Following Ed Balls webchat, thread for parents of summer born babies

(325 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 11-Sep-09 17:13:54

We said we'd start this thread, as so many of you expressed an opinion on the Ed Balls webchat thread about summer-born babies and starting school.

BTW, this is a recent thread in media requests on a linked topic.

Will nip over to webchat thread and link to this.


Piffle Fri 11-Sep-09 23:08:13

<smug> october,feb and march mother

bosch Fri 11-Sep-09 23:10:48

<hmm> Sept, July and Oct mother. Not convinced at all that this is something to get het up about but July is only just 6...

blithedance Fri 11-Sep-09 23:14:24

It was interesting reading the Ed Balls webchat. My DS is late August and just started reception. He's academically quite bright, already reading, but would have failed the ATL union criteria on the radio this week of "And some come to school without being toilet-trained, unable to get dressed or use a knife and fork, says Lesley Ward, new president of the ATL union." (Well he's not 100% reliable on those things).

Already the teacher has had "words" with me about his behaviour, which is really just the last vestiges of toddlerhood coupled with an enormous dose of stress, insecurity and disorientation.

I didn't think he'd have a problem but if it doesn't settle down in a few weeks I think we will have to speak to the Head about their expectations and what support he's getting.

weegiemum Sat 12-Sep-09 07:58:43

I'm a Mum of 2 feb babies and a Nov baby - but in Scotland!

The earliest my older 2 (the feb ones) could have started school was at 4y6m, but I had the delightful choice to defer entry to school for a further year, so they both started at 5y6m. This wasn't possible for my Nov baby (I would have had to pay nursery fees for the year for her as she was pre-Christmas. SHe would have lost her free place). So she went at what I thought was the pretty young age of 4y9m.

I don't see what is wrong with allowing parents in England, Wales, N.Ireland to defer entry for a year. When mine started at 5 and a half they still went into Primary1 (reception equivalent) - which I understand is not possible - you can defer entry but then have to go straight into year 1?

purepurple Sat 12-Sep-09 08:16:28

My summer born (July) child struggled at school. He is now 20 and I think he was always playing catch-up with the older ones. At school, he was always friends with the younger children, never the older ones. Even now, at 20, he has no friends who are older than he is.
On the other hand, DD (September born) has always found school much easier.
She had 2 years at a school nursery before she started school, five afternoons a week. DS had a year at a playgroup, 3 mornings a week.
I think the different pre-schhol experiences have made a difference to both of them.
DD is confident, makes friends easily and is a real problem solver.
DS is shy, doesn't make friends easily, not very confident in his own abilities and gives up easily.

Doobydoo Sat 12-Sep-09 09:01:12

My ds1 was born 29th August[he has just turned 10][Double whammy...a summer born boy!]
Academically he has always been fine but he seems so much smaller than his peers!
I didn't know it was such a huge issue but as we have mainly home edded I did not have the worry re starting school too early.
My birthday is in July and I have never suffered for it.
It would be much better for parents to have the choice about when their children start school as they do in Ireland[where we have just recently returned to UK from].
I do feel that if ds1 was in year5 instead of year6 he would become bored with the academic side.But I think that parents know their children and should be given the choice.

primarymum Sat 12-Sep-09 09:12:04

Two boys, one end June, one end August! Both academically bright ( after a slow start by youngest who refused to read until he thought he could do it properly-but that was the AS as much as his age), both level 3's at KS1 and 5's at KS2, both passed 11+ and both went to grammar ( youngest one still there) Personally I think children are either bright or they're not. They may be less mature when in the earlier years of schooling but-as a yr 6 teacher,- they soon level out!

smugmumofboys Sat 12-Sep-09 09:18:41

Two summer born boys and, tbh, I've never worried about them . Both bright, reading well near the top of the class (and neither could read before they started school). DS1 (August) got mostly 3s in KS1.

My only problem was with DS1 in reception who was slow to settle behaviour-wise but that was only really the first term.

They are both friends with children both younger and older than them.

bronze Sat 12-Sep-09 09:28:13

I'm really worried about this. DD is an august baby. She was three months prem and was due in the october. She doesn't seem as mature as the children due at the same time as her let alone a school year ahead. She either has a hell of a lot of catching up to do this year or school is going to be a nightmare

epithet Sat 12-Sep-09 09:48:41

Good idea for a thread - dd2 (July born) has just started in Reception, and it will be interesting to compare her experience with that of her October-born sister, who has just moved up into Year 1.

I won't really be able to draw many conclusions from it, I realise - there are lots of variables in play. Dd2, as second-born, has always been more 'driven', wanting to catch up with her sister, so I'm not worried about her academically. I think the social aspect might be more difficult for her.

(I am July-born and never struggled at school academically, but I did have lots of trouble 'fitting in' with my peers.)

Fayrazzled Sat 12-Sep-09 09:48:44

My son is an August born due to start reception next week. There are always posts on threads like these where people pop up to say their summer born child's experience was fine- they're bright and have cruised through school- etc etc but really it's not very reassuring for many of us in this position. The overwhelming evidence, as opposed to anecdotes, is that summer borns, especially boys, fare less well at school and are in fact disadvantaged by their birthdays. They do not catch up and there remains a difference in the results of summer borns at the end of their school years; something like 20% fewer July and August born children go to university than those born earlier in the school year.*

To me, such a disadvantage is totally unacceptable. And it would be easily fixed by allowing parents to choose whether they send their just turned 4 year old to school or wait a year to send their just turned 5 year old to school the following year. But the crucial point, (and I hope Mr Balls reads this thread because it was fudged on the webchat) is that these children need to start in reception, not year one. I honestly fail to see why this is so difficult to achieve. Other countries manage it with no problems. It's not rocket science. All this bollocks about "Every Child Matters" really annoys me. Every child doesn't matter or we wouldn't have this situation.

*BTW, I'm not suggesting an education is all about getting to university at the end of it. It is about emotional and social education as well as academic. But younger children are more likely to be emotionally and socially immature compared to their older peers too.

teamcullen Sat 12-Sep-09 09:57:41

I have two summer borns. When DD (13) started school she was more than ready as she was very bright so there was no problems. She didnt fall behind or struggle in any way, so we were very lucky.

DS (7) would have found it difficult if he was at a school where children are expected to spend the majority of the day sitting at desks in a traditional classroom. However, we have a purpous built foundation unit at our school. Children are here from age 3-5 and we have foundation 1 (nursery) and foundation 2 (reception). Children still do the majority of their learning through play and social interaction. They are taken to a quite area in small groups to do more structured work. They have lots of circle time. The unit is set up to have discrete areas for learning and children have to move to different areas throughout the day.

This means that the transgression from nursery to full time school is smooth with a lot less tears. By the time they get to year one all the children are ready for a more traditional classroom set up.

i have an end of august born boy. he has just had his 6th birthday and has just started year 2!shock

he will be taking his sats while he is still 6 . it's bad enough that we have testing for 7 year olds but for 6 year olds?hmm

we have had comments in his reading diary like 'ds2 really needs to work on his fluency'

he's been bloody good to be reading at all at 5!!!!

it's wrong wrong wrong. all this guff about rising 5' is 4 and 2 weeks 'rising 5'?? which is when ds started school

Buda Sat 12-Sep-09 10:20:55

I posted on the Ed Balls thread and have posted on this subject many times.

My DS is an August birthday. He started nursery at 3 and went into Reception at 4. He wasn't interested in the academic side in any way for the first term. Teacher was great and didn't push him. He started getting interested about mid way through the Spring term. Coped fine all in all.

In Year 1 the differences became more apparent. He was way behind those who were 6 months to a year older than him.

In Year 2 it was even more apparent.

Ditto Year 3.

We are now in Year 4 and he is in bottom group for maths and needs a lot of extra support and help. Is also having support with fine motor skills.

If he was in Year 3 he would be fine.

Knowing that he is 'bottom' of the class pretty much and struggling and needing extra support/work/help has really impacted his confidence. Which makes him even more likely to fall further behind.

We are very lucky that we are in private school (currently overseas) and will return to UK in 2 years to a private school and we are planning on him repeating Year 5. New school don't have a problem with it unless he is top of class (which I know full well he won't be).

It is a load of rubbish and extremely short-sighted and damn well stupid to say that if a child is not ready for Reception at 4 then they should go straight into Year 1 at 5. Being not ready for Reception at 4 means that they will be ready for Reception at 5. It is not rocket science.

As others have pointed out it is not just about how a 4 year old copes with Reception. Summer born boys are less likely to do well academically. Having seen my DS I would say that part of this is because their confidence gets knocked at such a young age.

Of course there will always be exceptions. But in the main summer born children (esp boys) will do nothing but benefit from being able to defer their entry INTO RECEPTION until they are 5.

Denmark start boys a whole year younger than girls. Doesn't seem to cause problems.

As I stated on the other thread and someone else pointed out here, there is much more flexibility in Ireland. Legally a child can start school the term after they turn 4 but they do not HAVE to start until the term after they turn 5. Again the schools manage this. It does not pose organisational problems. It does not seem to pose problems as the children advance through the educational system.

I am sure the Irish Department of Education would be more than happy to show their English/Welsh equivalents how it works.

I also think it is totally, totally ludicrous to expect children who have been more premature to start based on their birthdate.

As far as I can see it is seen as not easy to change the current system. It may well not be easy. But the current system is not working and failing many summer borns. Particularly boys.

cory Sat 12-Sep-09 10:30:59

When I grew up in Sweden, parents who had children born at the end of the Yr 9 (so would have been 6 rather than 7 at the start of term) were allowed to decide for themselves, usually following discussions with the school nurse, whether the child was to start at 6 or defer a year. I started at 61/2; our neighbour's son at 7 1/2. We both went into the first year. Very civilised imo.

Ds was prem; should have been a summer birthday if adjusted. And has definitely been at a disadvantage throughout his time at school.

paddingtonbear1 Sat 12-Sep-09 11:13:46

my dd was 6 in July, and has just gone into yr 2. She wasn't ready to start school at 4 and has always struggled. In her old (very academic) school she managed to learn a fair bit in reception, despite not being that interested, but it took a lot of bribing/chivvying and some tears - dh and I didn't like this but it was what the school expected. Yr 1 was worse, and in the end we changed her school to another nearby where there's not so much pressure. It is better but she's still well behind, doesn't have much confidence and has poor concentration. She'd be far better in the year below.

MoonlightMcKenzie Sat 12-Sep-09 11:25:34

Statistics show that the majority of male prisoners are summer-born.

I think this whole summer thing is misleading tbh though. Children should start school when they are ready. They should access a curriculum and educational setting appropriate to their needs. The age thing is a red herring. What about SEN and G&T, and, well just general social and emotional development. Other countries have very different starting ages and there appears to be no marked difference between the education levels reached by them and us (some evidence to show later starters might do better).

From my experience, born on 30th August, I always felt I was "thicker" than my friends because I couldn't grasp stuff - this went all the way up to middle school I think.
Don't know if that helps or I have contributed to this very interesting thread but that's my take on it.

Buda Sat 12-Sep-09 11:43:09

MoonlightMcKenzie - I totally agree. In fact a friend's DS was in my DS's class and is a September birthday but was put into year ahead as very bright.

We parents know our children. We should be allowed to decide for ourselves. As I said Ireland (and other countries) manage.

Rindercella Sat 12-Sep-09 12:06:39

Having seen the problems DSS had at school (he has a late Aug b'day), and how badly he suffered for being the youngest in his year, I was actually trying to keep my legs crossed so that DD was born in September. She was born 30th Aug hmm and has just turned 2.

We are thinking that DD will be privately educated so that we can work with the school to see when we all think she is ready to progress to the next year rather than be dictated to by the LEA.

As well as DD's physical and intellectual development, her emotional readiness to be in school with children a year older than her needs to be taken into account. I believe this to be a very important point that is frequently overlooked.

I guess we are lucky that we have the option of private education for DD. Otherwise, she would end up at a primary state in a class of 50 (with two teachers of course hmm), getting totally lost. I have absolutely no confidence that the State system is equipped to give my DD the education we desire.

Btw, this isn't an attempt by me to get into a private vs state debate, I just wanted to say that this is what we personally want to do. smile

fruitshootsandheaves Sat 12-Sep-09 13:04:34

I agree with Buda. It is alot to do with having a knock to their confidence when they start school with children almost a year older than them who seem miles ahead. Once they lose thier confidence and 'friends' make comments then it gets really hard to make them feel they can achieve anything.

Due to spectacularly bad planning and the fact that the only month I seemed able to conceive I have 3 August born children!
DD1 28th, DS1 19th and DS2 5th.
They have all struggled except DS1 who did struggle for a couple of years until he appeared to be brainwashed and reprogrammed with superior alien intelligence in year 4.
DS2 is now 8. He can't read or write anywhere near the standard he is 'supposed' to be at, nor does he seem to have any desire to try! I think this is partly due to a confidence knock and comments from a few not-so-well meaning friends when he first started school.
But it could just be that I am a crap mum!

Fayrazzled Sat 12-Sep-09 13:44:19

I think the self-confidence/ esteem point is a very important one. My son may only just be 4, but he is acutely aware of what he can't do in comparison with his peers. He knows he can't hold a pencil as well as the vast majority, for example, and becomes very frustrated at his attempts to do so. It's so upsetting to watch- and I can see his confidence falter.

Plus, my son is relatively lucky in that I'm aware of the issue. i can be here to support him where I can, praise him and give him as much of my time as he needs. But what about those children who for very many reasons have parents who can't or won't? Is it acceptable for them to be left behind all because of their birthdate?

I notice that (I think but can't check)without exception, all of those who have posted to say there wasn't an issue for their summer born children have gone on to say how "bright" or "very bright" those children are. What about the children who aren't bright? Where does the system leave them?

GirlsAreLOud Sat 12-Sep-09 14:05:32

Moonlight, which statistics show this? Can you give a breakdown of research? I'd love to read it.

Buda Sat 12-Sep-09 14:29:30

fruitshoots - my DS is 5th Aug too and is also 8. Twins!

Was just talking to my sis today and she said that in Ireland they don't legally have to be in school until they are 6!!! It is quite rare that a child won't start until then but her DS has just started and he will be 5 this month. He will be second youngest in the year.

angelstar Sat 12-Sep-09 14:56:38

My August born ds has just started year 3 and already doesn't want to go to school and I have to drag him out of bed. I would love for him to be in year 2 again. he says the work is too hard in year 3 and they just work all day. I'm worried that he will just give up and become the class clown (his last school report said he liked to make his friends laugh)

Sari Sat 12-Sep-09 16:35:21

I have a June boy and an August boy. In ds1's case I am very glad he is summer born because he is far ahead of everyone else in his year in most areas, is very confident and often bored at school, saying he does not learn anything. I can only imagine these problems would have been exacerbated by him being almost a year older.

Ds2 has an August birthday and is in the top groups but it is very obvious that the brightest in his year are October/November children. Next to them he believes he is far less clever and as a result his confidence can be lacking. Where the age difference really shows is in his writing and, while I do believe he will catch up, it does show that he is much younger than some of the others. He would probably have been better off in the year below .

With both boys we were lucky in that they did not start in reception until January as there were two intakes. While they then had to play catch-up after having only two terms of reception I think this was better for them than starting full days at just 4. This has now been abolished and the children I see starting in reception having just turned 4 look tiny and exhausted. I think it must be very stressful for them.

DD is now nearly 4 and has an October birthday. It does actually worry me more that she will be old for her year but that is obviously another thread. At the moment I am very glad she will not be off to school for another year.

MoonlightMcKenzie Sat 12-Sep-09 17:16:49

GirlsAreLoud Can't remember the research. Came across it moons ago when doing my pyschology degree. Can't be that difficult to find though if you are inclined.

lingle Sat 12-Sep-09 20:49:49

Being "Bright" and being "Ready for School" are two different things. Sure they tend to overlap in areas of (i)memory and (ii)concentration skills, but that's it.

As is quite well known on Mumsnet, my DS2 is 4.0, born in late August and in his second nursery year. He will start reception in the Bradford LEA at 5.0 and his entire education will be offset until he is in year 13. He has a language delay but I made the choice as of right - it was offered to everyone with a child born after the end of the Easter holidays.

There is absolutely no shadow of a doubt in my mind that we have done the right thing.

GirlsAreLOud Sat 12-Sep-09 21:04:17

Just seen Piffle's contribution to this thread.


Sycamoretreeisvile Sat 12-Sep-09 21:34:31

<sticks head in sand and hides this thread>

Two August babies. First starts reception on Monday.

I don't know why. This thread has made me angry

Doobydoo Sat 12-Sep-09 22:15:15

'Statistics show that the majority of male prisoners are summer born'

Where did you get that info?

What a load of pantsangry

Doobydoo Sat 12-Sep-09 22:18:00

Don't be too smug Piffle...following on from Starlightmckenzies highly accuratehmm statistic...Children born in winter are more likely to suffer from depression.

This thread has made me cross too.

I have recently returned from Ireland where children can start school later and I think parents should have the choice .

MoonlightMcKenzie Sat 12-Sep-09 22:30:00

LOL, - seriously I used it in an essy when studying my first degree. Could be more complex than that, - might have been drug related crimes. I don't have time atm but you're all bugging me at your disbelief, so I'll definately get onto it.

mooki Sat 12-Sep-09 22:34:54

Cambridge Assessment does academic research on education issues.

This is a meta-study of published on birth-date effects.

From the executive summary:

There is robust evidence from around the world that, on average, the youngest children in their year group at school perform at a lower level than their older classmates (the ‘birthdate effect’). This is a general effect found across large groups of pupils. Specific Summer-born pupils may be progressing well, but the strength of the effect for the group as a whole is an issue of very significant concern.


The birthdate effect is evident in the relative proportions of students who undertake higher education. The percentage of GCSE students going on to take at least one A level drops from 35% in September-born students to 30.0% for August-born students. Likewise, September-born students are 20% more likely to go to university than their August-born peers.


There are competing theories regarding birthdate effects. One is the ‘length of schooling’ hypothesis - when school admissions are staggered over the year then the youngest have the least schooling. Another is the ‘relative age’ hypothesis - even with the same length of schooling, the youngest in a year group will be, on average, less mature – cognitively, socially and emotionally – than their older classmates, leading to unequal competition in all 3 domains that could impact negatively on the younger group. Although it is sometimes difficult to disentangle these two hypotheses, evidence tends to support the latter. Using a common start date does not solve the problem of this type of disadvantage.

Doobydoo Sat 12-Sep-09 22:38:05

Maybe they are all in prison because of the negative impact of being the youngest!wink

Anyway,I think it is annnother thing for us all to get worked up about.

Give parents a choice ED.

AitchwonderswhoFruitCrumbleis Sat 12-Sep-09 22:50:23

am very interested in this, we're in scotland and dd1 is right on the margin of the last intake date. because of the deferment option available to some children she could feasibly be in a class with kids a year and a bit older than her... she's a good wee cookie but emotionally i just can't see why i should do that to her.

NotanOtter Sat 12-Sep-09 23:16:54

i actively want summer born babies and i have experience of parenting - 2 summer 2 autumn and two in the middle

i think summer born can be an advantage

agree with bosch that it's no biggy

autumn born makes children lazy and 'big fish in small pond' mentality

upamountain Sat 12-Sep-09 23:53:44

I agree it is the choice that is the key.Some summer borns are ready while others are not but within the English system they are expected to catch up.

My personal view comes from the fact I also have ds2 with some language delay who will start reception at just 4 year next September.

He has only just potty trained this month,can't use scissors yet,can't peddle a trike - still pushes with his feet,still just scribbles when drawing and has lots of play/social skills he needs to gain.

I know he will struggle at school, maybe not so much in reception which is more play based and will hopefully enable him to gain the skills he would have still been learning in pre school but in Year 1 where he will be grouped according to ability and expected to sit and write.

If I had an option I would definately hold him back a year so like Lingle's son who was lucky to have an enlightened education authority he could start reception a year later (not note Year 1).

Starting straight into Year 1 really is neither here nor there as this just misses the learning through play reception stage.This suggestion on Ed Ball's reply I assume is pandering to the Rose report which deduces summer born children just need more formal education earlier and all will be well.

