Half days for the first month of school!

(63 Posts)
TAyoung Wed 08-May-13 15:48:06

My second child is due to start primary school in September, however the school has just informed us that she will only be attending mornings for the first month. (Her elder sister started at the same school after just three half days.)

The claimed reasoning for the change of policy is that this will ease her into school life. However, it's just going to disrupt her more because she's coming out of full-time nursery.

I can't take a month off work to look after her for the afternoons, so I'll have to find a new/different/upsetting child care option.

I thought the local education authority had to provide full time schooling? What can I do? Ideas please.

neverlateforwork Wed 08-May-13 15:51:43

Golly, is it time for these threads already?!

Yy, perfectly normal, and a month is actually quite good in comparison with the majority of schools - lots are half time for months and months.

Speak to the school. Occasionally they will let you start ft, but mostly they won't. Depends how militant you want to be. In theory they ought to be able to, but many dig their heels in.

Yes, it's well regarded as a pita. Yes, it's a known problem. Yes, some parents end up giving up work when their kids start school because they can't work out childcare around the hours. grin I even know a teacher that did. grin

Welcome to yr r.

TAyoung Wed 08-May-13 15:56:00

Thanks for the info. If we're thinking of being militant, would it help to have a group of parents, rather than just us?

Periwinkle007 Wed 08-May-13 16:23:20

quite normal. my daughter started last september and hte other starts this september. Their school have mornings only for the first 2.5 weeks. The two full weeks of this time the teachers are doing home visits or trying to speak to parents in the afternoons and trying to get the children settled in the mornings. Then if parents and teachers think child is ready they can go full time. They CAN stay part time until half term (either mornings only or mon/tue/wed full days and thur/fri half days, whatever suits the child) if parents prefer or staff think they aren't ready for whatever reason but it is a joint decision I believe.

some children in my daughter's class went to their old nursery in the afternoon. yes it is annoying but equally I found it quite interesting that it seemed some of the children who found it hardest to adjust to a full day when they did go full time and who were almost asleep by the end of the afternoon were those who had been in full time nursery. It is a different environment with less freedom and more concentrating so I think in many ways a few weeks of settling in time is actually very good but I can see it does pose problems for working parents.

As my daughter's school do the parent meetings in the afternoons of the first few weeks there would be no provision for children to be full time then but other schools may have more opportunity.

5madthings Wed 08-May-13 16:28:16

It is done by lots of schools but you can insist on full time after the first two weeks.

Our school tried this last year, they wanted them part time up to Oct half term, nightmare for lots of parents who complained (nicely) and then all parents were offered the choice of part or full time smile

5madthings Wed 08-May-13 16:29:08

ta yes it may help if a group of you all complain/raise it as an issue!

nipersvest Wed 08-May-13 16:29:09

yes, a month of part time is normal ime. at my dc's school, they offer places in the nursery for the afternoon (not free though, parents have to pay). the way i did it was to get a small group of other mums, we each took it in turns to do the early pick up and have all the dc's for the afternoon.

the lea only have to provide full time schooling from the age of 5, as most reception are still 4 when they start, you can't officially do anything about the part time thing.

5madthings Wed 08-May-13 16:39:11

nipersvest cool name BTW!

No the law changed on this last year and schools have to offer a full time place for all re option children from two weeks from the start of term regardless of birth date.

It may be worth asking your Lea as our leasupported the parents requesting full time places from start of term. If you want your child to go part time that's fine and you can insist on it (I did with ds3) but legally they have to offer full time and I persued this for ds4 as he was ready for full days, all children are different and some are ready for it.

There were lots if threads on this last year which have the relevant info in them...will try and search.

quip Wed 08-May-13 16:46:50

They drag it out until half term where we are. I feel your pain, as we'll have to cope with it again next year.

Pyrrah Wed 08-May-13 16:51:07

By law your child is entitled to go full-time from the first day of term.

Just put your foot down - even better if a group of you do.

I haven't heard what DD's new school are planning, but since she's done a year already at a school nursery, she will be starting full-time on the first day of term as there is no need for her to have a staggered start.

Does the same law apply to academies just out of interest/

louisianablue2000 Wed 08-May-13 16:56:47

I think it's mad that schools still act like all children have a parent at home. If they've been at nursery for years they can cope with school and dragging out the transition period makes it difficult for everyone. Complain but if that doesn't work does your current childcare provide wrap around care? DD1 went to nursery for the (thankfully only a) week she was half time at school. The price goes up though because the nursery no longer gets the nursery grant once the LOs start school.

There is obviously no consensus within schools about the best way to do things. As I said at DD's school they only have a week of half days and are then fulltime but they stagger the class starting over three weeks so the youngest come in last (just to make it that bit more difficult for them, by that point friendships have already been made among the older kids). At a neighbouring school they only have one half day and then start full time. Much more sensible.

5madthings Wed 08-May-13 16:58:13

Here you go this thread

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/primary/1628701-Staggered-entry-to-primary-school-in-reception-class

Has the legal info, they have to offer full time place smile

Timeforabiscuit Wed 08-May-13 16:59:45

Total PITA - I was one of the one who quit their job and got a new one a month later,

I did have a back up plan where nursery would do half days, so I would use my lunch hour to nip to school and walk her over.

