Question re: the summer-born children starting school

(62 Posts)
PMHull Fri 23-Nov-12 21:23:43

Has anyone succeeded in delaying their summer-born child and starting RECEPTION (not Year 1) until after they've just turned 5?

I'm not interested in starting a debate about the necessity of doing this - mainly because there will always be anecdotal cases of 'my son started school three days after he turned 4 and he took his GCSEs aged 10' - I'd just really appreciate hearing from anyone whose local council and/or MP supported their parental choice.

Thank you.

Are you in England? If so it is usually very hard as it means they are in the wrong year for funding at gcses. Often they have to skip back up at secondary, especially if you move areas. There are some other threads on this, I'll try and link for you later.

redandwhitesprinkles Fri 23-Nov-12 22:30:48

Pretty much not a chance, sorry. If they did for one and all that, not helpful I know.

PMHull Fri 23-Nov-12 22:48:39

Thanks very much for your help - yes, I'm in England.

From what I can ascertain so far, unless we have a national rule change - where everyone with summer-born babies can choose, and issues of funding and examinations are altered accordingly - those of us who feel strongly about it will be left to choose between our children being too young at reception versus old enough for reception but only allowed entrance into year 1.

The irony for me is that if there was greater flexibility, this could surely help improve results tables in schools...?

Thanks again!

Tbh, I doubt it would improve results that much- on a national scale there is such a huge spread anyway. And some children get more distracted by other things at 16!
It would be great to decide in an individual level- especially for premature babies- and seems to work in Scotland. However I'm pretty sure fundin would be a nightmare, as would you get an extra year of nursery hours? If you went in the "right"year could you claim an extra year at the end to retake/ change your choice? Or would all the march ( or whenever the cut off for flexibility was) children just become the youngest and potentially disadvantaged?
If it helps my August born son is doing fine, bit frustrated by always being on the small side, but academically great. I don't know what I would have done with a choice!

God sorry thought I had paragraphed better!

prh47bridge Sat 24-Nov-12 10:52:29

Flexibility does introduce problems with sorting out funding. It also has other issues. Teachers have to cope with a wider age spread as the oldest in the class will be more than 12 months older than the youngest.

Looking at Scotland where the system is more flexible, there was an interesting academic study a few years ago looking into development of children in P1 to P3 (broadly equivalent to infants in England). This study found that children starting school young made as much progress from P1 to P3 as others. So, although older children tended to have better performance, the younger children were progressing at the same rate and not being left behind.

Interestingly, this study also found that children in P3 who had been held back a year made less progress than other children. Unfortunately the study did not identify whether these children had been held back by the school due to poor performance or by parental choice. If they were held back due to poor performance the result is, perhaps, unsurprising. However, if they were held back due to parental choice this study suggests that it may not be in the child's interests for parents to take advantage of the flexibility on offer in Scotland.

tiggytape Sat 24-Nov-12 12:58:34

There would be pretty much no chance of success in England unless you have compelling expert evidence that says this is absolutely necessary - and even then most LAs will argue that they can cater for any additional needs in the 'correct' year group given that the normal spread of abilities is vast even for children just 12 months apart.
If your application is not based on additional needs, just purely on birthdate, your chances are pretty much zero. The flexibility only extends to start dates not moving outside the 'correct' academic year.

Saracen Sat 24-Nov-12 14:09:30

"Interestingly, this study also found that children in P3 who had been held back a year made less progress than other children. Unfortunately the study did not identify whether these children had been held back by the school due to poor performance or by parental choice. If they were held back due to poor performance the result is, perhaps, unsurprising. However, if they were held back due to parental choice this study suggests that it may not be in the child's interests for parents to take advantage of the flexibility on offer in Scotland."

I don't follow your reasoning, prh47bridge. If the children were held back due to parental choice then in a number of cases the parents will have done that because it appeared that their child was emotionally or academically unready for school at four. Doesn't it follow that this group of children will include a disproportionately high number of kids who have learning delays, ADHD etc? If that is the case, those problems won't disappear as the children get older and they may continue to make slow progress. That doesn't mean that the later school start did them any harm. Perhaps they would have had even more trouble if they had started school early.

For example, if I had lived in Scotland and had planned to send my younger child to school there, I would certainly have pressed for her to start school later, with children slightly younger than herself. This is because she has significant learning delays as well as social and physical problems. Now, two years later, like the late-starting children in the study, she is continuing to make slower progress than other children. That is to be expected regardless of when she might have started school.