I cannot understand why there is no flexibility at all in the system according to whether those involved in the preschool setting and parents feel there is a need.I am sure this would save money within the education system ultimately on those children who need extra help at school that an extra year of preschool/play and development/maturity would have helped .

My ds is still a baby really and I already feel there is alot I have to do to get him school ready at 4 when he should just still be at a preschool and would be in most other countries.

The answer is to adopt the system that is in place in Scotland and lots of other countries where there is the option to allow children to start reception the year later when they have actually turned 5.This would enable some summer born children to achieve their potential without formal intervention within school.

purepurple Sun 13-Sep-09 07:40:19

Actually, I think the answer is to delay starting school for all children. Send them at 6 or 7 when they are more able to cope with
We start our children far too young in England. You only have to look at Sweden to see the results that they have with their children.

lingle Sun 13-Sep-09 09:18:07

purepurple, whilst I suspect you are right, that is perhaps too big a change to expect: but a Scottish-style degree of flexibility would be so easy to introduce.

The key report is "When you are Born Matters" by the Institute of Financial Studies. Well worth a read but pretty depressing.

It's hardly worth bothering to read Jim Rose's report which was supposed to incorporate the findings of "When you are Born Matters" as he appears to have just failed to do his job.

Your chances of ending up on the SEN register are something like 55% greater if you are an August-born girl rather than a September-born girl (can't remember the exact figure but it's in that report).

GirlsAreLOud Sun 13-Sep-09 09:40:16

I come from a family of teachers and my Mum and both her siblings all have both summer and early autumn born children. All did well at school, all went to university, no discernible differences (except where the August-borns out-performed the autumn-born siblings).

Obviously this is very anecdotal, but I don't view being summer-born as the 'disability' many seem to view it as. I'm August-born and did very well academically. If anything, I think being younger taught me the value of hard-work and tenacity. If at first you don't succeed...It's a lesson I've applied to many areas of my life since and one I'm very grateful to have learnt.

MrsSnoops Sun 13-Sep-09 11:29:10

I read this and it makes me feel so sick and worried for my DS. He is just turned 3 at the end of August and whilst he is bright he is socially way behind his peers who will be the same school year as him. It makes me feel angry that we are not able to do something for our kids. Surely there is some thing we can do? Why should be accept that our kids are disadvantaged because the government refuses to be flexible?

unknownrebelbang Sun 13-Sep-09 11:40:55

I've got two August-born, and one born in October. All in secondary at the moment.

The 15 year old is quite academic, and coped admirably at school, although there have been some startling difference between him and his classmates, most notably in reception when his first friend was a September-born boy, and probably now he's become a teenager. How much this is down to month of birth and difference in parenting I'm not sure.

The 11 year old is also very bright. He coped less well and went through an aggressive phase during the infants. He tries to make up for his lack of maturity but becomes overbearing at times.

Both are slightly bigger than average for their ages and look older than they are (another problem DS3 had to deal with).

Our October-born (middle) child is not academic at all, and really struggles with schoolwork, and can be quite immature generally.

go figure.

unknownrebelbang Sun 13-Sep-09 11:42:04

Both me and DH are August-born too.

clam Sun 13-Sep-09 11:47:55

Sari, the Autumn-born children in the "top" groups in your DS's class are not necessarily "brighter" than he is, they're just further ahead developmentally - at the moment.

A few years ago I taught a Year 2 class and, yes, the Autumn-borns were mostly in the upper groups. When I then taught the same class again in Year 6 a few years later, the profile had changed completely, as the summer-borns had all progressed and everyone had shaken down into a pattern more to do with their ability (and attitude and home support etc...) than their age.

Also, there is a huge overlap between yeargroups, so a child in the "bottom" group in one year, would still be working at a lower level than probably the top half or two thirds of the class below. I'm speaking very generally here. And if my DS (August) had been born a week or two later I might have spent much of his primary school career wondering if he was being sufficiently challenged and would be better off in the class above. Might have. If I'd been at all bothered about it. I certainly don't think it's worth worrying yourself sick over it. They cope. It's life. Sometimes it seems unfair, but there are so many other variables that affect progress anyway.

MrsWeasley Sun 13-Sep-09 12:18:45

dd1 was an end of June baby and always been fine at school in top have of year (she is year 10 now)
DS4 was an end of october baby and is about average at school overall.

Other 2 are Jan and Feb born and one is exceptionally bright and one is struggling.

I'm not convinced when you are born makes a awful amount of difference in your ability maybe its more of an attitude thing.

The amount the child wants to do something is a major factor and you cant rule out how much a childs homelife effects their learning too.

singersgirl Sun 13-Sep-09 12:27:46

Statistically, though, it does make a difference, and those of us with academically able August-born children are just lucky - or rather, our children are lucky.

I have quoted anecdotal data about my DSs' classes all over the place on Mumsnet - DS2 still in Y3 only summer-born child in top maths group, only summer-born child in top reading group, only boy born after December in any of these groups. So it's not DS2 I'm worrying about - he appears to have lucked out in the 'able to do well at school' lottery. But what about all the other summer-born children in his class?

This year, for example, when the head of Reception reported to the governing body on writing interventions, one governor specifically asked how many summer-born children had achieved the highest level she mentioned. None of them had.

Social and emotional readiness is another matter altogether, and both my boys have seemed notably immature at times. DS1 would definitely have benefited from being amongst the oldest in the cohort.

GirlsAreLOud Sun 13-Sep-09 12:33:49

These debates often get so polarised though - September-born vs August-born. It's not like the entire class is made up on only these two groups.

Lilymaid Sun 13-Sep-09 13:08:30

The statistics certainly show that when you are born does matter. My anecdotal evidence is from my DS, born in August, who went through most of his school career not quite understanding what he was doing. We always reckoned he was about 6 months behind where he should have been, so would have absolutely fine if he had been in the next school year down. The problem is that English school years start on 1st September and, in the state sector, it is almost impossible to "go down" a year - even if you have a very premature child who was born in August instead of at his/her due date in October/November.
DS (aged 18) has just about caught up with his year group (suddenly around the age of 15/16 it was as though all the connections worked and his brain really got into action)- but it is such a pity that he spent so much of his school time in a bit of a fog of not quite understanding!

clam Sun 13-Sep-09 14:49:09

But lilymaid, that might well have also been the case if he'd been born in April. There's got to be a cut-off somewhere. And by the end of Year 6, there can be an ability range of up to 7 years within a class. So some will be achieving at the level of a 14 year-old, and others at age 7. Teachers just have to cater for them all by differentiating the work. Just as would happen if they were in the class below. So, strictly speaking, they ought to be given work matching their ability regardless of which class they're in. Ideally. Not sure it always happens however.
Teachers try very hard not to damn by comparison, beyond the basic observation that Child A might be behaving maturely whereas B is different. But they must nonetheless be catered for, and handled appropriately.

Lilymaid Sun 13-Sep-09 15:22:16

"There's got to be a cut-off somewhere."
Agreed, but there is little chance in the state sector for children to repeat years/drop down years. What a pity that some children are short changed by the system because of this "cut off".
As for differentiating work - yes, I know very well that this is done. However, SATs, GCSEs and AS/A2 are hurdles to be got through by the summer born child at an earlier age than for autumn born children. I'm pretty sure that DS would have fared far better in his GCSEs had he been 16 years 10 months when he took them, rather than 15 years 10 months.
I'd love to see a statistical study of OU graduates as I suspect many of those who go into higher education as mature students were summer born children who under achieved at school.

MoonlightMcKenzie Sun 13-Sep-09 15:25:42

'There's got to be a cut off somewhere'


FWIW I was an August born OU graduate. No A-Levels!

prettybird Sun 13-Sep-09 15:51:21

"There's got to be a cut-off somewhere."

Wrong: there can be a degree of flexibility - as in the Scottish system. You can give parents the genuine choice to defer (not the illogicla one of missing out on a year's schooling), so that there is a degree of overlap amongest the children.

In Scotland children start school aged between 4 years 4.5 months and just about 6 (March cut-off) - although in practice the age range is narrower than that as most of the September-December children choose not defer (not leat of which 'cos the councils usually won't continue the free nursery places). And not all the January/Febraury babies are edferred as they are ready for school. But guess what? because "every child matters" wink, people are able to make a judgement on whether their child is ready.

fircone Sun 13-Sep-09 17:22:04

I think this is a middle class worry.

When I went to the 'starting school' meeting there were quite a few parents who were complaining that their dcs couldn't start school full time straightaway, whatever their position in the year.

I think if flexibility were introduced you'd have all the anxious middle class parents busting to get their dcs into the year below - I know I would!

Fwiw I have two August children. Ds has always been at the top of his class. But he is not very grown up and that really shows when you compare him to older children in the year. He has the double whammy of having a small mother and being bad at PE, so he's done for in the sporty department. In fact it is well documented that anyone of a sporty inclination is penalised by being the youngest in the year.

Even worse, I understand that July and August-borns are well and truly **ed when it comes to getting a holiday job post GCSEs as they're not yet 16 when term ends.

Lilymaid Sun 13-Sep-09 18:04:44

As far as post-GCSE holiday jobs are concerned, these always seem to be few and far between. Most jobs are taken by older students who have already got experience. However, many weekend jobs come available in September when students go off to university, so a summer born child is not at a disadvantage there!

justagirlfromedgware Sun 13-Sep-09 18:10:15

My DS August born, aged 11 has just started secondary. I would say he finally caught up academically last year.

Reception was fine - he has a wonderful teacher who, upon discovering he didn't yet have the muscle control to hold a pencil, devised exercises for him to do, drawing circles in sand. Why he should have been rushed to write at age 4 and a week is another matter, but the first year was generally fine. We then had the misfortune of needing to move him to another school. The school has a wonderful reputation but for DS it was a disaster. Year after year we were told by his teachers how "slow" he was and how "immature" he was. For god's sake, how mature is a 6 year old meant to be? He was verbally put down in the classroom by his wretched teachers, which made him a social pariah in a class where there was anyway an imbalance age and sex so that there was only one other boy like him in age and maturity. One of his teachers would repeatedly say: "oh you're so slow, what's the matter with you" in front of the class (I witnessed this myself when collecting him one day and obviously pulled her up on it, but the damage had been done by then). Clearly he'd been labelled by teacher after teacher as "slow" etc and it was only in Year 5 that a new teacher to the school looked at us at the first parents' evening and said "I don't recognise the child described by my colleagues - he's absolutely fine, what's the problem?" Sadly, five years of put-downs and difficulties socially did their bit in taking away his self-esteem.

Several things have turned this into a happy ending: 1) he made a few good friends out of school who have made him realise there's nothing wrong with him socially; 2) we got him a tutor in year 5 to build up his strength in maths (which he is good at) and the weekly one-to-one and constant encouragement have made him blossom academically and 3) he is now in a new school where he has reinvented himself as the bright, confident, lovely child he is.

The moral of this long story is this: teachers in primary schools MUST have a better approach to teaching summer boys and girls. It is an absolute scandal that, given the absurdity of the rigid intake rules, that there is no programme to ensure our children are given a positive start to their academic life. This isn't just a matter of making children ready for university - it is a matter of making sure they are ready for a life of enjoying learning, not creating years of misery, and in some cases I've seen, turning them off schooling entirely.

NotanOtter Sun 13-Sep-09 19:56:35

fircone - by gcse year ds had 2000 in the bank - all of it earned

he is august 20th

drosophila Sun 13-Sep-09 20:13:24

I know someone who lied about the DOB of their child and to this day it has never been discovered. Not sure how she managed it as I would have thought she would have to produce a birth cert at some point. The child is now in the 6th form.

lingle Sun 13-Sep-09 20:21:53

OK let's turn it around.

Does anyone think it would be a bad idea to move to the Scottish system?

dogonpoints Sun 13-Sep-09 20:26:23

Research was carried out recently in Scotland that showed that the youngest boys did tend to suffer academically and that this disadvantage lasted throughout secondary school. I remember reading it in TESS.

NotanOtter Sun 13-Sep-09 20:26:45

yes i do
they have to catch up sometime

Lilymaid Sun 13-Sep-09 20:39:56

Link to recent item on BBC News site.
Story of identical twins seems astonishing (or is it an urban myth?)

clam Sun 13-Sep-09 20:40:18

Catch up with whom/what? The school cohorts are based on an arbitrary cut-off date. If you know that your child is young compared with their class peers, then you know_ to treat any comparisons with a pinch of salt and compare them with their actual contemporaries in real life, even if they are in the next class down.
And they'll learn what they learn when they're ready to absorb it, irrespective of when the education authorities say they should learn it.
When my DCs were in reception, had their teachers said "oh, they're a bit behind the rest of the class in reading" or whatever, I'd have shrugged and said, "that'll be because they're nearly a year younger than many of the rest of them. They'll be fine." As indeed they were.

dogonpoints Sun 13-Sep-09 20:43:07

But dioesn't it make more sense, clam, that those young children who are behind or noticeably more immature are just held back until the following year instead of saying all teh way through school 'oh they're a year behind'. Just put them a year behind.

And re 'they'll be fine'. Well, research suggests not as fine as they could be if held back.

NotanOtter Sun 13-Sep-09 20:43:32

agree clam
by staggering the entrance the child just gets less education imo
they all take exams at the same age regardless of age
i like 11+ system of a wee bit of age weighting

dogonpoints Sun 13-Sep-09 20:45:04

No, staggering not good. One entry date but with the option of holding back the youngest until the following year.

NotanOtter Sun 13-Sep-09 20:48:49

i am the opposite to the majority here
i am a wildly pushy parent academically blush yet the only month of the year which i will not try for babies in is december (resulting in september born)
i think being younger instills drive and a work ethic in a lot of children
sailing in top of the pile results in a lazier attitude

clam Sun 13-Sep-09 20:58:45

OK, well what defines "the youngest?" End of August? Whole of August? All summer term-borns? Or anyone who fancies it?

And what happens to the intake of the next class, when a non-defined number of kids are denied a place in reception because there are kids from the year above whose parents have elected to hold them back?

Lilymaid Sun 13-Sep-09 21:04:08

It is fine to be "wildly pushy parent academically" if your child is developmentally up to it. DS2 just could not manage academically up to the age of 15 - and then it all started to fall into place. He will now happily do A2 maths problems/discuss the articles he's read in the Economist etc. On the other hand DS1 never had any problems academically - it all came easily to him, so a "wildly pushy parent" would have found no problems there.
DH only really took off academically in the 6th form - he "failed" his 11+, got unspectacular O Levels at 16 and an Exhibition to Oxford at 18.

NotanOtter Sun 13-Sep-09 21:11:02

i enjoy any challenge so the less able of my dcs benefit more from my leanings iyswim

what i cannot abide is a 'dont need to work to be top' approach
my older in the year have suffered from this - fine in small pond - awful when chucked out to sea

blithedance Sun 13-Sep-09 21:32:23

I don't have any worry about my children's intelligence, it's their developmental immaturity that will put them back in the very early years. Can you really force a child to hold a pencil or manipulate shoes/buttons before their fingers are strong enough, any more than you can force them to walk before they're ready?

dogonpoints Sun 13-Sep-09 22:43:51

clam, the 'youngest' are usually those born in teh last two months prior to cut off date, although some children younger than that can be held back based on discussions and opinions of nursery teachers.

What will happen to the intake of the next class? Absolutely nothing. What do you think might happen? Parents and teachers are generally sensible and will not hold a child back unless they think there is a reason for doing so.

It has been working like this in Scotlan for a long time. There are no ill effects.

prettybird Sun 13-Sep-09 22:45:25

Actaully Notanottter - in Scotland they don't all take exams at the same age - they take exams in the same year. The one thing in Scotland that is rigid is that you have to spend 7 years in primary school. So, if your parents choose to defer you (which is where the flexibility is: there is an overlap in the age range within a school year, so that kids can be more than year older - or younger - than you), you *still spend 7 years in primary school. And then in secondary, if you choose to go all the way to the "end", you spend 6 years in secondary school. 13 years schooling in Scotland, if you do the hwole whack and don't leave as soon as you turn 16. (Actually, there is even more flexibility in Scotland, as it is possible to go to Uni after 5 years rather than 6, but that is a whole separate topic grin).

It is still possible to be a "wildly pushy parent" in Scotland and get your Febraury born child into school "early" - but only after an educational assessment that supports the need of the child to do so. But it is rare.

dogonpoints Sun 13-Sep-09 22:51:19

What do you mean by your last sentence, pretty? Lots of Feb birthdays start school at 4.5

NotanOtter Sun 13-Sep-09 22:52:19

interesting very intersting sounds good but difficukt to administrate

dogonpoints Sun 13-Sep-09 22:52:57

It is not difficult to adminiser at all. Why would it be?

prettybird Sun 13-Sep-09 23:39:48

In Scotland, the "cut-off" is beginning of March - so if you were a February baby, you would normally start the following year. But it is possible - albeit rare - to apply for early entry. Or am I getting it back to front (it's late grin) Anyway - kids can apply to go to school who are younger than the norm, but they have to jump through hoops to do so and it is not common in Scoltand (for all the reasons already mentioned on this thread), as the flexibility is normally the other way, with people holding the younger kids back, so that instead of being the youngest in the year, they end up being the oldest - and in some cases, will be more than year older than other kids in the same class.

Notanotter - why is it difficult to administrate? You merely register your child in the January (or thereabouts - it varies betwen education departments) of the year you want your child to start school (which would be in the August of that year as there is only one intake).

prettybird Sun 13-Sep-09 23:40:00

In Scotland, the "cut-off" is beginning of March - so if you were a February baby, you would normally start the following year. But it is possible - albeit rare - to apply for early entry. Or am I getting it back to front (it's late grin) Anyway - kids can apply to go to school who are younger than the norm, but they have to jump through hoops to do so and it is not common in Scoltand (for all the reasons already mentioned on this thread), as the flexibility is normally the other way, with people holding the younger kids back, so that instead of being the youngest in the year, they end up being the oldest - and in some cases, will be more than year older than other kids in the same class.

Notanotter - why is it difficult to administrate? You merely register your child in the January (or thereabouts - it varies betwen education departments) of the year you want your child to start school (which would be in the August of that year as there is only one intake).

notimetoshop Mon 14-Sep-09 00:02:44

It is a important topic, more so as the difference between what is law and what actually happens is so wide.
It is still law that you don't have to start your child in school until the term after their fifth birthday (as in Ireland) - unfortunately you try finding a school which will do this. You have to enter in reception, if you want a place.
Reception intake is September-only for an increasing number of places. That means that a summerborn child starts when they are only just 4 - although the legal starting date has not changed.

Someone mentioned being born in August and not feeling it handicapped them. The interesting, and not much used bit of research, about it is that although fewer summerborns go to Uni. Those that do, do better.

lingle Mon 14-Sep-09 09:11:09

OK let's try again.

My son was non-verbal at 3.0 and had a receptive language delay. That means he didn't understand language beyond the 18 month level.

Quote from paediatrician: "I think it would be a really good idea if he started in reception a year later"

Quote from Council's special needs support teacher: "I think that deferring him a year is the best option."

Quote from excellent reception teacher:"Well whatever happens he quite obviously won't be ready for me in September 2009. Send him to me in September 2010"

Quote from speech therapist:"Being an August-born boy is already a double whammy, but being an August born boy with a language delay this severe would be a triple whammy".

Said boy is now developing fast and his language abilities should catch up with his contemporaries within the next year or so - in time for him to access the reception curriculum in 2010.

Notanotter, are you still saying that all of us are wrong and that we are somehow failing to instill a work ethic" in this child? And please don't say "oh special needs are different". My boy is just at the extreme end of the developmental spectrum, and lots of other kids, particularly boys, have similar problems albeit less severe. Plonk them in reception at 4.0 with these problems and they'll be put off for life.

lingle Mon 14-Sep-09 09:20:09

PS should add that I am perhaps the only person in the UK who counts having kids in the Bradford LEA as her luckiest ever break in life bar none!

But thanks to Jim Rose, Bradford is now abandoning its enlightened policy (not helped by the retirement of the exec. member who had fought for it).

