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.

Elibean Tue 28-May-13 19:17:51

I think the law is a good thing for working parents who really can't cope with staggered starts.

But for the children, and for the teachers, I think staggered starts have a lot going for them. I have two dds, and both had half days - one for a term (too long), the other for nearly half a term (about right).

There have been no friendship problems, no frustrated children, a very smooth transition to school, and a tightly knit happy community in their classes.

Mind you, neither was in full time nursery before Reception. Nor were most of their peers. So a f/t start in Reception would have caused chaos for those particular kids.

Oblomov Tue 28-May-13 12:19:04

I am so glad I read this.
Ds1 started reception 4 years ago and my school stagger according to age. So I fortunately only had to stager for a few weeks. But I work p/t and even that was a nightmare.
Am SO glad to find that the law was changed a year ago.
Am awaiting news on when ds2 will start, this sept.
Am glad to have that piece of info up my sleeve.

Dancergirl Tue 28-May-13 11:45:57

But all I'm reading on here is 'MY child'! Have you tried seeing it from the teacher's point of view?

Formed friendship groups? Rubbish. I've had 3 dc go through reception with varying degrees of staggering/part time and it's made no difference to friendships. Children's friendships change SO much at this stage, there is no way for friends to be set in stone during the first weeks and months of reception.

I'm not disputing that it's difficult or inconvenient. But it's really only a short time in the scheme of things. And if it makes it easier for the teacher initially, can't you see that's a good thing for the class overall in the long run?

louisianablue2000 Tue 28-May-13 11:08:15

Dancergirl, have you not read the thread? Everyone is saying how it messes up the kids. Some people have to find a new childcare arrangement to cover the staggered entry, younger children are penalised becacuse they tend to start later and friendship groups are formed, children are tired because they hwve to go backwards and forwards between school and home or school and childcare.

If schools were to look at the child's background and say 'OK, you've been at nursery and have no educational and social needs, you can start on day X full time' or ' OK, you are young for the class, have some SN and haven't left the family home before, we'll stagger your entry for as long as your parent thinks you need it' THEN we might be prepared to believe it's done to benefit the children. But the current system is clearly not keeping up with the reality of the world.

And frankly I'm fed up of teachers saying 'we don't provide childcare' like they are somehow better than the wonderful people who have cared for and educated my children for the previous five years. If you are legally responsible for my child then you ARE childcare.

Allegrogirl Tue 28-May-13 10:59:57

Dancergirl I have no problem at all with paying for childcare as I have been doing so since I returned from mat leave. Getting temporary care for just a few weeks is extremely difficult and unsettling for a child who is already having to get used to the school environment. My DD was much happier when she went to full days as the messing around for 3 hours a day was really upsetting for her. Yes it is tough to hear that my child has to suffer to suit a child who may find a full day too much. Could those who are struggling not start later or for half days as an option? We have January starts at the school. And the children all started together from day one so it didn't give the teachers more time to get to know the children.

What evidence is there that there is any benefit in starting for half days? It was a new thing for DDs school so not like they have years of experience that this works best. Most of the other local schools go straight to full days after 2/3 days and the children settled fine. Maybe an explanation to the parents of the benefits and a more sympathetic and flexible approach where parents struggle with childcare would help. I would happily have paid for an extended after school club if that had been an option.

Dancergirl Tue 28-May-13 09:54:01

For goodness sake, can any of you see beyond the logistics issue??

Firstly, it is not a school's job to provide childcare. I imagine making things easy for working parents comes way, way down the list of priorities. Sorry if that's tough to hear.

So you've got 30 odd small children starting school for the first time. Some of them have been to nursery, some haven't. Some of them are only just 4 years old. Some of them might be newly toilet trained. Some might have SN. They will all have their worries about starting school. Reception teacher wants to do the very best she can to help EACH child settle in and get to know each child individually as soon as possible. Do you really think the best way of dong this is to have them all start together and stay all day from day 1?

Look beyond YOUR inconvenience, it's really not about you. It's about the benefit for the class as a whole and that will benefit YOUR child in the long run.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 28-May-13 09:22:53

Similar to Teen, they start a few children at a time, a bit later than the rest of the school, three days of half days then off they go. I kept DS at his daycare until mid-Sept as he was one of the last to start.

Parents go in to see teachers(no home visits) in the extra few days at the beginning of term. Means all parents can be seen in those slots.

Allegrogirl Mon 27-May-13 23:24:19

We had 3 weeks of 11.45 starts, couldn't even leave DD for lunch so I could take half days. DD was very unsettled and didn't know whether she was coming or going. Some days I did pick up, my parents helped and her brand new CM. We survived but it was a rotten introduction to the school. I didn't know other parents to swap cover with, no school nursery and after school club started at 3.15. I did suggest to the school that they could extend after school club for a couple of weeks but no demand apparently.

DD was so much happier by the end of week 4 when she was settled into the normal school day. I think shorter days should be an option but not compulsory. No home visits at the school so that wasn't the reason for shorter days. My friends DCs at a number of schools in the same city all went full days after 2/3 mornings. If short days are so necessary why isn't it the same in all schools?

TeenAndTween Mon 27-May-13 17:25:48

At my DDs school they all start full time, 1 week after the rest of the school. the first week is used for home visits.
Works really well, many children have done 2.5 days at the attached nursery so don't need a transition. Parents who think it is a bit much can choose to take their child home at lunchtime if they so desire.

lougle Mon 27-May-13 10:48:37

I think we are very lucky with my school. They have the very best of all worlds. The parents dictate what their child will do, on an individual basis.

