Has anyone succeeded in getting their August baby to start Reception at five?

(69 Posts)
FelizFuturaMama Wed 13-Feb-13 21:47:48

My daughter was born a week early on August, 27 and I am keen for her not to suffer the well documented disadvantages of being the youngest in the year. I want to delay her entry to school for a year, so that she starts reception when she is five rather than four. I know I can defer her starting but can't find any advice if I don't want her to miss a year of school. I would really appreciate guidance on how to go about requesting this from others who have been successful. I know this is much easier in the independent sector, but that would be a real stretch for us financially.

FelizFuturaMama Wed 13-Feb-13 21:48:46

PS My daughter is 18 months at the moment, so the sleepless nights over this have started early in our house!

monkeytennismum Wed 13-Feb-13 21:57:33

I haven't done this but I just wanted to say have a good look around at your local schools. Being a summer baby doesn't necessarily lead to disadvantage.

My DD is a late July baby and started reception after just turning four. But at her school they split the classes (1.5 form entry) by age, so for reception and Y1 she will be with all the youngest children in her year group. Although they teach to the same curriculum and outcomes, the delivery is altered slightly between the two classes e.g. they do all their structured teaching in the morning in the younger class, leaving the afternoon for mainly play-based activities. DD is thriving.

Also, many schools allow you to defer entry to January.
HTH

adeucalione Wed 13-Feb-13 22:25:28

Yes, I did this. I contacted the LEA first and had to be persistent because they really tried to fob me off. Eventually I spoke to the Director for Education who confirmed that the decision is entirely at the Head's discretion. I contacted two schools, and one was willing to do it - he said that most requests he received were for children with September birthdays to start a year early, so we were a refreshing change.

DS went through primary school being the oldest in the year of course, and I had to explain the situation every now and again to a new parent, but it worked well for him - as he moved up the school and gained confidence he started being picked for all the sports teams, lead roles in school plays etc. and achieved well academically.

There was some anxiety about what would happen when he transferred to secondary school but the HT spoke to the secondary school and to the LEA on our behalf, and he is currently progressing through secondary school without any issues. I didn't want him to repeat Y6, or move up a year later than his friends, but there was a chance that could have happened if the secondary school hadn't been open to the situation.

I suppose then, that it relies entirely on you finding a primary HT who is supportive of your plans.

jojane Wed 13-Feb-13 22:30:14

My dd is a late July baby and I always worried about her not being ready but she was sooo ready for school, it was weird applying and accepting a school place while she was only 3 and she went up for lunch and play at the school in the summer term and was still only 3!!! But she was really ready, was tired after school for the first few weeks but every school holiday she moans that she can't go into school. She's doing really well with her reading and writing and numbers etc, shenwouldnhave got bored doing another year of playschool. I wouldn't worry until your dd is older and you can see how she might cope

tiggytape Wed 13-Feb-13 22:31:36

There's been a few threads on this recently (lots of people in the same boat).

If you are in England then basically, no, you cannot start your DD in Reception a year later than normal purely based on her being young. If you keep her out of school for her Reception Year, she would go staright into Year 1 (and you might have trouble finding a place by then). There is no option to enrol her in to Reception a year late just because you want to or feel this is best.

The only exception is in the case of severe additional needs where a child's consultant or other experts involved in their care writes to the LA to say that the child must be allowed to be moved out of their normal year group. Most special needs are supported in the correct year group according to birth date but sometimes a child's needs are so severe or specific that the LA will allow the child to move back a year if experts say it is necessary.

The good news is, you are not alone. Not everyone in her class will be a grown-up September baby -at least 1/4 of the class will be Summer babies. You can opt for part time hours to build up to fulltime gradually. Or you can keep her out of school for most of Reception and let her join the class after Easter when she is much nearer age 5.

tiggytape Wed 13-Feb-13 22:38:12

One of the recent threads was here with lots of information.