I managed to secure an exception for kids where the parents obtain a professional recmmendation to defer which was something I suppose.

clam Mon 14-Sep-09 09:50:12

dogonpoints - it's a logistical question.
All our local primary schools are hugely over-subscribed. It's a real issue here, as in other places, to get a reception place (or secondary place at 11, come to that). Siblings take priority, which can account for up to 50% of the available places, although a few years back in my closest school, 22 out of 30 places were taken up by siblings.
So there is fierce competition for the remaining places. Imagine the outcry (on MN if not everywhere else!) if some of those places became ring-fenced for children who'd already had their "turn" at the school place lottery and chosen to repeat/defer the year. The place they've left open in their original chohort would not be available to a younger child whose parents wanted to skip a year and accelerate them.

Jux Mon 14-Sep-09 10:08:49


Bramshott Mon 14-Sep-09 10:23:44

My DDs are both spring born, but I fail to see why we can't replicate the Scottish system to some extent, whereby children whose birthdays are say between May and August can choose to start in Reception and 4 and a bit, or Reception at 5 and a bit. As far as I can tell, no-one has given a coherent reason why a 5 yrs 3 months child starting Reception is somehow going to be disadvantaged later on (IIRC, Ed Balls just said "yes, we thought about deferring school entry into Yr R, but we didn't think it was a good idea", without giving more details).

midnightexpress Mon 14-Sep-09 10:32:10

Reading this thread makes me very happy to be living in Scotland grin, where the system seems so much better, in several ways. I have November and late Jan boys, due to start school 2010 and 2011, and it is very good to know that I can defer them both for a year if I feel that they are not ready for p1. Even if they start 'on time', they will still be older than the youngest starters in England, because of the March cut-off.

Without wishing in any ^way to start off a discussion of the merits or otherwise of a Steiner education, the starting age does seem to be one area where they have got things right. We have friends whose daughter turned 7 in the summer and is just starting in the first class in a Steiner school now. She could have started last year (which of course would be very late by English standards at over 6), but the school and parents had many discussions about what was right for her and decided to start her this year. She seems happy, bright and raring to go.

Finally, as a cynic, I have my doubts about the government's motivations for pushing children into school at 4. Is it because it benefits the child, or is it because it frees up the parents to go back to work? I wonder. In all these debates, I have seen no defence of the reasons for putting children into school at such an early age. What are the perceived benefits? Children that age don't need to be able to read or write, they don't need to be sitting in a classroom all day (quite the contrary, IMO). So why do we do it?

lingle Mon 14-Sep-09 10:40:53

midnight - re your last paragraph. Yes the anomalous 4.0 start date happened because women were going back into the workplace earlier but there was inadequate pre-school provision. Calling it cynical is maybe a bit harsh - apparently it was the parents who were pushing for earlier starts as we seem conned into an "earlier is better" mentality for some reaon. It wasn't teacher-led.

Clam - Bradford council did get irritated when they thought some parents were deliberately deferring in order to "try again" at their preferred school. I had to turn up at an exec. council meeting 18 months ago to persuade them that genuine people like me needed them to keep the system in place. I, by the way, never applied for a school place in 2009 - I ripped up the form when it came through the door smile. But most parents honestly wouldn't know what to do at that point - it's potentially 22 months before the school start date if you think about it.

lingle Mon 14-Sep-09 10:43:40

Clam again - not sure if you've understood the Bradford system. They don't ring-fence anything. Usual sibling and geography rules apply.

So I'll be applying in November to my oversubscribed school for my deferred son to start reception at 5.0. There's no guarantee he'll get in though he should do as he has a sibling there. I haven't kept a theoretical place from last year.

lingle Mon 14-Sep-09 10:44:55

Bramshott. You've summed it all up.

Bramshott Mon 14-Sep-09 10:58:06

In fact what EB said was "Jim did look at that option [delaying start to Yr R] but he advised us that it wouldn't be a good way to support their learning and progress."

We need more information I think. In what way would it not be a good way to support their learning and progress for a child just turned 5 to start in Year R, and how would it better support their learning and progress to catapult them straight into Year 1?

prettybird Mon 14-Sep-09 11:00:14

Who has said anything about ring fencing? You simply apply a year later - and go into the same lottery farce process as everyone else with regards to which school you get into.

lingle Mon 14-Sep-09 11:04:51

Bramshoot - honestly I think it's Jim Rose's fault not EB's. EB's only fault is not taking Jim Rose to task over this. And EB isn't doing that because he isn't getting enough pressure on him from us; and he isn't getting enough pressure from us because we don't form a natural lobbying community.

google Sir Jim Rose report Primary School system. It came out in December 2008. Will link if you get stuck.

lingle Mon 14-Sep-09 11:07:13

Here is the evidence which the Government commissioned then asked Jim Rose to consider.

Read the summer-born section.

lingle Mon 14-Sep-09 11:10:43

Here is the education sector's reaction to Jim Rose's report. Hope it still works. de=6007232

VulpusinaWilfsuit Mon 14-Sep-09 11:11:55

prettybird you can't do that however as legally a child goes into the class appropriate for its age. So if you apply when they're already 5 for the next year they would be put into Y1

Interesting debate as always (have a sept and an august born). Missed Ed Balls: what is the plan, if any to deal with this?

VulpusinaWilfsuit Mon 14-Sep-09 11:13:07

ah sorry prettybird see you were talking about applynig the scottish system

lingle Mon 14-Sep-09 11:13:51

~This page has the links to Jim Rose's actual reports:

NotanOtter Mon 14-Sep-09 11:57:38

lingle shock


what 'harmed' or maybe 'hindered' my ds more than anything was a staggered entry

he was forced to go in january when 24 of 30 childrren had started in september

he was quiet and slow of the mark - a meek and non sporting type . Going into a class where all the other children knew the ropes was awful for him and just made him quieter and more reserved

i think he caught up academically by year 2 but socially it took until secondary school

prettybird Mon 14-Sep-09 12:07:02

notanotther. Your ds' experience illustrates why I find the current English system so crazy. Why further disadvantage a child you is already going to be one of the youngest by either only giving them one term of reception or none at all and forcing them to join the older, more confident - and more ready to learn - children, who have already established bonds aomgst thems elves and got used to the learning environment? hmm


VulpusinaWilfsuit Mon 14-Sep-09 12:33:04

the report does recommend part-time being available but a. I bet it won't happen and b. it is not enough.

Madness to only delay the start; only sane thing is to defer the start (ie reception at age 5 plus)

I bet nothing happens <defeatist>. But I do think we should cook up a MN campaign on this cos it is a mahoosive issue.

midnightexpress Mon 14-Sep-09 12:40:14

It's interesting that all of the Scottish (or Scotland-based) MNers seem to think the Scottish system for entry is good. I haven't seen any negative comments about it, here, or on other threads.

Redworm Mon 14-Sep-09 12:47:52

My DS1 was born August 16; he was very small for his age indeed, and very slow to learn basic fine motor skills etc.

He started school a few days after 4th birthday (no staggered intake here) and was fine. The teachers were sufficiently sensitive to his young age.

I am so pleased that all the way through his education he has, in effect, a year in hand -- that when he has done A levels he will (if he wants) be able to take a gap year and still be only just 19 when he starts university.

For us, his young age was never an issue, and I would certainly caution parents against assuming it will be a problem. I appreciate that for some children it is an issue. But there should be no blanket assumption of disadvantage.

prettybird Mon 14-Sep-09 13:06:36

I agree qith you Redworm - which is why it should be a choice. Not every parent in Scotland of the younger kids chooses to defer - because some are ready.

That's what the situation should be in England - if they really do think that "every child matters".

I agree with you Midnightexpress- I've never heard of anyone complaining about the Scottish system - or suggesting that it is "difficult to administrate".

Interestingly, ds, who technically, as a September birthday, should be right in the middle of his year's cohort, is actually at the young end of the year, with only a couple fo kids in hsi class who are younger than him.

lingle Mon 14-Sep-09 19:36:48

Yes I agree too Redworm. I know about twenty concerned parents of August-borns in the Bradford LEA. Only two of us chose to defer. Very few people would take up the offer I think.

Looking at Rose's report has made me angry all over again. His brief (cited in the report) was to advise on increasing flexibility of starting dates. He moved instead to a monolithic starting date. He simply did not look at the evidence for year-deferment. He said that because the 4-year olds were in school anyway it was pointless to discuss what would happen if they weren't. He overlooked the fact that additional pre-school places would only be needed for 1% or 2% of children.

We must get him on mumsnet. He has not had to account for himself.

midnightexpress Mon 14-Sep-09 20:21:47

So prettybird, do you think that's just a fluke or because all the Sept-Mar birthdays have deferred? I'm very interested - I wonder what percentage of students from each month defer, on average. Does anyone have figures for Scotland for numbers of deferalls?

Fayrazzled Mon 14-Sep-09 20:36:21

Lingle, I'm in the Bradford LEA and I would have applied for my son to enter reception at 5 had 1) I been absolutely sure that he wouldn't have had to rejoin his birth-year cohort at some point during his education thus skipping a year somewhere along the line; and crucially 2) he could have had a pre-school place for a further year at his pre-school. This was a killer for me because his pre-school did not have a place for him as they were already full for the following academic year. (The pre-school is independent of the school he now attends). I didn't want him to go from no pre-school (which he'd been attending for almost)18 months to nothing for a year and then on to school.

midnightexpress Mon 14-Sep-09 20:43:28

To answer my own question:

There were 3480 requests for deferral (ie students born between Sept and Feb requesting deferral) in 2007/08.

Total is 17,766 requests to go into p1 (Scottish equivalent of reception), from what I can gather from the tables. So if I'm right (and my hit rate with percentages is a little low blush), that means approx 20% of potential p1 students are requesting to defer (this has actually dropped since 2003). Most of these seem to be granted. The figure is a little higher if you also include deferral requests for special schools, and doesn't include the private sector.

By comparison, 164 requests were for early entry, and only 23% of these were granted.

Data is here if you're interested.

NotanOtter Mon 14-Sep-09 21:06:32

lingle and fayrazzled i too am in that LEA

dogonpoints Mon 14-Sep-09 21:53:38

thanks midnight, that's interesting

lingle Mon 14-Sep-09 22:26:48

notanotter, ah well we probably know each other then. Given taht you wish you had had flexibility to start in Sept, can you understand the rest of us a little better now?

Fayrazzled,are you the one I always think lives in Scotland or are you the one I introduced to my friend in the village in the valley?

NotanOtter Mon 14-Sep-09 22:35:32

hint as to whereabouts lingle??

prettybird Mon 14-Sep-09 22:50:48

Midngihtexpress - well, you found out the info for yourself! grin I am really surpirse that the number of deferrals for Glasgwo is so low - especially as it is by far the largest education authority. Contrast its numbers iwth Edinburgh's - the second largest hmm. It also means that ds' primary (with between 26 and 50 P1 entrants each year, about half of which are placing requests) must have a disproportiantely high number of deferral requests, as I can think of at least 2 in each of the last few years. I wonder why - or is Glasgow just not reporting properly?

In ds' case, I think it is to do with the number of defferals and just chance. One of his friends' birthday is in December, so he [the friend] is nearly 9 months older thna him. TBH, I don't know the dates of all the kids in his class - only those to whose parties he gets invites wink, ubt I can only think of a couple wose birthdays are after him - and a few whose "deffered" birthdays (ie Jan - March birthdays, but a year older than ds).

lingle Mon 14-Sep-09 22:58:40

not till you start agreeing with us notanotter! grin

NotanOtter Mon 14-Sep-09 23:18:54

ok i relent!!

lingle Tue 15-Sep-09 08:44:16

Hurrah! <welcomes notanotter to the flexiblity fold>

It's the place where you need clothing on your head. Don't say it on here though please.

GooseyLoosey Tue 15-Sep-09 09:09:02

Dd is a late Aug birthday and has just gone into year 1. The problem we have found with reception is the willingness of the teaching staff to say "oh - she's so young, of course she can't do it".

Dd is not greatly motivated to learn and will only do what is expected of her. She left reception unable to recognise the numbers 1-10 and yet her reception teacher had not identified any issues. She learned them within a week (plus 11-50) once it was clear that she had to.

The point I am getting to (slowly) is that if you are saying that children have to be in school then you have to have the expectation that they can do the work. At the moment, it seems that they have to be there but half of the teaching staff think they are too young and treat them as such.

midnightexpress Tue 15-Sep-09 09:58:20

Yes prettybird, the Glasgow/Edinburgh split is interesting isn't it? I guess in the end it may just come down to disposable income, since an extra year of preschool will often not be funded for Sept-Dec birthdays. I imagine this may be (ahem) less of an issue in Embru than Glasgow. Especially since lots of the wealthier parts of Glasgow will come under other authorities (East Ren, Dumbartonshire).

lingle Tue 15-Sep-09 10:14:53

yes so better to go a year later and be expected to hit the ground running.

prettybird Tue 15-Sep-09 10:16:27

That's what I thought too ME. Except that most many of the well-heeled Embras will be probably be sending their kids to the (many) private schools over there.

Madsometimes Tue 15-Sep-09 10:49:44

I really feel annoyed that parents and teachers have not been listened to over flexible start dates to primary school.

I agree that Jim Rose should come onto MN to defend his decision making. The only arguement against deferred entry for summer borns is that the problem will simply move to disadvantaging spring born children.

However, this does not seem to be the case in Scotland. I rarely hear of Scottish parents feeling let down because their 5 year old children do not qualify for deferred entry. As lingle and others have said, not everyone will take up the option to defer.

lingle Tue 15-Sep-09 11:13:20

Geraldinemumsnet, can you invite Jim Rose on here? His reports cover more than summer-born entry but I think a webchat devoted to that would get a good response.

He simply hasn't addressed the issue and jolly well ought to.

NotanOtter Tue 15-Sep-09 17:00:48

lingle do i live there too????????

snorkie Tue 15-Sep-09 17:17:01

I wonder if the Scottish system just shifts the problem elsewhere...

In Scotland the official cut-off is 1st March, so with no flexibility on entry the children born in Jan/Feb would be the youngest and therefore disadvantaged by being up to 12 months younger than their peers. However, because they are given the chance to defer with no penalty, this solves the problem for them (as long as their parents make the right choice), so the problem then might shift to the December borns. For them, they are still up to 12 months younger than the eldest in their year (more than 12 months actually, as a few Sep-Dec children have deferred too) and although there are some children up to two months younger than them, these have (in the main) been selected for 'school readiness' as they have chosen not to defer and so are unlikely to be in the struggling group.

I do wonder if anyone has studied the long term effects of December borns in the Scottish system? The other big losers in that system will of course be the Jan/Feb borns whose parents do not choose to defer, but who would have benefitted from it. Now for some children it is probably very apparent that deferral is a good idea, but I suspect that in other cases it isn't clear at all at the time when the choice has to be made. The children who end up not being deferred who then go on to experience problems have their troubles exacerbated by being up to 14 months (or more) younger than their peers and not just 12. It would be interesting to see some studies of educational outcomes for Jan/Feb borns in the scottish system and differences between the deferred & non-deferred subsets.

I actually think a better overall system would be to have 6 month cohorts instead of 12. All schools could have intakes every 6 months. Most A levels and GCSEs can be taken in January or June so the different cohorts could finish school at different times.

More popular degree courses could start every 6 months with less popular ones starting annually (but some of these in September and some in February/March). Gap years could flexibly become 6 months if desired - or a 6 month gap could even become standard to facilitate having results before you apply.

Small schools would have to teach mixed cohort groups, but these would be regrouped each 6 months as the new groups arrived, so no-one would be consistently the youngest.

prettybird Tue 15-Sep-09 17:41:09

Intersting different angle Snorkle. However, given the resistance shown south of the border to even the idea of some flexibility, I think they would have hairy cnaries at the thought of such a "flexible" system grin

I had a look to see if I could see any research as you suggest. However, the closest I could find, which was the BMJ study which was one of those that provided evidence of the dterminetla effect of being the youngest in a year (and that for an individual child, deferral may be the best option), specificially excluded those children in Scoltand that had been deferred.

However - at an anectodtal level, I would suggest that the very fact that there don't appear to be any Scottish parents angsting about when their child's birthday is and worrying about their young child's ability to cope with school is evidence that the flexibility does work.

lingle Tue 15-Sep-09 19:23:18

"I actually think a better overall system would be to have 6 month cohorts instead of 12."

A brilliant idea that is still consistent with having larger schools so presumably not too costly.

Maybe we can suggest it to Jim Rose when we snare him.

NotanOtter Tue 15-Sep-09 21:03:46

lingle can you cat me?

lingle Tue 15-Sep-09 21:26:56

haven't got cat but am scared of being outed.

Can 't face namechanging!

Do you think we live in the same town? If so, is your partner a vet?

NotanOtter Tue 15-Sep-09 21:28:30

yes! wink

what colour sweatshirts do your dcs wear for school? (if they are at school!)

do you know me and do i know you? ( dont worry i wont hound you wink)

lingle Tue 15-Sep-09 21:40:40

I think you've already guessed who I am

Shit! where are the threads where I mention my many secret lovers and how do I delete them?

I'd rather it was you than most other people in this town if it's any consolation.

NotanOtter Tue 15-Sep-09 21:43:24

lingle thanks for that but i have ABSOLUTELY NO idea

lingle Tue 15-Sep-09 21:44:07

I feel a bit weird notanotter because it's as if I'd put all DS2's medical records on display outside the town hall.

NotanOtter Tue 15-Sep-09 21:44:36

email me at my name @
or facebook..i need to know now and do not want to be outed!!!! wink

NotanOtter Tue 15-Sep-09 21:45:17

my life history is on here!!!

dogonpoints Tue 15-Sep-09 21:51:09

snorkie, I think you are overlooking the very important point that parents cannot and do not just decide en masse to defer. There is consultation with teachers. Many parents know when their child seems ready for school even if their child is a late birthday. Many parents don't give it a second thought and send their child regardless. Some parents are advised by a teacher to defer their child when it would not be the parent's favoured choice.

Education theories tell us over and over that it is stage that matters, not age, and yet the English system makes no leeway for this at all.

NotanOtter Tue 15-Sep-09 21:57:07


silly me!!

NotanOtter Tue 15-Sep-09 22:04:35

i do know a child who is also in bradford lea and parents moved into lea when he was already school age

they could not fit him in primary of choice in correct year group so put him in the year below

i think he was far to middling but not 'flying' academically at this stage

he is now a level year and shit hot academically and socially - worked brilliantly for him

snorkie Tue 15-Sep-09 22:31:38

dogonpoints, I thought that's what I was saying - that I'm not sure at all that the right set of children will defer. Even if they do, then the problem still shifts, but if not it's exacerbated even more. As you say even with teacher input, some parents will ignore advice and also, teachers will not always give the right advice (in some cases it will be blindingly obvious which way a child should go, but in others not at all and additionally some teachers will have personal opinions about whether it all 'evens out' or not etc). Of course not all children go to pre-schools and they will not have a teacher to advise at all. When the wrong decision is made (as it always will be in some cases - the question is how often), the ability spread in the year group will be increased rather than decreased and the problems for the younger children compounded.

The fact that Scottish parents don't angst could be for all sorts of reasons. Maybe because they have a choice & believe that fixes everything; maybe as a nation they're less angsty (not if the poll tax is anything to go by, but still a possibility); maybe the research showing if their system fails some groups of children isn't there or isn't well known, parents don't realise their child is in a 'at risk' group & so don't worry about it.

I've never seen studies of educational outcomes for Scottish children - many people just assume it's better, which it almost certainly is for a subset of children, but what about overall?

Glad you like the 6 month cohort idea lingle, I think it has quite a few merits, but is probably too radical to ever be adopted.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Wed 16-Sep-09 18:38:14

lingle have you had a reply from MNHQ about Rose on webchat?

You could draw attention to your post by hitting the 'report post' button and ask them direct?

Have just read the IFS report When you are born matters and I might have spotted a flaw!!

The report compared the exam results of summer born and autumn born children within individual classes. Summer born children who start school in September perform better, compared with their autumn born class mates, than summer borns who had a later start.

But you could look at it another way: Autumn born children, with a first term of school in a small class (say an average 15 children with a 6 month age spread) did better than autumn chidren who began reception in a class of 30 with a much wider age spread - no big surprise!!

So it could be that the Jim Rose policy of making all children start reception in September is just leveling things things out. Bringing down the older kids' results to close the gap - not really what I'd call a win!!

