Premature birth and delaying school start

(105 Posts)
hawthers Fri 09-Nov-12 14:44:25

My DS1 was born at the end of August but should have been born in late October. He spent quite a long time in the NICU and has had extensive follow up by his consultant and a developmental specialist. Amazingly he is fine health wise although small for his age. He does not have any major developmental delay aside from the overall general delay if that makes sense.

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone has any experience of delaying primary school entry for their child? I'm gathering there is not a whole lot of guidance on how to do it and it is very much at the discretion of individual headteachers but many of them are not keen to step outside the standard procedure.

My DS1 does not appear to have any SEN but i guess it may be too early to tell right now (he is 3). It is clear though that he is just younger than all the other kids in his preschool and it seems barmy to push him along in the wrong school year where he will always struggle. His consultant and the developmental specialist have both said that they will support a delayed entry.

Would be really grateful to hear any experiences.

tethersend Fri 09-Nov-12 15:06:26

Watching with interest- I really think provision needs to be written into the admissions code for premature babies to take their EDD as their DOB. This issue comes up more frequently as better medical care happily means that more premature babies reach school age- I think school admissions legislation needs to catch up.

RedZombie Fri 09-Nov-12 15:13:37

Fortunately my prem DTs were born beginning of September (due in October) so they went to school as the oldest. I don't think they would have been ready to go a year earlier which would have been the case if they had been born a couple of weeks earlier.
I don't think there's any leeway, but would be interested to see from someone who knows,

NigellaTufnel Fri 09-Nov-12 15:20:19

In a perfect world you probably would defer entry. The difference being the oldest or the youngest in the year is massive. (I speak from not quite bitter experience of having a summer boy.)

But, and it's an enormous but. You have to consider senior school. In the independent sector some schools will refuse to put children in the wrong year. Suddenly everyone will want it.
And state can be even trickier as they may not want children to sit exams a year 'late' as it may screw up whatever league tables will be operating.

So you could be faced with your child being told they should miss the first year of high school to catch up.

Obviously this should not happen, but there are no guarantees.

DoverBeach Fri 09-Nov-12 15:21:33

You might find some advice on this from the Bliss website here .

hawthers Fri 09-Nov-12 16:47:50

nigella that is exactly what I'm worried about as that would put him in the worst possible position.

diver thanks for the link will look into that.

Bigwheel Fri 09-Nov-12 17:23:54

I always thought you could delay them starting school until they are 5, so the sept after they turn 5 in your case, but they would then have to go into their age appropriate year group which in your case would be year 1, meaning they would miss the whole of the reception year. I'm not sure if tis is how it works thoughout the whole of the uk though. Perhaps contact your local councils education department?

littlemiss06 Fri 09-Nov-12 17:36:42

I have twins born two months premature on 31st august but I didn't delay school and they have done fantastic, its had no effect at all on their education and along with their prematurity they also have suffered with bad asthma, one of them had glue ear/grommits, they both have Tourettes yet they have just finished high school and gone on to college with 20 GCSEs and two BTECs between them, personally I wouldn't delay starting school.

hawthers Fri 09-Nov-12 17:52:50

big I'm pretty sure you can defer entry to later in the year but it is putting him on a whole different school year that I'm hoping to do.

little I'm glad to hear your twins are doing well.

I've heard loads of stories of genius, rugby playing, 6ft tall premmies but I feel quite strongly that if he went in his birth year he would struggle and if I can help avoid that then I think I should

EyeoftheStorm Fri 09-Nov-12 18:07:58

I am in a similar position. DS2 was born in July, should have been September. He had bleeds on the brain which led to hydrocephalus but after having a VP shunt put in, everything has gone very well. He has hit his milestones and has no obvious developmental delays at 3.

I think that the difference between us (not sure if you have an older DC) is that DS2 is DC3 and my older children are summer babies too.

They both got off to a slow start but are absolutely fine now and there is no difference between DS1(8) and the older children in his class.

So I can use that experience to make decisions about DS2. In a perfect world I would want him to be in the school year of his EDD. I feel that he and I have been robbed of that extra year.

But I also think he will be ok. I will not delay his start but I will be watching for problems. Once he's in school, I might ask for half days for a term if he's enormously tired. I will be watching him carefully and get help from the school if necessary.

homebythesea Fri 09-Nov-12 18:13:35

My DD 8 weeks early, no other issues except being petite and started school as normal. I think that by age 4 a prem baby will have generally caught up with their peers (unless of course there are other health issues which thankfully we did not have). I would go with the flow and accept that your wee one may fall asleep in the book corner from time to time grin

cathpip Fri 09-Nov-12 18:14:13

My sisters little girl was due end of Oct but arrived on the 22nd Aug, she started school last year without delaying the start (my sister was also very worried about this) and she has been absolutely fine, a little tired but most reception children are. I would just speak to the ht and the reception teacher and voice your concerns, working together with them you can keep a good eye on your DS.

littlemiss06 Fri 09-Nov-12 18:32:17

I do really understand your concerns but as ive said with my twins they did really well yet my April born child is struggling tremendously, working at the level of a reception child and shes in year 2, I just feel delaying when they start also has an effect as the children in his year will already be forming strong bonds and friendships, they will learn a lot in those early days in school and to be honest a lot of reception is play based so they have fun while learning.

hawthers Fri 09-Nov-12 18:36:18

Hi all hope this doesn't come across as arsey but I'm not asking if he should delay or not. I'm asking how to do it and if anyone has any experience.

Sorry its been a loooong week, now where is the wine

EyeoftheStorm Fri 09-Nov-12 18:38:37

Ah then I think the Bliss website will have more information on that. I think there are several threads following a fight to delay starting school and also some mums even give phone numbers so you can have a chat about what they did. I think how difficult it is depends on what county you are in.

anicesitdown Fri 09-Nov-12 18:58:46

I did this with my DS, who has an August birthday.

We had an informal chat with the headteacher, who was supportive. His nusery teacher was also supportive. Both agreed to start him in Reception, when he was 5, and stood their ground with the local education department.

The headteacher's support will be crucial. We now have a new headteacher, who is totally opposed to holding children back; however, another parent was able to do this for her son as she discussed it with his paedeatrician (he may or may not have AS), who wrote a strong letter of support.

I have never regretted my decision. DS has flourished as the eldest in his class. He is small amongst his year group, but this has not affected his confidence as 'he's the oldest'. Go with your gut instinct - you do hear of cases where kids have done well despite being the youngest; you never hear of cases where a child was disadvantaged by being the oldest in the class.

I'm guessing that your application has to be in by Jan? If so, I'd ring the LEA to get their stance, then ring round the schools you are interested in to discuss with the headteacher. Then ask your health professionals to put in writing their recommendation that he does not start formal education until he turns 5, and at that point, he should be placed in a Reception class. Then do not put in an application until next year, as it will be better to apply fresh at that point rather than now, and defer entry (it's much cleaner administratively - LEAs like that). You could then ask for follow up letter from the paed. etc.

HTH - good luck.

DoverBeach Fri 09-Nov-12 19:04:45

I don't have experience of doing it - but I wish that I had. I was in a very similar situation to you and my dd really struggled in reception. A lot of it depends on your child, my dd was already naturally inclined to be anxious and sensitive so being a youngest in her year exacerbated her anxiety. She was overwhelmed by school and really needed another year in pre-school. A more robust or extrovert child might have been fine.