Private schools and Scotland are different if either of those things apply to you. Private schools aren't bound by the same rules and can be more flexible. Scotland's cutoff dates are different so Autumn babies not August ones tend to be the youngest.

tiggytape Wed 13-Feb-13 22:40:54

Just to pick up on adeucalione's point (who may have done this some years ago). The decision is not down to the Head Teacher. It is down to the admission authority. For most schools this is the LA. For academies (who are their own admission authority), it is the governing body.
No H/T has the discretion to offer this now at all and convincing the LA requires expert evidence that it is necessary.

adeucalione Wed 13-Feb-13 23:11:55

It was six years ago, state school, Wales.

tiggytape Wed 13-Feb-13 23:20:06

adeucalione - I wasn't doubting you - sorry if it sounded like that. In England, it is completely inflexible and has been for some time.
There is one LA that a poster mentions on the other thread where they seem to take a more relaxed approach but everywhere else in England, it is impossible to hold a child back just because the parents want to unless you go private.

bellabelly Wed 13-Feb-13 23:40:10

Havent done this myself but just wanted to say that, like you, I was very worried about "the well documented disadvantages of being the youngest in the year". My twins (August-born) are now in Year 1, doing really well. They settled into Reception last year better than I ever imagined possible and they've done so well, making plenty of friends, keeping up with the work (in fact they're two of the best readers in their class) and I'm so relieved. At the time I had to put in their applications for a school place, I thought there was NO WAY they'd be ready for school the following September...

adeucalione Wed 13-Feb-13 23:41:11

Not at all tiggytape, of course things change - and actually I realise it couldn't have been six years ago at all, more like 8.

BonzoDooDah Wed 13-Feb-13 23:48:14

My DD is August and was completely ready for school. I was too and have a Phd -so no harm here either. Wait and see how your DD does and you may well change your mind. It's not necessarily good being odd in your whole year for being a year "behind" everyone else and having to explain all the time either.

clippityclop Thu 14-Feb-13 09:29:31

What well documented disadvantages? My dd born third week in August is in year four and doing really, really well- almost on free readers, doing well in maths etc. lots of outside interests, gets on with it just as her big sister who's the eldest in her year 6 class does. They both went to nursery a couple of days a week before school. Wouldn't've dreamed of keeping the youngest back and apart from her friends. Perhaps we're just lucky, but I think you can always find difficulty if you look too hard.

DeWe Thu 14-Feb-13 10:37:06

I think you're overthinking at this stage, if she's only 18 months. You don't know how she'll be when it comes to it. I have 3 dc. Dd1 started at the right time for her (October birthday). Dd2 could have done with going the year before she could (October birthday) and Ds could have done with staying a year behind (May birthday).
Because they're different Children, and have different personalities they were ready at different times. I couldn't have told at 18 months-I'd have said at that age that dd1 would be more than ready and dd2 wouldn't be ready at all.

In dd1's class there was a boy who was 31st August. He was in all the top groups, loved school and was more than ready to start. The one who struggled with starting school was a December birthday.

gabsid Thu 14-Feb-13 14:06:12

I agree, at 18 months you can't really say how ready your DD will be when she starts school at 4. Some seem absolutely fine and do well, whereas others don't have a clue what's happening and would be a lot better off starting a year later, especially boys.

Research does generally suggest that summer born DC don't do as well as autumn born DC throughout their education, so it is better to be a bit older when starting.

Personally, I am still upset with the inflexibility of the English system which only seems to serve itself but not the individual DC. DS (April birthday and now in Y3) would really have benefited from starting later, he is not summer born, but very immature. It still shows, as he prefers to play with younger DC, he hates reading, writing and maths (despite being average) and generally doesn't take responsibility for HW or anything else. We were hoping he will be OK, but I believe he would have had a better chance starting later - he might even enjoy school now if he hadn't been pushed into formal learning too early.

On the other hand, DD (just 4) will be more than ready next September. She concentrates well, loves being read too, attempts to read and write, sits for ages and draws - her nursery said that they think she will do very well at school. A completely different child who would cope well if she had to start now.

tiggytape Thu 14-Feb-13 14:16:39

I agree gabsid that it is not just Summer babies who might benefit from a later start. Some children are ready earlier than others but if each child started at the point that their parents felt they were ready, the whole system would be a bit of a shambles.
I know it works better elsewhere but, in England, the population is bigger and denser and there isn't a surplus of school places to allow things to be flexible.

Things like admissions would be in chaos. It is bad enough in England as it is with a chronic shortage of school places in some areas - it would be even more stressful and less predicatable if some years there was a whole glut of people deciding to wait an extra year and blocking places for people in the year below who then couldn't get a place at all.
The same would happen again at secondary school where shortages are expected to be felt in a years time. You'd have some truly massive year groups that could not be accommodated. Even normal sized year groups cannot be placed in some areas.