And, if I recall the September start was presented as the ultimate answer to the 'summer born' problem which removed the necessity for any other action!!!

Of course I could be wrong - would love a Jim Rose webchat.

notimetoshop Wed 16-Sep-09 23:17:36

I think the use of individual classes would be to prevent any bias being due to having different teachers.

tingler Thu 17-Sep-09 08:46:10

I don't pretend a mastery of statistics (though do have an A-level in it). I think the IFS is an economic think-house so should stand up to a reasonable level of scrutiny.

natfrank Thu 17-Sep-09 14:00:12

My DD was 3years on the 31st August and started nursery 5 afternoons a week last week. She was more than ready to start! She is the youngest in the nursery and although she is tired today she is having a ball! She loves her little nursery jumper and book bag and settled well on the first day and I am more than confident that she will be the same when she starts school. BUT it is daunting knowing that there are children that are a year older than her starting in the same class. I know that her teacher and key worker know she is the youngest (although I don't want her to be labelled the baby - which happened to my sister who is also an Aug baby and she hated it.) so I try not to worry myself

VulpusinaWilfsuit Thu 17-Sep-09 14:29:50

JSB, your flaw seems a real issue, but it only applies if ALL children in the study start late if they are summer-borns. And they don't currently. It is optional in some areas, and not available at all in others.

So actually, the effect still applies (though perhaps marginally lessened by the additional smaller class effect) when looking at children on aggregate across the country.

Twitmonster Thu 17-Sep-09 14:33:10

I agree with snorkie, and we should do away with the long holidays as well. School should be open more than it is with no long summer holidays etc, this would help both working parents, children of all ages and give extra time in the curriculum for lessons that are currently shoved aside.
Incidentally I have a ds born in October, doing well and a ds born in July, doing well but more immature in his behaviour than his older peers (although that might just be him). Overall some choice should be offered, but not too much because as has been pointed out, some-one will always have to be the youngest and therefore at a possible disadvantage.

nightingale452 Thu 17-Sep-09 17:11:32

I feel children in general are expected to start school too early in this country.

DD1 (end of April birthday) is now in year 3 and is coping fine, but she struggled with the first couple of years socially. I felt as she started in Reception she would have benefitted from another year at pre-school. She has the added problem that she's always been one of the tallest in the class, so people assume she's one of the oldest.

I guess someone has to be the youngest in the class, but I do think there should be more flexibility - deferring till Christmas would help some (we don't seem to be able to here), but there's no point being allowed to start a year late if you then have to go straight into year 1.

kiera Thu 17-Sep-09 18:19:26

This is a massive issue for me and my son, now in Year 2. He was forced to start school well before he was ready. He was 4 weeks premature, born on 31st August, but the council refused to take this into account and refused to defer his entry, saying that he was not obligated to attend Reception but if we started him a year later he would have gone straight into Year 1 - missing a whole year of Reception and opportunities to form friendships. In fact he was only THREE when he started as school began a few days before his 4th birthday. Being small for his age, this has had a huge effect on his confidence. He left pre-school a confident little boy with lots of friends who would talk to anybody but school has wrecked his confidence and now he is very shy. Boys are very competitive and constantly put him down as he is the smallest - he is quite skinny as well. He does not tell me much of what goes on at school, sometimes he tells me that the boys wouldn't let him play on their team, for a good part of Year 1 he cried every morning and didn't want to go to school, there were times when the teachers had to drag him through the door. He has just started Year 2 and has settled much better although he is still very quiet - we are srtiving to get him involved in after-school activties to try and build up his confidence. His school report at the end of Year 1 stated that although he was up to speed in some areas he was behind on others. I feel that because of his size, his prematurity and his character it would have made a huge difference to him to have started a year later. I don't understand why the government won't let parents of summer-born children choose as this could well cause him to underachieve and what good is that to anyone. We have seriously considered emigrating because of this issue.

Conversely, I know parents of autumn-born children who felt their child would have been ready to start earlier. Parents should be given the choice.

angels3 Thu 17-Sep-09 19:07:20

I think that I'm in quite a good position, my son's was born on 2nd Sept, and was 4 this year, we had a discussion about him at his end of term nursery review, and we all came to the decision that he was not ready for school this autumn term, and luckily he will be 5 when he starts, and will be the oldest. My daughter was born in June, and will not start school until 2011, but she will be one of he youngest.

I think that she will be fine in school, as she is already at the stage where she undertands and wants to go to nursery in December. I think I am one of the lucky ones, and my son was born in the 'right' month. A couple of days earlier, and we would have been in trouble!

Renwein Thu 17-Sep-09 20:23:26

I'm August born and think I struggled with writing but otherwise did fine in reception and very well academically later on. For me, being August born was a bonus and gave me an extra year to play with so I was relaxed about taking a gap year and doing a four year degree. But I think girls find it much easier than boys.

DS1 is late August born and has just started reception this week. He seems very young and is ready in some ways but not others, but on balance, I think it's the right thing for him. He has been at nursery since he was ten months and would be bored stiff with another year in the pre-school room. He is big for his age so is one of the tallest in the class despite being the youngest, which is helpful. He is quite bright - has already taught himself to read by watching Fun with Phonics on CBeebies and asking us what words on signs etc are. But he is not good at gross or fine motor skills so struggles with writing and will be even further behind the curve on running, jumping etc that he would normally have been. He is also not great at looking after himself so I think it is touch and go whether he will stay dry at school. Unlike nursery, we're not allowed to leave a bag of spare clothes for him which seems a bit harsh for a boy who has only just turned four. Thankfully, no PE till the summer term so don't need to worry about dressing himself just yet. I also worry about his social skills and whether he will be able to form friendships easily. He had some good friendships at nursery but they were with people he had known since they were babies or with younger children.

We had the option to defer to December but I thought that would make it even tougher because friendships would already be formed and everyone else would know what was going on. I think I would have liked the option to wait another year, although I would probably not have taken it up, given his size and his progress on things like reading.

musicposy Fri 18-Sep-09 00:23:39

I think parents of borderline age children should be able to choose their child's school year. Not just choose to delay entry, but choose the year group.

My youngest is an end of August born - a week later and she would have been a whole school year below. To add to that she is tiny for her age, and young emotionally. She just does not fit with her year group. She is now Year 6, and every single one of her friends is year 5 or 4. The thought of her going to secondary school next September is just appalling - she's still sat at home playing with her My Little Ponys and we are looking at choosing secondaries!

When she started in reception she would have been nowhere near ready in the September. At only a week over 4, she was still having an afternoon nap. We delayed her entry until January, but I still had to take the pushchair up to school to collect her and I still couln't find school clothes small enough to fit. Her starting school so young was a ridiculous idea for her, quite frankly.

She is a bright child, but at only 4 there was no way she could compete with children in her class who were a whole year older, all bar a week or two. She kept saying "Mummy, I'm not as clever as the other children, I can't do any of the things they do." I had to keep on and on saying "You are just as clever, you are just much, much younger." Unfortunately schools don't make this clear to the summer borns. They are just all lumped together. My eldest was 7 and a half when she did her Y2 SATS, my youngest was still 6. How is that a fair comparison?

She has easily caught up academically now, but lots of children don't. And I still look at her and think she will leave Primary at 10, sit GCSEs at 15, sit A levels at 17 - it still seems massively unfair. If I had had the choice I would have kept her back to the year below where she would be a much better fit. Yet the ironic thing is I have friends with September born children who would be better in the year above.

We need choice. Choice to keep your child out of school a year and then have to plunge them straight into year 1 is no choice at all.

Miranda7 Fri 18-Sep-09 07:24:55

My stepdaughter is 17 now, and has exited school after a childhood-long struggle.

She was born on August 28, which is very late in itself, but add in the fact she was almost three months premature and you have a real problem.

I believe that not only should one be able to choose the year, but that prem children should have their school year based on their due date, not their actual birth date.

My stepdaughter didn't stand an earthly of doing well at school - she hasn't got academic parents who could have helped her catch up, and she was being judged - if you look at her due date - against children 15 months older than her.

She needed those three months to help her lungs stabilise... they weren't learning months.

AnTeallach Fri 18-Sep-09 08:52:58

My DS has a late-May birthday and started school in London at 4. He has a cousin 15 hours younger, who started school a year later in the Scottish Borders. The comparisons of their experiences and the expectations of what they could/should do at that age, were fascinating.

DS got glandular fever in his second term. I could not believe it when his teacher turned up at the door with a mound of homework for him to catch up on. We started the first page and gave up. A normally bright and interested boy was being put off school. We moved to Scotland that Easter, where I put him into a local nursery. His relief at getting back to play was palpable. Because he had been in full-time education for 2 terms, the LEA had suggested he go in to P1, with peers a year older than him. Having seen him already lose interest in school and then with a house move and imminent arrival of another sibling to deal with, I was delighted when they agreed the nursery option with me.

The result? A much happier boy who loved going to school the following term at 5, when he was more ready for it and who (now 15) is doing really well. The push in the competitive SW11 state sector was counter-productive. A boy in my son's class in London had his 4th birthday on 31st August. He had the attention span of a flea and was simply not ready to start school. His mother had endless battles with the school, as she quickly realised what a mistake it had been for him to start so young. By October, the school said that if she took him out, he would have to start Year 1 the following year, but they would not guarantee him a place. So wrong! Surely the child should be at the centre of these educational decisions? Lost touch when we moved, so no idea how this poor lad has got on, but if this is happening round the country, no wonder so many kids are failing to achieve their potential.

Just remembered a story my sister told me about a friend who moved from London to the US. Her 6 year old D had been at school for 2 years and was clearly a good learner. In the States, they were so suspicious of her achievements, the social services were pulled in to check out the mother for abusing her child to get these results - despite her protestations it was due to the English education system and nothing else! There, of course, they don't start school until 6 ...

tingler Fri 18-Sep-09 08:55:06

The new compromise in my LEA is that the Council will allow year-deferment for summer-borns but the parent needs the backing of a professional eg speech therapist/paediatrician.

If Sir Jim Rose would come on here, perhaps he would at least agree to that. Small steps and all that.

Madsometimes Fri 18-Sep-09 10:14:58

Parents of prem babies should certainly be given the choice about start dates. Some of the stories on here are heart breaking. In the last 10 years neonatal advances have allowed children at 24 weeks of pregnancy. Surely these children have had such a tough start that no one would begrudge them the chance to defer.

Madsometimes Fri 18-Sep-09 10:16:28

Sorry - allowed children to survive at 24 weeks of pregnancy. Reminds myself to preview.

Shugarlips Fri 18-Sep-09 10:52:44

My son was four on the 17th August this year and he is no way ready to go to school. He is bright academically but on an emotional level he is too immature. We did look at schools and found a lovely, small one where my next door neighbour works so we thought if we have to send him, we'll send him there. Due to the allocation system of school places he didn't get a place at our LOCAL school because it had such a good OFSTED inspection, they were massively oversubscribed and had to cut the catchment area in half and we fell just outside of it. He got allocated a school that just isn't right for him.

As a consequence we have not sent him and we are aware that, if we choose to send him, he will have to go into year 1 in September 2010 (2 weeks after he turns five) and of course we are not happy about him missing year R. It is so silly that he cannot have the option of going into year R.

This is not a decsion we are taking light heartedly and I am not anti school as we have a happy 10 year old daughther at school (who was born in March - perfect time of year for loads of reasons!)

I work in FE and I am an SEN governor at my daughter's school. The facts are there to be seen, the stats are there (I know how the government love stats!) a large percentage of SEN children are Summer born boys because our rigid education system does not work for them on so many levels.

If I do not think he can cope with going straight into year 1 we will home educate him and make the sacrifices necessary (which would be considerable in terms of me needing to stop work and our income dropping considerably)but for the first time in my life I believe so passionately that the current system is wrong and we will do what we have to do.

Gentleness Fri 18-Sep-09 10:55:25

As a primary (junior) teacher I struggle with the mismatch I see between the research evidence I see here and my personal experience over 10yrs. I've tried both ways: making a birthday list to be sure I am not penalising younger children, and resolutely ignoring any birthdate information so I base assessment (academic & social) on the child's needs not my own assumptions. Neither stood out as a winner.

In my last class the most immature boy was a Sept birthday, the most mature 2(stunners academic and socially) were Feb & July birthdays. The July one was a slower thinker, but more analytical. My SEN list included children born in Sept right through to June.

That pattern wasn't unusual AT ALL. Although I have had kids with summer birthdays who were notable less mature than older ones in the same year group, the opposite has also been true. In the years when I familiarised myself with their birthdates, my top groups and bottom groups both had a full range of ages. You deal with them as they are, not as you think some standardised scale demands they should be.

The research might show a pattern over large numbers of children, but it doesn't help you know what is right for YOUR child. (or, as a teacher, the children in your class...). Makes me mad - they aren't barcodes!

With my child (1 week late already - and no, we didn't plan it - after 3 years, 3 losses, ANY birthdate would do!) I hope any teachers will look at HIM, not his birthdate. And I am leaning towards homeschooling for the 1st couple of years to avoid our family having to conform to an imposed pace of development in those crucial early years...

tingler Fri 18-Sep-09 11:35:06

Mumsnet HQ - would you make contact with Sir Jim on this issue please? And perhaps let Ed Balls know you are doing so and what Sir Jim's response is.

Shugarlips Fri 18-Sep-09 11:55:55

Ditto smile

planningwaytoomuch Fri 18-Sep-09 12:11:28

Have name changed for this. Would like to pick up on the fact that it is a 'middle class worry'. Maybe it is. I was concerned enough about having an August born child to actually delay TTC until my due date would be October. Was lucky enough to get pregnant fairly soon so I have an autumn born son. (Obviously I was hoping the child would not be too premature). I am not certain what I would have done if we had not fallen pregnant for 9 months or so and so due dates could have been July - August but because I have time on my side it is not inconceivable we would have stopped TTC at that point for a few months. Now I know I am very lucky, and obviously lots of circumstances where you would take into account tons of other factors when TTC. But I am sure I am not alone. But the parents who do this are (probably) the ones who will actually be better able to support their children through whatever eductational experience they have simply because they see it as so important. So this as well is distorting the school spectrum of entrants, making it even worse for summer borns. If you took it to the extreme, classes would be full of Sept - Dec born children who had reached full term, and July and August children who were born prematurely. I am guilty but will probably do it again.

Shugarlips Fri 18-Sep-09 13:14:59

hmm I am impressed that you considered all this when you were TTC! It has to be said if we had planned as well as you we wouldn't now be in this position - having said that I have planned for things all my life and it hardly ever works out the way I had intended it to!

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 18-Sep-09 18:32:31

Right, then. What are we all going to do about it?

I'm a great believer in 'don't get angry, get organised'.

I think we can probably drum up enough support here for a campaign, or is there one already?

tingler Fri 18-Sep-09 20:47:10

VW you are quite right. Do you want to prod MNHQ again?

I shall try shouting


CatherineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 18-Sep-09 21:43:42

Hi all, we'll certainly look into it. Thanks for the request.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 18-Sep-09 22:55:52

I prodded. grin

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 18-Sep-09 22:58:09

Gentleness, of course each child is an individual but the aggregate data DOES show an overall effect, whether or not you see it. Perhaps you are a particularly good and sensitive teacher? smile

But isn't the point exactly that each child IS different, and currently parents have no proper say over how this is managed on school entry?

Pharmatron Fri 18-Sep-09 23:05:39

DD is only 2 (late July born) so haven't yet had to face this issue but it is something that I've been thinking about already. At the moment she goes to nursery 2 days a week and absolutely loves it; as she gets older we'll gradually increase the nursery time. Although she's bright (certainly well ahead on all the language/communication milestones) I don't yet know how she'll be in terms of school readiness.

I don't know all the ins & outs of funding, but (if that wasn't an issue) it seems to me a bit of a no-brainer, given the choice between staying an extra year in nursery, where she'll have all her friends, in a small group, with high staffing ratio, where they're learning to read & write etc as well as having fun - and going to a new school, when only just age 4, to a large class with fewer teachers/staff.

I may feel differently about it when the time comes, but surely that's the point that so many of you have very eloquently made - that there should be flexibility.

FWIW, I'm late June born, went to school the Sept after my 5th bday (into Yr 1, not reception) and was about 4th youngest in my year throughout primary school. I don't think I suffered adversely because of it, and was in fact glad of the fact when I ended up retaking A levels and going to Uni a year later than many of my friends (but was still not much older than those who'd gone straight from school).

However, as others have said, birth date may not be an issue for some, but the stats clearly show that for many it is a factor in settling in/getting on well at school (socially and academically) so it should be taken seriously.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 18-Sep-09 23:40:13

So. Does the LEA have any leeway? Can they influence decisions locally?

Is there a campaign to be made there?

And <spit> <cough> <choke> what is the <can't even bring myself to say it...> Tories' policy on this issue? Couldn't some kind person here, um, encourage them to have one to bounce Ed Balls into making this an election issue? I think the choice to bring forward or defer a school place that gave parents choice would be quite a vote winner meself. And surely it would all even out in the wash as we say up north.

Diziet Sat 19-Sep-09 10:40:23

My eldest has just started in Reception, he was only 4 on 17th August, but he isn't the youngest - one of his little friends there is 26th August. My son is quite a 'young' 4 as well, and has delayed speech development too. But I have no concerns - because I have no ambitions for him! SHOCK HORROR!!!!!!! Myself and my husband just want our boys to go to school and enjoy it (which he does so far!) - and hopefully learn something. If they do well and actually have a career goal in mind, we'll support them, of course! But if they're not ambitious and just want to pootle along, then why not? The world needs pootlers to get the jobs done that the clever people are too busy to do themselves, but still need doing nontheless! So there!

paranoid2 Sat 19-Sep-09 11:43:53

Gentleness I dont think anyone is saying that all summer born children are impacted by their DOB, in fact my Dt1 would have not benefited from starting a year later although as he was premature he should have done. DT2 is on the other hand a different story. You said that your most immature child was a september birthday, but think of how far behind he would have been if he had been born a few weeks earlier and had to go to school a whole year earlier. I know the opposite applies also but its a choice that people are looking for ie to send your child if ready but have the opportunity to defer if not.

ScummyMummy Sat 19-Sep-09 11:53:17

Moue of distaste @ planningwaytoomuch's eugenicist approach to conception.

Shugarlips Sat 19-Sep-09 18:41:18

Diziet - I too want my son to go to school and enjoy it and I think sending him when he is not ready for it may put him off learning and thats the last thing anyone wants for their child surely?! I haven't even thought about a career for him or whether he is going to be a pootler! The whole point about this issue is that parents know their children best and if the parent feels their Summer born child is not ready then the authorities should respect that and have flexibility within their system. There will, as a result, be some parents who send their child when they are just four and some who will send them when they are just five - thats all!
VW - I would love to take somebody on about this because the current system is ridiculous. I am going to look into the oppositions view on this and will get back to you all smile

MrsSnoops Sun 20-Sep-09 10:22:37

I have found this thread really interesting. I posted earlier about my DS who is an end of August baby and how worried I was. I have been thinking about it a lot and feel that he may actually be ready for school when it is time to go and that maybe he shouldn't be held back even if it were an option.
BUT I would still like to have the option and to have some input from others (nursery staff etc) about whether he is ready. I would not necessarily hold him back simply to stop him being the youngest or on the assumption that he will be behind everyone else, but if he is to be the youngest in the year I would like to know it is the correct choice for him.
But then hearing about Ed Balls planning on cutting £2bn from the education budget I wonder if New Labour value education and our children at all.

mimmum Sun 20-Sep-09 18:55:26

My ds is an end of August birthday and has justed started school. So he is young and also I think immature for his age a double disadvantage. Socially he is doing fine but doesn't yet have the fine motor skills necesssary for writing or the interest in learning to read. I wouldn't hold him back as I think starting in year 1 with older children who have already had a year of schooling would be the worst thing for him. IMO there should be the option of letting them start the reception year when they are ready to learn. He is aware that he is less able than other children and despite the very best efforts of his teacher to hold back on any type of pressure or expectations feels very anxious about this. It does make me feel sad for him as the performance anxiety just makes everything much worse.

tingler Sun 20-Sep-09 21:58:16

"So. Does the LEA have any leeway? Can they influence decisions locally?"