I have heard a lot about her 'catching up' and (minor rant), it really annoys me. Why should she have to catch up with older children? Are the September born children having to catch up with the children in the year above?

SurvivalOfTheUnfittest Fri 09-Nov-12 19:15:09

I work for our LA and their stand is that children have to start school in the 'correct' year group. This has applied to pupils who have been born prematurely and who sometimes have significant learning difficulties, as well as health needs, as a result. I believe there has recently been a query about this and possibly some sort of interaction with the Government (I'm sure I read it on here!) If your DS is only 3 then any outcomes from that may happen in time for him to start a year later anyway. I believe the request was to give the parents the choice - as on here, some will have 'caught up' and some would benefit from the time at home. An advanced serach on here might find the info for you. Your LA should be able to tell you the current policy for your area and some Heads will be happy to work with you on it. Others, less so. Good luck!

hazeyjane Fri 09-Nov-12 19:29:42

That is very interesting, Survival. I would like to know more about that!

Ds wasn't premature, but has a possible genetic condition, part of which is global developmental delay. He is about a 14 months behind with gross motor skills and about 20 months behind with speech. He is only 2.4, but we have been looking at the local schools, and starting the statementing process. I cannot imagine he will be ready to start reception in 2014, he is a July birthday, so will be young in his year as well.

It all depends so much on the child how they will cope with the start of school, but it seems that something has to be done for children who just aren't ready.

Ghoulelocks Fri 09-Nov-12 19:34:34

A word of warning:

I was once involved in a case of agreeing to a child starting in the year below (for a different reason, SEN). It turned into an awful awful mess as although it worked throughout primary the LEA made the decision that for insurance reasons he could not remain in primary beyond age 11 and corrected his class for secondary entry, so jumped from yr 5 to yr 7 with awful fall out. This was largely due to new rules and new leaders/ legislation in the interim period which couldn't have been predicted. Even if that didn't happen there is the risk that high school would insist that they sit exams at the correct age, so as not to impact on their results negatively.

Even if you get your way because one head is supportive it doesn't mean the problem is solved. Take a lot of advice on this and don't just think of now, but the future.

Ghoulelocks Fri 09-Nov-12 19:37:11

hazeyjane, a good school will make sure THEY are ready for your child, not the other way round. Every year there are children that fit into this category, whilst it would be ideal for EDD to be used for very prem babies don't worry too much if the rules don't change. Your child can be both happy and achieve over the course of their school career.

dixiechick1975 Fri 09-Nov-12 19:59:07

One poster on here Lingle did manage to defer her son in Bradford I think.

I know there is one child out of year (Aug birthday) in DD's class - this is a private school though think they are able to be more flexible.

Dozer Fri 09-Nov-12 20:07:31

There is no legal reason why children can't start in the year group below their chronological year group, the decision is down to schools / local authorities (since maintained community schools have little say), but most are against it, obviously totally different in Scotland. Some have published policies, eg to do it requires advice fron paediatrician / SEN statement.

I would like dd2 to start reception later in this way but doubt it will be possible in the state system. Private schools are fine with it, but could be major problems if (as is likely) she goes back into state sector at 7 or 11.

Dozer Fri 09-Nov-12 20:08:32

dfe in england will presumably say it's down to local discretion. In scotland the government direct schools to allow families to do this.

hawthers Fri 09-Nov-12 20:15:27

Ahh fuck it, I'm moving to the outer hebrides grin

cansu Fri 09-Nov-12 20:19:01

I have a friend who did this. She wrote directly to the head of the council enclosing her supporting statements from consultants etc and it was agreed. I think if you start from the position of negotiating with individual heads you may struggle as the lea really don't like this and will avoid at all costs. I managed to get dd to repeat reception due to her sen and I am sure it was the right decision for her. It wasn't easy and there were lots of rumblings about how it was against policy but it was eventually agreed, mainly I think to get me to shut up and go away !

Dozer Fri 09-Nov-12 20:23:01

Hawthers, if you have support from doctors etc it may work out! In your shoes I would ask for the local authority's written policy on entry out of age group (they will have one, just usually not published) and use a freedom-of-information request to ask how many children have been admitted out of age group in the authority in the each of the last 10 years. Then submit a written request for deferred admission, with written support from everyone you can get!

Or find a local school that is its own admissions authority and get an appointment with the head.

(but I'm pushy).

Mandy21 Fri 09-Nov-12 20:26:33

Hope you get the answers you want. I know you said you've already made up your mind, but just wanted to flag another point - my DS does lots of sport and the teams are always "the Under 7s" or "under 8s" - and if they're playing in tournaments etc, there is no budging from those rules. I know extra-cirriculum activities are a minor issue compared with education etc, but I think if it were my son, he would question why he wasn't allowed to be with his classmates. Just a consideration, I'm sure you've considered all aspects of the decision.

My twins were 12+ weeks early - born 21st April but weren't due until 15 July, so it didn't affect their school year. My experience and I know its only hearsay - age is only one factor in how settled / how well children do in reception. Its to do with confidence, personality, familiarity with the school / other children, confidence of the parents etc.

anniebunny Fri 09-Nov-12 20:28:35

A friend's son was in this situation this year- born end of Aug so should have started Reception this Septempber. The head teacher agreed with his mother's wishes and he is staying in nursery for another year, then joining the reception/year 1 class next September then the year 1/2 class the year after. After that they plan to re-integrate him into the year he 'should' be in by this birthdate (so he will go into year 3 with the rest of the current reception class). This only works due to the nursery being part of the school (not run by another company as with every other nursery locally), the mixed year group classes that the school has AND that the reception class was undersubscribed this year for the first time in over ten years. Also school is an acadamy to more free to do as it wishes.

I have mixed feelings about it- my twins were born in June but are/were very young for their age and weren't at all ready for reception. At the time they would have been much better staying in nursery for another year. HOWEVER I really struggle to think how they would have rejoined 'their' year group later (only just catching up now and are year 6) and I'm not sure what would happen with the change to secondary if they remain in the 'wrong' year group. And they have caught up, but it has taken a long time. I also think about my DD who is year 2 now and and how she would have coped (as a bright, mature member of her class) if she had had to suddenly be part of the class above- she would have struggled, how much more would a child who was behind to start with?

Not very helpful probably but just to say that clearly it is possible for a child to stay in nursery for an extra year!

hawthers Fri 09-Nov-12 21:44:55

Sorry again to the lovely posters giving positive stories. Just had DMIL and DM and other assorted relatives and any other random nosey twat who finds out about DS1's birth saying DS1 is fine, on loop for 3 years giving all sorts of anecdotal evidence of acrobats, neuro scientists, Nobel laureates, Olympic champions who were 1g when born etc etc etc.

As his mum I deeply feel that he shouldn't need to struggle and catch up. V emotive as I feel its my fault.

DH reckons we should just lie about hid birth date... hmm that won't work, will it?

NigellaTufnel Fri 09-Nov-12 22:10:38

Of course it's not your fault! Please don't beat yourself up.

