrollment Dramatically Reduces ADHD In Children, Study Shows,and reports how “Delaying kindergarten enrollment for one year shows significant mental health benefits for children” and “dramatically reduces inattention and hyperactivity at age seven“. Continue reading →
Admission authorities’ responses to the Schools Minister’s ‘Take Immediate Action’ letter have been varied, but among those most stubbornly refusing to allow Reception class entry to CSAge summer born children are ‘own admission authority‘ schools within Catholic Dioceses – Why???
The Schools Minister Nick Gibb has said he wants summer born children to access a full 12 years of uninterrupted education (Sept.2015).
The National Governors’ Association has recommended that all its members allow Reception class entry at CSAge (June 2015).
Yet many Catholic schools are refusing to budge; Continue reading →
Stephen Hammond MP
In response to a written question from Wimbledon Conservative MP Stephen Hammond, the Schools Minister Nick Gibb has confirmed that, “Work is now underway to assess what other changes it might be appropriate to make to the Admissions Code. We hope to have a draft Code ready for consultation in the New Year.”
Stephen Hammond MP had two questions answered by the Department for Education on October 29 2015; one regarding the government’s proposed timing of the Code consultation and the other regarding using a child’s due date for admissions purposes: Continue reading →
Parents and Play Penalised outside Preschool setting
In Sunday’s Guardian, Political Editor Patrick Wintour reported on social engineering an parent pressure at its worst: “No pre-school, no child benefit, Tory thinktank says in report on poverty”
With flagrant disregard for England’s CSAge and a parent’s legal right to wait until the term following their child’s 5th birthday before commencing education, the report says liberal Conservative pressure group Bright Blue suggests: “Parents should be denied child benefit if they do not send their children to pre-school education from the age of three…[and] should apply to a parent in the case of a child aged two if the toddler comes from a disadvantaged background…”
Bright Blue says, “it is essential to seek new ways to persuade parents” but importantly, the Pre-School Learning Alliance agrees with the Summer Born Campaign‘s view and has rejected the idea completely. Continue reading →
Rebecca Adams, writing in The Huffington Post (Delaying Kindergarten Could Benefit Kids’ Mental Health) reports on new research from Denmark that is worth reading in the context of summer born children starting school in England.
Not because all summer born children should therefore wait until CSAge before starting school, but rather to demonstrate that there is research to support the fact it can be in the best interests of many.
Also worth noting is how this research looked at age 5 versus age 6 entry whereas in England parents are choosing between age 4 and age 5 entry with a curriculum that includes literacy, numeracy and testing from the outset… again, just food for thought.
Sandra Greenbank’s three children are summer born
Hertfordshire County Council has told parents it “has amended its policy regarding summer born children. If your child was born between 1 April and 31 August 2012, and you do not believe they will be ready to start reception in the 2016/17 academic year, you may instead make an application for your child to start reception in September 2017.”
The council is asking parents to complete a short anonymous survey on its page Reception entry and summer born children.
This is excellent news for parents living in Hertfordshire, though for Sandra Greenbank, the news is bittersweet; her two youngest summer born children, Vincent and Saga, will now have access to Reception class at CSAge, but the change comes too late for her eldest child, Astrid, who started school early at age 4. Continue reading →
Sam Pemble, with Luke, had her request agreed by Merton Council
SW Londoner journalist Sara Oldfield has published an excellent article today, summarising the plight of four families living in the London Borough of Merton, who simply wanted their summer born children to start school ‘on time‘ without penalty.
She reports that a more flexible approach is now being taken by Merton Council, albeit too late for two families, and only time will tell if it goes as far as Liverpool City Council’s approach.
Summer Born Campaign member Naomi Campbell and her husband moved to Bristol when Merton refused their request, just to ensure their son Sebastian would not lose a year of school when starting at CSAge.
And Summer Born Campaign member Jennifer Deane took the same desperate measures. When her daughter’s access to Reception class was not only denied, but she was also (wrongly) threatened with losing Ava’s EYE funding, the family moved to North Tyneside where the council has agreed to her request. Continue reading →
Since the publication of the DfE’s press release and the Schools Minister Nick Gibbs’ open letter last month, regarding proposed changes to summer born children school admissions, there has been a predictable plethora of media articles and online opinion pieces.
I suspect that most of these pieces (by supporters and critics alike) are using the ‘summer born’ issue to highlight their own wider views on the education system as whole.
But what has been missed by many is that the issue here is about choice, and putting a stop to the unfair postcode lottery that exists throughout the country.
Parents already have the right to choose whether to send their child to school ‘early’ at age 4 or ‘on-time’ at compulsory school age (not ‘late’ as many seem to think); this right is enshrined in existing legislation, Continue reading →
We know the Schools Minister Nick Gibb has today told all admission authorities in England, “We are going to make changes to admission rules – but we want councils and academies to take immediate action.”
But while one member of the Summer Born Campaign group received welcome news from her council (Phillippa Murphy’s daughter Poppy was facing forced Year 1 entry in Oxfordshire for September 2015), another member received this communication from the London Borough of Lewisham (an area affected by LIAAG communication – see our recent press release): Continue reading →
I don’t mean to be the party pooper, but I’ve noticed something concerning (albeit perfectly fixable) in the DfE’s announcement today. Technically, we’ve been promised something we already have within the existing 2014 School Admissions Code:
The Schools Minister’s open letter says, “We have, therefore, decided that it is necessary to amend the School Admissions Code further to ensure that summer born children can be admitted to the reception class at the age of five if it is in line with their parents’ wishes, and to ensure that those children are able to remain with that cohort as they progress through school, including through to secondary school.” Continue reading →
The DfE has today published a letter from Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for Schools, addressed to all parents, local authorities, admission authorities and schools in England.
Mr Gibb says, “We are going to make changes to admission rules – but we want councils and academies to take immediate action.”
His letter and the DfE’s press release “sets 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“.
Summer Born Campaign response: Continue reading →
Olivia Dutton sends key message to MPs in Parliament late last night
During a Parliamentary debate in the early hours of this morning, Schools Minister Nick Gibb publicly confirmed his intention to amend the School Admissions Code, hopefully putting an end to the education inequality and postcode lottery that currently exists for many summer born children.
He said, “we have therefore now decided that it is necessary to amend the admissions code further to ensure that summer born children can be admitted to Reception at the age of five if this is what their parents wish, and to ensure that those children can remain with that cohort as they progress through school.
We have already begun the work necessary to implement the change; we will conduct a full public consultation in due course and subject to Parliamentary approval we will introduce these further changes to ensure that no child is forced to start school before they are ready.” (Read full transcript of the debate here) Continue reading →