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

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

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

NickNacks Wed 06-Feb-13 19:49:44

I'm sorry but I want you to be prepared... They are quite strict with this and you just won't be able to. sad

learnandsay Wed 06-Feb-13 19:49:55

Are you sure you've got a corner to fight? If I was as convinced as you are that I didn't really have a case I'd ask his advice.

LaVitaBellissima Wed 06-Feb-13 19:52:05

I don't know where you stand legally but my DSis was born late August and my mum always says how much she struggled and she wished she had tried to hold her back a year.

Good luck

We are assuming you are in england, is this right? If so you can miss reception but must enter yr1 for her age

No holding back in england afaik

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Wed 06-Feb-13 19:56:45

It is very unusual except where there are special needs that are specifically addressed by this.

Is the head teacher the head of the primary school you expect DD to attend? I don't think it will be his decision.

Oh gah, I see you've put that in your op, sorry

Pozzled Wed 06-Feb-13 20:00:20

It is possible to defer and still go into reception, but I think it's very rare and you would need independent evidence to support you. Has she been seeing a speech therapist? Or is there a HV who knows her well? What do the nursery say?

Have you contacted the Local Authority directly? I would have thought it would be a decision from them rather than individual schools. Even if not, they will have a policy on it.

Wrt your meeting, you should make a list of specific concerns e.g. her speech, and why you think she will struggle with school, back your concerns up with evidence as much as possible.

learnandsay Wed 06-Feb-13 20:01:01

Can she do some half days and be home-educated for the rest of the time so she isn't too far behind next year?

celebmum Wed 06-Feb-13 20:04:23

can't you tell the school they've made a mistake and her birthday is infact 1st sept!? or is that a big no no?confused

barleysugar Wed 06-Feb-13 20:09:29

Oh, I just want to tell you she will be just fine, just as I was.

Any chance you could let her start doing half days or just defer till the Easter term?

KatherineKrupnik Wed 06-Feb-13 20:10:00

You have to show the birth certificate, so no.

Floggingmolly Wed 06-Feb-13 20:15:32

No, you don't have a leg to stand on, unfortunately. My middle child has a late August birthday and I would have killed to have been allowed to do this, but no go.

tougholdbird Wed 06-Feb-13 20:18:39

Sorry, another one here with a DS born 30 aug, tried everything i could think of to delay but best offer I could get was he could start school in Y1, which would have been so much worse for him, trying to catch up with the others.

PeanutButterOnly Wed 06-Feb-13 20:19:10

I feel your pain coldfingers It seems a difficulty I resign myself to me as mum of one born mid-August, so born 3 hours before the cutoff must seem very hard. Good luck.

Ilovesunflowers Wed 06-Feb-13 20:19:31

There is a long time until September. Lots of time for her to be ready. You'll be amazed how much she grows up by then. 6 months is a long time at that age.

Could you consider mornings for the first few weeks?

IslaValargeone Wed 06-Feb-13 20:21:00

Why don't you home ed for a year?
They aren't doing algebra in reception, so do some letters, numbers etc at your own pace and concentrate on building up her confidence. You'll find friends and support from local home edders in your area.

dixiechick1975 Wed 06-Feb-13 20:23:38

If private is an option then they can be more flexible - there is an August child out of year in DD's class (should be in class above).

LeeCoakley Wed 06-Feb-13 20:26:12

I can't believe you didn't hold her in for another 3 hours! What were you thinking! grin

Blessyou Wed 06-Feb-13 20:26:29

I deferred until Easter, then summer born DS started at Easter in Reception, so he had some time there before Y1. Dependant upon a place being available for her, though.

MumVsKids Wed 06-Feb-13 20:27:20

My dd was also born on 31st August 2009 (5.30pm) and we too had considered holding her back as she is due to start in September.

We asked her pre school staff this week for their honest opinion, and we have had a resounding DO NOT HOLD HER BACK, she's ready.

If you have applied for and are offed a school place, then do nothing. A lot can change in 8 moths, and you may find that come September, she is totally ready. If she isn't, then just don't send her and inform the school of your decision then. If you haven't applied yet, I would do it ASAP, it still doesn't mean you have to accept it if offered, but it's god to have options IYSWIM.