Your natural reaction is to defer. But please consider the move to senior school. It could be a source of seven years of worry

NigellaTufnel Fri 09-Nov-12 22:11:12

And no, lying won't work!

homebythesea Fri 09-Nov-12 22:15:06

But the point is there is no struggle to catch up- none at all (again with the proviso of no additional health issues). Your DC will catch up naturally. Yes it may mean the first year is a bit more difficult but really you should take comfort from all our stories that by the time they are settled in at school the prem babies really are fine and as others have said the system is inflexible when it comes to dropping back a year.

EyeoftheStorm Fri 09-Nov-12 22:29:45

It's not your fault - definitely not your fault.

I know how irritating well-meaning relatives can be and I felt exactly the same when people sent me newspaper cuttings about amazing prem babies who'd gone on to sporting triumph or academic achievement.

But the thing is we've walked in your shoes, we know what it's like. I waited 2 years for DC3 to start walking and talking. It's all a bonus from there.

Fight for that delayed start if that's what you think is the best thing for your child. From other posters, it sounds like it could be a real possibility.

EyeoftheStorm Fri 09-Nov-12 22:38:40

Just realised most people wait 2 years for their DCs to walk and talk - should have said we thought he had brain damage from grade 3 IVH. Makes more sense.

hawthers Sat 10-Nov-12 09:46:49

home why do you say there is no struggle to catch up? From what I can see there is.

DS1 was the size of a 26 week old baby at 31 weeks and spent four months in intensive care. I know everything is a bonus after that but why should he have more to deal with than he needs to.

Re posters saying about sport and exam tables, he would only be 5 days older than the oldest possible child in the younger year so surely those children wouldn't be excluded from sport or warp exam results. I don't understand how that would be a consideration.

DoverBeach Sat 10-Nov-12 10:08:58

I am absolutely with you hawthers and I wish you the best of luck with this process. The Bliss website has some good advice to help you.

EBDTeacher Sat 10-Nov-12 10:15:30

If you can find a way to afford it I think a small 3-18 private school that is in need of bums on seats would be an answer. No need to worry then about secondary transfer. My DS is late Aug and I was going to do this if I didn't think he would be ok in his year actually I think he will be because he's a massive great bruiser.

NigellaTufnel Sat 10-Nov-12 10:29:59

The 5-18 school is a great idea.

The exam point is that although your DS would only be 5 days older the cut off for exam boards will be 1st September. So if the school is concerned with league tables, or is just inflexible, they will bump your DS up a year at 11.
It won't be your decision.
It will be whoever is in charge of the school at that time.
So I would talk to the secondary to see what its position is now. It may change though

Saracen Sat 10-Nov-12 10:38:41

@survival: "I work for our LA and their stand is that children have to start school in the 'correct' year group."

Then I'm afraid your LA is breaking the law in having such a policy. See the School Admission Code:

"2.17 Admission of children outside their normal age group - 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, informing parents of their statutory
right to appeal."

The word "must" (emphasis in original document) means this is a statutory requirement, not just a recommendation to Local Authorities.

Unfortunately I think that the reiquirement to treat each case on its individual merits is rather hollow in practice. Try pointing out this requirement to an LA and they may say, in effect, "Er. Right. We'll consider this case individually then... (pause) No, we've decided your child belongs with his age peers." An argument could always be made that this decision is correct. An LA which is fundamentally opposed to placing children outside of their year group is likely to push that agenda, and to succeed most of the time.

Kewcumber Sat 10-Nov-12 10:48:31

How old is DS Hawthers?

My DS was a 26 week premmie (less than a kilo) and he didn't reach appropriate milestones until he was 4 so you may find that you want to wait a year or so before deciding whether to try the unequal struggle to defer him.

FWIW DS was just fine starting school (now in yr 2) and apart form some minor language delay is doing fine. Mind you, he had an earlier EDD than your DS so maybe that makes a difference.

I think its worth a try provided you accept that its not likely you will get him placed outside his year group. It is however possible and I do know a child who (for differnt reasons) successfully moved to a different year group. However they managed to convince local authority, head teacher and governors.

Kewcumber Sat 10-Nov-12 10:51:15

Just had DMIL and DM and other assorted relatives and any other random nosey twat who finds out about DS1's birth saying DS1 is fine, on loop for 3 years giving all sorts of anecdotal evidence of acrobats, neuro scientists, Nobel laureates, Olympic champions who were 1g when born etc etc etc.

grin yup been there! Particularly annoying that he has now caught up (and may yet be an Olympic champion if you believe him)

LeBFG Sat 10-Nov-12 11:43:41

OP, you don't seem to be worried about any specific delay. It seems to me that the main issue is age?

I've no experience of primary schools but many of my friends say there is huge variation in reception and Y1 - in terms of accomplishments (reading/writing) as well as maturity. Lump in the fact there will almost certainly be term-born children with SEN issues, it isn't a given that your DS will in any way suffer because of his age.

I have no recollection at all of being aware of my age relative to others in my year group. Do DC compare each other like that?

Obviously, if it's very important to you, the 5-18 school idea is a great suggestion. But clearly, if you fight to get DS into a state primary, the secondary transistion might be a bomb waiting to happen. Tred very carefully. Be very clear about what you want to achieve and why.

If your DS really does catch up, he will be very old (in terms of maturity and accomplishments) for his year group. This might pose other problems wrt fitting in?

tiggytape Sat 10-Nov-12 11:56:58

On the basis of age alone you are very, very unlikely to succeed. If you ask for him to be kept back a year based only on the fact that he was born in August but due in October, no state school is going to agree to this (many private schools are very flexible on this issue though).

If you have a body of evidence outlining special needs and medical support stating that he should be kept back a year, you may have more of a chance. The evidence would need to be very convincing and the medical opinion explicit in saying that additional support wouldn't be enough, he needs to be held back. Whether you could get a specialist to be this specific depends on the nature of any delay and their opinion on how the school could help.

And as others have said, if you do succeed in getting medical backing and winning your case with the school or LA, you will want to get reassurance about future school transfers so that he is not forced to skip Year 6 and go straight to secondary school which would be a disaster. This may mean commiting yourself to staying in one area for the rest of his education since if you move the assurances might not apply elsewhere.

On the positive side though, schools do offer in year support for children of wildly different developmental and academic stages. They will support him at his level wherever that may be when he starts and although he will be a year younger than the oldest in the class, he won't be the only Summer baby there and probably not the only premature baby either. Teaching children of that level takes into account they can differ in levels by much more than 12 months.

homebythesea Sat 10-Nov-12 13:38:27

Hawthers- it was not a STRUGGLE. She did stuff late but at 4 she was to all intents and purposes the same as her classmates in every way except size. At no point was anything more difficult for her to achieve- just later and the lateness got less noticeable as time went by. So for example she didn't walk until nearly 2, potty training till she was 3, fine motor eg holding a pencil was a bit trickier. But as others have said there will, statistically, be full term babies with similar if not worse issues when starting Reception and each issue will be identified and dealt with appropriately. I think at some stage you do need to kind if forget the fact the child was born in difficult circumstances and accept that whilst things may come more slowly, they will come. At 11 you would have no idea my daughter weighed 2lb at birth- no idea at all.