So parents who want full-time get it. Other parents who may want their DC home on a Thursday afternoon can do that. Whatever, really.

As long as the DC do at least 5 sessions per week, whether that be 2 whole days and a half day, 5 mornings...whatever, they can do as much as they like.

DD3 will be starting full-time from the beginning. I'm there anyway to drop and pick up DD2, so she won't find it easy to have to come and go when her new friends may well be in school.

notcitrus Mon 27-May-13 10:42:10

Have now found out that children in my local schools are full time from the start. Except they can't say when the start is as.they phase them in over a month.

So may have difficulty taking his first few days off if I don't know when they are! Teacher I talked to thought older.children started later, but as ds is 5 when term begins, he'll have a right to be full time, surely?

Right now I don't even know what school he'll attend (near top of a mobile wait list) which really doesn't help. School he has place at has cancelled all before/after care provision but 'hopes to work something out' by Sept...

MissDuke Mon 27-May-13 10:12:07

Our school does the staggered start until Halloween. For the first 2 weeks, they are only in for an hour a day :-O It builds up to 9-12. After Halloween, it is 9-2. I am not in England, so don't think we can request full time from the start. The biggest nuisance is that I will be at the school 4 times a day, as I will have to drop dd off at 9, ds at 10, collect ds at 11 and collect dd at 3 - very annoying!

n1cknack Fri 24-May-13 21:09:04

Hi, I haven't read through everyone's comments so sorry if this has been said already. You can request that they take your child full time straight away. If they say no, go through your LEA. If you want more information then pm me as I did this with my child last year.
Good luck!

ljny Fri 10-May-13 20:28:46

It's absolutely insane and most teachers I've talked with, off the record, admit staggering makes things easier for the teachers more than the children.

Some schools only add 3 children a week - this happened to my DGD last year. When she finally started, it was two hour visits, then mornings, then mornings with lunch ... she didn't go full time until after half-term. They did it by age and she's one of the youngest.

The upshot was major social problems - by November, the children had their friendships sorted, and even her best friend from nursery had found new friends.

So glad of the new regulations but it's still difficult as many parents don't want to alienate the school by insisting on their 'rights'.

If settling were really for the children's benefit, then turn it around, let children start full-time - and offer an option for parents to request part-time if needed.

As Op rightly says, it's more stressful to hit a child with two big adjustments at once - school AND a new half-day situation.

prettydaisies Fri 10-May-13 17:03:15

Children legally have to be in school or 'educated otherwise' from the term after their 5th birthday.
Schools nowadays have to offer children full time education from the September of the academic year in which they turn 5. As a parent you don't have to take up the offer and can defer until anytime in the Reception year. You can't defer the whole year as your place may well be given to someone else and you have to apply again as an in year admission.

I left my daughter in full time nursery for the whole of the autumn term as I couldn't manage childcare for part days and she was quite happy where she was and doing well. She then settled in with no problems.

ivykaty44 Fri 10-May-13 15:37:33

I left my dd in full time nursery and she started school one month later - it wasn't ideal but I work and couldn't get time off work. Her father wasn't interested in helping with the start of school.

Ddd was very clingy for quite a while about going to school but I don't know whether she would have been or not if she started a month earlier. She did though settle and make friends - it was just at the school gate she wanted to hold my hand for just a bit longer

TAyoung Fri 10-May-13 15:30:37

The only confusion I now have is the exact position on the right to full-time education.

Is it from age 5 or from the start of the first school year after their 4th birthday? I've seen both quoted above, but despite searches I can't find the legislation that says either (specifically).

Closest I've come is this
http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/pupilsupport/inclusionandlearnersupport/a0077448/ap-right-for-non-excluded-pupils

Euphemia Thu 09-May-13 18:47:44

purely for the schools benefit

How does it benefit the school?

Startail Thu 09-May-13 18:36:30

It's utterly ridiculous and purely for the schools benefit not the children's.

We did alternating weeks of mornings and afternoons which just confused children who were used to mornings at preschool or full days at nursery.
Splitting the groups caused friendship problems and seeing mum at lunch time had a Y1 sibling in tears.

pointythings Thu 09-May-13 18:18:09

couthy my DDs' primary did this too, it was LEA policy. This has now changed - the school has gone academy, and they are much more flexible. If you want full time, they want to meet with you and the child, but if they're happy that your child is ready, you will get full time. I can't think that a child who is used to full time nursery would hav a problem with full time YrR

For what it's worth, my son had done ten-hour days at nursery but was totally wiped out by four hours of Reception at first. We had a fortnight of half days and he needed all of them.

I was very surprised.

TAyoung Thu 09-May-13 17:19:20

Thanks for all the advice - particularly the links to the legal stuff about being able to insist on full time. Now considering pros and cons.

PastSellByDate Thu 09-May-13 13:19:39

Hi TAYoung:

Not sure if your DD is at a nursery at the moment - but when we were in this situation we found that the nursery was happy to take them part-time during the transition period as long as they were under 5.

HTH

Elibean Thu 09-May-13 13:07:17

Problem is, kids vary hugely at that age and some really do settle faster with part time.

Big problem for working parents, though, and flexibility has to be a key part of the answer for any system.

dd1 did a whole term of half days (too long), and dd2, 3 years later at the same school, did a few weeks, followed by four days f/t and one half, then f/t from January. Other local primaries do the same thing.

It worked beautifully for her class, I must admit.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Thu 09-May-13 13:03:00

Excuse that post. Brain fart, posted it on the wrong thread. Was meant to be posting in site stuff, as the app is acting all weird for me, just on this thread!

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