Yes, there has been variety between different LEAs. They have to educate from 5 as you know. There are some LEAs where they don't even have a reception year! And then there are Leeds and Bradford where, until Jim Rose's report, every child whose 4th birthday fell in the summer term could be deferred to start reception in the September after they turned five. Bradford (don't know about Leeds) paid for the extra nursery year. But Jim Rose's report has changed that for Bradford although they have kept an exception for special needs. Re the Tories - yes it was Conservative Councillors who supported the right to choose thing within Bradford though I don't know if they initiated it.

I'm not sure what has happened in Leeds following the rose report but you could find out online.

I have often wondered about the legality of the "put them straight into Year 1 as a punishment" policy. If the Education Act says your child must be educated from 5, is there a human rights angle on them being forced into a year group where the other children have learnt to read and write already? Don't know.

Shugarlips Sun 20-Sep-09 22:16:12

Mimmum - Reading your thoughts makes me feel a bit sad for you and your boy. Don't get me wrong I am not saying he should or shouldn't go I just get bloody frustrated with the rigidity of the system. What harm would it do to anyone for you to have more say and maybe send him at Xmas for example?

Tingler - Interesting point about making them go into year 1. I think making the child go into year 1 instead of letting them go into YR is outrageous and unnecessary - I mean I can't see what the problem is in allowing the flexibility - it's all about helping the child isn't it?!

I am going to contact our MP (who is conservative) and get some advice.

This thread is really supportive - thank you

tingler Mon 21-Sep-09 08:50:39

please let us know what your MP says. We have a lovely Labour MP and I think (I hope) she would hate to think of the Tories stealing a march on her.

If several of us contacted our MPs that would make a difference.

Builde Mon 21-Sep-09 10:23:44

I do think that we are probably all a bit sensitive about these things. My summer born dd has been absolutely fine at school. (and many summer born children are fine and enjoy themselves thoroughly).

However, I think that it is appalling that there is no choice at all about when you start and if you delay a start, you have to go straight into Year 1 (which would be a shock).

I also think that the issue of premature babies is a big one. By 4, a very premature baby has probably not caught up at all. They should not be going to school when they are effectively 3.5. Very wrong...

However, I believe that where we live, parents of children born within a week of 1st September can choose when they start school.

It is a shame that we have a reception year...I do think it hinders a lot of children.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 21-Sep-09 12:46:25

Consider me prodded blush, will set about trying to get Sir Jim on for a webchat.

tingler Tue 22-Sep-09 09:43:43

This thread has clarified to me that there are two ways to approach this problem.

Firstly, there is the underlying problem which is that we are starting formal education very young due to parents' needs, not children's needs, with the result that many children not only do not benefit but are put off. Presumably Jim Rose felt it was outside the terms of his remit to try to change this - a massive investment in pre-school education would be needed and that's not going to happen at the moment.

Secondly, there is the "exceptional child" issue. It does seem that certain distinct categories of children are emerging for whom the early start date is so utterly unsuitable that it can be predicted before they even start that it is likely to be damaging to them notwithstanding the teachers' best efforts to differentiate the curriculum

The "exceptional child" category appears to include:
- Children with a language delay, particularly if they have problems understanding language.
-Children with a social skills delay
- Children with fine motor skills delays
- children still classed as being within the normal range but who are immature in respect of language, play and fine-motor skills.
- Children who are born prematurely and who would not have had their fourth birthday had they been born at term.

From my time hanging out on the special needs board, it appear that the "exceptional child" category is unlikely to include many children with a moderate to severe disability. But if you take a child with, say, downs syndrome at the mild end of the spectrum, then the ability to defer could make all the difference between being able to access the curriculum or not (depending of course on the child).

If the "exceptional child" category is accepted, you have to ask who decides whether the child falls within the category. Is it the parent or the speech therapist or the nursery or the paediatrician? And if a child is within this category, they may need to defer even if they have a January or February birthday - not just August.

There will be some children - like mine - where parents, teachers, therapists and doctors are united in recomending deferral. In such clear-cut cases, where an LEA's costs of an extra year's nursery are likely to be saved later (because the child won't need a Statement if given time to mature), surely exceptions must be made. Where parents disagree with other professionals, or whether parents have been exposed to other cultures where we start school later and would prefer this for their child, that is a bit trickier.

Jim Rose must be asked to address this issue.

Builde Tue 22-Sep-09 09:54:50

There is a piece of research about premature babies and special needs. Something along the line of, if they had been allowed to start later, they wouldn't have needed to be statemented.

Can't remember anymore than that!

Advice to parents...choose a school that is mixed. (e.g. not just middle-class, academic parents).

The reception teachers at a school with a varied intake (cultural, income, behavioural) will not be thrown by a summer born child who isn't ready for school.

Hi, my DD1 is April born and has just gone into yr1. She started Reception last Sept, but didn't go full time until Jan which was just right for her - they get so tired. There was a girl in her class (Aug born) who didn't even start until Jan and was part time until the summer term. They are in the same class now and there doesn't seem to be any difference between their ability.
On the flip side, in the same class is a girl who turned 5 before she even started school (and has just turned 6). her mum syas that she is struggling to make friends as she complains that the other children's games are babyish. She is also a lot taller than the rest of the class, including the boys!
In this instance surely the school/parents should be allowed to agree that a child goes up a year. They do it in the States!

Tatti Wed 23-Sep-09 16:54:27

I have twin boys born in July. They were allowed a part time start but it didn’t help with their ability to keep abreast with the work long term and there were a lot of older children in the year, including girls who were very bright for their ages. After 10 years of feeling they were always struggling to keep up (through an unlucky birthday and not their fault) they have repeated a year and now they are the older ones not the youngest. Fantastic! Wish we’d done it years ago!

marytuda Wed 23-Sep-09 21:06:01

Am reading all this with great interest. My son now just two has August birthday, and I am horrified at the thought of putting him under any pressure at the tender age of just 4. He seems bright enough now, and local surestart playgroup leaders, who also teach reception, have told me not to worry. That they know we are mixed-race but native English speakers in a very multi-cultural innercity area is probably a factor. Many children round here start school with English as second language, so whatever his comparative age my son should have a major advantage. Still, I would hate to put him off learning for life & would struggle to go private rather than risk exposing him to early humiliation.
His cousin, a July born boy now aged 6, is at the bottom of his class (and knows it, apparently) - he has the "disadvantage" of living in all-white middle class catchment area (chosen incidentally for this reason by his parents soon after his birth - a big mistake, possibly!) What a nightmare all of this is. . . and only just the beginning . .

linglette Thu 24-Sep-09 10:27:30

Yes, Builde's advice is really interesting and counter-intuitive.

christiana Thu 24-Sep-09 22:47:49

Message withdrawn

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 25-Sep-09 11:14:06

Hello, Ed Balls has come back to us with a longer reply about summer-born babies and the Rose review, following on from his webchat.

EdBalls: Many of you raised questions about your summer-born children and the proposals contained in the Rose Review on when they can start school. I wasn’t able to answer all your questions on it then, so I wanted to take the time now to tell you a little more about why we are making the changes we are, and to ask for your views on them.

As I said, many of the parents I speak to want their children to start school later in the year they turn five, while others want the option to start their children at school in September and don’t want to wait till January or April, as they currently have to in some local authority areas. Some of you wanted to know why we don’t organise school entry so that parents of summer-borns who they feel are particularly young for their age can start in reception the year after they turn 5.

Parents know their children best and our proposals give them more choice about when they want their children to start school. I want all parents to be able to choose to start their children at school in the September after they turn four if that is what they want. Sir Jim Rose found good evidence that it is best for children’s attainment and progress if they all start school together in September.

However, since many parents feel their summer-born children are not ready for school at the beginning of the year after they turn four, I would like more schools to let them go to school part-time during Reception. For those who prefer to keep their children in other early learning settings, we will in future offer 25 hours of nursery or early education free (rather than the 15 hours that children get now) during the school year after they turn four until they reach compulsory school age. Compulsory school age will remain the September after children turn five and will not change as a result of these reforms. Choosing to start your child later should not affect admissions to school and your child should not lose out on a place at a school because he or she starts later.

One aspect of the reforms Jim Rose set out which I didn’t get the chance to mention was about the curriculum. The Early Years Foundation Stage, which children now follow in Reception, is all about learning through play, which makes school easier to cope with for younger children. And Jim Rose’s new primary curriculum is also meant to ensure there is an easier transition between Reception and Year 1, again making it easier for summer born children to cope with school. I hope this will reassure some of you, who feel school in year 1 will be too much for your summer-borns. Jim Rose also made it clear he thought schools should take more account of the needs of younger children when teaching classes and assessing progress.

Many of those who posted were particularly upset that we are not proposing allowing those children starting school after they turn five to start in reception rather than year 1. There are a number of reasons why I felt that wasn’t the right thing to do. The evidence we have suggests it is better for children to start school earlier rather than later, and there is a risk that a wider range of starting dates might actually end up disadvantaging summer borns who go to school after they turn four more as they would be learning with much older children. Instead, I wanted to look for other ways to ensure that children who are younger have a successful transition to full-time school.

I know some posters were worried about their summer born children with SEN who would face particular difficulties with coping if starting school in the September after they turn four. These proposals mean you will not have to start your children in school then if you do not want to. However, you may find that starting school earlier plus other improvements to SEN provision mean that your child would be getting the additional help they need earlier.

While I have announced that we are taking the proposals from the Rose Review forward, I am of course always interested to hear your views on this important issue.

VulpusinaWilfsuit Fri 25-Sep-09 11:52:23

Well, great that he got back with such a detailed answer.

But I still don't understand the response. I mean, I understand it but I am not convinced.

Will be offering free nursery hours to allow kids to do reception part-time? Hmm, we'll see - I imagine the cuts/election will scupper that.

And it won't solve the problem of a child who just isn't ready for school; it just means they will get 'less' schooling overall.

And as for the main reasons for not allowing deferral! 1. There is evidence starting school earlier is better? Better in which ways? For whom? Kids overall? Summer-borns? Which evidence? The IFS data? That simply says children who start at just 4 are better off than those who enter Year 1 without having done reception. Not convinced by his point here and I would like some clarification.

2. Allowing deferral (reception for summer borns to start at just-5) might disadvantage those summer-borns who DO start at just 4?

MIGHT? For fuck's sake, Ed. Do a proper study and find out?! This sounds like pure speculation based on Rose's somewhat lame report. And the numbers would be minimal, since many parents would actually still choose a just-4 start date.

Come on. Own up. This is about economics and class. You fear that the only people who would be able to afford to defer are the middle classes. And then you would feel you must extend the free nursery places for a year because you fear challenge over equal opportunities. Which would be a fair challenge. And politically explosive potentially.

But NONE of that is about what is actually in the interests (pedagogic and emotional) of children.

paranoid2 Fri 25-Sep-09 14:06:44

and no mention of premature children??

Buda Fri 25-Sep-09 16:21:57

Doesn't actually help Mr Balls. Not at all. My DS started at 4 and coped fine in Reception. He had had a year of Nursery before (we are in an international school overseas). He is now in Year 4 and it is NOW that he is struggling. If he was in Year 3 (like a friend of his who was lucky enough to be born on 1 September) he would be fine. As it is we are lucky to be able to access support for him with fine motor skills and maths. I feel very strongly that this extra support would be unnecessary if he was in Year 3. His confidence is being knocked which has a knock-on effect in his interest and enthusiasm for school.

There are lots of articles currently in the media about how the current education system is letting boys down. Perhaps this is because they start too early? Have a look at what they do in Denmark. As far as I know they start boys a year later than girls there. I knew a woman who had boy/girl twins and the girl started a full year earlier than the boy. Didn't seem to cause a problem there.

I am Irish and I know that in Ireland children CAN start the term after they turn 4 but do not legally have to be in school until they are 6. In practice most start around 4 or 5. They all start in Junior Infants which is the equivalent of Reception. Seems to work ok there.

It can be done. It may take a bit of time and a bit of effort to sort it out and get it up and running but it can be done.

In the meantime I thank God that when we return to the UK we will be in a position to put DS in an independent school and they have already agreed that he can go down a year.

linglette Fri 25-Sep-09 18:43:18

Dear Mr Balls,

Thank you very much for taking the time to reply and to say that you are asking for our views.

I note all your points and acknowledge the positive aspects, particularly the changes to the Year 1 curriculum. As a very frustrated campaigner on this issue(albeit one who has succeeded in her fight for her own son)I would like to make the following comments to you on the point that "we are not proposing allowing those children starting school after they turn five to start in reception rather than year 1."

You said: "The evidence we have suggests it is better for children to start school earlier rather than later". I have found no evidence that August born children benefit from starting school at 4.0 rather than 5.0. I see statistical evidence in the "When you are born matters" report that starting at 4.0 may be better than starting in April at 4.9 for most children. The reason that starting in April is bad is that the children have to play catch-up. How much bigger a game of catch-up would they have to play, however, if you forced them straight from nursery into Year 1? It simply defies common sense to suggest that a child could simply slot into Year 1. I see NO evidence that it is better to start reception at 4.0 than 5.0. But comparisons to our neighbours in Scotland suggest that their children do not suffer at all from a potentially later start. Where is the clamour from Scots to more to the English system? There is none. But spend a little time on this board and you will see many English parents longing for the Scottish system.

Please remember that Sir Jim Rose simply made an a priori assumption that all children were in school at 4 years +. He never even considered any evidence for or against allowing year deferral for reception. That is just not good enough. These are very vulnerable children. I consider that he entirely failed to meet your brief and should be invited to reconsider.

Mr Balls, if I managed to get my speech therapist, nursery manager, consultant paediatrician and school headmistress to write to you confirming their opinions that, as a result of Bradford Council having allowing him to defer by a year (i)my child's needs are being better met and (ii)the cost of meeting my child's needs is now likely to be much lower (as the need for a Statement has been removed), would that help you persuade Jim Rose to do the job he was asked to do? This is not a rhetorical flourish. I do not mean it aggressively. This is something I am prepared to do, even at the cost of the confidentiality of my child's medical records.

As for SEN, "The additional help he needs" is, in my son's case, extremely simple - it is to be with the right cohort. Very, very, cheap, very effective and yet transformative of his life chances. He has started his second nursery year this month and already I see him blossoming, but would we have dared to let him blossom at 4 only to crush him by placing him in Year 1 at 5 against the advice of all the health professionals? I don't know.

I appreciate your concern about immature children whose parents don't defer. I share it, frankly. There is enormous peer pressure on parents not to defer, so only highly educated parents here in Bradford choose deferral. If parents were educated as to the fact that starting later (as on the continent and in Scotland) does not detract from end achievements provided the child gets to "start from the beginning", then more parents would defer. It could become the norm to allow parents choice not just in "where" their child goes to school, but also "when".

Mr Balls, I suspect there is a legal case to be made against the effective forced 4.0 school starting age. I would have gone to the courts if I'd been forced to. If a child is entitled to a free education starting at 5 years, how can it be lawful to deny that child entry into the year group in which he or she will be taught to read or write? It is effectively denying the child an education.

Enough from me, Mr Balls, but will you please read the letter below? It's from a headmaster in the Bradford area, reacting with horror to Bradford LEA's proposals to change its policy to remove the option to year-defer reception entry, a policy-change that you are now threatening to simply impose:

" I am writing to raise an objection in the strongest possible terms, to the proposals to discourage, and indeed prevent deferred entry for summer born children from 2010.
In this climate of "Every Child Matters" and "Personalising Learning", it seems that these agendas and principles do not matter if the needs of a very small number of very young and vulnerable children might cause a little increase in administration. The only impact of deferring entry is the addition of a note on the pupil census to explain why there appear to be additional children in infant class.
In my many years as a teacher and a head, I have always tried to make decisions in the best interests of individual children. Summer born children, particularly those with mid to late August birthdays, are at a distinct disadvantage in our educational system, particularly as children in this country start formal school far too early at the age of 4+ in any case. As a reception class teacher and for many years as a Head Teacher, I have encouraged parents to make their own decision based upon their superior knowledge of their children, and I have always undertaken to support them fully in that decision.
Young children who are forced into formal education too soon suffer from lack of confidence and self-esteem, and this impacts on their personal well-being as well as progress and attainment. For many children, the impact stays with them until GCSE and later life. Conversely, those who defer entry come to school confident and mature. They do well both personally and academically. Surely this should be the priority!
We are not talking about huge numbers of children. I currently have 2 children in my 2-form entry school whose entry was deferred by agreement to meet their needs. A further child will enter in September 2008. All the children concerned remain in good quality nursery settings, accessing appropriate provision and environment until the term after they are 5, which is, after all, their legal entitlement. They remain with their admission cohort throughout the school and leave with them in Y6.
The proposals outlined clearly remove the option of deferred entry from parents, as you quite rightly point out that Year 1 classes will be full. To suggest or require that children should be placed directly into Y1 and miss the last year of the foundation stage is outrageous. Anyone with any understanding of the needs of young children should know this.
I note that a study reported nationally this morning has highlighted the issue of admission age in England, and found that English children do not benefit from starting school so young. Having recently visited schools in Europe and experienced the success and confidence of hcildren who start school at 6 or 7 years old, folowing universal Kindergarten provision, I would go further and say that our current system disadvantages even 5 year old children. To impose formal schooling on children who have just had their 4th birthday is cruel and inappropriate.
I would like to have sight of the rationale that led to this proposal. As it is, I cannot identify one advantage of this proposal to children. If every child really does matter to Bradford, then this proposal should be rejected."

I am happy to write to you directly giving my full name and address.

slowreadingprogress Fri 25-Sep-09 19:41:53

"I want all parents to be able to choose to start their children at school in the September after they turn four if that is what they want." On what evidence is that wish expressed, that all parents should be able to start their children at school at 4? Why do you want that? As linglette says the only evidence I'm aware of about this simply evidences that it's better for kids to start at the same time, not at FOUR specifically, or 'earlier rather than later'. What evidence is there that 4 is better, rather than simply that starting all together is better? I'd be interested to read any specific research on that.

upamountain Fri 25-Sep-09 20:39:12

Dear Mr Balls,

Again, thankyou for taking the time to reply and come back to this.

If there is a reason for being in politics it must be to represent the views, particularly of those who are not able to, and really make a difference.

You could make a difference to my son's life.

He is similar to others a language delayed just 3 year old who will start school next year and will struggle.I have other children already in the school system and I do know what is expected despite the early years foundation.

One more year and his language should reach his peer's level and I believe he would actually thrive.

I don't want part time school for reception - there is no benefit.I want him to start school the term immediately after he turns 5 - full time to get the full benefit.

Please relook at this.What you are proposing won't make a difference to those children like mine.You can make a difference.I can't.

It works in Scotland.It can work here also.
Please reconsider.

It would probably ruffle some feathers as decisions have already been taken to change things from the proposals you have set out.

Take linglette up on her offer - she speaks with passion and intelligence about something many of us care deeply about.

linglette Fri 25-Sep-09 20:59:12

Am thinking of taking DS2 to meet Mr Balls as he is just south of Leeds. Anyone else want to toddle along?

RacingSnake Fri 25-Sep-09 22:40:53

No time for long post but wanted to write a sentence or two and be part of thread. DD was due mid September but born two months premature in July. Will now be expected to go into Reception when she will really be 3.11.

We will probably miss reception and try to find a school that will accept her straight into year 1, having missed out on all the benefits of a reception year. But better that than a 3-year old in formal school.

Am dreading the whole thing and feel so guilty that I let her down to that extent. And I am sooooooooo angry that I am not allowed to make such a vital decision about my child's life. Why shouldn't she simply be allowed to have that year back and start school when she is ready? How does Ed Balls know what is best for my child? (I am a primary school teacher and know how bad it will be for her.)

ellasmum1 Sat 26-Sep-09 03:22:12

Hi,I would like to add my concern about this, as a mum of a lovely 13 mth old boy who was born on 30th August.
I don't want to feel worried and guilty when I send him off to school.
I don't want him to be constantly struggling to keep up and lose his self confidence, and potentially end up disliking school.
My dd was 4 and a half when she started school and found it hard enough.
I would do anything to be able to defer a year, but only if he can start in reception- why should he have to miss a yearsad

Jajas Sat 26-Sep-09 08:00:21

I have 7 year old twin boys who were born 2.5 months prematurely in July 2002. They have a quadruple whammy of disadvantage.