And private schools are not necessarily more relaxed about out of year kids- it's to do with league tables whic matter to the private sector as well. Socially it could be disastrous for your child to be jumped a year later so this should be a massive issue for you.

Kewcumber Sat 10-Nov-12 13:52:55

On the positive side though, schools do offer in year support for children of wildly different developmental and academic stages

This too and how good the reception teacher is. Our reception class had children with birthdays on 1 Sept and 31 August, DS who was a 26 week premmie with institutional delays on top and a couple of other children who had additional needs more significant than DS's. Excellent teacher = no significant problems for any of them in starting school and learning in line with expectations.

teacherwith2kids Sat 10-Nov-12 14:23:59

I have in my current class a child who is educated 'out of year' (his age puts him in the year above).

He has been 'properly' (ie officially with the LEA) moved into my class, so would transfer to the next school still out of year.

HOWEVER, this child has very, very significant additional needs, to the extent that his move will not be to the next school but to a special school. We are talking physical and sensory impairments, plus very significnt additional learning needs (educationally, they function most like a pre-school child, so 5 years below chronological age, and making very small amounts of progress each year so falling further and further behind as they grow older).

Even with this level of need, we had to work very hard for the LEA to officially hold this child down for a year. For a child without such significant impairment this would not happen (the other statemented child in my class has ASD and works 3+ years below chronological age but would not be considered for being educated outside his normal year group, the statementing process and the full-time support given within it is regarded as sufficient to retain him in the normal age group).

I would say that if you genuinely believe that your child will struggle and needs to be kept down a year, then you need to go down the 'significant SEN' route, not the 'age' route. You should also remember that the difference in age becomes proportionately less important as the years go by - what seems a HUGE gap at 3 - 1/3 of a child's life - and still large at 5 - 1/5 of the child's life - is often completely unobservable (and overtaken by other factors such as SEN, parental support, natural aptitude) at 8 or 10.

SmoothOperandus Sat 10-Nov-12 16:31:42

DS was born 13 weeks prematurely and he's in Y4 now. He would have been in the year below had he not been premature. He has been top of the class ever since nursery, no academic problems whatsoever. Keep a close eye on your ds but don't assume there will be any issues because of his prematurity. I think that if you delay entry, things could get messy at secondary level if at state school. Good luck!

crazymum53 Sun 11-Nov-12 20:13:33

I do know a family who deferred school entry for their dd who was born late August with severe SEN (but not premature). They had statement of SEN and agreement with both the school and LEA. Secondary transfer not an issue here as she moved to a special school.
I would apply at the normal time though and obtain another assessment in the Summer to make sure that the doctors still agree that this is appropriate. There is also information on the Bliss website about how premature birth affects school.
My dd was born 13 weeks early (did not affect school year group) and she made loads of progress between the ages of 3 and 4 years going from below age-group level to above average at pre-school.
Am afraid I don't agree with your statement "it seems barmy to push him along in the wrong school year where he will always struggle." Yes it was a struggle for dd at a young age, but dd did reach expected levels across all development areas from age 5 onwards and now (aged 13) there is no indication that she was premature at all.

Dozer Sun 11-Nov-12 20:39:02

The Institute of Fiscal Studies published some research on this. It doesn't bear out the "it'll all be fine, stop worrying" argument, it suggests that being young in the year is offen a significant disadvantage, even when parents and schools compensate with extra support. And that is looking at NT DC.

IMO people just say not to worry because their own DC have (so far) been OK and done well (which is obviously good, but doesn't mean it will be the same for others, in fact the evidence suggests not); or because they really want it to be OK (because admitting it isn't would make them feel bad/guilty) ; or think it'll be too stressful/futile to challenge the status quo (which is v v hard to do).

It is easier for them to try to get you to shut up (and portray you as over-anxious, pushy or whatever) than deal with the risks facing their DC and the inflexible state system.

saracen my understanding is that the right of appeal mentioned is only to the LA, not an independent authority, eg the schools adjudicator?

tiggytape Sun 11-Nov-12 22:04:05

Dozer - many people's experience is that things are O.K but of course even if research categorically showed it was a potentially huge disadvantage, this wouldn't be very helpful because there's nothing you can do about it.

Sure some people are campaigning for changes, but within the current system there is little or no flexibility to hold your child back a year purely based on month of birth and, no matter where you draw the line, somebody somewhere has to be the youngest in every class.

Dozer Sun 11-Nov-12 22:57:07

It's true that under the current arrangements there's not a lot families can do, but IMO it adds insult to injury when people argue that it's not a problem, when it often is.

In Scotland (government has more money per head to spend than in england) there is flexibility and parents decide.

LeBFG Mon 12-Nov-12 08:22:24

Even aside from prematurity issues or other SEN problems, the UK school system has always favoured grouping pupils by age. The rational I guess is that even if academically there is an unequal outcome wrt birth date, other potentially worse problems are avoided. I'm thinking in particular about maturity particularly in the teenage years. Although I find it hard to believe primary level kids are comparing ages, I could easily imagine this would happen at secondary level - I could imagine there would be a stigma attached to the child who was by far the oldest in the class.

homebythesea Mon 12-Nov-12 08:45:24

Honestly kids don't take any notice of each others ages- it's school year that matters. They may be vaguely aware of when their friends birthdays are but it has no significance. There's plenty of other sources of stigma!!

homebythesea Mon 12-Nov-12 08:50:49

Dozer- whilst I am prepared to accept that being v young for the year (by virtue of prematurity or being born at 2355 on August 31) could mean the child is challenged at the outset of their education. However the point is surely that by the time they move on through the age differential becomes less and less apparent until it disappears. If you look at a group of 11 year olds who will be at different stages of growth, development and maturity you would have no idea where each lies in the age range of their class.

There is support available in the classroom for strugglers and keeping them back could have worse implications later. This is the point most are making.

CelticPromise Mon 12-Nov-12 08:52:31

Marking place to read and respond. I have a 27 week DS born end of August, we are attempting the same thing.

LeBFG Mon 12-Nov-12 09:49:47

I see your point homebythesea, but I think the point is being made that in spite of a lot of mixing of different abilities etc and over time differences becoming less apparent, there is still a trend that younger children in a year group do less well. This is only a trend. Not ALL young ones do less well. Not ALL older ones do better.

I agree with the general UK policy that, even in the event that a premmie does less well as a result of age, it matters more that they are with peers of their own age rather than ability. I think this matters much more when children are reaching sexually maturity.

Schools are already equipped to help with SEN pupils and pupils that fall behind have lots of opportunities/support to catch up. Perhaps this is what OP could focus on? Making sure that, in the eventuality her DS struggles, what support systems are in place to ensure he keeps up with the rest.

hawthers Mon 12-Nov-12 11:18:06

But surely that supports the idea that he should go into the academic year of his edd? He'll be emotionally, socially and sexually less mature than his peers as the absolute youngest of his year.

I'm not suggesting he goes back several years just into the year he should have been born in. I wouldn't be considering it if he was premature and in the same school year as his due date. The issue is he summer born and for the sake of a week or so, he is in this position.

All advice gratefully received. Just trying to do the best thing!

CelticPromise Mon 12-Nov-12 11:18:35

There are parents who have managed to do this OP. Bliss may be able to put you in touch with some. There is also a Bliss supporter who has had some success in persuading his LEA to alter their admissions code and is looking to take the campaign further. Info on the Bliss facebook page.

