Nursery recommends my son is held back a year

(95 Posts)
SLMummy Mon 11-Nov-13 22:16:55

My little boy has just turned four and at a recent parents evening at nursery, his key worker recommended that he should be held back a year before starting school. She said that while he was spot on academically he still has issues concentrating and listening, especially if in a larger group. He also needs work with some of his fine motor skills She's also under the impression that he's quite shy, and although i'm not sure if he's like that at nursery, he definitely isn't outside of it.

I took her advice and they're now going to liaise with the local school to assess whether he is ready for not. It would be great if he could go to school with all his friends and I'm looking for advice on what I can do to help get him ready. Of course if the school also recommends that he stays back another year then I'll follow their advice, but I would still like to know what I can do to help develop his motor skills (i already have a few ideas), help improve his concentration and get him interested in learning. If anyone has any tips or has been through a similar situation, your input would be much appreciated smile

OvO Wed 13-Nov-13 08:12:22

I deferred both of my boys. They both have November birthdays. Nursery didn't recommend deferring I just thought they'd be better off. (They also got the extra year of nursery funded no problem)

They are both by far the oldest in their years but this has been a big positive. They have been really ready for everything school has asked of them. They made more friends by staying on with nursery and went to
P1 with these new ones quite happily so I wouldn't worry about wanting your DS to start with his pals that he has now.

scarlettsmummy2 Wed 13-Nov-13 09:53:49

I really am in two minds about the whole deferring thing. In northern Ireland, where I am originally from, about a third of my daughters current P1 class would now be in P2. This isn't a major issue, except for the fact that there is a noticeable difference in what the children are able to do. Plus, it also means that children effectively do a year less in formal education, as they can leave at the end of fourth year, and many start university at 17.

TTAR Wed 13-Nov-13 10:01:40

I have great sympathies - I was in exactly the same position as you two years ago. We decided that this was not a great answer for our child as it would have knock on consequences further on in my dc's education. My dc has seen an occupational therapist and the SENCO has together with the occupational therapist devised a plan.

Things I would suggest: short fat triangular crayons and pencils and the set of books called "write from the start" and playing with puzzles/snap/card games

My dc has improved massively. I am very glad I did not defer, however reception was a rocky ride. YR 1 is much much better!

TTAR Wed 13-Nov-13 10:01:55

Please PM me if it would be helpful

TeacakeEater Wed 13-Nov-13 10:09:07

Apologies as I've only read the last page!

The knock on consequences in Scotland of deferring would be all good imo. It is quite normal, it means a child is older at transfer to high school and if going to university it means your child would go at 18 rather than 17. The benefits are long term as well as immediate. I so wish I had been able to defer mine!

TeacakeEater Wed 13-Nov-13 10:12:31

Plus I know very well-educated and informed parents who have appealed to allow their children to defer when nursery have said they are ready for P1! There are well known benefits to being among the older children in the cohort.

TeacakeEater Wed 13-Nov-13 10:24:15

Regarding the social development, I was told my son was not sociable in nursery and I found it upsetting as it came as a shock- he was fine outside! A few years down the line and he has a good few pals and is a quiet but happy child. There seems to be a template of a the ideal outgoing child and if you are quiet it is pointed out as an issue.

onebananatwobanana Wed 13-Nov-13 10:29:23

I wouldn't defer. Play the long game! DC develop at different speeds and don't always fit the mould when it comes to assessment time. I have DC with summer birthdays (in England) so young for their year. They catch up and their social skills develop at school. They are now at super selective secondaries and have lots of friends, one is more outgoing than the other. Read with your DS and do lots of group activities outside school. Good luck.

TeacakeEater Wed 13-Nov-13 10:35:39

In Scotland onebanana there is a specific issue which is important to me (but maybe not OP) and that is that compared to England they will have one less year at secondary school. My son will be doing GCSE equivalents at 15 and A level equivalents at 17 (Advanced Highers) and then entering 1st year undergrad at 17. I think that puts him at a disadvantage compared to English students.

unlucky83 Wed 13-Nov-13 10:51:22

I have been told by two different state HTs (change of HT between my DDs starting) that they can defer at any point ...it is not easy and has social implications but, if necessary, it can be done.
Stargirl - you have come across one case so that proves it can happen.
(pretty No reason to believe a child repeating a year is a troublemaker sad. You can 'defer' starting P2 by repeating P1)

My use of hyphens is because I know I can be very wordy, it is an attempt to stop my waffle hmm obviously not working well smile.

Euphemia (sorry! I did look up thread to see if you were in Scotland etc, but just missed your post) and Stargirl
You understand the system as it is. I can see and have experienced a number of problems with the current system.

You end up with classes with big differences in age.
I have been led to believe that the majority of children who don't defer struggle more socially/emotionally than academically. The social aspect can not be anything but exacerbated by the discrepancies in age.

IME 'Preschool education' is not particularly well integrated with school system for children who are deferred.

My view is that either the format of P1 is changed. So it is more informal and more suitable for 4 year olds. But parents aren't allowed/encouraged to defer (except in really exceptional cases).