Hth smile

BlissfullyIgnorant Wed 06-Feb-13 20:29:32

An independent school would shift dates. We had several children in different year groups; some advanced, some held back. As long as the school is happy with it it should be ok. I don't think they would hold back a March kid to give them an advantage, though wink

coldfingersandtoes Wed 06-Feb-13 20:38:52

mumvskids - I too have spoken to her nursery about holding her back and I got a resounding yes, she is not ready sad so now I am really worried about the whole thing.... We can't afford to put her into a private school. I know 8 months is a long time but I can say for sure unless she has a total personality about turn she is not going to be ready...

coldfingersandtoes Wed 06-Feb-13 20:40:21

leecoakley - ha I know I was trying my best to hold her in!! midwife was saying push and I was shouting no, not yet!!!

Blessyou, it is possible to accept a Reception place and defer until Easter; by lawthey must hold the place for you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck xx I hope your concerns are taken seriously.

Let us know how you get on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck OP.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck OP with heart goes out to you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pooka Thu 07-Feb-13 07:30:19

I feel for you, but nt sure how likely it is that you'll be able t do this.

Is bonkers really. My ds2 is about 12 hours younger than your dd and he will start school a whole year later. And thank goodness, because he really isn't ready IMO. Have a July birthday dd who was fine (but had a January start). And a September ds1 who started on his 5th birthday, which was exactly right for him.

stopthinkingsomuch Thu 07-Feb-13 07:32:55

Sept is still a long way off. If I compared what my little boy was like just before Xmas I had concerns but I can see he would be ready enough to be at school. Perhaps it could be different for your dc by the time she's 4.

Ps. We changed his preschool because we were finding he would regress after every holiday and there were other things we weren't happy with. He's now playing with the kids going to school in Sept and that's helped him loads.

Nothing to add re out of year situation, but dd2 was socially definitely not ready for school in the feb before she started. In the Easter I had a consultation with her nursery teacher (school nursery, reception class next door, qualified teacher) who admitted that they were all really concerned about how she would cope. She was in tears every day, had no friends, even in the July I sat outside her end of term party as she cried because it was too noisy. She is mid feb birthday so no chance of delaying.

In the September something clicked, she made some friends, the teacher worked hard on social skills with her, now in yr 1 she still has some social issues, but is happy and confident. Hopefully the meeting will go well today and your dd will thrive whatever the situation.

MrsMushroom Thu 07-Feb-13 07:44:31

OP I feel for you....I was in your situation with DD1 who was born in late July. She's 8 now and in year 4 and is absolutely fine. You say it took DD a year to settle in to nursery.....it took my DD that long and also that long to settle into school but she did..and so will your DD.

Reception is very play based....she won't be under massive pressure.....can I ask if you have had her speech looked at by a therapist? Is that your main worry?...

I really feel for you OP and hope it goes well today. Good luck. I don't know the rules about this but if you don't ask you'll never know.

I also think it's time for a change in legislation around this, especially for circumstances like mentioned above (child born late August 13 weeks early). This surely is going to become more of a problem as care for premature babies advances.

Personally, I feel that there should be flexibility in say the final 2 weeks of August, especially in premature babies cases. School, nursery, parents and healthcare professionals could meet to decide what was best for the child (God forbid hey!). I don't think it would affect numbers/funding overall, as some dc in this bracket might well be ready. Not all parents will want to hold them back.

I'm a teacher (secondary) and it is often, not always, but often, possible to tell the very youngest in the year. Particularly with year 7 boys. They sometimes are just not ready at all for secondary school and would have been much better equipped maturity wise coming up in the year below. I have also taught a set of 'higher multiples' who were more like the year below in every way, and would have been so much better placed with slightly younger children.

<<Wonders why these decisions are not made for the benefit of the children involved really>>

MrsMushroom Thu 07-Feb-13 07:45:53

Also...EVERY parent is worried their child won't cope...or isn't ready....but 8 months really is a long time in the development of a child and you might find that your worries are unfounded.

ggirl Thu 07-Feb-13 07:56:13

I know of one person who managed to hold their child back and enter reception a yr later. It was a hard fight and may have involved special needs I think but she did do it.

DowntonTrout Thu 07-Feb-13 07:58:53

My DD1 had a July birthday. She started school with everyone else but it became increasingly obvious she was educationally immature.

We were able to hold her back a year before senior school, she repeated year 6. We were able to do this as we had moved into the independant sector.

It certainly benefitted her educationally as she found her level. However I now think it was the wrong thing to do from a social point of view. She always felt out of place and although not bullied it didn't help her confidence. I would look into starting her mornings only until Christmas or three days a week if they will allow it.

pooka Thu 07-Feb-13 08:06:57

I do know 2 children who started a year later - one was born prematurely at 28 weeks and had developmental delay (delayed start supported by paediatricians). She will carry on a year behind her chronological cohort to secondary.