Summer born

I fought for 4 years to try and hold them back and have given up now as the system has just overwhelmed me sad.

The excellent nursery that they were in recognised at 3 years old that they wouldn't be at all ready for school as they were at least a 1.5 years behind developmentally. The head of the nursery even got the governers behind her and made representation to the school to keep them at nursery for another year. Didn't work and they had to start reception when they were 4.2 years and still looking and acting like toddlers of 3.0. They lasted 3 awful weeks in reception whereupon the reception teacher practically begged me to take them back to nursery as they were 'off the scale' with regards to their development. So back to nursery they went for 5 months until we had a change of headteacher at the school who insisted that they return and that all would be fine. They rejoined reception in the February and I struggled to delay their beginning Year 1 and proposed them repeating the reception year.

Not a chance, half way through year 1 the teacher suggests that it would be advisable for them to repeat the year, so begins months of reports from paediatricians, health workers etc but I am informed by the school that the LEA have informed them that unless they have a statement they cannot be held back. Eventually the LEA inform me that it is actually up to the school, school deny all knowledge and blame the LEA!

By this time they are in year 2 where they are at the bottom of the class and I'm doing my best to obtain statements for them ~ ed psych comes and assesses them and the general consensus seems to be that they are bad but not bad enough angry.

They are now in their first month of a combined year 3 and year 4 class which I am really worried about. The teacher is great and they get some extra help through their IEP but the warnings of the paediatrican some years back keep ringing in my ear. She said that the gap will get WIDER and WIDER as they go through school and they will struggle more and more. They are dragged through a one size fits all system which just does not work for children like mine.

I feel utterly let down by the whole system and just don't know what to do. I hate the idea of private schooling but am faced with the prospect of trying to send them to one for the simple reason that they can drop them down a year if that is what is required. It has made me so angry over the last few years and this thread has reignited all that fury again angry

Madsometimes Sat 26-Sep-09 18:50:43

So Ed Balls is saying that some parents may choose not to defer their children. These children will complete a reception year with more mature children, including some who are over a year older than them. If a parent makes a bad choice about deferral, then it would be doubly bad for that child if other parents had made the right choice for their own children.

OK Ed, I get this, I really do. How about if a reception teacher has a very young child for a year, perhaps with speech delay, concentration problems, toileting problems, and they think

"Oh dear, little Johnny has barely coped in reception, he will really struggle in year 1. I wish their parents had opted for deferral"

The solution here is that the reception teacher could discuss Johnny's problems with his parents and the head teacher. She could then recommend that he spend a further year in reception, rather than go up to year 1.

If a teacher recomended a child of mine to repeat a year, I would have no problems with that at all. There would be no stigma attached to that if it is done some time during KS1. I do understand that reception classes cannot go over 30 normally, and this could cause some problems with administration.

In fact, this seems to boil down to expecting all our children to fit into neat little boxes to aid administration.

Mr Balls - You state that 'Sir Jim Rose found good evidence that it is best for children’s attainment and progress if they all start school together in September.' Were you just referring to the IFS report? Because it doesn't support that statement in my view:

In the words of the IFS report:

'Whilst, ... August-born children do benefit from starting school earlier rather than later (for example, in the September, rather than the January or the April, of their
reception year), this makes only a modest positive contribution to test scores and only at early Key Stages. ..... Clearly, other policy options are needed in order to eliminate the August birth penalty.'

But, because the research compares September and August children within a school - all that the IFS report shows is the gap between August and September children is slightly narrower when they all start at the same time. However, the research doesn't allow for the September children's performance being a variable. What if the impact of all children starting at the same time is detrimental to the September children? The August children may be no better off and in that case, you have not addressed the real issue at all with this policy. Especially as, according the the IFS report, the impact of the staggered start is reasonably short term.

mimmum Sun 27-Sep-09 10:01:59

Sorry to be controversial but to me this reply just shows comtempt to all parents out there in this situation. Firstly it doesn't answer our concerns at all secondly it assumes we're so stupid we can't see for ourselves what the evidence says and what it means. The sooner this government is gone the better. There got that all off my chest!wink

slowreadingprogress Sun 27-Sep-09 14:47:20

It is so disingenuous it makes me so angry. The Rose Report does not state that it is better for kids to start reception at 4 just that it is better for them to start all together with the whole year's cohort rather than in Jan or April (thus having less time in reception)

Administration clearly makes it tricky for kids to defer. If I had done this my 5 year old ds would have been starting, potentially, with other kids who had just turned 4 (who didn't defer) and 5 yr olds who are rising 6. So a two year age range in a class. Just needs some positive, pragmatic planning for and this could happen.

Madsometimes Sun 27-Sep-09 15:03:39

Another thing which makes my blood boil is that desparate parents are paying for private education just so that their children can be in the correct year group for their needs. In many cases, these are parents who would prefer to use their local state schools.

It is shocking that a Labour government should stand back and prevent state educated students accessing an education which is appropriate for their individual needs. As Lingle has reiterated time and time again, by starting her son at 5.0 she will save the tax payer money. He will not need the raft of SEN measures which would have to have been put in place had he started at 4.0.

How do you thinm it hinders?

luckyblackcat Mon 28-Sep-09 12:28:08

Madsometimes, I am one of those parents.

My Ds turned 5 in Aug, he started reception at an independent school in Sept.

Both my local maintained mainstream schools turned him down, claiming they were full - which they most certainly were not - as it would be completely unsuitable for him to be with peers rather than ability equivalent cohorts (he does have SEN).

We are now committed to keeping him in the private sector for his whole education <gulp> as my LEA has a policy of replacing child into peer group, thereby missing out a whole years education.

soccermom Mon 28-Sep-09 15:57:32

This is a message for Linglette....

Linglette, I'd love to talk to you privately. Would you be able to CAT me or change your email preferences so I can send a private message to you?


linglette Mon 28-Sep-09 16:39:46

you can email smile

So long as you don't turn out to be another friend from my home town grin

Builde Tue 29-Sep-09 12:53:01

Could children not start school based on their due-date, and not their birthday.

I cannot see how a child born very prematurely can possibly keep up. It is cruel.

Some of the posts above make me feel very sad, especially as the problems could be resolved so cheaply. E.g. let children start a year later but go into reception.

Good luck to all of you with premature children. You've had many struggles and I hope that you have the fight left in you to sort this issue out.

Maria2007 Tue 29-Sep-09 13:41:21

Sorry, I haven't read the whole thread (will read it all when I have a bit more time) but am jumping in here because I really want to find out about this whole thing- and I also would love to participate in any campaign / petition (whatever) we MNers choose to start on this subject.

I recently found out about this whole summer-born thing- I have a 14 month old DS born in august-, and that they HAVE to go to school at 4 (because that's the reality isn't it, it's not as if keeping them at home until 5 solves the problem). I'm originally from Greece where year 1 starts when children are between 6-7, and up til then it's just nursery. And that works well! (and seems to be the system in most other countries). So I was shocked when I found out that here in the UK they send children to school so early- and I think 5 years for year 1 is far too early. It's not about academic development so much, it's mostly about emotional / developmental maturity.

In any case, I'm sure all this must have been discussed in this I will stop here, but would love to participate in any petition going. Any links to something like that?

Maria2007 Tue 29-Sep-09 13:49:02

Just skimming through the recent bits of the thread. Jajas, your story is so very very sad. It's preposterous that this kind of thing is allowed to happen nowadays! angry. There's simply NO conceivable educational reason why this should have happened to your twins. I would think it's basically a case where you could even sue the council & could easily win the case...

linglette Tue 29-Sep-09 19:04:04

I also think there must be a case to mount.

Someone with a legal background will hit this problem and decide not to let it go away......

Jajas Tue 29-Sep-09 21:10:54

Bless you kind people of mumsnet. It was the first thing I posted on here around about 3/4 years ago and people were so supportive.

They would have been born on September 4th ~ perfect.

I read with year 2 children at the school and that is the class they should be in sad. It's too late now, even if I could drop them back a year they are settled with their friends and would be mortified. It wouldn't have mattered one jot at Reception age, none of the children or them would have known or cared at all angry.

Jajas Tue 29-Sep-09 21:13:03

That is they SHOULD have been born on September 4th.

The Ed Psych did give me one piece of advice ~ to give up fighting for them to be statemented and channel all my energy into helping them, which whilst wise advice also made me realise how fruitless the whole thing was.

prettybird Wed 30-Sep-09 11:21:46

Linglette - I think the issue of premature children has already been to court and lost

linglette Wed 30-Sep-09 11:58:26

sad. any idea on what basis?

prettybird Wed 30-Sep-09 12:15:47

Can't remember the detail - but can remember beign very angry on behalf of the child/children (could have been twins) involved.

IIRC, the case was lost on the basis that while schools/LEAs have discretion to allow children to defer entry "properly" (ie join the cohort a year below them), if they choose not to do, they cannot be forced into it

Like most people, I read Jaja's post and thought how unfairly her boys had been treated. It is a seriously unfair system.

However, its worth considering the government's point of view on this. Reading between the lines on Ed Balls statement and from what I've learnt from Mumsnet's education threads over the years, I've deduduced the following:

Governments see state education as a tool for improving social mobility by increasing opportunities for our most disadvantaged children.

So, for example, this impacts the policy for school starting age. Whilst, for most children from families with good parenting skills, delaying the start of formal education (year 1) to say age 6 -7, would do no harm and might actually be benefical, it would seriously harm those children from the most deprived background.

The 'optional delayed start' for immature summer born children would likewise, be good for the childrem of parents who understand the benefits. However, it will disadvantage those children whose parents don't understand or care. So, a 'deprived' summer born child could end 15 months younger than the oldest child in class. As I believe happens in some parts of the US.

This doesn't excuse the lame 'Sir Jim Rose' (and to be frank Ed Balls) reponse to this problem, and I think the idea of a campaign is a good one!! Just because there are no easy answers to this, doesn't mean we should let the government get away with it.

Maria2007 Wed 30-Sep-09 13:54:46

Jackstarbright. I think what you say makes sense up to a point- about social mobility. There are many ways around this though. This would be a good reason to give free nursery places for more hours & then delay year 1 until 6-7 years of age. Or even nursery (at age 4-5) could perhaps be made compulsory. Or there could be 2 years of compulsory reception. The point is for children to not go into academic work as early as 5 years old. I think the UK is a glaring exception in the age children start school. There is no excuse for this & no good educational or social reason. Children in most countries (eg other European countries, including Scandinavia which has very good provisions to ensure social mobility) start school later. Children that are disadvantaged need much much more than just going to school earlier! That won't solve their problems, in fact, it'll create additional problems, as these children too will be disadvantaged by such a ridiculously early starting school age.


I am in total agreement with you. My post was an attempt to explain what I see has the government's reasoning - but I certainly do not agree with it. There has to be better ways of helping disadvantaged children - without penalising the less mature summer borns. I like your two years of reception idea. For example (adapting a bit) in a 3 form entry school I'd see it working like this.

All children start reception in the September after they turn 4. But they are put into classes by age (roughly Autumn, Winter and Summer born). The Autumn born class do 1 year of reception as now. The springs - 4 terms and the summer's 5 terms. Each child moving to year 1 work when they are at least 5 and 7 months (roughly the current average age for starting year 1). All classes would have a 4 month age spead which should narrow the ability range and the risk of children being 'left behind' or not not stretched.

At some point (year 3/4?) the classes could be mixed up (or not). But the point is by then gaps should have closed and appropriate early years teaching will have given all the children a solid start. I can't see this idea costing any more money.

There are lots of good (and probably better) ideas out there. Which is why I found the Jim Rose report such a disappointment.

linglette Wed 30-Sep-09 17:21:41


couldn't we educate those parents who do care and make nursery compulsory from an appropriate age for the children of those who don't?

By the way MUMSNETHQ - can you bat this thread back to Ed Balls? I think it has lots of interesting stuff in it and would like to get a response from him. Or Jim Rose.

Maria2007 Wed 30-Sep-09 20:19:50

We should start a petition- you know the ones that get sent to number 10? Has something like that been done? I bet with all the MNetters behind it (plus their networks) it would be huge.

linglette Thu 01-Oct-09 08:42:26

<encourages Maria to set one up on the Downing Street site> grin

sorry to be cheeky - promise will be signing.

Maria2007 Thu 01-Oct-09 14:31:00

I don't know how this type of petition is drafted, but would love to give it a go. Anyone else interested in joining efforts with me in order to produce a first draft? And also: what should our aim be? Generally later age of school entry? Or just possibility of deferral for a year?

Hi Maria,

A couple of links worth looking at. One about what's planned in Wales, where they intend to move to a play based curriculum for 3-7 year olds. here.

Welsh Mumsnetters - what do you think about this???

Also a new report on primary education is about to be published. here Not clear if it covers the summer born issue.

ICANDOTHAT Mon 05-Oct-09 09:34:26

Einstein wrote: "It's a wonder our children survive our formal education system". I agree, it's full on way too early. When are we going to wake up and realise that a one-size-fits-all education system is doing more harm than good to so many of our children ... especially the younger ones. Makes me sad & angry

VulpusinaWilfsuit Thu 08-Oct-09 14:35:12

MNHQ have notified Ed Balls' people about the thread again I think, and are awaiting further developments about getting Rose on. Or summat very similar to this grin. It was a while ago that I reported the thread so they would pick it up again...

noracroft Mon 12-Oct-09 13:09:27

The disadvantages of being a summer born child was discussed this morning's Woman's Hour. Any comments or personal experiences can be posted here. Jane Garvey said they would discuss it again later this week.

Btw - As well as school achievement, the piece covered mental health, SEN and premier league football potential!! Could be distressing for some!!

Builde Wed 14-Oct-09 09:10:05

The advantages for summer born children are that they get better birthday parties.

My entire family is summer born and - as well as being high achieving (bucking the trend!) - we have great birthday parties!

Madsometimes Wed 14-Oct-09 10:26:37

No Builde, I have to disagree with you on the birthday parties. It is a total nightmare to organise a children's birthday party in August. For a start lots of people go away, so inevitably dc's best friend cannot come. Also, you need to give out invitations when schools break up in mid July for a birthday party at the end of August. So many people forget to come even if they have not gone away and actually would have liked to have come. People are generally rubbish as RSVPing so you often have no way of contacting class mates to confirm.

Actually I have now given up and do it in September which meant that dd1 had to suffer the indignity of having a 9th birthday party in the September of year 5 (the same month as some children in her class turned 10). We now tend to only ask children who dd1 knows well, so it is easier, but it was a real problem in the infants. I did feel very guilty this year when dd1 could not go to her best friend's party because we were away, knowing how sensitive August children feel about this.

Rant over blush

singersgirl Wed 14-Oct-09 12:32:42

Madsometimes, we have exactly the same problem, and DS2's birthday parties (end of August) always clash with the beginning-of-September-year-older parties.

LB29 Wed 14-Oct-09 15:09:25

Hi all,
It doesn't always end up badly. My DD was due at the beginning of Sept 04 and was born a month early. She was late developing and couldn't sit unaided until 9 months.
Me and her dad worried about her starting school and if I had the option I would have wanted to hold her back a year. But this would have been a terrible mistake and she would have been so bored. She is now doing really well, both academically and socially. She is already on stage 6 of the ORT reading scheme and is brilliant at maths.
Obviously I know that this isn't the case for all children but for us it has worked out well.
The only issue I really have with the system is the ages they receive free nursery places from. Surely this should be the same as the school intakes?

minderjinx Sun 01-Nov-09 07:56:15

I have a slightly premature august-born son, and I could argue that if all had gone according to plan he would have been a bit younger and entitled to start school a year later. As it happens, I think he'll be fine anyway. But what concerns me, is that if everyone with a summer-born baby camapigns successfully to have their children put back a year so as to make them the oldest in their year group, doesn't that just make the spring-born children into the disadvantaged group?

it could be a never ending cycle! Perhaps if parents could choose when in a school year (by half term) they send their child that would work well for all.

linglette Wed 04-Nov-09 20:31:35

A normal four year old should not be "bored" merely because he/she is not at school. Maybe the quality of nursery provision is the issue here.

stillenacht Wed 04-Nov-09 22:32:24

Buda - totally agree with you smile. We are transfering our son (very late in the day) from year 6 in state sector (a supposedly outstanding school according to OFSTED)(he is very late August born and youngest in year) to an independent school in January to go into year 5. It is the correct year group for him to be in. All the teachers we have spoken to (my husband and I are also teachers) agree with what we are doing and think it is the best for him. DS understands its where he should be and is fine with it all - frankly he is sick of being bottom of the year group for everything all the hear that he may be average would be lovely for his confidencegrin.The only person who has raised doubts over it has been his current headteacher but even he said that he understood our decision.

linglette Fri 06-Nov-09 08:50:45

good for you stillenacht.

Mumsnet HQ - have you located Sir Jim Rose yet?

pugsandseals Fri 06-Nov-09 12:36:27

Thought I'd add my August born DD's story (age 7)!
Joined pre-school at 2 1/2 as normal,
Kicked out of pre-school at age 3 to join combined nursery/reception class,
Couldn't cope with whole days,
Joined private nursery instead & stayed until summer term of reception (they were fantastic & her confidence was repaired),
Joined different primary from summer term of reception & stayed until the end of year 2- always had problems emotionally & socially at this school because of her age although very bright academically. Felt we had to move her as her confidence had been crushed again.
Joined prep in September (year 3) and they are doing fantastic work for her confidence (although still the odd problem), although she does struggle still with handwriting and lack of rest from the homework!

I am in two minds about when she should have started school and with hindsight would never have sent her to her first primary at age 2 1/2! Tiredness, lack of concentration and fine motor skills will always be her biggest battles but we are now lucky enough to have a school which helps us deal with them. If we had kept her back a year she would have been bored academically but there is little doubt in my mind that it would have been much better for her character & confidence!

P.S We hate the whole birthday party in the holidays thing too! DD's last party was age 4.

linglette Fri 06-Nov-09 15:46:14

I am interested in what you say about her being bored academically. Don't mean to sound like it's an attack - not meant that way.

My son is 4, teaching himself to read, playing the piano in harmonies (self-taught again - observes brothers' lessons), has a concentration span of one solid hour (other children drift off as they cannot maintain the attention) etc, etc, but my paed. said (and this is one of the few helpful things she's said) not to concentrate on those things because "those things will be there for him later" whereas what he needs right now is to develop self-confidence and play skills with his peers (as he is doing in his nursery right now).

I really don't understand what it could mean for a just-4 year old to be "bored" at home or in a high-quality pre-school setting. My son seems very academic to me but this is the age where they should be developing their play-skills, not learning phonics, surely?

pugsandseals Fri 06-Nov-09 20:07:22

I don't have any answers! Was just saying that we seem to have eventually found the best of what is on offer.
I don't think children necessarily need to be grouped according to age other than for the fact that it is some way of trying to make life a little easier for the teachers.
I don't however, think that rules should be set in stone. This is where teachers traditionally would have had enough authority to agree to move a child if the parent thought it in their best interests! However, this is yet another power that the government have taken away! sad

LadyG Fri 06-Nov-09 21:37:07

I haven't read the whole thread so sorry if I am repeating points that others have made. DS was 4 in August and started school this September.
He did half days for the first half term and is now doing full days. Coping fine-bit tired but he was doing 2 full days at pre-school as well as 3 days
He is getting reading books and starting to take an interest in letter formation (on his own) but has no formal homework and not much interest in sitting and reading.
I have absolutely no idea how this 'compares' to others or whether he is bottom or top or middle of his year. It is Reception and therefore play based so all I ever hear from him is how he built sandcastles or played with cars or did Lego.
I have no idea if it is 'right' for him or not but he loves it and to me it doesn't seem as if what he is doing is very different from preschool anyway?
Perhaps the differences will become more marked later on but I am a bit wary of 'labelling' it as a problem and thereby making it so IYSWIM. He loves school-am happy with that for now.

applepudding Fri 06-Nov-09 23:54:29

I haven't read the whole thread so I don't know if this has been brought up before.

Where we live we have a January intake for children whose birthday is between March - August.