The lack of flexibility is made up for to some extent by the very gentle, play-based approach of Reception, the ability to join the class half way through the year and also to go part time if you wish.

FelizFuturaMama Thu 14-Feb-13 19:43:43

Looking at the feedback on this and the other post plus research on the Internet it seems to be possible if your LEA is willing and after a long battle in a few other cases. We're in South Manchester, so if anyone has experience there it would be good to hear your story.

Thanks monkeytennismum,bellabelly and jojane it's good to hear positive experiences from Mums of summer babies if we do end up having to send her in the 'correct' year.

A couple of the negative stories are below clippityclop, the cleverest boy in my year at school was an August baby so I appreciate this isn't a universal experience, but it seems a shame to be putting DD at potential disadvantage. It's more about wanting her to be happy and confident in herself than wishing her to excel academically anyway.

www.telegraph.co.uk/education/9843971/Summer-born-children-at-bottom-of-the-class-warn-experts-and-parents.html

www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/oct/25/schools.education

olivo Thu 14-Feb-13 20:16:39

My dd is the very end of August, and goes to a school similar to monkey, where she is in a class with children with march to August birthdays. She is doing very well academically and socially, although i would never have guessed that when she was in preschool. She is now in year 2 and sailing.

DD2 is less ready, having had a speech delay, she is also August, but I could only see delaying the start as delaying the inevitable. When I look how much she has developed in the past 6 months, I know she'll be ready to give it a go this September.

Maybe arm yourself with some info And make your decision when you see how your DC is in A year or 18 mo.

Btw, I did some statistical analysis on students in a school where I worked, and birth months showed no particular affect on academic outcome at 16.

FelizFuturaMama Thu 14-Feb-13 20:50:58

Yes, you're right olivo I should definitely arm myself with more info and see what's behind the headlines. It's good to know your research was positive. My DH hated school and he was an August baby, she shares his dreamy personality, so I think that's made me concerned. She is very sociable, so hopefully that will help and as you say she could be very different in 18 months, the trouble is I have to put her name down for a place at our local school in six!

TreadOnTheCracks Thu 14-Feb-13 21:06:31

My summer born DD had a delayed start in January, so she was 4 1/2 and this was fine for her. She is year 3 now and top of the class (so don't believe all you hear about it being a disadvantage).

I had to insist as the school was not keen on the idea (they have an empty place with no funding for a term), I think it was the best thing to do for her.

You sound like a lovely concerned mum and I'm sure you will find the best path for your DD. Try not to worry too much.

siilk Thu 14-Feb-13 21:12:16

I have been looking at holding our August born son back a year. I never even realised this was an issue as in Australia, where I am originally from, it is a non issue. We just enrol then at 5.
In Wales, from speaking to the LEA, of my county, it is indeed the Head teacher who makes the decision.

RedVW Thu 14-Feb-13 21:15:23

No advice to offer but experience of three families in same position :

Our two nephews and one niece in the same family all born on 31st Aug and our Neice is one year older than the twin boys. All went to school a couple of days after their 4th birthday and all have done well academically, particularly the two boys who are now 17.

A friend has delayed her fifth child, born in August, going into reception by one year. She fought very hard to get him in reception the following year and succeeded. He too is doing very well - is the eldest in the class and my friend has absolutely no regrets but had to fight everyone to achieve it.

Another friend with her only child delayed her daughter going to school by one year and was forced into year one a year later. Her mother regrets delaying as she was so far behind her peers. Never really caught up at school, now in year 9.

So, different experiences by three different families. If you live in a grammar area (really looking to the future), if your child is in a different year, would they allow her to sit exam - I don't know but might be worth thinking about.

FelizFuturaMama Fri 15-Feb-13 11:23:20

Really interesting to hear so many different responses and learn from your experiences. It seems like I'll have to wait to see how she's doing nearer the time and act accordingly.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Fri 15-Feb-13 11:28:38

Feliz, if you are in the English state school system, putting her name down at the local school in six months' time will make no difference to her chances of entry when you make the formal application for Reception. Do you Mean putting her down for pre-school?

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 15-Feb-13 11:36:01

Don't stress about it, certainly not yet.

My DS1 is a very late July birthday and we were worried about him starting school - he is a dreamer and still very young in the kinds of games he likes to play.
The most advanced maths group and reading groups in his class are full of the July and August born children - he is in both. Socially he probably isn't as aware as some of the older ones, but he has made friends and learnt to slot into the school routine brilliantly.