Likewise, I would imagine that the Scottish children whose parents chose to send them to school young will include a disproportionate number of quite bright children, and relatively few children who have issues like my daughter's. It's to be expected that this parentally-selected group would make as good progress as the others in their classes, maybe even better.

Never heard it done but I would like to see parents given the choice. Most are over keen to get the DC off their hands and this, combined with the push for earlier and earlier nursery education makes it highly unlikely IMO.
I would probably have held back DS1 given that option, though he coped better than I expected. (This was 12 years ago when they didn't start nursery until 4).

TalkinPeace2 Sat 24-Nov-12 15:31:50

DS is in top sets of his big school
he is late August birthday.
If I HAD held him back a year he'd have spent the whole of primary bored and have probably done worse

too many parents have very unrealistic views of where their children fit into the big scheme of things

prh47bridge Sat 24-Nov-12 16:26:41

Saracen - According to the figures in this study, when they join P1 those children held down a year are performing at the same level as their contemporaries in P2. By the end of P3 they have fallen behind. But I did not make any definitive statement. I said it may not be in the child's best interests, which falls some way short of saying that it is not in the child's best interests.

PMHull Sat 24-Nov-12 16:46:54

Thank you for all your replies; this is certainly an interesting topic.

In terms of funding, I agree that there would need to be checks in place so that pre-school funding (for example) does not ending up costing more if the summer-born delays starting school. Although on this example, and I appreciate that this is only anecdotal, our son does not attend pre-school yet, even though he's 'allowed' a place by the government. And our daughter only attended pre-school for one morning a week before starting school - even though she is a September child. She was happier that way and didn't want to go any more than once a week. I guess what I'm saying is that the type of child we're talking about - that is not ready for school at the age of 4 - is less likely to be in nursery or pre-school at an early age either.

As for academic achievement, these articles (just examples) point to research that makes interesting reading:

Does it matter in which month you were born?
http://www.anthonymillard.co.uk/independent-thinking/does-it-matter-in-which-month-you-were-born

Children born in summer are '13 months behind classmates' in maths, a study has found
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2237523/Children-born-summer-13-months-classmates-maths-study-found.html

School odds stacked against summer babies, says IFS
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-15527145

That said, I think the point about whether spring-term babies might become the 'disadvantaged' ones (in general terms) is a good one, and the only thought I have on this is that even if the choice to delay some 4-year-olds was allowed, not all parents would make that choice, so in effect, the spread should remain the same. And even though some children would be a year older than others, if developmentally they are close (i.e. the August-born babies that we all hear about who go on to do really well - and who are ready for school), there shouldn't be a problem for teachers...?

TalkinPeace2, you have added to this discussion precisely what I wanted to avoid here - an anecdotal example and sweeping criticism of anyone who wants to make a different choice to the one you've made - or whose individual child is different to yours.

The whole point about choice is that you assessed your own child as ready to start school, while someone else might assess their child as not being ready. You say your child would have been bored if he hadn't started when he did - yet I can say the opposite about our daughter. She is thriving in school as a September-born baby - had she been born two weeks earlier and forced to go last year, she would have been very unhappy. Yes, she may have 'coped' but I am grateful that she's able to enjoy more than that.

mrz Sat 24-Nov-12 17:09:24

If you are a summer born child and already less mature than those born up to 11 months before you and they have a term, two terms or even a year in school learning about school and all that entails is it really surprising that you may behind your older classmates.
Now the choice is do you delay your child starting school and give their classmates a year's school experience (possible advantage) or do you wait until your child is more mature and hope they can make up the year when they start school ... it's not an easy decision

TalkinPeace2 Sat 24-Nov-12 18:15:36

PMHull
my opinions are based on feedback from DH who works in upwards of 100 schools every year
particularly the point about parents not seeing the bigger picture about how teachers deal with the spread of ages and abilities

chocolatecrispies Sat 24-Nov-12 19:21:01

I can't see why it would cause a problem with nursery funding - currently autumn born children get two terms more funded nursery as they can start the term after they turn 3 but then don't go to school until they are almost 5, as opposed to the summer born who go to school at just turned 4. I don't know why we are so rigid on this, I know of no other country which is so fixated on birthdate. Why is the peer group of an august born child considered to be those up to a year older, whereas those of a sept born child those up to a year younger?

