Summer-borns - Would anyone be willing to send this to their MP?

(239 Posts)
bananasontoast Wed 05-Jun-13 23:30:07

As per the title:

Dear [MP],

I am concerned about the inflexibility of the school admissions process for summer-born children in England.

Section 8 of the Education Act 1996 states:

"A person begins to be of compulsory school age when they attain the age of five"

The important words here are;

1."a person"

Each child is a person in their own right and deserves to be treated as such and the child's best interests are what should be driving any admissions discussion. Not what the admissions authority administrative system wants to happen for its convenience. And;

2."compulsory school age"

Summer-born children don't reach this until the September term after they have turned five.

Reception class is defined by Section 142 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 as:

"A class in which education is provided which is suitable to the requirements of pupils aged five and any pupils under or over that age whom it is expedient to educate with pupils of that age".

Reception Class is therefore aimed at children aged five, yet parents are being forced to enrol their child a whole year earlier than compulsory school age or have their child's education entitlement reduced by one year with obligatory entrance into Year 1, completely missing Reception Class.

When forced to enrol at just four years old, these children NEVER reach compulsory school age during their attendance during that academic year.

There is a wealth of empirical evidence that clearly demonstrates the harm that can be done to summer-born children should they start school too early.

The current system of inflexible cut off dates for school entry does not allow for the normal range of children's development, every child is different after all and needs to be considered in that light if their best interests are to be ensured.

Administrative constraints take precedence over the well-being and future life chances of a substantial number of our youngest children.

I would like to see admissions authorities adopt a more flexible approach so that parents are given more choice, to enable them, if they so wish, to enrol their child in school after they reach the age of five and in Reception Class.

I would be grateful if you could raise these concerns with Rt Hon David Laws MP, Minister of State for Schools.

Yours sincerely

[Name]

[Adress]

[Contact Number]

[Constituency] Constituent

HabbaDabba Wed 05-Jun-13 23:53:58

Borinnnnnnnng!

My niece was a September baby so she was the oldest kid in her class. Her mum delights in telling the story about DN's first day at school and how she grabbed her mom's leg and wouldn't let her leave.

Both my DCs on the other hand were summer born. DS was the youngest in his ckassSame with me. DP was born in June so I guess that counts as summer born.

redwellybluewelly Wed 05-Jun-13 23:58:12

Yes.

As in I have a very late summer baby with development delay (around 3-6 months) and if she were in the year below she could probably keep up, not suffer any self esteem issues and mingle with her peers developing at her own pace. If she goes into her 'academic' year she will require a statement and almost certainly habet to have some additional help.

I am already gearing up for the battle which lies ahead.

HabbaDabba Wed 05-Jun-13 23:58:33

.... despite being summer born we experienced no problems at school.

My point? Some kids don't cope with school as well as others. I see no person evidence to suggest that it's age related.

Lioninthesun Thu 06-Jun-13 00:05:00

DD is Aug and I have actually seen the inflexible school age affecting her nursery; because she was the youngest of her year they chose to leave her to last to move up (ratios/staffing problems because they still had all of the school starters). She was going to have to wait 5 months extra just because she was the 'more acceptable' one to leave in the baby room due to her birthday. So the delay/hindrance actually starts before school...
Habba I am an early July baby and also was fine, but when there are stats in the press it does make it something to consider, despite all of us having anecdotal evidence to the contrary.

redwellybluewelly Thu 06-Jun-13 00:07:57

waves to lion remember your thread as we had exactly the same issue at nursery.

ChasingStaplers Thu 06-Jun-13 00:08:46

Someone has to be the youngest.

I was at the youngest end and did fine.
Girl in my class born on 31 August - now a successful barrister.
Of course this is anecdotal stuff but I think it's not just about age, it's about maturity, aptitude, attitude, personality and even parental involvement.
Unfortunately as those things aren't really measurable they have no bearing on school admissions and neither should the fact that a child is summer born.
Some studies have shown that children with surnames later in the alphabet don't perform as well as those at the beginning, so perhaps we should put a caveat in for school admissions for those at the end of the alphabet too?

ChasingStaplers Thu 06-Jun-13 00:11:26

Redwelly - in your DD's case, if she has developmental delay that is a much more valid reason for putting her into the next year. I hope that you are successful and don't have to fight too hard to get what you need for her.

YDdraigGoch Thu 06-Jun-13 00:14:22

What's the alternative system? If the cut off date changed it would just move the problem to a different group if kids.
Schools couldn't cope with kids starting willy nilly throughout the year - that would be an administrative nightmare!

Primafacie Thu 06-Jun-13 01:16:56

No, sorry. I think there has to be a cut off point, unless your child has SEN. Everywhere in the world, and in this country for decades, teachers have coped with mixed readiness/ ability. What has changed, in your view, that warrants this letter?