I am so, so glad that we didn't try and hold him back, because by the time September came he was so very ready for school and he is loving it.

FelizFuturaMama Fri 15-Feb-13 11:52:02

TheDoctrine, good point, I just asked about putting her name down to attend the school and they said to wait until she was two. It does seem rather early for reception, so perhaps it was pre-school, I will pop in to ask. It's a whole new world to me, I definitely need to do my research!

KatherineKrupnik Fri 15-Feb-13 11:56:16

You will apply for her reception place in autumn 2014, I think. Where in aouth Manchester? I know people who have failed to do this in Trafford.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 15-Feb-13 12:01:39

Feliz that sounds like preschool to me.

School is a different thing, you have to apply and then be allocated a place. There is no guarantee that you will get the one you want the most so you have to choose 3 options.

HouseLikeAZoo Fri 15-Feb-13 12:03:00

I have two boys, one born 29th August and therefore the youngest in his school year, the other born 6th September, and the oldest in his. Both are doing brilliantly at school. DS1 (the August birthday) was completely ready to start school at 4, and is now the best in his class at maths (baffles me, as I'm rubbish as maths!). DS2 had some speech problems so it worked out well for him to start school later; he had completed his speech therapy and was classed as "normal" by the time he strolled into school.

I guess my point is that an August birthday needn't be any kind of disadvantage, it's totally down to the child in question. DS1 thrived; had DS2 been born a week earlier, I may have pushed to delay his start purely because of his speech delay. But I wouldn't have known that until much closer to the time. Chill and see how it goes smile

Definitely worth waiting to see what stage your dd's at. I have a 26th August dd who's now in Year 3 and the youngest in her class. She's confident, thriving and one of the more able/advanced in her class in most areas. Being in the year below would have been disadvantageous to her.

thesecretmusicteacher Fri 15-Feb-13 17:11:23

"Things like admissions would be in chaos. It is bad enough in England as it is with a chronic shortage of school places in some areas - it would be even more stressful and less predicatable if some years there was a whole glut of people deciding to wait an extra year and blocking places for people in the year below who then couldn't get a place at all."

how do you figure a "block" tiggy? If I apply for a place in Sept. 2015 not 2014, a new 2014 place becomes permanently available to someone else. The net effect is neutral surely?

thesecretmusicteacher Fri 15-Feb-13 17:18:30

so Wales
Scotland
Ireland
Leeds
Bradford if special needs
certain private schools (though we found state more flexible than private)
Does anyone know about Northern Ireland?

Don't think Manchester though. Move to Leeds?

tiggytape Fri 15-Feb-13 17:59:02

thesecretmusicteacher - in many areas the number of applicants rises by upto several hundred additional children per year because of the continually increasing birth rate since 2005 plus a huge jump and rise again from 2008 onwards. Each year group gets naturally bigger than the last even as it is.

Also all English LA's allow children to be held back. They have to by law. But they only allow it in very exceptional cases with documented proof that no other alternative solution would be suitable (1:1 support in the correct year group for example is seen as preferable to being in the 'wrong' year group).
It isn't the case that some LAs allow it and some don't but it is true that virtually all of them are very strict about it and very inflexible in all but exceptional circumstances.

Fuzzymum1 Fri 15-Feb-13 20:22:04

My godson was born 12 weeks early in august when he should have arrived at the end of october. My friend tried very hard to get him held backa year - he really wasn't ready at the time but there was no way that he could start reception with his 'due date' year group. He has struggled to keep up all through primary school sad

thesecretmusicteacher Sat 16-Feb-13 16:50:49

I didn't know they had to allow it - only that they could.

do you know where the bit of law is?

tiggytape Sat 16-Feb-13 17:25:44

Admission of children outside their normal age group must be decided by the admission authority (Admissions Code para 2.17) which has the force of law.

In addition Each LA publishes guidance about children out of year group based on the DfE guidance:

"...pupils should progress through schools with their chronological peer group. The assumption should always be that children remain in their age group and move up with their peers. There is no evidence that staying behind for an additional year leads to improved educational attainments; the argument that staying behind for an extra year will enable the child to ‘catch up’ has no validity.