I agree that it's important to get the HT onside. Have you spoken to your LEA? Mine told me to clear it with HT first, but that may be because our preferred school is a VA school not a community school. Private is absolutely out for us.

HT of my preferred school has advised me to apply this year and discuss flexibility once we have a place. Although she has made the right noises I am not convinced she'll be supportive so I will be sending a letter and supporting evidence with the application making it very clear what we want ( other options have been mentioned eg two years in reception, a longer period of half days).

Like yours, my DS has been incredibly fortunate not to have specific long term problems, but he is very immature even for his corrected age. It's not just about his ability to learn, he is behind socially and emotionally, can't follow instructions, is nowhere near potty training and needs lots of help to eat lunch. He has much more in common with the two year olds at his pre school than with the other school applicants.

LeBFG the thing is, the kids in the year below are my DS's age. He didn't get a head start by being three months prem, quite the opposite. He won't be reaching sexual maturity any earlier because of his early birth!

CelticPromise Mon 12-Nov-12 11:28:07

There are parents who have managed to do this OP. Bliss may be able to put you in touch with some. There is also a Bliss supporter who has had some success in persuading his LEA to alter their admissions code and is looking to take the campaign further. Info on the Bliss facebook page.

I agree that it's important to get the HT onside. Have you spoken to your LEA? Mine told me to clear it with HT first, but that may be because our preferred school is a VA school not a community school. Private is absolutely out for us.

HT of my preferred school has advised me to apply this year and discuss flexibility once we have a place. Although she has made the right noises I am not convinced she'll be supportive so I will be sending a letter and supporting evidence with the application making it very clear what we want ( other options have been mentioned eg two years in reception, a longer period of half days).

Like yours, my DS has been incredibly fortunate not to have specific long term problems, but he is very immature even for his corrected age. It's not just about his ability to learn, he is behind socially and emotionally, can't follow instructions, is nowhere near potty training and needs lots of help to eat lunch. He has much more in common with the two year olds at his pre school than with the other school applicants.

LeBFG the thing is, the kids in the year below are my DS's age. He didn't get a head start by being three months prem, quite the opposite. He won't be reaching sexual maturity any earlier because of his early birth!

CelticPromise Mon 12-Nov-12 11:29:02

Oops sorry for double post. I thought the first one failed.

LeBFG Mon 12-Nov-12 11:29:28

It's a debate about being the oldest in the year verses the youngest.

I would worry more if my DS was the oldest - he is likely to mature sooner than his class mates, sexually and in other respects. I would fear he would stand out as being older and thus identified as being a 'bit thick' or needing extra help by the adolescent years.

CelticPromise Mon 12-Nov-12 12:09:07

Ah I see what you mean. I do worry about that, but my DS isn't likely to be the biggest or mature fastest. Looking at it from the other side, he'll be the first one who can drive or buy a pint if he goes into the year below.

It depends on the child, I think I'd like to see more flexibility in the system in general.

Kethryveris Mon 12-Nov-12 12:24:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Kethryveris Mon 12-Nov-12 12:25:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

homebythesea Mon 12-Nov-12 12:51:14

hawthers the point I was trying to make was that in terms of maturity, size etc you would have no idea when in the year any child in a particular year was born when they get to say age 11. They grow and mature so differently. You will ALWAYS have children potentially 364 days older in a class whatever the cut off is - it is a necessary function of a system. It would be chaos if we could effectively choose when our kids started school. And I remain sceptical that there is any statistical proof that August born kids do significantly worse at GCSE, A level or Degree levels

MustafaCake Mon 12-Nov-12 13:09:34

One of DS's classmates was a 27 week Summer born premmie. He's still a tiny wee boy but has done fantastically well in reception and now in year one. He's in the most challenging/able groups for both numeracy and literacy (DS's school splits the class for these subjects due to the huge range in ability).

His Mum had huge reservations about sending him to school in the "correct" year as he seemed quite "babyish". However, she said that the school has been fab and reassured her that they would work together to ensure he got whatever support he needed. She told me she assumed he'd struggle due to his age/prematurity and was anticipating loads of problems - in actual fact he had none at all bar the usual "starting school probs" - getting tired, strugging a bit with playtime etc.

School did say that if he struggled they could do half days, Jan start etc but he did not need that.

So maybe just see how your son gets on at school and deal with any issues as they arise?

gelo Mon 12-Nov-12 13:38:17

homebythesea - As you are sceptical, here is the link to the ifs study dozer mentioned. It found August born children about 5.5/6.1% (girls/boys) less likely to meet KS4 threshold (5A*-C grade GCSEs) than their September born peers.
Differences at A level too, but not so pronounced as that's only the ones that have opted to stay in full time education (obviously the August borns are less likely to have met the academic requirements to have stayed on to begin with).

jellybeans Mon 12-Nov-12 15:23:39

My twins made the year above also as they were slightly prem. They also had problems and global delays \possible autism. However they went to school as I felt it would help their speech, school had a therapist in often. Also worried about the social aspects of being in the ' wrong year' or missing reception As it happened they did OK although it was a massive disadvantage at first. They caught up later on about year 2 or 3. I do wish they had been born later though some times and made their proper year!

homebythesea Mon 12-Nov-12 15:48:27

gelo thank you for that.

Dozer Mon 12-Nov-12 18:22:06

The system seems to work fine in Scotland. And think the oldest are more likely to be advantaged (eg in terms of sport, performing, academically etc) rather than face stigma.

LeBFG Mon 12-Nov-12 19:06:06

How can anyone know when DC are young how quickly they'll start maturing? I feel we can only look at averages and the spread. As homebythesea says, the variation within year groups can be quite large.

If we are deciding whether it's best to be very old or very young for an age group, I guess it would depend on the school. In the sort of comp I went to, young = babish and would have been pretty tough. In the school my DH went to, young (i.e. jumped up a year) = bright, so been more revered. Also, age issues cut both ways, being old might mean others in his year group treat him well, but he might feel he has more in common with the year above.

So complex! I can see why the system is quite strict in England.

gelo Mon 12-Nov-12 21:45:20

The problem with the Scottish system is that you end up with an age range of about 18 months or more in each class instead of just a year. Which means the very youngest are even more disadvantaged, the oldest even more advantaged and the teachers have an even bigger ability range to teach.

homebythesea Mon 12-Nov-12 21:57:18

Totally agree gelo which is why the system is inflexibke

hawthers Tue 13-Nov-12 10:03:20

I can see those points and I'm not suggesting a general free for all in deciding which year to go into. But I do think that my DS1 should have been born in Oct so should go into that school year.

No doubt if he doesn't he will 'catch up' but if you put any Oct born child in the upper year then they would also do ok eventually. You could probably put a Dec born child in the previous year and it would probably work out ok in the end. Doesn't mean you should do it though and also doesn't mean the child might not have a shit time of it being the smallest and latest to do things (yes I know this is not necessarily the case but they will be statistically more likely to be as the youngest).

So its all very nice having the debate about what should be done in the education system but having seen him fight for his life and spend 10% of his life in intensive care, forgive me for trying to give him the appropriate start at school.