Or keep the current format and make the P1 starting age 5 for all children. And preschool education extended/rearranged to take that into account.

With the system the way it is at the moment - I would recommend deferring (unless you have a very good reason for not doing so).

I have not deferred my DD (for various reasons explained earlier).
As a parent I found it a very, very difficult decision to make.
And for both it was my (or rather mine and DPs) decision. The school had no problems with them not deferring but also said, in general, they do better if they defer.

As I said for DD1 - academically no problems, but struggled socially. (In S2 now doing ok)
For DD2 something I was thinking about from birth. (In P3 now, doing fantastically well).
The having to relocate to England thing was what finally stopped me deferring DD2. It would be a massive upheaval for them anyway compounded by effectively missing a year of school. The realisation of possibly needing to relocate came from a sudden illness and death in my family coupled with a friend's DM being diagnosed with a slow degenerative terminal illness[ sad].

cloutiedumpling Wed 13-Nov-13 10:56:44

How does your son feel about it? One of our DCs has a November birthday and I did think about trying to defer him as although he was bright he was immature and couldn't sit still for two minutes. He had been put into a year group by the nursery though and was well aware that everyone else in his group was going to school next year. He would have been bored and upset if we had made him repeat a year and so we sent him off to school. He was immature and it was raised at each and every parents evening for three years. He is doing fine now that he is older.

BigStyleee Wed 13-Nov-13 10:58:14

OP - my eldest son has a December birthday and I just assumed he would start school at 4 and 8 mths and didn't appreciate there was an option. The nursery teacher took me aside and asked me to consider deferring for a year and I was most put out!! My son was clearly very bright. However at nursery he was very frustrated when he couldn't do motor skill things same as the other kids - basics like using scissors and fiddly things. He hated having to sit down and preferred running around and was losing confidence in himself and his abilities and couldn't do the same as those almost a year older.
I deferred him and he started school at 5 yrs and 8 months. I cannot emphasise enough how this was one of the best decisions I've ever made. He was joint oldest in the class and about a third of the class was also deferred. Having that extra year allowed him to thrive.
He is now 19 and undertaking a very academic course at a top uni (sneaky boast!). He says it was definitely the right decision and there is no question he preferred being one of the oldest in the class to being one of the youngest. He was able to start driving ahead of his friends (he found this important!) and he started uni after 6th year when he was approaching 19 and much more able to deal with being away from home. He is a very able, confident young man and I can't say for sure he would be this way if he started school a year younger.

Do not take offence at the advice - like I did.

Could tell you about lots of people I know who didn't defer and wish they had and I don't know anyone who regrets it.

TeacakeEater Wed 13-Nov-13 11:08:33

unlucky83 I don't like the deferral system here for the reasons you point out.
A further problem as I see it is that it entrenches class disadvantage. In a poorer area I lived in few Jan/Feb birthdays deferred but in the wealthier area I live in now parents of Nov/ Dec birthdays appeal to get a further year's funding to nursery.

prettybird Wed 13-Nov-13 11:14:38

Not meaning to say that a non-deferred child is a trouble-maker - but that in some cases they can get the reputation as such, especially amongst other parents who only ever hear about the child disrupting the class.

The boy is actually a very sweet kid (I only know him socially) but there was no way he was ready to sit down and concentrate at school (even now he can barely sit still hmm) His mum has often been asked to take him home and the Educational Psychologist has been involved. His mum definitely got the impression that unless the Ed Psych agreed, he wouldn't be allowed to repeat the year. To be fair, they did say to give P2 a go, as he might then be frustrated at re-doing P1. But the longer he stays in the class, the more difficult it will be for him to change class.

TeacakeEater Wed 13-Nov-13 11:15:28

Even within this area the better qualified the parents the more likely they are to defer their children, so you have a child with that educational advantage given a further age advantage so I feel really sorry for the child who is 15 months younger in age in the same class.

cloutiedumpling Wed 13-Nov-13 11:22:46

I agree TeacakeEater, it is not good to have such inequalities in education. Maybe there is something to be said for reducing the number of deferrals.

BigStyleee Wed 13-Nov-13 11:44:18

Seems to me that the inequalities aren't in the education but being being born to parents who aren't 'better qualified'???

Don't think the answer is to reduce referrals but to increase them - surely!

BigStyleee Wed 13-Nov-13 11:44:57

deferrals - not referrals !