This means that if there is a request for a child to remain behind for an additional year, there needs to be very cogent reasons for that change. This paper is an attempt to set out some of the circumstances that should be considered by staff if and when schools or parents seek their advice. Note also that there are no circumstances under which a child should be held back for longer than one year......"

and then the guidance about special needs and medical consultation already discussed here is outlined.

tiggytape Sat 16-Feb-13 17:29:04

I think I wasn't clear enough though when I said all LAs have to allow it. I meant all LA's must have a process to consider such requests. They aren't allowed a blanket policy of just saying 'no'

That doesn't mean they allow many or any such requests though, only that they have to give them proper consideration if the parents and medical experts are all saying it is absolutely necessary.

EvilTwins Sat 16-Feb-13 19:22:25

I would'nt worry about it. My twins are July babies, but were nearly 4 weeks early. They did seem tiny to be starting Reception, but are now in Yr 2 and are doing very well indeed - in top groups for literacy and maths, no smaller than others and perfectly able to hold their own socially. They are pretty much at the same level, with everything, as their cousin, who is also in Yr 2 but has an October birthday.

FWIW, DH and I are both August babies (19th & 30th respectively) and have both done pretty well educationally grin

EvilTwins Sat 16-Feb-13 19:23:02

wouldn't not would'nt blush

bebanjo Sat 16-Feb-13 20:31:11

you could always home ed tell your happy with him going in with his year group, say at 7?

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 17-Feb-13 12:38:52

how interesting! thank you tiggytape

Admissions code 2.17 "Parents of gifted and talented children, or those who have experienced problems or missed part of a year, for example due to ill health, can seek places outside their normal age group. Admission authorities must make decisions on the basis of the circumstances of each case...."

What were you quoting from tiggytape? It sounded like a commentary.

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 17-Feb-13 12:45:44

whoahhh, no sooner do you find a bit of law than the government consults on changing it.

Bliss are now campaigning and formulating a response to a consultation on what information is given to LEAs about when premature babies should start school.

go to www.bliss.org.uk

"Share your experiences of delaying or deferring your child's school place".

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 17-Feb-13 13:38:50

Ah, it seems someone in Essex LEA wrote

"There is no evidence that staying behind for an additional year leads to improved educational attainments; the argument that staying behind for an extra year will enable the child to ‘catch up’ has no validity."

This chap needs to meet my child's paediatrician, head, SALT, SENCO and teachers. If I say it, it's anecdote, but if they all said it, maybe it would count as "evidence"?

Anyway, great that Bliss are getting up a head of steam on this important issue.

And also amusing that I can see he's accidentally quoted some things I wrote when campaigning on this issue a few years ago smile

tiggytape Sun 17-Feb-13 15:44:42

I was quoting from Department of Education guidance which is filtered down to each Local Authority to explain how they can make decisions about holding children back and emphasising the assumption that this is very much an exception not the norm and all other avenues are explored first.

This chap needs to meet my child's paediatrician, head, SALT, SENCO and teachers. If I say it, it's anecdote, but if they all said it, maybe it would count as "evidence"?

Yes it would be evidence. If all of those experts wrote in support of your child staying back a year, then you could go to the LA and succeed in getting that granted. You may still face future problems with secondary schooling (being asked to skip Year 6 and go straight from Year 5 to Year 7 for example) but if you stayed living in the same LA and negotiated it in advance, yours is a case that could qualify.

In the overwhelming majority of cases though, either a parent wants the child held back a year just because they're born on August 29th and will be the littlest in the class. Or the child is August born and has some additional needs but not to the degree that these could not be supported in class.
In these cases (where it is basically parental preference and not necessity) children are not allowed to be held back. It has been debated for quite a while - I think TAMBA may have been involved at some time too (twins are often premature). It is a subject a lot of people feel quite strongly about and don't realise how little flexibility there currently is.

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 17-Feb-13 16:27:40

thanks Tiggytape - gosh - I'm a little shocked that the Government has announced there is "no evidence" when it is the Government itself that has failed to gather the evidence because Jim Rose dropped the ball so badly.

All the better that the government has now asked Bliss to gather evidence.

If health professionals were confident that their recommendations to year-defer wouldn't suck them into postcode-lottery politics with LEAs, I think that would be a huge step in the right direction. Sadly we can't expect most parents to have the support of heads because usually the head won't get to know the child until it is too late because they are already in reception, and repeating reception is a different kettle of fish from starting reception at 5.0.

I think health professionals are good at "looking for" suitable candidates - that's what they do all the time anyway. So they are in a good position to spot children who are challenged-but-could-well-catch-up-if-oldest-in-class. And that will include certain premature children, certain children with special needs but, I accept, only a subset of each.