The other child had and has global developmental delay. She actually started a year after her cohort and repeated reception but then went to a SEN unit aged 9 because she was then not able to cope academically even 2 yrs behind her cohort. The gap just seemed yo widen as she grew older.

So in both cases, the decision was supported by paediatricians and educational psychologists. And even then both involved court action/appeals by the parents.

weegiemum Thu 07-Feb-13 08:11:30

I'm in Scotland where there is flexibility. The cut off date is the end of march, so the very earliest you can start school is 4 years 5 months. But children born in Jan, Feb & March can go either at 4 or 5 - my 2 eldest dc were both 5y6m when they went into p1 (=R), and my youngest was 4y9m and that felt terribly young to me.
I think this is partly due to the different education structure, with only 6 years in secondary school (quite a few leave 6th year age 17) and then an undergraduate honours degree takes 4 years at a Scottish uni.
From what I read on here, that kind of flexibility, which takes into account the needs and development of individual children and respects parents judgement of their child's readiness could be very usefully introduced elsewhere in the UK. Many people here, but by no means all, defer for the year. I'm very glad we did so.
My dd1 was 13 yesterday and is in s1 (=y7), and knowing her and from my own experience as a secondary teacher, I think having that extra year made the transition to high school much easier.
OP, I wish you well in your meeting today and hope some flexibility can be found for your dd.

Backinthebox Thu 07-Feb-13 08:15:23

My August-born daughter's pre-school staff told me she was definitely not ready to go to primary school in the September. I applied for the place, and deferred her entry until after Christmas, but kept her in pre-school 4 days a week. The preschool staff did a really good job of preparing her for school - as we are in a small village with a small preschool they were able to spend a bit of one-to-one time with her to make sure she was up to speed with reading and numbers.

Just over a year later (now in Year 1,) and the primary school has finally stopped going on about this, and she is doing really well. As other posters said, everything just clicked one day. She's really happy at school, and is currently reading just above her peer group level, and has been moved up to the Year 2 classroom for numbers and maths. She's made good friends and is really looking forward to the school disco.

Just because she is not looking ready now does not mean she will not be ready at some time in the reception year. I do also think there may well be a stigma attached to be 'held back a year.' Children pick up on these things eventually, but in my experience the teachers are even faster to, if they feel you are in the wrong!

ohfunnyhoneyface Thu 07-Feb-13 08:36:00

We have children out of sync with their birth year. Go in positive with as much paperwork as you can to support your feelings and opinion.

If you do get refused, I would suggest a slow gradual build up and take the decision positively to ensure that their school experience is still a positive one.

I really hope you get the answer you want though, this rigidity is outdated and totally at odds with the individual learning philosophy.

ohfunnyhoneyface Thu 07-Feb-13 08:36:58

Back in the Box's solution is excellent- would this staggered combination work for you?

CelticPromise Thu 07-Feb-13 08:39:17

HappyCamper it's really interesting to hear your views, an additional reason in my mind for holding DS back is that I think it will make life easier for the teachers! When I talk about his background schools talk about accommodating his needs, but if he goes a year 'late' it's likely he won't have any additional needs. He should have been born in November so comfortably in the year below.

He relates much better socially to the younger children in his preschool than to those going to school in September. He can't concentrate or sit down for any length of time, he's physically small and he's not ready to toilet train. I think he'd be a nightmare for a reception teacher

I know of some work being done to try to get flexibility for summer born premature children, but I really think there should be some flexibility across the board. Scottish system sounds very sensible!

tiggytape Thu 07-Feb-13 09:02:29

Personally, I feel that there should be flexibility in say the final 2 weeks of August, especially in premature babies cases.

The trouble with flexibility as an absolute right is drawing a line. If you gave a child born at 35 weeks on August 25th the right to stay back, what would you tell the parent of a child born at 27 weeks on July 1st about their child not being allowed to stay back?
If you extended the right to all July and August babies, what would happen to a baby born at 27 weeks (so 13 weeks premature) at 5 to midnight on June 30th?