I am interested in all opinions but I'd be interested to know the background to those opinions I.e. parent of a premature baby (and whether they are summer born), doctor, teacher

EyeoftheStorm Tue 13-Nov-12 12:01:06

Hawthers the application for primary school came on Friday and I have to say I had a bit of a wobble. I burst into tears on Sunday when I had to tell DS2 off for something and I'm quite strict and have never done that before, never even come close.

He is a July baby born at 30 weeks with extra complications including brain surgery at 5 months. He is my third, my baby. I had PTSD and needed counselling when he was 18 months old. There won't be any more babies for me and he has been through so much and will live with hydrocephalus and a VP shunt for the rest of his life.

But what is it I want for him? I want him to be resilient, to take bites out of life. I don't want him to feel different because he was premature.

My DH would say that sometimes I see problems where there aren't any. That I'm worrying about things before they have even happened. That I shouldn't underestimate our son.

I think what I'm saying is that if I thought I could delay DS2's school year easily I would. But if it was hard, if it threw me back to all the stress and worry of his birth and the unfairness of it all, I don't think that would be very good for DS2.

Perhaps there is a middle road - where DS2 starts school without delay, with his teachers and the school aware of my worries and concern, with an extra effort to bolster him if any problems come up. But not to expect them. To expect that everyone will love him because he looks like a red-headed milky bar kid and he's funny and gregarious. That he might surprise me and be that genius/sports star that everyone bloody well told me he might be <pulls out her hair>

hawthers Tue 13-Nov-12 12:06:39

Aw thanks eye (having a little weep)!

I guess I'm just worried about him and want him to be ok. Just had first feedback from his preschool and it sent me into a bit of a tailspin. I think we'll have to end up leaving him in year and see how he gets on. It just riles me though.

LeBFG Tue 13-Nov-12 12:54:28

Well, my background is a mum off 33 weeker, plus I used to teach (secondary). I have the opposite feeling to you OP that I want to forget his prematurity, I want him to make his own way in the world as himself, not as a 'premmie'. We are looking forward to his 24 exam to hopefully finally drop the corrected-age business and have him declared as having 'caught up'.

I can understand others wanting to be more protective and I don't judge them. I do question it wrt school entry age however (there was another thread on this a while back and unfortunately it didn't end well for OP). This is an emotive subject!

I live in France and the pressure I'm getting is to start DS at school from 3 years (or sooner!), so I have other reasons to be getting worried and stressed. Parenting is like that though, isn't it?

hawthers Tue 13-Nov-12 13:24:41

Thanks leBFG I have found it very hard to forget what happened to him. There are constant physical reminders so its not that easy.

I know that there are polar views on this which is why I asked for experience of doing it rather than if it is the right thing to do. I have pointed this out up thread as I don't want this to turn into an argument.

You don't mention whether your child's prematurity puts them in a different school year to their edd. I am following the advice of our two neonatal consultants who I am sure would not recommend this in all cases but have for us. My DS1 had not 'caught' up by 2 which is why they are recommending it.

Right sorry but I'm not going to go into the ins and outs of why I want to do it anymore, I just do ok so experiences please anyone. (am involved in Bliss so have that covered off but wanted to get other experience not covered by them).

LeBFG Tue 13-Nov-12 13:27:11

I see your point hawthers.

gelo Tue 13-Nov-12 13:50:07

Well dd was 1 month prem and born in Aug not Sept. She was privately educated in the younger year group and with hindsight while some aspects have worked out well for her others haven't and I don't think I'd choose the same path again, though you can never tell how things would have been if you'd done the other. That said she wasn't ever very behind developmentally and could have been OK in either year. I think the amount of support given at home far outweighs any advantage/disadvantage of being old/young in the school year.

awhistlingwoman Tue 13-Nov-12 14:21:51

Hello Hawthers,

My DD2 was one of twins born at 23+4 on the 26th of August. Sadly we lost her sister at three days old to complications of prematurity.

I attempted to get my daughter delayed. I did NOT want a deferral or staggered entry as one of the major areas of concern is socialising and I didn't feel she would benefit from being a late arrival to a class who already knew one another or from missing out of her reception year. I had the full backing of her paediatrician, she has never been discharged from neonatology as yet and a letter was written to the school stating the facts of the case.

I was not successful so she went to school in September. Obviously I can't predict the future so perhaps all of her issues will 'come out in the wash' but I would say that they are currently trying to teach a child who is still in nappies and whose speech they cannot understand to write a cursive hand. The whole set up strikes me as bizarre.

I would definitely echo those who have advised you to contact Bliss. I would also advise you to read the admissions policy very closely (this is where I went wrong!) as provision has most likely been made for cases of wanting to educate outside of year of birth but the school may either not know, or neglect to inform you, of this. DON'T let them tell you they can't go over the PAN and that accepting your son will mean they need to employ another teacher or that you will need a statement of SEN first. Check against policy!

Meet with the head teacher as soon as you can as it seems that it is often their decision. The head teacher of my daughter's smallish infant school has been in available to me for nearly a year now. In fact, I am supposed to be having my first meeting with her this evening! Won't hold my breath though!

Also - minor aside but something I never thought of doing, if your little bit has reactive airways and vomits as a result of coughing you might need to get a doctor's note. A lot of school's have 48 hour no return policies and, if your little one chucks up in the playground, you will have to take them home again even if not contagious. And you may then get served with a RED attendance warning as I just have been.

Apologies for the long rant. I do think that the consequences of extreme prematurity and the brain damage that frequently results from it are not yet thoroughly understood. I understand that somebody has to be the oldest and the youngest but my daughter should have been born on the 19th of December and, biologically, she is no older than if she had been. You don't do a great deal of developing when you can't breathe or feed on your own, when you have sepsis and brain bleeds and your kidneys are packing up. Funny that.

As I see it, I'm not trying to delay her a year, the school system are trying to ACCELERATE her by a year. And I can think of better candidates than my gorgeous DD2 who has been forced to do everything in her whole little life before she is ready and is often physically incapable of achieving what is asked of her.

Good luck and pm me if I can help in anyway smile

awhistlingwoman Tue 13-Nov-12 14:23:49

She's been unavailable. Not in available!

BarbecuedBillygoats Tue 13-Nov-12 14:28:20

I have a dd who was due after the new school year but was born at the beginning of August

I went through this whole debate at the time (she's now 6). There are posts on here (and I think bliss though they've revamped) In the end we decided to send her with her actual age group

A decision I regret

Ill try and post more when I'm not on my phone

tiggytape Tue 13-Nov-12 14:32:11

hawthers - I think the advice you have received so far about getting medical opinion in writing that this is a necessary move not just something you as parents prefer is important. As is the advice to be cautious about the knock-on effect for secondary transfer and the dangers of being forced to skip Year 6 and the need to make sure any agreement will last her whole education.

As you probably know, it is considered on a case by case basis but some LAs are so reluctant to allow it that in practice, they won’t approve this no matter how much of a case the parents present. A friend's DD is at private school because our LA is one that seemingly has a blanket ban. She was 10 weeks prem and due September so her edd and birthday also cross that September 1st divide. She has associated delays and difficulties as a result but her parents had no success in getting the council to shift. The LA maintain her needs, all needs due to this issue in fact, can be met in the correct year group for her age with extra help offered as required.

