DD born on cutoff date and I want to hold her back - advice please

(104 Posts)
coldfingersandtoes Wed 06-Feb-13 19:44:11

DD was born at 9pm on the 31 August, so is therefore due to start school this September. I really strongly believe that this is going to be totally wrong for her. I know that each child is different and some with that birth date are going to be ready, my DD is definitely not one of them! My son is also an august baby and he was young but ready for school and has coped ok. My DD is very young for her age, her speech is only now coming together, she didn't say a word until she was 2.5 and now speaks ok but is still quite far behind other children her age. She really struggles to settle into new places or situations, it has taken her nearly a year to get the hang of nursery and only now is happier about going in. She has a little circle of friends, all of whom will be starting the September after (2014). I desperately want her to start reception that year too rather than this year. I know she doesn't have to legally be in school until she is 5 but then she would miss reception and have to go to year one, which I also don't want her to have to do. I have a meeting with the headteacher tomorrow morning to discuss the situation and I know he is going to try and tell me that cutoff is final and I have no choice. I am going to really fight my corner on this one though, so if anyone has any advice they can offer me tonight I would be grateful, so I can go in fully armed tomorrow!

tiggytape Wed 06-Feb-13 20:48:11

You cannot fight your corner with the H/T as such because there is no option to hold her back and no option for him to decide to allow it. All children in state schools are placed in the correct year according to their age.

If you were determined to fight this, it would involve more than a meeting with the H/T. You would need the support of professionals involved in your daughter's care to say that no amount of support in class will help her and that is is absolutely necessary that she joins reception a year late instead. In very few situations is this the case because most delays / disabilities and other problems can be dealt with in the correct year group as long as the right amount and type of support is offered.

I hope the H/T doesn't just fob you off. His hands are tied by not having discretion to grant this purely based on parental request but I would hope he can show you clearly what help will be offered for DD and how they intend to meet her needs.

I know one poster on MN lives in an LA in England that seems to allow holding a child back but generally it is so rare as to be almost impossible in the state sector.

Your other option is to accept the Reception place but delay entry and keep her in Nursery until after Easter. She will still be in the 'right' class for her age but will have 2 extra terms at nursery followed by one term in Reception before going up to Year 1. This is something that parents have the right to do so if you go for that option, you just accept the place as usual then tell the school DD will be coming after Christmas or after Easter and not starting straight away in September.

TheBuskersDog Netherlands Wed 06-Feb-13 21:02:14

As others have said you have no chance of holding her back,even children with extensive SEN are almost always in the correct year group.
There has to be a cut-off date and whenever it was there would be parents who didn't want theirs to be the youngest in the year. My son's friend was born just before midnight on 31st August.

dixiechick1975 Wed 06-Feb-13 21:12:58

She will still qualify for pre school funding until Aug 2014 if you choose to keep her in pre school not send her to reception.

permaquandry Wed 06-Feb-13 21:13:37

My dd has same birthday. I worried she wasn't ready and it did take til yr1/2 for her to 'catch up'. That said, she was marked as advanced for half her subjects at last parents eve (y3).

The problem is that nursery have told you she isn't ready and you already have 1 child in same situ who you felt WAS ready. So you obviously have a genuine concern.

I think you need to see the head teacher and explain your concerns and ask how you best approach it. I don't think keeping her out of school until she's 5 is necessarily ideal as her class mates will have had a year to integrate etc. Although I know 3 in dds class who joined in late reception/year 1 and they have fit in brilliantly.

I do agree 7 months is a long time and your DD may well become ready in that time, but totally understand why you are worried. I would definitely speak to the head.

Good luck.

simpson England Wed 06-Feb-13 21:15:53

My DS was also born 31st Aug (11.37pm - 2 weeks early).

He was very obviously the youngest and most immature although would sit still and not fidget (which was something) but whatever was being taught was not going in and he was simply not ready.

He struggled in everything (reading, writing, fine motor skills , having the confidence to vocalise his needs despite having good speech).

His first parents evening was so awful I cried blush although his reception teacher was horrid (whole other story).

However by the end of reception he was flying and things were "clicking" iyswim. He had just needed more time to get there.

He is now in yr3 and in top sets/tables for everything although is still the smallest in his class (and the quietest).

Coconutty Costa Rica Wed 06-Feb-13 21:17:20

Unless you go for a private school, you will not be able to do this.

permaquandry Wed 06-Feb-13 21:25:07

So sorry, completely missed your last sentence, so you are seeing head tomorrow?