unlucky83 Wed 13-Nov-13 12:08:15

cloutie I think that's a problem with deferring - that preschool isn't set up to deal with it very well.
They spend a year in Nursery (or Playgroup) with one peer group, most of them move on and the deferred DC repeat Nursery (doing the same curriculum as the previous year, at the same level to accommodate the new intake) and have to integrate into a new peer group (who, where we live at least, will have already been at playgroup together for a year.)
(I purposely kept my DD2 in touch with both year groups, so she would at least recognise some of the 'new' children if she was deferred)
Bigstylee I also didn't appreciate how common it is to defer and also felt offended when it was mentioned for DD1. I think that is a problem too, that parents don't know it is not an exception but the 'norm'.
I regret not deferring her at one level, but then felt I didn't have much choice. She could read fluently. To make it clear how well just looked up her reading test result from the end of P1 (so just under 5.5yo) and her reading age was 11. I think that would have been the same more or less if she had deferred. She did a lot of independent reading, don't think the (bloody) Magic key (grrrrrrr) improved that much. Starting school with a reading age of 11+ hmm.
In this area actually I don't think there is a social inequality . We are a mainly 'naice' area. The school is smallish and teachers know the children and their families. Thinking of DD2s class, all the children from the less 'privileged' backgrounds, who are eligible are deferred (about half the total deferred number). But I do appreciate that is down to the school more than anything.
Pretty I was not saying I thought the child was a troublemaker! Just it was sad that they were being labelled as one purely for behaving in an age appropriate way. (No doubt being compared to children 18 months older than them in the same class sad )

Weegiemum Wed 13-Nov-13 12:16:55

I come at this from 2 angles - as a mum and also as a teacher.

We deferred dd1 and ds, both February birthdays, so they started school at 5y6m, and I have never regretted it for a second. There was no academic or developmental reason for deferral, and pretty much everyone did it as a matter of course. I think it's becoming more common, they both had a great extra year in nursery and loved it. Looking ahead, it means moving up to high school at 12.6 as well, which I like, and not leaving school at 17. The shame of a student card that said "minor" on it for a term at uni was awful! Also, many gap year type things need you to be 18 (I don't think gap years had been invented when I was that age!).

Dd2 is a November birthday, we didn't defer and I sometimes wonder if that was the right decision, but in the end I think we did the right thing.

From a teacher's point of view (secondary, and at one school I was doing transition work in my guidance role) I saw a huge difference in boys especially between the deferred and the non-deferred. In S1 if a pupil didn't do/bring homework, forgot resources etc it was so often a non-deferred boy who could have been. Not every time but I actually made a note of it for transition planning. It does seem to even out by S2, but some had a fairly rough start to secondary due to this (although obviously there could be other issues at play.

I know very few teachers who didn't take the deferral option if they could.

Deferral is so common in my dc school as to be the norm. Dd1 is in secondary now and has had the same wee gang of friends since about P4. All of them are in S2 and are 13, all will be 14 between February and April.
And seeing how ds has matured even in the last few months, makes me glad he's in P7 not S1.

Someone made the point about moving. There was a chance at one point that we would move to London (we didn't). One of the reasons against it was that I called the LEA (is that right?) and explained ages and levels and there was no flexibility at all. Dd1 and ds would have been forced to jump a whole year of primary school with no possibility of this being changed for anything. As our children would also be transitioning into a different language (Gaelic medium -> English) (with which they would be given no help) we felt this was probably too much to ask of them. So if there was a chance you'd ever move to the rest of the uk, then that might be a reason not to defer. Otherwise, I find it hard to think of a downside!

unlucky83 Wed 13-Nov-13 12:37:33

weegiemum that is probably why I feel so strongly about it.
I felt powerless really to do anything but not defer for DD2. I know I am putting her at a disadvantage. But less of a disadvantage if we did (God forbid) have to move down to England. (My biggest fear was P7 to S2 - IMO that is a massive jump).
And the death/ friend's DM's illness all happened whilst I making the decision, it seemed like fate.

I think the system needs changing!

TTAR Wed 13-Nov-13 13:18:37

We live in a grammar school area - 11 plus would be difficult if you were in a different year group

stargirl1701 Wed 13-Nov-13 13:33:12

I think the system works really well if children who are advised to defer do so. The chronological age gap isn't an issue from a teaching perspective.

seaweed74 Wed 13-Nov-13 13:35:09

I deferred my dd1 (Jan birthday) no problem. She has SEN so always planned to. However dd2 is a November birthday and unless advised to we'll probably not defer. But we will see as she's only 2 now!

I have heard from many reliable sources that in Edinburgh deferral of Sept- December children is not encouraged anymore. Jan/Feb still ok I believe. Having said that though a friend's daughter (Nov birthday) was refused a deferral although SEN and started P1 in special ed, whilst other children with birthdays Sept-Dec in her nursery class were granted deferrals. It was implied that the deferrals were granted as the catchment primary was oversubscribed.

If deferral is likely at some point during school life then socially the earlier the better.

In Edinburgh you still need to sign on at your catchment school in November, whilst applying for a deferral. Deferrals are granted/denied around March/April.

prettybird Wed 13-Nov-13 14:23:39

I agree with bigstylee - the emphasis should be on increasing awareness of the option of deferring, not of cutting it down.

You read the angst of English MNers about when they should have a baby so that they avoid the September cut-off, the problems of children who are not (or will not) be ready, whether they should skip Reception and the studies that have shown that disadvantages of being (English) summer born continue sad. You rarely read of such angst amongst the Scots - primarily because of the flexibility inherent in the Scottish system.

Just because some people might move to England is not a reason to change it. England has always had a different education system with different exams and different ways of doing things, including have to do SATs and they have to suffer Gove . People might move to Sweden or America (if you want a specifically anglophone country) - should we align our education to be compatible with theirs? hmm

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now