The private school allowed her to go into the year of her edd not the year of her birth date but the problem her parents now face is private secondary school fees are astronomical compared to prep school and they'd like to be able to apply for good state options but cannot get around the fact that the state schools won't accept her in her current year group and will make her skip a year. I think they are preparing to try again since it will be an issue very soon but they feel resigned to trying to find the money to stay private which is a big burden.

All the other people I know in the same situation didn’t go private, didn’t succeed in getting held back a year (those that wanted to – not everyone did) and accepted their allocated year even if they weren't happy initially. You've probably had a lot of reassurance that things will be O.K not because people are questioning your decision but because, it isn’t your decision to make and the chances are you may not be allowed to do this They are trying to be reassuring that it isn’t the end of the world if you get turned down because, in most areas, this is the likely outcome. That’s not to say give up though. Present your case with as much backing as you can and even if you fail, you can definitely insist they meet each of her needs once at school no matter what year group she's in.

Yes, my son was born at 28 weeks in August 2008, he was due to be born by C-Section on 3rd November 2008, and spent 4 months in SCBU. He is still having out patient consultant appointments and has Chronic Lung Disease and Restrictive Airway Syndrome.

He would have started school this September with the rest of his nursery class, however, due to time off from illness, the school and I have decided to let him start in January after the Christmas Holidays.

The first thing you have to do is peak to the Head of the school where you want them to attend. You should find that they will be helpful. The issue is, I suppose, that there is nothing really in place by Government legislation for prem children. I asked Michael Gove MP through Bliss to explain why there is no mention of premature children and their corrected ages, and what is and isn't acceptable within school admissions- I always feel there is leeway for other reasons but the premmies get forgotten- but he laughed off my question and said if he made excuses for one group of children, everyone would want an excuse to delay admission for their child too (what a tosser).

Its your child, and you know whether or not they could reasonably "handle" a ful school day and everything that would entail. My school (my dd is already in year 1 and ds (the premmie) is at nursery there too) allow children with SEN or health needs to start off on half days. They do expect to Statement my Child though. Purely because the head worries I could end up in court for him having bad attendance otherwise.

The other issue is whether the school will be willing to read up a bit on your child's illness so they know what to look out for. I'm lucky again in that the Heads two dds have similar health issues. The thing is, with my ds, you'd look at him and think he was a-ok, he doesn't look ill unless he is very bad, but you'd not look at him and think "that child has ongoing health problems" at all.

Its all about talking things through. That's my advice.

teacherwith2kids Tue 13-Nov-12 15:58:21

A practical point:

I don't know what school options are available to you locally? One setting that might work particularly well for you would be a small school with mixed age classes including a Nursery / Reception mixed class. I know of several such schools, and they might work well for you for the following reasons:
- A mixed Nursery / Reception class would enable your son to have the 'Nursery' education that you feel he needs even when technically in the Reception class (he need not join it until he is eligable for Reception, but he would have that environment available to him for a further year IYSWIM).
- Schools with mixed-age classes are used to dealing with a more extreme range in ability and age.
- More children have the experience of being oldest / middle / youngest rather than 'always being the youngest' - so on first arriving in a Yr 1 / 2 class, even the oldest in Year 1 is only 'in the middle', and when moving into Year 2, the youngest child in that year will have the experience of being 'in the middle' in their turn.

I would also say that if forced to start school at the 'right' time for his actual day of birth, then you might want to look for a school with significant SEN experience. I work in a school where we have nearly 1/3 of children on the SEN register at any time, and where extreme ability ranges are the norm (I currently have a single year class, but the ability span covers from 'typical for a 3 year old' to 'typical of a 9 year old', so 6 years' worth of developmental stages in 1 classroom). My children's school is very different - SEN is rare and there is a much more 'compact' range of abilities in each class. It is likely that your child's specific needs - should he have them by the time he starts school - would be much better met where he is not at the extremes of the overall range but well within it IYSWIM, and where issues and problems would be very proactively and sensitively dealt with.

CelticPromise Tue 13-Nov-12 16:26:17

hawthers as we are going through the same process would you like to support/share experiences? Have you chosen a preferred school yet?

CelticPromise Tue 13-Nov-12 16:32:24

whistling your situation with attendance sounds ridiculous! How frustrating.

I agree with you about socialising, I really don't want my son to spend two years in reception no matter how much like a nursery it is, because he'll have to start again with relationships and that will be hard for him. I don't want special treatment for him, I just want him to be with kids that are truly his own age. Surely it is in the interests of the school too- if he goes a year later he will need less support.

fatfingers Tue 13-Nov-12 16:54:55

No advice really Hawthers but I just wanted to say I understand exactly what you are saying.

My dd2 was born 17 weeks early in July instead of October so she had to start school a year before she should have. This is not the same as being a summer birthday and it annoys me when people compare. I considered holding her back but everyone put me off, saying she was ok, LA would not agree it, etc.

She HAS struggled to fit into a system that makes little provision for children who are not emotionally ready to be in the year group they are pushed into. She was only just toilet trained when she started reception, she receives support at school because she couldn't even hold a pencil properly when she started, couldn't identify letters or numbers. She should have been a child starting nursery, not reception. She is making progress and the school are very good with her to be fair but she lacks confidence, which I do not believe is helped by always having to "catch up" and do things 6 months before she is really ready.

I wish you the best of luck if you decide to apply to the LA. Whatever the outcome, I am sure that your dc will be fine but I do understand where you are coming from, especially re the "so and so was born at 12 weeks weighing 2 oz and is now 6ft and a brain surgeon" analogies.

awhistlingwoman Tue 13-Nov-12 18:25:47

grin fatfingers there won't be sufficient demand for all the 6ft tall brain surgeons / captains of the rugby team / university professors that we are going to raise!

Reading your description of your little girl just made my heart ache, she sounds so similar to my little girl (another born at 23 weeks no?) It really isn't the same as just having a summer birthday is it? I tried to explain to the school that they wouldn't exactly be opening the flood gates as there just aren't a vast number of children surviving at each early gestations. And that she wasn't going great guns learning to roll over and so on because she arrived early. She isn't 'ahead' - sadly. She spent the first three months of her life in intensive care! Then more hospital! Then more attached to gas cylinders. She wasn't sitting independently at one. She wasn't speaking at two and a half.

Like your daughter, I'm hopeful that she will make progress and get there in the end. But I so worried that she will lose her confidence along the way. I try and bolster her up when she says 'I can't do it" and things like that but it is so hard when they are always desperately trying to catch up.

celtic it made me see red! The problem is that she will run around and around until she's coughing and then she throws up. Even my best strategic buggy parking doesn't always cover it up and then we get sent back home again confused

fellowship Michael Gove angry and I'll probably also end up in court at this rate.

butterfingerz Wed 14-Nov-12 17:44:51

My daughter was prem by 6 weeks, she was born very end of August but was due 10th October. She's is reception year now. However, she was fine when she was born, no medical or development issues.... if anything, shes developed really well and is very sociable. She could be a bit more mature emotionally but overall is enjoying school. She's just started learning to read, and is amazing both me and her teacher.

Funnily enough, though her preschool was an absolutely lovely place with fantastic staff, she enjoys school far more than preschool. Maybe theres more stimulation, more potential friends (year group of 60) and she particularly likes having a year 6 'buddy'.