I think you need to approach it as a request for help with her starting in September, as opposed to keeping her back. If they are flexible in their intake, then I'm sure they will suggest something suitable.

They won't want your DD to suffer and will want her to settle. They'll want her to be happy and progress through school well.

If I'm honest, I could identify a few reception kids who didn't seem at all ready last September and I've seen them flourish and grow in confidence. I remember a couple who's speech was quite limited too but one of them read brilliantly out loud last week.

How did your ds get on in reception? Do you feel you would get enough support from the teacher?

Good luck tomorrow and let us know how you get on.

homeappliance Wed 06-Feb-13 21:26:12

No words of advice I'm afraid but just wanted you to know you're not alone. My DS is due to start school this sept, he was born on the 29th aug. I'm very worried that he's not ready - his speech has been slow to develop because of glue ear and overall he just seems young for his age. its also not fair that I don't get to have him at home with me for another year iykwim (I don't want to defer his start because I believe it will disadvantage him further).

I wish there was more flexibility in the system, and children were able to start school when they are ready to.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Wed 06-Feb-13 21:32:44

No advice but just some reassurance. My friend's DS was in a very similar situation (born 30 August) and she was frantic with worry.

He had absolutely thrived at school despite everyone (parents, nursery staff) panicking.

See what middle ground you can get, e.g. 1/2 days or part weeks if you think she is going to be overwhelmed.

Remember there will be other July/August kids in the class too - they will not all be super confident, advanced 5 year olds.

rustybells Wed 06-Feb-13 21:51:33

You CAN do this. A parent has recently done this at my child's school. It is not down to the LEA, it is the head teacher's decision. The parent told me that she wasn't exactly sure what would happen, when it came to transferring to secondary school and said they would worry about that later on. The child may catch up in a couple of years and jump a year anyhow.
Good luck for tomorrow. It can be done!

Yes, two families have done this in our school. It is possible!

thesecretmusicteacher Wed 06-Feb-13 22:03:55

Good luck xx I hope your concerns are taken seriously.

Let us know how you get on.

prh47bridge Wed 06-Feb-13 22:18:28

rustybells - It is absolutely not the head teacher's decision. If the head teacher has taken this decision on their own they have exceeded their authority. Admission of children outside their normal age group must be decided by the admission authority (Admissions Code para 2.17). For community schools the LA is the admission authority, so it is down to the LA. For other schools the school is its own admission authority but such matters should be determined by the governors, not by the head teacher acting alone. And even then the school needs to liaise with the LA or it may well end up in breach of the law regarding infant class size.

tiggytape Wed 06-Feb-13 22:21:01

Nobody has said it is impossible just that it is exceptionally rare and needs the support of professionals to push for this.

Almost all cases of development delay, additional needs and disability are dealt with in the correct year for age. The government's position is that "in all but exceptional cases pupils will be both on roll and educated within their chronological year group"
To be classed as an exceptional case you need the H/T, the LA, the parents and the professionals involved in the child's additional needs to all agree and to review all factors. It is seen as a very serious step only taken when no other solution will work and is purposely kept as a very rare last resort. It isn't something you can get on the basis that a child is quite immature, has limited speech or doesn't feel ready. There is one LA that seems to quietly allow it because one poster mentioned recently that in her LA it is possible, but in the vast majority of England, it is to all intents and purposes not an option.

As well as considerations for the child involved, the school is also obliged to consider the impact on class sizes (someone next year will be denied a place if a child is held back due to class size rules), the fact that secondary schools may not honour the move (so force the child to skip either Year 5 or Year 6 and go to secondary school at the correct time). The advice given to schools about it is all very negative and says that most evidence points to it being at best unhelpful and at worst a ngeative thing to do. From guidance notes for one LA:

"As they move up through school, children who continue to work in a younger class show poorer emotional health and many report being bullied because they are not with their age-matched peers."

"The evidence (see Further Reading) shows that placing children with classes of younger children, at best makes no difference to their long-term outcomes and at worst can lead to poorer emotional health, leaving school early, lower attainments and poorer employment prospects."

rustybells Wed 06-Feb-13 22:24:51

The LEA informed the parent it was the head's decision. The head gave the OK.
Everyone happy and most importantly the child is thriving.

admission Wed 06-Feb-13 22:29:40

The admission code is quite clear. Paragraph 2.16 says children must start school in the September following their fourth birthday. Paragraph 2.17 does relate to admission outside their normal age group but it is mainly around gifted and talented children or those who have experienced problems or missed part of a year due to ill health.
I do not believe that you fulfill that criteria and therefore must get place for this September, even if starting is deferred to Easter.
PRH is completely correct in saying the head teacher has no official latitude in this, it is for the LA to agree any change and in practically every situation like this they will say no.