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 17-Feb-13 16:29:25

should add that I still support greater parental choice as in Scotland but let's concentrate on the cases where it is considered most likely to make a really big difference first.......

shushpenfold Sun 17-Feb-13 16:33:01

In 2 English state schools (different counties) a resounding NO.

In 2 English Independent preps and now senior schools (in different counties), a resounding YES....it's the main reason why we moved over.

AWimbaWay Sun 17-Feb-13 16:49:00

Similar experience to Fuzzymum1, my late August born ds (due September) is struggling a little. I'm sure he'll catch up, he's still only year one, but I don't feel he was ready to start school when he did and even now he gravitates towards the older reception children. I see him looking longingly into the reception playground on the way in to school. If I could have held him back I would have.

bananananacoconuts Sun 17-Feb-13 16:58:49

my ds and dd are 25 and 26th of august. neither has had problems academically. dd also fine socially. ds is under review for asd at present so has had a few problems but nothing that could have been better had he been held back a year. in fact i personally think they are lucky that they have so much knowledge compared to their friends from nursery who are a few days younger yet are nowhere near them academically. ds is year 2 dd reception

gabsid Sun 17-Feb-13 17:23:58

My DS is Y3 and is still struggling all round, he liked his play orientated infant school and very slowly getting used to his new junior school - its still too much for him, he is not ready to be so independent and grown up. I wonder when he gets over it?

Besides, many do fine but many, especially boys are too young and would benefit from having another year to get ready. The fact is that summer born children are at an overall disadvantage.

ByTheWay1 Sun 17-Feb-13 18:06:59

I feel a bit hmm about all this holding back a year thing - it will surely just cause problems later on??? Taking the Grammar test , moving to Secondary is done at a certain age... etc..

I also wonder at the "I want MY child to be top of the class /picked for the team" stuff....

I have one Dec DD and one end July DD -(stealth boast coming) both have been in the school Netball team, both have been top of the class in Maths- neither was anything to do with their age/size/emotional age.

Your daughter's birthday in August may mean that someone in the higher year group is younger than she is, how would she feel about that? How would you feel about leaving that child to be the youngest in the class?

and finally - which children do YOU want to be disadvantaged.... ok - not yours I get that, but someone will always be the youngest in the class, and by allowing people to pick and choose date of entry it just skews things to those who are not so educated , towards people who do not know that this could be a disadvantage and will not work hard at home to overcome it should it be one......

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 17-Feb-13 18:22:35

It's really complicated by the way smile

I could have answered your question - "which children would you want to be disadvantaged" by saying that the 2009 reception cohort would have been disadvantaged by having DS2 in it because he couldn't access the curriculum and so would have needed lots of attention/TA time, etc.

Whereas the 2010 class has benefitted from having him because he contributes to lessons, behaves well, sets a good example and helps others smile

Also, think of the money you've saved in your taxes not paying for my child's statement (I was urged to apply for one when he was three). It's cost you a lot less to fun your little bit of his extra nursery year smile

So for the right child it is win-win for everyone.

tiggytape Sun 17-Feb-13 18:42:49

thesecretmusicteacher: Your case is rarer - children warranting a statement at the age of 3 are largely covered by existing rules. Compelling medical advice already allows them to be kept back a year and it sounds like you were allowed to do this and had a good outcome. That is exactly as it should be and how it should work. It is what the current rules intend to happen.

Most people however are asking for their child to be held back simply based on birth date and perceived disadvantage as opposed to high degrees of additional needs. They worry their child will be the youngest and so be behind initially and be the smallest in the class. They worry they are too immature for school (but still within the normal range for a 4 year old). That is when I agree with ByTheWay1 - somebody has to be the smallest, the youngest, the most immature, the fidgetiest etc. If August babies are allowed to stay behind just based on birthday, it will be July babies who are the smallest and the furthest behind. If you allow all Summer babies flexibility, it will be April and May babies who have the disadvantage passed on to them

Even in the Scottish system with a different cut-off and greater flexibility, practically all Jan and Feb babies choose to be held back and November babies get forced to be the youngest instead (because of the funding issue for them) so it just shifts the disadvantage (although in Scotland they are generally older at this stage than English babies)

teacherwith2kids Sun 17-Feb-13 18:56:51

TSMT - a child with high levels of SEN has a good reason - and a good chance of being allowed - to stay down a year. The child I have taught out of year was one such (although there is a difficulty in extreme cases that the child is not ready a year later either - I had a Y4 [age] child in a Y3 [school] class, with the needs of an 18 month old and making c. 1 month progress per calendar year in school. There is an argument that in some cases the child was no more ready a year later and might as well have remained in year IYSWIM?)