Even in Scotland where there is greater flexibility, there are still people born the 'wrong' side of the cut-off dates eg most Feb and Jan babies are kept back which makes Autumn babies the youngest in the year by default and these cannot be held back and retain their funding so there are children who miss out by minutes or days or by being born prematurely even in systems with more flexibility. Whatever rule you have or whichever date you pick, somebody somewhere will fall the wrong side of it.

outtolunchagain Thu 07-Feb-13 09:41:29

My ds has SPLd and is now at an independent specialist school where the children are set according to ability, maturity etc not chronological age , you have no idea how liberating and refreshing it is not to be constantly judging him against a fairly arbitrary measure of what he should be doing based on the number of months / years they have been alive.

There is approximately 22 months between the oldest and the youngest in his class but I doubt he could tell you that and he has no interest whatsoever in people's age .

I absolutely know that he was not ready for school at 4.5 , he has always been about 18months behind in maturity and it was just to much for him .It was not just the academics , that was the least of his problems , but the whole environment ; how many times on here do you read posts saying " the teacher can't be expected to do this or that for thirty children" but he needed the more cosseted environment of nursery / home plus he was continuously shattered by the relentlessness of it.

weegiemum Thu 07-Feb-13 09:42:05

You're right, there will always be people born "on the line" wherever it is drawn. But because of where the line is drawn (march in Scotland) no one starts at 4 years and a day and pretty much every child will be 4 and a half - and those 5-6 months can make a lot of difference.

AnnIonicIsoTronic Thu 07-Feb-13 09:44:46

My DH was a late August baby with a difficult start in life and speech delay. And a string of top academic results - including three degrees from top universities and a six figure salary.

I really don't think you can predict how things will work out - whether being the youngest is a handicap or a spur.

The problem with deferring is that you will have to keep fighting the battle at every stage: school transitions, exams etc etc.

In your shoes I'd give serious consideration to any offers of a reduced timetable in YR - but stick with the correct year group.

My DS2 is a summer baby - and he's definitely needed (and received) TLC to help him with the 'study skills' aspects: sitting still, gripping a pencil, paying attention, speech. But academically - his ability to absorb the curriculum - is excellent. He's a smart boy in an immature body. He might have benefited from shorter days in YR - but it has had no bearing on his long term learning.

Toast123 Thu 07-Feb-13 09:51:09

I have done this- DS was born in August but slightly premature, due in September.
Strangely, you need to speak to the secondary schools first because they are now happy to take children out of year group as long as they have a place. The rules have changed, it used to be about children not bing able to leave school at 16 without any GCSE's. Then talk to your primary school and report back. We also got a doctors note.
In the end we have gone to an independent school but I work in the state system and it is do-able and i think very significant for some children. Don't let the school fob you off and do also talk to county office advisors.
Sorry for fast typing and good luck.

SanityClause Thu 07-Feb-13 10:09:37

In Australia, there is a lot of flexibility. I'm not exactly sure how it works, but you can pretty much have your child start any time from their 4th birthday, up until their 6th birthday. I'm not sure if you have to start at the beginning of a school year, though.

Basically, my sister got to choose whether her DC would start when they were 4 rising 5, or 5 rising 6. She chose 5 rising 6, as many parents do, there.

Obviously, this doesn't help the OP, though.

Scootee Thu 07-Feb-13 10:23:14

I think that since there is no flexibility, you need to focus on managing her transition to school, rather than delaying or opposing it. I would make it clear to the head that she needs a lot of support and ask for a plan to be out in place. My ds struggled in reception for different reasons but the primary problem was the fact that his teacher would not acknowledge there was a problem. Fortunately, his y1 and y2 teachers did acknowledge his problems and have strategies to help him. Now he is no longer struggling, so I really believe that the teacher / school "buy in" to the help needed makes a huge difference and this is what you need to obtain for your dd. It should start with them suggesting how you could prepare her over the summer IMO. Also they could out a teacher/classroom visit in for her in the summer term.

goinggetstough Thu 07-Feb-13 11:33:52

I have a June born DD and luckily she was ready to start school in the September. I appreciate that this thread is about academics and maturity to start school at 4 but I thought it maybe useful to comment on a knock on effect of being in the wrong age group with regard to sport.

Our school had problems with sporty children being in the wrong age groups. When they played in inter school competitions they had to play in their correct age group. This is understandable as otherwise teams could could put older DCs in their lower teams to help them win. This affects the individual DC as they either have to play sport with DCs not in their age group or if they train with the age group they are in when a tournament etc happens they have to be pulled out and this disrupts the team. We had one round of a cup match at prep school that had to be replayed as one girl was too old to play for that particular team.

Of course when you are looking at when your DC should start school it is not plain sailing even when the LEA or head teacher has agreed for a child to put done a year.