But my old job were also very unhelpful with reduction in hours so I could do pickups during the week.

Since they were unhelpful I was in a very privileged position to be incredibly unhelpful back, I hope the next person in my shoes gets an easier time of it at that company.

You can also get unpaid parental leave (gulp) - but I had bills to pay.

radicalsubstitution Wed 08-May-13 17:41:09

DS' school has a school nursery attached, which most children attend. Therefore, there is plenty of time for the school to 'get to know' 90% of the reception intake long before they start in reception.

DS started full-time on the 2nd September. There is absolutely no way I could have 'flexed' my hours in order to accommodate a staggered start. Staggered starts create an unbelievable amount of hassle for working parents (as if they don't have enough with school holidays etc).

tiggytape Wed 08-May-13 18:00:36

A staggered start is totally the norm. 1 month is longer than some but not as long as many.

I do wonder what they do with the children of parents who insist on going fulltime though? Most schools geared up to do staggered starts (as opposed to letting parents choose which some schools opt for) won't have the staff on site necessarily to cover this. The reception teachers in our school will be on home visits for some periods in the first weeks of September.

I suppose if a vocal majority all press the school to change, it might review the policy but the worry with insisting on your right to fulltime education might be that your 4 year old is one of 2 or 3 children left in limbo for a month whilst everyone else (who either favours staggered starts or doesn't want to create a fuss) sends their children part time.

Euphemia Wed 08-May-13 18:04:38

I am a teacher so when DD started school I had to pay for the after-school care club for afternoons. Other parents used a local childminder to cover that part of the day.

Picturesinthefirelight Wed 08-May-13 18:09:18

I think it's unacceptable.

Both of my two started full time from day 1. There was the option of half days for the first week but no one took it.

You have two options. Insist your child goes full time or keep her in nursery until after these shenanigans are over.

Pyrrah Wed 08-May-13 18:10:37

I imagine that since the law has now changed to allow parents to insist on full days from day 1 that schools will now organise their staffing to cope.

lougle Wed 08-May-13 18:12:53

DD2's school have just changed their policy.

I can choose (for DD3, starting in September) to either put her in full time from the 12th September, or choose a fixed pattern of between 5-9 sessions each week until the first half-term.

littleducks Wed 08-May-13 18:16:28

Dd started school late after settling in period (London playing waiting list game) so it was a shock to me when ds started reception. Complete PITA. Poor child was exhausted by having to travel back and forth to school four times in a day instead if two as dd still needed collecting. HT was adament it prevented them having children crying in the afternoon. I pointed out it was because he was crying in the playground at pick up time with me absolutely shattered at true home time from all the toing and froing.

RedPencils Wed 08-May-13 18:23:52

Glad to hear the law has changed in this, completely ridiculous to expect parents to accommodate weeks of half days.
My friends DS was part time till October half term when he started, she had to take some of the time as unpaid leave.

tiggytape Wed 08-May-13 18:24:28

Absolutely Pyrrah - if a parent insists, it will be accommodated.

But that's not quite the same as the child being placed fulltime with the teacher they have been introduced to and with the other children they are used to.

Schools that are very pushy keen on staggered starts won't necessarily have lots of parents objecting to the extent that they insist on their legal right to ignore school policy and send the child fulltime.
Whilst a parent can insist for their child, they can't insist the rest of the class also attends and keeps them company.
So it might be a bit of a unsettled start for a child who is one of just a few new starters whose parents have sent them fulltime.

I am not saying parents shouldn’t insist on it. Just that the arrangements for a fulltime child in a school where 90% of their classmates are doing staggered starts might feel a bit odd.

scaevola Wed 08-May-13 18:33:00

If any school could point to a single piece of respectable research which showed any advantage to a part-time start (rather than just "we think it's better") then I think ey'd find parents more ready to accommodate it.

I don't think any such research was linked to last year's threads about this. And I suspect there is still no demonstrable benefit. And when you're talking about something that can have such a huge and unsettling impact to family life (through a temporary childcare arrangement) just when a child needs a bit of stability in things other than joining school, it really needs clear benefits backed by a bit of proper evidence.

tiggytape Wed 08-May-13 18:40:05

What kind of evidence would that be though? How do you measure the benefit or otherwise?
Anecdotally teachers who have seen both systems in action tend to agree that a staggered start, as long as it doesn't extend for weeks and weeks, benefits new children to a school.

And I don't think parents who object would change their minds even if a study agreed with the school’s belief. They’d simply say their child is the exception because he is older, has already been to the nursery so familiar with the school or has been doing longer days at nursery since a year old so doesn’t need gradually increased hours.

scaevola Wed 08-May-13 18:53:36

I have noises how sociological/education studies are constructed, but as the effect of other variables can be studied I cannot see why this should uniquely be impossible

And being able to go beyond the vagaries of anecdote and move to evidence might not make a difference to everyone's actions, but it might influence some (both parents and schools) and would be a general reassurance that there were worthwhile pastoral or educational benefits.

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