'But they'll be the youngest and - temporarily - at a statistical marginal disadvantage' is much more common...and should not at present be allowed.

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 17-Feb-13 19:05:08

very tricky,

but yes, I have to accept - a child whose LEA is urging application for a statement at 3 but who in fact - given time and good interventions between 3 and 5 - catches up completely, is not going to be the most common case....

Still - even though it's all in the past for me, I feel an obligation to stick around these debates and point out the cases where it's the most necessary and important intervention that can be made.

If we just got the clarity, nursery teachers would feel that they could make judgments and tell parents their children were appropriate candidates for deferral. Unfortunately, most nursery staff now think "it's not allowed" so ideal candidates are missed (unless their mums read this thread).

We are in serious danger of agreeing with each other - must stop!

racmun Sun 17-Feb-13 22:14:23

My son was born mid August at 6 weeks early so he will go to school having just turned 4.

I have torn myself apart over the fact he Is going to be one of the youngest but have decided to roll roll with it. We're concerned that going forward there may be issues with 11+ exams etc where sitting them in the 'wrong' year can cause major issues.

It's sooooo annoying

thesecretmusicteacher Mon 18-Feb-13 09:19:42

yes - does anyone have any insight into how the 11 + is dealt with?

This would affect those children held back because of social communication skills but with potential for academic excellence.

duchesse Mon 18-Feb-13 09:33:30

DD3 is also a 27th August birthday but she is due to start school in September. I am quaking. She is still tiny and barely dry or clean in the daytime.

She is registered to go to the tiny primary school in the next village. The HT is very happy for people to delay their child's entry if they are summer birthdays. BUT she is retiring at the end of this academic year and I don't know whether the new HT will be of the same opinion. So we are also investigating the Steiner free due to open in our city in September. DD3 is not especially healthy- she has many coughs, colds and general wheeziness- and I feel that she benefit from being more outdoorsy generally. DH is worried/dubious about the whole steiner thing though so I may have a job convincing him.

someoftheabove Mon 18-Feb-13 10:28:02

Just to give a different perspective, we moved to the former East Germany when dd was four, so she went to kindergarten, where there was strictly no formal learning, then left and went to the international school at six. Her first taste of the UK school system was just before her 7th birthday, when we came back. She's now 17 and doing just fine. DS, on the other hand, was just four when we came back to the UK and started in Reception three weeks after his 4th birthday (August baby). Having had the luxury of dd starting learning when she was ready, rather than when the state decided, I was terrified that DS would sink without trace, especially as he only did 6 weeks in pre-school. But he had a gradual start, part-time for several weeks and, now aged 14, is also doing just fine.

So my point is, you just can't predict how it will turn out. The school will be very experienced at dealing with younger reception children and will understand that some are more ready than others, regardless of age. Don't worry before you have to!

tiggytape Mon 18-Feb-13 10:39:28

The HT is very happy for people to delay their child's entry if they are summer birthdays. BUT she is retiring at the end of this academic year and I don't know whether the new HT will be of the same opinion.

It may reassure you to know that delaying a child's entry as you describe is a legal right that all parents have. The school or HT can not override this. Although much has been said on this thread about the almost impossibility of holding a child back an entire year, all parents automatically have the right to delay entry into Reception for a few months until the child has turned 5.
This doesn't mean they join the year below though - it means they join the 'correct' class but join it later than all the other pupils eg they miss Sept - Dec or they miss Sept - Easter so only have 1or 2 terms in Reception instead of 3.

As someoftheabove says - schools are used to this. No reception class is populated entirely by mature September babies who can read, write and cope with long days. At least 1/3 or 1/4 of any reception class will be tiny Summer babies all in the same boat and the teaching staff are well used to dealing with this and making sure they are O.K. When you have a Summer baby, it is easy to focus on the fact that there will be children in the class nearly an entire year older. But there will only be a few of those.

duchesse Mon 18-Feb-13 11:28:03

tiggy, my summer born DS (10th July) sank so far without trace that his teacher assured me there was something wrong with him. It is simply not true to say that all tiny 4 year olds' needs are catered for. I think you might be telling the wrong person about this.