Pyrrah Thu 07-Feb-13 12:18:09

I'm an August baby myself so I do appreciate the problems. I also have a younger sister who went through school 2 years above her chronological age - came out with string of A*'s and then couldn't cope emotionally at University and a lot of very difficult years. It was the reason why we actively TTC in months that would avoid the possibility of a summer baby (ridiculous I know).

The only thing I can say is that I sent DD to the nursery of one of the local primary schools last October when she was 3 years 4 months and both she and the other children in the class are all coping brilliantly with full school days and what appears to be Reception-Lite - they do some reading, writing, counting, lots of singing and colouring and lots of free-play, but more structured than most nurseries.

There are two August-born preemie twins in her class and even they are fine.

DD has growth hormone deficiencies so is also tiny and the smallest in the class by a long way and even that hasn't caused many problems (can just about reach the basins).

BirdyBedtime Thu 07-Feb-13 13:35:05

Good post tiggytape.

My DS was 4 in mid-Jan (Scotland). We thought hard about holding him back but at the end of the day decided that all of the reasons we had for doing it were external ie that many other children his age will be held back, because some children held back last year will be 13 months older than him but in the same year, because it's the 'done' thing in our area to hold back. But, he is ready and while I know that being young in the year might cause issues later on, we will be there to support him if they do. At the end of the day, someone has to be the youngest, and I suspect in my DS's case it will be him, although he'll be 4 and 8 months when he starts in August!

To those wanting a choice, it's not actually that great to be honest as in my case anyway I'd have preferred not to have to make the choice!

DeWe Thu 07-Feb-13 13:56:52

I would have liked to hold my June ds back a year, socially it would have been the right thing to do. But academically in maths and reading (he hates writing so not that) he's right at the top in his current year, so would it have been right for him? Can't tell.

I once spoke to someone who lived in America. In their area they had a lot of choice, but what was happening was typically parents of boys wanted to hold them back so they were bigger and more coordinated, so they'd make the sports' teams. Otoh the girls' parents liked to say how advanced their girls were academically, so sent them as soon as they could, saying that their girl was just so ready for school...
Result was that the schools were increasingly finding their youngest form had nearly 7yo boys starting with just 4yo girls.
This also meant that people (like the person I spoke to) were in an awkward position-with a boy who was ready at 5yo, she was worried he'd be picked on if he went then because he would be relatively small compared to most of the boys and relatively less good at sport simply because of the age.

thegreylady Thu 07-Feb-13 14:07:57

I would think your best bet is to ask for deferred entry and wait till January.In the mean time ask the nursery to help prepare her and get a copy of EYF syllabus and work with her at home for a term.
My dd was August born and attended half days till Christmas. She was absolutely fine fro the start and is now an adult.She did well academically and socially-she is now a mum and a teacher.

Yes, I totally understand what you are saying there tiggytape. It could become a nightmare as there would still have to be a 'line' somewhere. have no idea where the line would be in the examples you gave above re: the 27 weeker etc.

If there was a genuine choice/discussion, I wonder how many people would take up the offer to defer?

Perhaps by making it fairly difficult still, to avoid people deferring just because everyone else was, it might just be targetted at the genuine cases.

I do agree that if they say no to the OP, her time should now be focussed on preparing her dc before September. Delay until Jan or Easter, or do half days etc to build up to full time.

How did it go today OP?

As a side note I know of loads of teachers who timed their TTCing to avoid an august baby! (Still wouldn't help with premature sept/oct births though)

Groovee Thu 07-Feb-13 16:52:20

The English system sucks. In Scotland my dd should have gone to P1 in 2004, instead I deferred and she went to P1 instead in 2005 with her friends from nursery having missing nothing and being the eldest in the year. It's sad that the Government will not consider looking into changing it to the Scottish way.

SocietyClowns Thu 07-Feb-13 18:26:38

I also think the system is mad and unnecessarily inflexible. My late June dd is doing fine in Yr1 now but everything would have been so much easier had she had an extra year to mature a bit.