It depends on both your child and the school. Her school has an unusually enriching curriculum, she does french, dance + drama with a local theatre school, music, they go to church weekly... compared to another local school that focuses mainly on the three r's in reception.

Your DD was much more prem than mine, and has perhaps been affected far more... even I was really apprehensive about my DD starting school, having that 'prematurity' factor does add so much more worry to that starting school period, when it should be something to be excited about.

ditherers Wed 14-Nov-12 18:26:09

This seems so backwards. In Scotland March 1st is the cut off date - so March kids are the oldest. The decisions are placed with parents. Jan and Feb birthdays get to defer no questions asked. It has become the norm, especially for boys, for parents to defer. It is only Dec birthdays where things get tricky and you need support of school. The 2 month grace period is to be applauded - such a knife edge cut off is not to the individual child's benefit

tiggytape Wed 14-Nov-12 19:18:24

A 2 month grace period still creates a knife edge though.

For example wouldn't a child in Scotland, who was due to be born in February but arrived prematurely on November 30th, still have the same trouble as English babies born in August but due in October?

They'd lose the right to delay which they would have got if they'd been born on their due date.
In terms of development they might still be much like a February baby with the added disadvantage that other 'true' February babies (the ones born in Feb not just due in Feb) will have opted to start a year later making this November child seem even younger in the year.

Anytime you have a cut off - whether that is December 1st or February 28th or August 31st - you create people who fall either side of that cut-off and even with a grace period there is still a cut-off for this. It isn't an open grace period with total parental discretion - there is still a deadline that people can be born the wrong side of.

Dozer Wed 14-Nov-12 19:35:21

fellowship Michael Gove! shock angry

Goldenjubilee10 Wed 14-Nov-12 20:05:26

No, a child due to be born in February who was born in November could defer. You can defer if your child is not 5 by the time school starts in August. Some councils only allow jan and feb children automatic deferral whilst others let you defer regardless. Any child with a good reason could defer. My ds's friend is October and is out of year with no problems.

confuddledDOTcom Wed 14-Nov-12 20:24:52

Not read the whole thread, but about to smile I had a little girl due in September who came in July, she's now in Y2. Her nursery teacher (the actual teacher) said she would not have coped with another year at nursery she was the brightest child in the class. She's done brilliantly at school, she's keeping up with the others, getting levels that are expected, reading books aimed at 7 year olds... There are things when you look at her that you'd know she was premature (she's not very tall and has the big eyes/ high cheek bones of an ex-prem) but in general she's acting like she should be there.

You don't have to send them to school in September, it's not a requirement until the term after their 5th birthday which means ex-premature babies don't need to start until Y1 but I think what they miss out weighs any benefits of waiting.

Surrealistrhinoceros Wed 14-Nov-12 20:38:03

Just thinking - my DCs school has composite classes and a joint nursery/reception foundation unit. So kids spend two years in nursery/reception, then two years in Y1/Y2, etc. hope I'm making sense.

Would it be worth looking at schools with an arrangement like this, as a way of squaring the circle? Then your DS wouldn't be the oldest or youngest in the group and the staff could more easily group him with the kids he fitted best with whether younger or older. I have a lad wih some SN and a late May birthday and I wouldn't mind putting him back a year to be honest! I think the composite class arrangement has been very helpful to him.

ditherers Wed 14-Nov-12 20:39:27

Yes but in Scotland remember we have no reception. Preschool is age 4 - 5 and is only a short half day 9-11.30ish. It is just learning through play, not phonic or anything like that. The March kids are nearly 5.5yrs when they start school (P1) in August, so worst case scenario is that your Dec child will be 4yrs 8mths when they start school.

In England is seems like kids do full days at reception when they are practically babies must be long and tiring day.

Anyway - sorry off topic from thread

confuddledDOTcom Thu 15-Nov-12 14:29:15

"but he laughed off my question and said if he made excuses for one group of children, everyone would want an excuse to delay admission for their child too (what a tosser)."

Which groups might those be, FellowshipOfFestiveFellows? Other than children who are not ready due to medical needs (prematurity, learning difficulties etc) I can't see that he would have to argue that with others "My religion says I shouldn't send my children to school until they're 7 and they should join in at reception level"? You can keep your children at home as long as you want but you'd have a problem arguing to put them in a different year if it wasn't for a genuine reason. I have to agree with your assessment wink

One thing that I was always aware of expecting a September baby was how easy it was for her to be born into either year. She could have been technically term and still gone up a year. I did worry about her when she was born (in the myriad of things that goes through your head!) being in the year above but I think the fact that it could have so easily happened anyway without her being premature helped me to deal with it. My other two were premature but they stayed in the right year, I'm probably more concerned about my January baby going to school next September than I was my eldest.

PropositionJoe Thu 15-Nov-12 14:58:53

The problem is, however much advice you get now about how to do it, you are very likely to come unstuck in year 6, which may well be worse than dealing with the "acceleration" now. That's why people are talking about whether to do it rather than how to do it, I think. Also, the old hands among us know how much we worried about the start of reception and how it wasn't actually that big a deal. You may be understandably over anxious given the difficulties you have had and your feeling of guilt - but he isn't that baby any more.

hawthers Thu 15-Nov-12 16:24:31

It does seem to be the issue that year 6 is a problem for most people and si we've agreed with our current school that he will fi into reception in Sept unless we all have major concerns about how he will cope in the summer. At the end of reception we'll review again and decide whether he is ready to go to year 1 or needs to redo reception.

He is in a private primary currently just so that we could chose the year more easily than the state system allows and they appear to he more flexible at finding a solution that works for DS1 rather than blindly putting him into the upper year.

The issue is complicated as we intend to move at some point in the next 4 years but we're not too sure where to. So we can't really get any assurances from any other schools.

But yes totally agree Michael Gove = tosser

awhistlingwoman Thu 15-Nov-12 22:52:24

Yes my daughter isn't that baby anymore either.

She is still, however, an untoilet trained, incomprehensible four year old. And I lay those both at the door of her premature birth.

But hey, it's actually not that big of a deal that her teacher doesn't understand a word she says or that she still has to wear nappies confused

Year 2 is looking to be the problem for us as the headteacher at our (long awaited meeting) thinks that she won't make that transition without questioning so we're looking at either attempting to obtain a statement or repeating Year R.

I told she wasn't ready. What a game played slowly ;)

BTW - if you are in Hampshire I'm hoping to get the situation clarified with the LEA shortly. . . long story but although my daughter isn't eligible for delay or deferral, I am going to pursue this so that I can post the results to interested parties.

Dozer Thu 15-Nov-12 23:24:36

Good luck whistlingwoman. It is unacceptable that schools and local authorities won't be flexible - or even civil, how rude of the head to not meet and seek to fob you off for so long -in these kinds of circumstances.

Some amazing, difficult stories on this thread.

Dozer Thu 15-Nov-12 23:28:11

Hawthers, a dilemma re private school could be that should you need to return to the state system for any reason, the local authority may well make your DS skip a year to go back into the "correct" year.

Are there any all-through or primary academy schools in the area? They are their own admissions authority and local authorities can't tell them what to do.

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