I can't decide whether this is better for the children or not. It means that the summer birthday children are nearer to their 5th birthday when starting school so that bit more mature, but also means that they only have 2 terms in reception rather than 3.

DS is now in Y4, and even now I find that the children with September/October birthdays seem so much older than my DS.

i have a 17 year old summer born and summer born baby

17 year old no problems academically and i believe being summer born has HELPED him instill a great work ethic

i also have two october born (lazy)

and two spring born

i choose summer born

linglette Sat 07-Nov-09 17:38:37

"I don't however, think that rules should be set in stone. This is where teachers traditionally would have had enough authority to agree to move a child if the parent thought it in their best interests! However, this is yet another power that the government have taken away!"

Yes, strongly agree, I am not a natural conservative voter but can see that what you say above chimes a bit more with the Conservative ethos and it may be up to them to change it.

i dont see mumsnet to be a representative sample in the issue

having a child in his final year of education this is imE a 'non issue' for a lot of parents - especially after i guess around year 2

i do have differing issues with age in the yeargroup so i do empathise with the problems birthdate can cause per se

interestingly - when reading the list of boys birthdates who got into my sons' very competitive selective grammar school - i was stunned to notice a disproportionate number of summer borns. the test was 'weighted' but this was only to a maximum of +2 ( out of 130 ish)

again only my experience - but it is not all doom and gloom

having had 6 children i actively made my number six summer born

this was only one year with the boys school and could of course be an odd unrepresentative year

singersgirl Sat 07-Nov-09 22:03:17

Interestingly, as a comparison, the school my August-born DS1 now goes to (selective prep, so age 7 -13, with selection by exam and interview at 7, 8 10 and 11) publishes a list of all children in the school plus birth date. So being slightly obsessed (and keen to prove a point) I did the math, as they say. 40% of the children are born September-December, 35% January - April and 25% May - August. Now I guess all that really shows is that children who are older in the year group do better in exams...

WilfSell Tue 17-Nov-09 17:46:51

I am bumping this thread - partly so we can try and get it on the list on MN campaigns - what do you think? We talked about the Power of MN to try and address this issue: a good lobbying campaign that affects many of us, no?

And I might post a question for Dave (and any further party leaders who might be sniffing around now we are officially a Bellweather site grin)

<VulpusinaWilfsuit in Old Name here>

Deadworm Tue 17-Nov-09 17:56:55

Haven't followed the thread, so I have what is probably an idiot question. If parents can opt to have their summer-born children enter a year later, without having to join the cohort that has already been at school a year, won't that mean that, in theory, there will be an age differential of potentially almost two years in the cohhort they chose to join?

I. e. as things stand my summer-born child would face schooling with children up to 364 days older than him. But if parents of a summer-born child of the previous year defer, he might have children 365+ days older than him. That will increase the pressure on him and also cause spring-born and winter-born children to face the same sort of differential that current summer-borns face??

Deadworm Tue 17-Nov-09 18:10:59

Also, some families will be able to afford to defer (to pay childcare fees or have a parent at home, etc) and some won't. So won't children already disadvantaged by relative poverty face schooling alongside deferred children from advantaged background, who will therefore have a double advantage -- potentially a 365+ day age advantage plus the learning benefits associated with educationally aspirational middle-class families?

WilfSell Tue 17-Nov-09 18:15:09

I agree that the real obstacle is a class/income one, and probably why Balls won't entertain the idea - because the only way for it to be equitable would be to fully fund nursery places for summer-borns. But the proposals already seem to be suggesting the Labour Party would support funding additional fulltime nursery places for some of the year so that summer borns could attend school part time.

But I still think the principle needs to be asked: why should children have to start school at an arbitrary point rather than when they are ready, given that we know it has an impact on outcomes in later life? Given that children from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds are going to face educational penalties in other ways, you could further argue that they will be doubly disadvantaged by having to start at just-4.

Deadworm Tue 17-Nov-09 18:20:42

Hmm. I still tend to think that the best solution is to have the right classroom resources and good teaching to enable teachers to adapt well to the indvividual ages and attainment of all pupils.

It isn't an arbitrary startpoint for when your child starts school (you have authority over that until age 5). It is a startpoint for when your child starts school if h/she is consuming the mass-educational state service, which can't be limitlessly flexible. And quite possibly the current system is the least worst.

Deadworm Tue 17-Nov-09 18:25:51

The only way for funded nursery places to overcome the class/income thing would be if they had the same attendance hours as school -- otherwise useless for childcare whilst working. So they would be in a classroom all day, loosing one of the advantages of defferal. The learning environment there would prob be similar to Reception in respect of having to cope with differential attainments etc. In nursery school or reception, it comes down to the professiobalism and flexibility of the teaching.

Deadworm Tue 17-Nov-09 18:26:44


WilfSell Tue 17-Nov-09 18:31:08

I can only speak from my experience of this, but my two eldest found the transition from nursery to school not so straightforward. I don't think it is the same: although there are learning expecations in nursery, there is none of the current testing or monitoring that occurs in school. And on the whole, nurseries are still better geared up to manage the physical care and emotional needs of young children in a way that schools, even good reception classes just aren't. If that were rectified, then maybe that would help.

The evidence is that educational outcomes are different at all levels, even at GCSE and A level. I am not sure how the current primary provision can deal with that. Perhaps proper monitoring and age-adjusted scores would go some way? What do you think would mitigate the age-effects, Deadworm?

Deadworm Tue 17-Nov-09 19:35:45

I'm not sure what would mitigate them and agree it is a prob. I'm just worried that a change along the suggested lines would just be a combo of:

(a) shifting the arbitrary watershed so that eg if you can defer children with a May-to-August birthday, parents of children born in April would feel their child diadvantaged

(b) introducing a class/inclome differential so that the poorer children would suffer age-related effects disproportionately.

I would like policy to concentrate on improved teaching and classroom resources (plus perhaps less monitoring, which is damaging in a range of ways anyway).

Deadworm Tue 17-Nov-09 19:37:54

(I don't see need for age-adjusted scores. That would be an awfully blunt tool. Plenty of children aren't disadvantaged by august birthday.

stillenacht Tue 17-Nov-09 22:30:07

My son has been sad Statistics bear this out too. he will be going into year 5 (currently year 6) from january in the independent sector.

notimetoshop Tue 17-Nov-09 22:39:58

but how do you know a lot of summer born children aren't disadvantaged? because they do as well / if not better in the tests. but the argument for age-adjusted scores is for internal use. an august born child doing as well as a september born child is not 'not disadvantage' they are actually working almost a year ahead.
it's about expectations and setting appropriate work while still young. It would make it more explicit.

Madsometimes Thu 19-Nov-09 10:27:12

If a child has been to nursery, then the transition from school to reception is generally not too bad, even for summerborns.

This is because a reception class is mostly play and a little formal learning. The real pain starts in Y1 when the equation reverses to a little play and mostly formal learning. That is when the problems start for many summer borns, and you only need to look at mumsnet to find threads reading "My dc is in Y1 and cries every morning, yet was fine in reception, I do not understand it."

That is why schools need the ability to back year children who are struggling, and it is why it is cruel to start a child in Y1 if they have not been through reception. It is also why learning through play needs to be integrated into the whole of KS1, as it is in Wales.

Tizzyjacko Thu 19-Nov-09 19:55:03

And what about the social side? The older ones tend to be more successful at games (Because they are bigger and better coordinated), get picked for the speaking parts at assembly and class plays (because they can read and/or are more confident)and therefore feel succesful from the very beginning. I have one of each, September and July (plus third with special needs)and the July born DS has definitely suffered from a lack of confidence compared to his september born younger brother even accounting for differences in personality.

stillenacht Thu 19-Nov-09 23:22:50

totally agree with that Tizzyjacko - most of the kids who pass the 11plus at DSs school are Sept- Feb and indeed most of the kids i teach are too (in selective school)

Concordia Fri 20-Nov-09 01:46:11

I am a bit confused as to if there is anything i can do about my summer born boy. currently 3 and due to start school in sept 2010.
he's only a june birthday i hasten to add. but he's tiny, still in 12-18 months trousers so at this rate i hope the school uniforms is available in 18-24 months size or what will i do? he's enjoying nursery but it is really clear that his self-help skills are not great, we are working really hard ot help but he is just young. also he had glue ear so to be honest, if you don't know him, you probably couldnt' understand what he says most of the time. people often misunderstand what he says and just answer a totally different question.
DH said people always thought that he was a lot younger than he was as a child, but he was a sept birthday so i guess he just fitted in. i'm worried DS is the same, but with a summer birthday. at the moment at least DS really looks like he belongs in the year below. he doesn't really interact much with other children but those he talks about are the younger ones in the pre-school next door to the nursery. he's seen the speech therapist a bit but he isn't really SEN.
we live in Bradford LA (hi otter and lingle, not in the head covering place but nearby - and would love to move there for the schools if we ever get any money!) and want to know if this deferral thing is still an option? provisionally we are interested in a school in leeds LA, which has a mixed year r/1 and Year 1/2 class and the children in year 1 are split by age. so effectively he might get an extra year in (a kind of) reception and DD sept born would get two years in the year 1/2 class and just one year in the Year R/1 class.
DSs nursery is amazing and i would love to leave him there for an extra year and start him a year late in Year R (def not straight into Year 1, what would be the point in that?) but i suspect i don't have the option?
Do I? Ed Balls is kind of hinting i might? or is this at some kind of fictional point in the future if labour win the next election? confused as to what my options are if any, and wishing all children stayed in nursery until nearly 6 as this would help this problem a lot.
sorry for long rambling and overtired post

Concordia Fri 20-Nov-09 01:52:27

its the social and emotional side of things i worry about as much as anything really.

TBH i expect that age adjusted scores will be a reality for GCSEs or their successor by the time DS takes his in 12 years time. The research is resoundingly clear that the line on the graph for your GCSE scores slopes gradually downwards from sept to aug.

I think this whole issue is in danger of 'sliping through the cracks' in the run up to the election.

Gordon Brown didn't really address it in his Webchat. His comment 'our reports suggest that its better to start [school?] earlier than six' showed that he had been poorly briefed both on the Rose (and IFS) report and the Cambridge Primary report. Also, quite worryingly, he appears to believe the issue has been resolved (by Rose) and doesn't need any further attention.

David Cameron ignored the issue totally (maybe it got lost in his laptop).

We should have a campaign to make sure the 'relative age effect' inequality in our schools is pushed higher up the education agenda.

What specifically we want done is a harder question. The most talked about options are:

1. To allow flexibiltiy in reception starting age for summerborns (to allow a delay in starting reception to the September after a child turns 5).

2. To push back the age at which all children start 'formal education' (as recommended by The Cambridge Primary Review).

3. My own preference is to teach primary children in narrower age cohorts. e.g in a 3 class year - have an autumn born, winter born and summer born class.

Can we campaign on the high level issue - that our education system is (mainly) unfair to summerborns or do we need to be more specific?

ClaraRenee Mon 23-Nov-09 13:23:13

My D1 is the youngest in her year and this has never affected her, academically she is one of the brightest in her year. If your child is ready for school depends on their character not birthday.


Your dd is indeed lucky. Unfortunatley all (just google 'relative age effect') the evidence suggests that the youngest children in any school year will, on average, have poorer outcomes in terms of education (up to age 18) and are also more likely to have a SEN, mental health issues, and even a prison record, than older children in the school year.

The most comprehensive UK report on this is the NFER. It is a few years old. However the government has recently commissioned an IFS report When you are born matters for academic outcomes: urgent policy action needed to help summer-born children. I have an issue with recommendations but the findings are pretty conclusive.

WilfSell Mon 23-Nov-09 14:14:24

Jackstar, I have raised this on the Mumsnet campaigns thread, I don't know if you want to do it too, copying the things you posted here?

Thanks Wilf.

I've done it. Here's the link for anyone else who might want to join in. mumsnet campaigns

lilac21 Mon 23-Nov-09 22:54:50

I'm an infant teacher. In every class there have been summer born children, both boys and girls, amongst the most able children in the class. My own daughter was born Aug 31, started school as a non-reader aged 4 and a few days, but left Reception with a reading age of 8 and a half, got level 3s in yr 2, level 4s in yr 3, level 5s in yr 5 (all in maths and English). She's now in Year 8 and working at level 7, although she is still only 12.

Whatever changes to the law are made, they must take account of the needs and abilities of each individual child. A blanket policy of delaying schooling for summer born children is potentially as damaging as one that makes formal schooling for every 4 yr old compulsory.

linglette Tue 24-Nov-09 09:22:08


For those of you who don't get it yet.......

- yes, someone has to be the youngest. That person should not be the child who also has significant immaturities/delays such that all the professionals working with that child recommend an extra year in nursery for that child before starting school

- the Scottish system - in fact practically every system in the civilised world except ours - has flexibility built in and you rarely, if ever,hear anyone from there complaining of it. England is the anomaly.

linglette Tue 24-Nov-09 09:35:02

I've put a post on the campaigns page.

I consider the plight of immature/delayed summer-borns to be an altogether different issue to the problem of being a mature autumn-born girl who has to wait until 4.11 or 5.0 to start school. The latter problem is a childcare/quality of nursery issue. It's not the sort of thing you end up sat in front of a consultant paediatrician about.

LucyLight Mon 07-Dec-09 21:29:15

I just think we could do it better!

The gov have had lots of advice and choose to ignore it. Our counterparts who send their children to school later do much better both in the short and long term.


OooohWhatAFuss Wed 09-Dec-09 19:21:13

I think it is too general to say that all parents of children with a summer birthday can defer school entry, someone will be the youngest and therefore be disadvantaged. There has got to be a better way round this, for example sending children to school later as many posters have suggested.

WilfSell Wed 09-Dec-09 19:34:43

The evidence - from the two reports mentioned higher up in this thread - is that sending summer borns (or any child later) adds to the developmental disadvantage they have.

Nobody is suggesting a blanket delay for all summer borns; just more debate about other options.

Alphamum Sun 10-Jan-10 17:54:20

My November born daughter was youngest in the french system which she attended full time from age of 2 and as a result mixed with older children and when she took the 7+exam [in english] she had no problems either passing the tests or settling into the new school.
My son ,born prem in July , was a nightmare from the beginning , had one year of state nursery and now in year 1 is markedly less advancd than his peers. ;[

WilfSell Thu 28-Jan-10 16:44:19

Bumping this: see the sticky on Jim Rose doing a webchat next week...

WilfSell Thu 28-Jan-10 21:21:24

bump for the Jim Rose webchat

Thanks Wilf - hadn't spotted the Jim Rose webchat. Shld be interesting!

sylvielt Sat 30-Jan-10 11:14:16

My September born son, very bright and quite mature, was devastated when all his pals started school the year before he did and was very frustrated. He would have coped fine with school a year early (i.e. in the same position as an August baby) HOWEVER when he did start, he was that much more mature and ready than the majority of his peers and it has stood him in very good stead ever since both academically and in things like sports - so it would probably be a very good idea to be able to defer. I was so glad not to have pushed for an earlier start.

Well I've posted my Jim Rose question. Lingle - your post was very good - then you've had plenty of practise on this subject. I think paranoid's prem baby point is well made. So we'll see.....

TotalChaos Tue 02-Feb-10 11:45:27

If the Scottish system allows some flexibility, so those with summer borns and/or kids with SN can choose for their kids to go into the reception equivalent at 5 rather than 4, why can't the UK system. I doubt most parents would have their child start at 5, the vast majority would be parents with valid concerns. And how can the inflexibility re:significantly prem babies be justified, where children whose adjusted age is under 48 months have to start reception?

mummiedearest Wed 24-Mar-10 22:29:21

am having probs with DS as he was born end april. Despite going to nursery for 2 yrs where he was very happy has failed to measure up to peers. unfortunately he is very tall for his age and they seem to expect a lot of him. Its not just a matter of academic work but also emotional security. Finally, after two years of not sending any readin books home on a regular basis they recognised that he needed additional support but confidence is quite often very low. im now looking into moving him to a tiny village school where he will be in a mixed age group (10 in the class) present school 200 kids. or to another larger school where they have more extra curricular activities. He says he would like to go to the smaller one if hes going to get more help, but im worried it might be too small (43 on roll) what do other mums think?

Al1969 Fri 02-Jul-10 09:14:22

No stats to back this up, but I was a June baby, was high in my class for reading, writing, maths etc, and now have a PhD and my own successful business.

This idea of summer babies underperforming seems a bit of a red herring: there are lots of factors at play in determining how successful a child is at school (e.g., providing a 'learning environment' where school work is shown to have value is probably a more unfluential one), and being a summer baby is probably a minor one if a factor at all (remember correlation doesn't imply causation). Don't fret too much folks.


" ...correlation doesn't imply causation)."

I would be interested to know what independent factor correlating with month of birth, you think might cause what is commonly known as the 'relative age effect' of being the youngest in the school year hmm.

But, I do agree that success at school is effected by many factors, relative age being just one. Although when it's combined with others such as SEN, poor home background or lower intelligence, it can be pretty devastating for the individual child.

This report from the British Medical Journal finds a correlation between relative age in the school year and psychiatric risk.

It found "The younger children in a school year are at slightly greater psychiatric risk than older children. Increased awareness by teachers of the relative age of their pupils and a more flexible approach to children's progression through school might reduce the number of children with impairing psychiatric disorders in the general population."

Again, IMO this is not an issue for individual parents to worry about. But, it should be something that the Department of Education is aware of and accounting for. Maybe we'll get more out of Gove - than we did from Balls!

Al1968 - sorry blush

Nooo!! going mad. 9- Al1969.

lingle Mon 05-Jul-10 11:31:01

clearly the PhD wasn't in statistics.

lingle smile.

lingle Mon 05-Jul-10 12:02:52

Well, as this thread has come back to life again, I may as well send a further report from the summer-born trenches.....only it's all good news smile.

DS2 is now 4.10. He was one of about 7 summer-borns in his original year group. The other five or six summer-borns from his original year-group have gone into reception and done just fine. It's a good school, with sensitivity to the effect of age-differences. The staff have adjusted the curriculum and they aren't pushing the boys (especially) on the reading and writing front - just gently encouraging it. And they make allowances for the extra tiredness that children this young are likely to experience.

DS2 was the exception. His language and social communication were far too far behind for him to access the curriculum or have any meaningful peer relationships in his original year group. We therefore refused to send him to school at 4.0 and took advantage of Bradford LEA's then-policy of allowing him to start reception at 5.0 with his entire education to be offset by a year. This has transformed his life chances and I'm very, very proud of myself for fighting for this result.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and now it's quite easy even for the people who thought my decision was peculiar to see how important it was. DS2's language has caught up and he can now answer questions well enough to be able to access the curriculum. But what's even more important is that he has been able to practice his nascent social communication skills with the right peers. No teacher in the world could have made him a true peer of the other August-borns in the original class, none of whom were particularly immature for their birth year and month. He needed to practice social skills with children 6 months to a year younger. Having done that under the guidance of a skilful nursery manager, he has blossomed, and now he is "one of the gang" in his nursery community.

Perhaps 9 out of 10 summer-born children just need an extra bit of thought from parents and some good adjustments in the classroom for a few years in order to thrive (though lots of them don't get this....). But if your child is potentially the tenth - the one who won't reach his potential unless he gets a chance to change peer group, then it is absolutely crucial that exceptions be made. And even Jim Rose - once we pinned him down on this forum - admitted that he had never intended there to be no exceptions to the rule.

PS, note to David Cameron. You have spent perhaps £1000 on an extra year's nursery for DS2. You have probably saved about £10,000 in professionals' time, statementing processes, tribunals and 1-to-1 support staff: and that's just in one year.

lingle - it's good to hear how well your ds is doing. smile. And, I agree with your point that whilst not all summer born dc's need to be deferred, adjustments in the classroom would be beneficial. The report I linked to earlier recommends:

"Simple practical classroom interventions such as calling the register in birth order or groupingchildren in the classroom by relative age may help to sensitise teachers to the age position of individual children within the class, thereby reducing the likelihood of unrealistic expectations being placed on younger children. Streaming children according to their relative age within each year group may also be helpful,.."

But, I fear, we must now wait for the results of the Jim Rose recommendation that all children start school in the September after they turn 4, before these common sense recommendations will be considered.