MariusEarlobe Wed 06-Feb-13 22:29:44

I know a child out of year, the lea had to approve it.

CelticPromise Wed 06-Feb-13 22:30:15

If it's a VA school it's up to head teacher. Community schools up to LEA.

I'm trying to do this for my DS, who was born 13 weeks early in late August. It is possible. I've spoken to all the schools we applied to-do thankfully the most supportive noises came from the most likely school.

I've put a letter from DS's consultant in with application and preschool have got the Senco involved (although DS has no specific needs).

Good luck OP.

tiggytape Wed 06-Feb-13 22:30:33

rustbells - so the LA knew about it, gave their consent / rubber stamped it and then let the final decision rest with the H/T.
That's very different from the saying it is nothing to do with the LA and up to the H/T alone.
Yes the H/T has to consent too but he or she alone doesn't have the power to grant it. It is seen as a big step and that is why the Admissions Code specifies that the H/T alone cannot take it without agreement by the admission authority.

tiggytape Wed 06-Feb-13 22:32:48

Celtic - that isn't the case. Even where a school rules itself without the LA (like an academy) the whole governing body have to approve such a move. It isn't ever the H/T's decision to take alone in any type of school except a private one.
If the school doesn't rule itself (a normal community school) then the LA are the ones who decide (and of course the H/T and the parents and the experts must all be in agreement too)

CelticPromise Wed 06-Feb-13 22:37:46

That's the advice I've been given by the LA and the school. Perhaps they meant that in practice it's down to HT and governors will support. Just saying what I've been told.

NotInMyDay Wed 06-Feb-13 22:43:33

Nothing helpful to add I'm afraid but I am appalled at the rigidity of the English system.
I'm in Scotland. The youngest children start school is 4 and a half. There is also some flexibility about holding children back. Our cut off is end of Feb. I have a February born child and I could choose to send her at 4 and a half or 5 and a half.
There is also scope to send a March child early although this is harder and requires 'evidence' that they are ready.

I think MN should campaign on this! I believe there are studies that show that starting school as the youngest can be (particularly for boys) detrimental when they get to early high school.

Good luck OP with heart goes out to you.

rustybells Wed 06-Feb-13 22:43:37

No that is not what I said. Please don't put words in my mouth.

I was just telling the OP, about how a family had recently managed to achieve this. To offer some encouragement and support to the OP.

DD (July birthday) was diagnosed with developmental delay as a toddler / preschooler. Her paediatrician offered to write a recommendation that she should be held back a year, but pointed out that the same would not be possible for her twin brother (who had no developmental issues) so he would be in the year above her.

In the September just after their third birthday, we decided to send them both to pre-school instead of Nursery, as the pre-school seemed better suited to the stage they were at.

In the September just after their fourth birthday, we decided to start them both in Reception, in separate classes, and see how it went. At that stage, DD was a year or so behind the other summer born children in her class. She was given an IEP and extra help.

She is now in Y4 and has made huge progress. Her reading age is now slightly ahead of her chronological age. Not only does she no longer need extra help, she has recently moved up to middle sets for Maths, reading and spelling.

Obviously, I can't tell how things would have gone if we had agreed to keeping her down a year, but I have no regrets about letting her start with her chronological year group.

Tiggytape, in the school where I work we have/ have had 4 children who are educated with the year group below their chronological age, on an official basis, 3 due to developmental issues and 1 because his mother and the preschool felt he wasn't ready.

All four are well integrated and popular with their peers. There is no evidence whatsoever about bullying or poor mental health. I cannot understand why a child working with a cohort of children with birthdays one month or less later than theirs should be bullied on that basis, when there is a 12-month range in the class anyway. It all depends on the culture of the school.

I feel that there is a far greater chance of good mental health being achieved by starting school when ready and having a positive experience from the start.

Don't get put off by evidence quoted by an LA to support its and government policy. This one-size-fits-all policy is one of the biggest problems in our education policy. I totally agree that MN could lobby on this point.

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