My second summer born child (DD2, 27th July) went in the January term of reception and it was still touch and go with her. Luckily she'd matured a lot in the extra 4 months in nursery and it was a bit better than with my son. She was always very much smaller and younger-seeming than her peers until she was 13/14. My DS was always that way until about 15 (ie most of his schooling).

Incidentally, DD1 (April birthday), same level of intelligence as her siblings, has always seemed more mature and in control and sorted than them.

I'm not willing to be gung-ho with a third of my children. And although the legal requirement is that schools have to wait until the child is 5, in practice a lot of pressure is put by oversubscribed schools for the child to come in with the rest of the intake year. We only managed to delay DD2's entry until January as capitation happened in January back in 2001. Now that it happens in September, pressure will rise to encourage parents to put their children in the Autumn term.

thesecretmusicteacher Mon 18-Feb-13 11:59:02

I think I'm with duchesse, but I also feel I've got a bit more of an understanding of where tiggytape is coming from. Also tiggytape deserves thanks for putting the word "correct" in inverted commas smile

Shifting the whole system to start 6 months later would help a lot for children like duchesse's son... (as in Scotland).

A focus on identifying "suitable candidates" would solve the problem for the "obvious candidates", but probably not duchesse's dc sad

I feel strongly that school staff and health professionals don't at the moment feel able to exercise their professional judgment and make recommendations - the politics is too complicated and they can't be expected to sit at home with the admissions code every night.

To back this up: in my LEA we used to have a system where deferral happened as of right (like Scotland). Consequently the nursery manager approached not just me but three other parents to say that in her and the HT's professional opinion, these particular children would benefit from waiting an extra year. None of the others chose to.

Once the LEA changed its rules to make deferral harder, the nursery manager had to change to a bland "oh, he'll be fine......." response to ALL parents who asked about the (now almost non-) option. She said this both to the parents whose kids, she felt would be fine, but she also had to start saying it to the ones that, in previous years, she would have identified as appropriate candidates.....

tiggytape Mon 18-Feb-13 13:15:18

I agree thesecretmusicteacher - identifying the children who should be covered by the current rules doesn't seem to be anybody's priority. To make it happen, the child not only needs to have the backing of professional evidence but also parents who push very hard for it. It is definitely an uphill battle even for those who currently qualify.

And I agree with duchesse - now that the head count will take place in October not January, schools will pressure parents not to delay at all and to start them all in September. However, the difference here is that the schools don't have a leg to stand on - it is a parental right to delay and the schools can moan all they want but they cannot take away places or otherwise punish parents who decide on a January / Easter start date. The right of parents to do this is protected by law (Admissions Code again)

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Mon 18-Feb-13 14:38:07

Duchesse, was your DS the youngest in his class with a 10 July birthday?

ByTheWay1 Mon 18-Feb-13 14:46:06

My dd was second youngest with a birthday of 14Jul and coped just fine. We had no expectation otherwise to be honest... the school staggered the start - youngest went FIRST so they found their feet before the older ones started, and they all went half days if they wanted to until the term of their 5th birthday - my DD went half days til the Oct half term and was fine full time after that. She is in Y6 now and I wouldn't say you would think she or the other girl were the youngest in the class.

duchesse Mon 18-Feb-13 23:48:32

He was second youngest and second smallest (although the smallest wasn't the youngest), so double-whammy.

someoftheabove Tue 19-Feb-13 16:18:01

I'm not saying that schools always get it right with all children who come into reception in September. But for most parents, the choices are very limited if their child is summer-born. As I posted before, having had a child who didn't start school until she was six made me fear an early start for my ds, who started aged just 4. I still think it's wrong to get children into school when they just aren't ready for the rigour of it - it breaks my heart to see them filing into assembly in a line, all three-foot-nothing of them - but in the end it was that or start him a year later straight into Year 1 and as previous posters have said, no guarantee of a place.

thesecretmusicteacher Tue 19-Feb-13 17:43:27

I'm starting to think that the first job is to get professionals confident at identifying children covered by the current rules. If we do this, we can start reviewing results and gathering evidence.

At that point, we can have a more serious national conversation about whether England ought to move to a Scottish system where the earliest starting point is 4.6 and there is parental choice about start year for the latter-borns.

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