NamingOfParts Sat 24-Nov-12 21:35:16

When we were in NL it was apparently quite normal to hold back pupils who struggled with a particular year. A friend of my DD's was held back a year. The thing we noticed was that physically she fitted right in with her new year.

I think this chimes in with chocolatecrispies view.

Apparently it takes until the age of 15 for the effect of this to unwind - I cant cite a source though I'm afraid.

ReallyTired Sat 24-Nov-12 21:45:17

A disportionate number of children with summer birthdays have statements typically for moderate learning difficulties/ emotional behavioural difficulties.

www.teachingexpertise.com/articles/summer-born-children-more-frequently-identified-having-sen-9935

I imagine that funding a couple of extra terms at nursery would be cheaper than paying for a statement for several years to come.

Prehaps the costs could be ofset by allowing precous september/ October born children to start early. Clearly there would need to be some assement paid for by the parents to allow a child to start school early.

I believe that starting children when they are ready would actually save the country money long term. More children would achieve GCSEs and there would be fewer statements.

3bunnies Sat 24-Nov-12 21:56:17

We have relatives in Scotland, whose son's birthday falls just before the cut off for deferring, as you are only allowed to defer if your child is in the last 3 months of the catchment year. They were saying that it is now very common for parents (in Edinburgh) to defer, resulting in him being one of the youngest in the class.

I think giving free choice would probably effectively shift the school starting age. Not necessarily a bad move when one looks to the continent, but their experience was that now most parents were deferring, whereas when their older dd started it was more unusual. Most children starting school in Scotland are now either 5 or within a month or two of turning 5.

NamingOfParts Sat 24-Nov-12 22:45:17

IMO the Dutch system of starting all children in the right year then seeing how they go worked well.

The starting age was 4 - they start on their 4th birthday or the day after. However the first couple of years were far less academic than they are here. Reading and writing started in year 3 though obviously the activities in the earlier years lead up to this.

It felt like a more flexible system.

adeucalione Sat 24-Nov-12 23:33:42

My DN started reception a year later than he should've done - but he is in Wales. The LEA told my DB that it was at the HT's discretion, although they didn't like doing it and often blamed the LEA; HT was sympathetic. He went through primary being the oldest in the class and has thrived - occasionally there is an issue with another parent, and they are currently having to have a conversation with the secondary school (he's Y5).

IndigoBelle Sat 24-Nov-12 23:41:34

ReallyTired - that article doesn't say they have statements. Just that they have SEN.

The vast majority of children with SEN don't get statements, nor does the school get extra funding for them.

Saracen Sun 25-Nov-12 02:43:10

"Saracen - According to the figures in this study, when they join P1 those children held down a year are performing at the same level as their contemporaries in P2. By the end of P3 they have fallen behind."

Ah, thanks for the clarification, prh47bridge. I hadn't understood that. In that case I can see why you came to the conclusion you did.

NamingOfParts Sun 25-Nov-12 09:56:58

It is possible to have a more flexible system of progressing through school.

In the Netherlands pupils start on their 4th birthday whenever that falls in the year. At our DCs school they joined a mixed group 1/2. For children who's birthdays fall early in the year they would do a full 2 years in group 1/2. The school assessed children to make sure that they would be ready for group 3. Those who were ready moved up, those who werent (generally the younger ones in the year) did another year in group 1/2.

Once in group 3 the academic work started (learning to read/write etc). Some children might find that they had gone up too early. It was not uncommon for pupils to redo year 3.

For this type of flexibility to work you need to have a curriculum which allows for this and you need the funding structured for it.

BooksandaCuppa Sun 25-Nov-12 10:11:57

It would be unheard of for your child to be allowed to be held back without any evidence that they would need it, eg just on your gut feeling that they're too young. Maybe if they already had a diagnosis of a global delay and you already had a statement in place (sometimes these children can go to an 'assessment unit' in a nursery if there is one.

It is not, however, unheard of for them to be allowed to repeat a year or be 'held back' if there were particular and exceptional reasons to do so.

I do think the nursery provision is an interesting topic (I know it's been lowered to a starting age of 2 in some deprived areas but it's not universal): Your August born child is not only up to a year younger than others in reception he/she has also had only three terms of nursery education compared to five terms for Autumn born children. That would possibly compound the differences between the average Sept and average Aug born.

Not sure there's a solution really. SOmeone has to be the youngest.

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