Meanwhile, your experience should inspire others who are seriously worried about their summer born dc's.

lingle Tue 06-Jul-10 19:21:49

"But, I fear, we must now wait for the results of the Jim Rose recommendation that all children start school in the September after they turn 4, before these common sense recommendations will be considered."

Yes, I suppose that getting rid of the January and April intakes will make the problem for the immature (in absolute terms) even more extreme..... which may finally lead to change... but not till more children have suffered sad

I wonder whether the financial argument might win the government round. Even if they started with just those children whose paediatrician recommend deferment, that would be a huge saving on statementing costs and tribunals and one-to-one. It's such a cheap intervention - working with nature not against it. Maybe I ought to visit my MP?

I wondered if the new 'academy' primary schools or even primary 'free schools' might begin to look at this from the financial angle and see the value in putting pupils in the class most appropriate to their needs and maturity. Private schools are often more open to it, for this reason.

Let's hope so.

lingle Wed 07-Jul-10 10:02:59

Very interesting point JSB

Our school got an outstanding and governors have said they'll be doing a feedback exercise soon.

I have my doubts about the academy thing (what happens when the outstanding leader leaves?) but will definitely make a submission on this as something where academy status would give us more flexibility.

Do you know whether school action plus/statemented support would still be provided by the LEA under academy status?

singersgirl Wed 07-Jul-10 10:08:11

Lingle, thank you for the update on your DS2 - I'm so pleased that it's going so well for him now. And how lucky he is to have a mother who has done everything you have to make sure that he's in the right educational environment.

Luce2001 Wed 07-Jul-10 15:58:17

Just thought I'd let you know that Bliss, the premature and sick baby charity, are doing a survey on entering your premature-born child into primary school. They want anyone whose had a premature baby who is now 4 years old or over to take part, whether they agree with the current School Admissions Code or not and whether they wanted to delay their child's entry to school or not. You can get more info and take part here.

They campaign for more flexibility around premature born children starting school and will be using the survey as evidence in their campaigning work.

WillbeanChariot Wed 07-Jul-10 16:05:17

I hope that Bliss are successful in getting some flexibility- my DS is an end of August baby who should have been born at the end of November. Early days for us but I would like to have the option of sending him to school a year late if he's not ready.

lingle - I found this education blog which seems to suggest that it's up to the academy where they get the SEN services from - LEA or elswhere.

Warning over SEN provision states that the risk is not to the academy but potentially to the provision of SEN services to non academy schools, if the academy chooses to not get it's SEN support from the local council.

"If a significant number of schools convert to academies, there’s a real risk that it makes some services that local authorities provide unviable. That’s the big risk."

IMO - if primary schools adopted the policies of streaming by relative age and had children starting KS1 when they were ready and able, then the requirements
for SEN services should be be reduced

Bexcat Sun 08-Aug-10 10:47:25

I live in Catalonia (NE Spain). My daughter is born in October but is one of the youngest in her year group because in Spain, year groups are not academic but calendar years (the oldest are born in January). She was just 2 and a half when she started school and it was difficult for her to cope (2 languages too!). My son starts in September and as a February baby, is one of the oldest in his year group. He is far more outgoing and physically streets ahead of his peers and I think he will fare much better at school. Not sure if it is to do with the fact that he is older or simply due to his character!

nattysilv Tue 17-Aug-10 16:47:25

I have just posted a message in the talk-education-primary school section titled 'parental choice in starting school'?. I am looking to see whether it would be possible to start a campaign to allow more parental flexibility in when our children start school as currently happens in Scotland? Any views and ideas welcomed on this.


fsmail Tue 17-Aug-10 20:52:51

Both of my DCs are summer babies (end of June and July). My DS now just 10 is a good average but still suffers from the confidence set back at being so behing when he started school. He achieved average and above in KS1 but a bit of a perfectionist and wanted to do better. He has asked for maths tutoring to get him into the top group but that is part of his personality. Also one of the smallest and best friends with all the younger ones at first but this has now changed.

My DD is behind (just going into Year 2) but it does not seem to bother her at all. She does what she wants and is not interested in what other people are doing. I hope she carries on like this. She is probably above average in numeracy and below in literacy.

I was October and definitely saw all of the advantages of being older. Having said that Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson (all summer-born, perhaps summer-born children have greater creativity! Both of mine are quite creative children.

Mummysgoneloopy Wed 18-Aug-10 11:53:12

I was born end August & remember vividly feeling far too young to be at school on my first day. However, I did catch up, but I do not see this as the case for some children.
I somehow passed the 11+ & went to the local grammar school. However at the time I never quite twigged how out of 120 girls in my year, there were only 3 August birthdays!! I thought it was just a strange special rarity, but of course there were other reasons!
Also worth noting that there was obviously a high amount of Sep / Oct birthdays - but as children progressed up the school some seemed to lose their initial capability that got them into the grammar school & started to struggle - seems it works both ways.
I have heard that grammars sometimes give extra points for Summer birthdays these days & take off for Autumn ones.
One of my dds is August,just like me, I just hope she catches up too!

grayhairedat19 Mon 23-Aug-10 16:47:39

I'd definitely support a campaign for the Scottish flexibility and asked for this in my comments to the Rose consultation. We greatly envied our friends north of the border when our daughter had to start in September in the first cohort from our county with all September starters. Age just 4, she had been very small for dates at birth (though not premature) and had that glorious label "failure to thrive" as a little tot. We had no doubt that we would have opted to defer if only we could have done - but at that time not only would we have lost the place at the school butt she would have started eventually in Year 1. For a decade (sadly I do not exaggerate) it was more a question of operating beyond her physical and emotional strength than academic issues - she was physically so exhausted that she succumbed to any and all the germs doing the rounds. Moving to juniors and secondary were the low points. I have no doubt deferring would have helped.

Donnavito Wed 15-Sep-10 20:47:31

my youngests dob is 21 august. he would have gone into y1 but i took him out to home school due to the affect it had on him. his older brother is in the same year as him(th oldest). this really shows the problem up.SATs at 6? no way. we are heing now anyway.

DayShiftDoris Fri 17-Sep-10 00:07:49

My son is a June baby

There are children in his class that were born BEFORE he was even concieved.

And I know that because I looked after their mums on the maternity ward

How there can be an expectation that he will be as developed, emotionally mature, etc as those children is beyond me.

He's recently gone into a new school and a combined yr1 and 2 class. I realised with a shock today that the year 1 child who's party we are going to on Sunday will be SIX... my son has been a school a WHOLE year more but is onle 10 weeks older than him.

Funnily enough now he's in a year 1 and 2 class he's much more settled and his 'behaviour' is no longer a problem....

duchesse Fri 17-Sep-10 00:51:14

If I had known 15 years ago when I was considering the schooling of DS (July 10th, bright but emotionally immature even now at 17) and 10 years ago when considering the schooling of DD2 (July 27th and bright but emotionally immature until about age 12) what I feel I know now, I would probably have done what I intend to do with DD3 (Aug 27th- yes I know, but beggars can't be choosers, plus the maternity unit was really quiet at the tail-end of August)-keep her out of school and away from failure until such an age as I feel she can cope with it, and does not feel as though she is failing at everything. We kept DD2 in nursery for a term longer than standard (she started in reception in January rather than September); quite frankly it made a huge difference for her to be the oldest for a change. Her self-confidence came on hugely in that time, and she felt able to cope with the school setting in a way I know that she would not had she started aged 4yr 1mth.

We had later problems with her due to having to be in the wrong year group while we were in Canada for a year, but thankfully these are resolved now and she is becoming an extremely confident and mature girl. We had to use extreme caution in choosing her schools throughout though. I feel that my son was quite badly damaged by his early schooling and wish I'd home edded him. This was back in the days when reception was a lot more formalised, very little play etc. He responded by doing nothing for his first three years of school. It has had a lot of knock-on effects on him.

I think that until the education system stops blindly crashing ahead with its obsession with keeping age groups homogenous despite emotional maturity, it will inevitably cause children to fall behind due to emotional immaturity rather than academic ability.

shezzle Sat 02-Oct-10 09:58:58

My little girl started school this sept, she was 4 at end of June. Very excited to start and had moved up with her pre-school class so has friends.

It was all going swimmingly for a week when she just came out and said 'the big quick boy spat on me' obviously I went in for a chat and the teacher sorted this out but since then she has been bullied daily by a group of these big boys in her class. The boys are Sept born so a year older.

Having gone in and seen them I have to say from her point of view they look massive and as there are no tables or routine as in YR 1 reception is very chaotic. I agree with learning through play but my little one really is not enjoying it, she loves reading and drawing and just keeps saying she can't wait to go to the next class(she can see YR 1 sitting working and it is far quieter than her room)

I have been in again for chat with teacher because the situation has reached the point where my daughter is frightened of the big boys, really scared. She said she wishes she was a mummy with children so she didn't have to be near them everyday. I watched through the window whilst waiting for her the other day and these kids are rough.

What on earth do I do? I feel like I keep saying it will get easier etc and to be fair she is more than fine with all the other stuff that littlies may struggle with-going to loo changing for PE, eating all her lunch. And she loves the learning side of it all, the teacher presented her with an award for reading in assembly, week two. She just finds it all too noisy and doesn't like being alone with 'the big quick boys' which is really starting to worry me and I don't want her to be put off school.I keep promising she will get used to them and feel I am letting her down. She is really small too

cazzybabs Sat 02-Oct-10 10:17:23

having just had as unplanned august baby this worries me - I teach year 1 and my unscientific studies show over several years those in my top groups are those who have birthdays in sept-dec; altough the 2 brightest children I ever taught were summer born.

I think those who are august ought to choice which year they start school as in th German system...compared to those born in September that is a 1/5th of their life different

Aitch Sat 02-Oct-10 10:24:51

re the scottish system, we are allowed to defer by law if the child is not 5 on the first day of term, however those children who are born aug-dec 31 have to pay for nursery for the extra year. glasgow has just quadrupled the prices, so in effect this means that only people with £3grand in their pockets can 'choose' to defer. it's a disgrace tbh.

anyway, on that note, my dec born has started school and i will never know if it was the right thing to do, it's awful, she's a foot shorter than some of her classmates and just seems so young by comparison. sad

Aitch Sat 02-Oct-10 10:33:13

sorry... the point being that in her class there are some children whose parents DID pay last year when the fees were less, so she has classmates well over a year older.

Cazzybabs - I have never been brave enough to ask a primary teacher this question before - but don't they cover ' normal distribution' in child development, as part of primary school teacher training?

An August born child who is top of your class is an 'outlier' an exception - not someone to use as a measurement of other children and their abilities.

If you are setting in year 1 - you should expect most of the top set to be, on average, the older children in the class.

The worrying thing for summer born children is, that teachers are not made fully aware of this. Child development is chronological and doesn't happen in school 'year group' steps.

cazzybabs Sat 02-Oct-10 13:53:40

so work in my class is differentiated...I don't take any notice of birthdays when sorting out the groups because our school system doesn't...when you do SATS/GCSEs/A-levels so from that angle it doesn't matter when the birthdays are it is just interesting that majority of the top set tend to be older children ... and whilst most of my weaker children are summer born its not as clear cut as the top group tend to be.

but we do test the children and that takes account of ages so it highlights any issues.. for example one of the oldest children in my class was in the core group but his test score worked out below some of the summer born children because he had to get more right - does that make sense?

Well there is a debate about whether SATs should take account of age, and concern that summer borns, on average, perform less well at GCSE.

And, as you point out, a few months difference in age is far more significant to a 5 year old, than it is to a 15 year old.

I'm glad some 'age normalised' testing takes place. But I often see posters (sometimes teachers) claiming because the cleverest child in the class is summer born - relative age is irrelevant angry.

CarrieMe Tue 01-Feb-11 15:57:26

Wow - this is a long thread and I can understand why... We have a DS born 29 August who was due to start in Reception in September (2011). I really didn't want him to start at 4 yrs 1 week so made a case for him to start in Reception the following year making him the oldest in the school year. I was really ready for a fight and had all my local councillors lined up ready but after the Early Years Team got involved we got a big fat YES from the LEA. I got it in writing as I still can't quite believe it Our DS does have a medical condition but not one that would make him eligible for a statement or additional assistance. We have friends with a DS born end of July who is 3, in age 6 clothes and already begging to go to big school. It depends on the child and I can't understand why this is one area where 'Every Child Matters' actually doesn't seem to apply

Cleek Fri 11-Mar-11 14:08:43

I really don't like to say a child is bright or not bright based on their academic development. I believe that some children are more academic than others because of their personalities and interests. Some children like books, drawing and talking may appear to be more ready for school earlier than those who don’t. Both of my dds are summer babies. I believe they would do a lot better if they could start their reception at 5 yrs old rather then 4 yrs. Especially for my younger one as she is still very much like a toddler and completed her potty training just before September just in time to start reception.
My second child is very quiet and more interested in construction toys. I just had a meeting with her teacher this week her learning record is showing that she is quite behind at school. I worry that if she will ever be able to compete with her peers. I am planning to pay to send her to a homework centre for extra support but the centres don’t accept children until they reach six. So it means that she cannot get the support before she is in year two. It will be little late to prepare her for the Key stage I SAT. Only if she was a autumn baby she would be able to get the extra support while she is in year one. Summer babies have less pre-school education and have less time to get extra help to prepare them for SAT. So summer babies are disadvantaged!

lingle Mon 14-Mar-11 18:23:47

CarrieMe - just saw this - that is very very exciting! Do you mind saying which LEA you are in?

I have just had a lovely parent's evening about DS2 (now 5.7 and in reception because we were allowed to year-defer too). It was so great - all the teacher talked about was how his reading and writing and numeracy were coming on, and how he and his friends get the giggles on the carpet and have to be separated. Then we did the usual happy-sigh "he just needed more time, didn't he?"

I just wish all children who really need it could get extra time.

yumummy Sun 04-Mar-12 20:22:43

anyone interested in doing something about this? Its not just the overwhelming majority of common concerns raised in this thread but research also tells us that summer born babies, particulalry boys, do not gain from starting school so young. i have spoken to my LEA who said that if the school was willing to defer whole entry for a year then that would be OK but one could not ever be able to do this through the usual LA application system. Come on, that's just not good enough. There are so many people and evidence as well that would support a different system. I think its time for more than just grumbling together - a petition or lobbying or something at policy/political level needs to happen. Anyone game?

lou2321 Mon 05-Mar-12 12:39:01

I am not sure that grouping the children into 'summer' babies is entirely right, some children are ready for school at 4 and some aren't, regardless of their birthday.

My niece is a September baby so was practically 5 starting school but would definitely not have been ready for school ANY earlier as socially and emotionally she would have struggled on the other hand my DS1 attended the local infant school with his pre-school once a week and when they questioned me as to why his name wasn't on the list to start September I pointed out that he was not 3 until the following month so had over a year to go (he's a Feb baby so was 4y7 starting school). He is socially and academically working above many of the Sep-Dec born children.

My DS2 is April born and yes he will be one of the younger children and is only just showing the signs of being ready for school now as he is coming up 4, but his pre-school prepares the children so well for school and ensure they work through the EYFS properly making sure they are emotionally and socailly ready. Luckily at the school he is going to they go in straight away, none of this phased entry, I think that makes life even harder for the younger ones as they are excluded from possibly their nursery/preschool friends.

All in all, I guess what I am saying is that it depends on the individual child, if they attend pre-school for a reasonable length of time and sessions I can't see why it should hinder them at all when their birthday is! I may be completely wrong but do speak from some experience of 2 DCs and also I run a pre-school.

lou2321 Mon 05-Mar-12 12:42:01

Surely there are some Sep-Dec babies where the same thing applies ie they are not ready even at nearly 5??

gramercy Tue 06-Mar-12 09:27:03

There was a Jim Rose government report on this. I think one of the problems with deferring is that it is in conflict with some influential educationalists who point out that it would generally be the middle classes who would wish to defer their child's entry, thus affording them the opportunity to have a leg up/level the playing field, whatever, whereas the struggling summer pupils of less ambitious parents would suffer all the more.

I'm not saying this is right, especially since I have two August-born dcs and I would have loved to have put dd in the year below, but it is a point that gets trotted out by the powers that be.

TinkerTills Thu 29-Mar-12 15:01:33

I’m due an August boy this year. To those who know the literature, or have more experience in this field I have a number of questions….

The research by IFS that everyone is referring to paints a pretty drastic picture. August borns less likely to go to university, less likely to get 5 GCSEs, more likely to take drugs, drink and generally rebel. Why we just don’t do what the entire rest of the Western world does and build flexibility (holding back and moving forward) into our school system I do not know!

Is my only choice independent school if my unborn son needs to be held back?
Does holding back a child do more harm than good?
Are you better off starting your child at school and seeing how they go? Or is that damaging?
Is the real comparison of interest achievement between august borns held back a year and those attending school in their “real” year group?

Going back to the IFS research, does anyone know if they controlled/ adjusted for the obvious variables such as socio-economic status, mother’s level of education, gender, race/ethnicity, full-time attendance at pre-school/ private nursery, birth order, even height?!!

Thanks to anyone that can point me in the right direction with some answers!

lingle Fri 30-Mar-12 12:55:31

re your choice:
- position is different in Scotland, Ireland, etc.
- independent schools have very different attitudes to each other. Those focussed on the 11+ may be very inflexible.
- can't open the NY Times article.
- "are you better off starting....." . tricky, because unless you change school altogether, they are likely to realise that they are being separated from an established peer group so their confidence may be affected. The decision point is the year before they start school.
- "Is the real comparison...." . Yes. So if you compare my son in Year 1 to a similar child with similar birthdate in Year 2, that would be a sensible comparison. My son's profile is middle-class, supportive parents, language delay but then rapid progress and no learning difficulties. As a Year 1 child now he needs no support and is thriving in all areas except social skills where he just about manages and is learning/progressing. In Year 1 a year ago he would have struggled in all areas.

Yumummy. I'm not prepared to lead on this but if you have the energy to start a petition/campaign I will support you by testifying about our positive experiences of deferral. A friend of mine has been campaigning about elective caesareans for 8 years and through sheer persistence played a real role in changing the rules. Persistence is all. The problem is that once your own child's position is settled one way or another you tend to move on, hence the lack of an established campaign.

jackstarb Mon 02-Apr-12 09:02:16

Yumummy - I'd also be happy to be involved in a campaign to get something done about summer born disadvantage. We did talk about running this as a 'Mumsnet Campaign' several years ago. But it rather got stamped on.

Having looked at this for years, I'd have to say that gramercy's point has some validity - flexibility to defer would be taken up more widely by those parents who value education. Which could make things worse for some summer born dc's from poorer homes.

I think this is the main reason why the unfair treatment of summer borns by our education system is tolerated.

But there are other options. Not least, making all primary teachers aware of this issue [sadly many don't appear to truly appreciate it].

lingle I'm pleased your ds is doing well.

lingle Mon 02-Apr-12 09:17:36

yes Jackstar I remember Ed Balls saying that (indirectly) to us when we got him on the webchat.

It is a real issue but all that would be needed is a study of the Scottish system.

jackstarb Mon 02-Apr-12 12:25:44

I believe England has the world's the most inflexible education system when it comes to deferral and holding back a school year. We also have a bigger 'long tail' of underachievement than many other developed countries. No proof that it's a causal relationship - but it's very possible.

I'd see school start deferral and dropping back an academic year as a smallish part of an overall attempt to improve the achievement gap of summer born pupils.

I've seen many other ideas and options, but until the problem is properly recognised and accepted, then nothing useful will be done, on any scale at least.

lingle Mon 02-Apr-12 12:39:10

looks quite grand but was basically just two really annoyed women who wouldn't give in and ended up with a seat round the table when the government and the NHS decided how to change its position.

all this issue needs is someone to not give in.

jackstarb Mon 02-Apr-12 14:31:18

Well I'm nearly there lingle smile. I actually got myself invited to the IFS conference on the Summer Born attainment Gap (and launch of their latest report) but sadly I couldn't attend.

Next time something like that comes up, I'll see if I can get a group of interested Mumsnetters together for it.

lingle Mon 02-Apr-12 20:30:46

that's great jackstarbright, good on you. holler for me (I have the private messaging thing now) if there is anything I can do in writing (I'm in Yorkshire).

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