Lioninthesun Thu 06-Jun-13 01:37:17

Hi Redwelly <waves>
Maybe Tiggy could stop by - he had some views on nursery leavers from what I remember?

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 06-Jun-13 01:42:33

My DS1 is late July born. He is in Reception and is top of his class and doing well socially/emotionally. School has been fantastic for him.

The historical disadvantage that summer borns have had, has had a lot to do with them spending two fewer terms in Reception than children born in September. I believe that this difference will narrow now that all children spend just one year in reception.

Bumbolina Thu 06-Jun-13 05:00:10

My friends little girl was born at just 24+4 - in August. But because there is so little flexibility she still has to go to school and the youngest in her year, even though she should have been born in December. Seems a little harsh to me.

claraschu Thu 06-Jun-13 05:20:45

In other countries, children born near the cut off date can either go up a year or down a year. In the US there were plenty of kids who were in the "wrong" year (including me). I don't remember this ever being an issue; it was just nice for parents to have some choice.

I can never understand when people are so convinced that there is one right way of doing things.

Zingy123 Thu 06-Jun-13 07:04:28

No I think the current system is fine. Some children cope better than others. The majority catch up in time if they are behind.

The summer borns in both my Dd's classes are in the top groups. Me and my brother were too, both August birthdays.

scaevola Thu 06-Jun-13 07:08:47

Ok, you say what the concerns are.

But the key question is: what do you want done instead?

This letter does not ask for action, other than 'I've read it'.

feelthis Thu 06-Jun-13 07:23:23

The alternative is to do what Scotland does. The cut off is the end of Feb so a child who is 5 on the 1st March is the eldest when they go to school in August. If your dc is born in January or February you can choose to sent them to school as normal or defer them until the next year . They don't miss any school they effectively go into the class below. I believe there is further scope for December/ November borns to defer but this must be supported by the school and be due to additional needs
It seems to work fine.

baskingseals Thu 06-Jun-13 07:28:51

I am with you feel this. I have dss both born in August. It would be great to have some more flexibility re starting school.

Bunbaker Thu 06-Jun-13 07:29:50

"I think it's not just about age, it's about maturity, aptitude, attitude, personality and even parental involvement."

I agree. DD is July born and has always been in the "above average" range at school. Incidentally, when she started school our LEA had a two tier intake. All the Sept - Dec borns started in September and all the Jan - August borns started after Christmas.

Suzieismyname Thu 06-Jun-13 07:31:29

I agree with feelthis.

Habba anecdotal evidence is borrriiing too! There are plenty of studies showing that on average summer borns are disadvantaged.

I think not coping with school is problem faced by all ages of children. Not purely linked to summerborns. There is quite a lot if flexibility I think. Kids can start in September or jan and later in some schools. Some are allowed to do half days. You can bypass reception all together and if course home school. What more can they do?

CottonWoolWrapper Thu 06-Jun-13 07:33:53

Bananas, I am in total agreement. We should be relied on far more as parents to make decisions for our children as individuals. Of course there are many summer born dc who will do just fine. However some would benefit from starting later. There doesnt have to be a single cut off. It can be based on the needs of the individual.

The fact is that an average summer born child will be less developed than an autumn born child. This should not be an issue as in any ks1 classroom there will be a wide range of developmental levels.

However if a summer born child is late to develop they might struggle and incorrectly form a perception of themselves as being incapable of achieving academically.
Even worse their parents or teachers might do the same. They might actually end up diagnosed incorrectly with SEN.

I read an interesting article a while back in which reasearchers in canada had analysed data on children diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and found that in a massive number of cases (at least a third) the diagnosis seemed to explained by the child's date of birth in relation to the Canadian school cut off date. So they were giving drugs to children suffering basically from the easily curable condition of being too young to sit still and concentrate. Anyway if I can find the link I will post it later.

As has been said, someone has to be youngest. However, I do feel that there should be flexibility in terms of going by due date rather than birth date. My nephew was born early which put him on the wrong side of the cut off. He's the youngest in the school and coping really well but just not ready for it yet. He would really have benefited from the extra year that he should have had at home and in pre-school.

No, DS is one of the youngest in his reception class ( and his birthday is end of June)

He was ready for school in a way that some of the older children in his class weren't. In a very short space of time, he had learnt to read and write, do numeracy, and research things on the computers.

If we had delayed him starting I would have had. Very frustrated little boy.

As it is I have a very frustrated feb born 3 yo, who has done phonics with him throughout the year and can spell as well as him.

zzzzz Thu 06-Jun-13 07:38:49

So why not just send the child to school when YOU feel it is ready? Why do you need to discuss it with your MP? There is no law that says your child needs to attend school. By you must educate him/her from 5, NOT school him/her. hmm

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