As for the argument where to draw the line with premature babies, I'd suggest using the actual due date as a guide. To me sending a 13 week premature August born child into school is nothing short of inhumane and I would have fought like a tiger to delay a year.

coldfingersandtoes Thu 07-Feb-13 20:28:08

Thank you for all your responses, I met with the headteacher today. He was very helpful and nice about the whole situation but said there was no way that she would be able to be held back a year. I am very disappointed. He did however give me options, such as hold her back until easter term and then start, start her part time in September or after Christmas. Buddy her up with an older child to boost her confidence in playground etc. All of which are fine but really not what i wanted for her. I called the LA this afternoon to confirm this is the case but couldn't speak to anyone today. The HT said part time and not starting until Easter then hold more problems socially that she won't have made friends and done phonics etc with all the other kids and will be the new girl when she does start!! Argghh! all so annoying for three hours off the cutoff. All this stuff about being bullied if she is another year group or held back etc is just ridiculous in my opinion. If she had been born three hours later no would blink an eye at her starting in that year.

KatherineKrupnik Thu 07-Feb-13 20:32:38

Does she/you know anyone who would be starting in her reception class? I think in your position I would either send her part time (half days?), or delay her start until Easter. To assuage any possible social problems with being the new girl, I would do playdates with any of her classmates I could!

I know someone who held her June born child out until Easter, she settled in reception fine. I'm sure she would have settled anyway, but she did have a very good friend in the class she was joining which perhaps eased her in a little.

Coldfingers, of course all the stuff about being bullied is rubbish! For the sake of 3 hours. hmm

That merely an attempt to justify jobsworth inflexibility.

It is one of the most annoying things about working in education; realising that paperwork and policies are far more important than children.

We have a DD in the same position but exactly a year older and is the youngest in her year by nearly 3 months!

We were told unless we could provide a educational psychologist report with evidence from nursery as to why she should be allowed to defer she would not be allowed to defer. We visited the school before we put in our choices then once we knew she ha a place we went in again and had a meeting with the reception teacher and head. We were advised that although we have the legal right to defer her until she turns 5 they strongly advise that she started with her peers. We initially agreed a Jan start with a her doing 1 day a week as forming social bonds at the beginning is one of the most important things about reception and they didn't want to to be an outsider in the January. The change in DD from the April to September was huge, she started with her peers in the September at her insistence that she wanted to go to school, after further discussion with the class teacher and head we agreed she would do 'nursery' hours (5 mornings) for the 1st half term and then 3 full and 2 half days until Jan when she would start full time.

In the first half term DD wanted to stay at school more, first for lunches and then she realised she was missing out when kids talked about the htings they had done the previous afternoon. Slowly she asked to stay more and more and by the October half term she waned to stay all day. She has thrived, we still have the option to bring her home on Wednesday afternoons but she strong objects and I have only once had to force it because she was exhausted.

MrsMushroom Thu 07-Feb-13 21:04:58

cold the absolute best thing you could do now is to accept that she's starting in September and I promise you that there will be other little ones just like her...not quite ready.

They will be well used to this...the teachers I mean and they will know all the tricks to help DD settle.

I would start her in September because it is very true that the others will have formed bonds by January and DD will ot have changed THAT much over three months that it is worth considering holding her back.

PeanutButterOnly Thu 07-Feb-13 21:18:01

I think at this point you have to accept that she is going into the 'right' year. Reception class must try to cater for all children in it, with those born late August equally representative of the year group as those born in September. As someone else said, 1:12 children (on average) will be August born. Hard to accept though that your child may have been 'better off' if born a little later. I wonder whether there are any parents that worry that their September-borns are disadvantaged in any way? Are they bored of Reception by the end of the year and therefore learning slowing down? Just a thought.

Suffolkgirl1 Thu 07-Feb-13 21:37:21

"I wonder whether there are any parents that worry that their September-borns are disadvantaged in any way? Are they bored of Reception by the end of the year and therefore learning slowing down? Just a thought."

My youngest is September born and unusually the only Sept born child in his year of 45, which has a very high ratio of summer borns. Due to my work needs he was in a nursery from age 9 months. By the time he started school he had effectively had 4 years of preschool. Having older siblings he expected school to be different to nursery and was very disappointed to find reception very much the same as nursery. He hated reception and was not much better in years 1 and 2. Only this year (3) in a mixed year 3/4 class has he finally started to enjoy school and regained his desire to learn.

thesecretmusicteacher Thu 07-Feb-13 21:52:14

"She has a little circle of friends, all of whom will be starting the September after (2014). "

I'm trying to look on the bright side for you .... it's suggesting she's not "lost" socially, that's she's on a really good trajectory already..... so perhaps the head thinks she will be ready...?

but actually my real opinion is exactly the same as Labelledamesanspatience's ...... once a policy is made, children are remade to fit the policy.

other options are a 1.5 form entry school. They sometimes "shelter" younguns by having them in the "younger" of two mixed-aged classes - it can keep them with younger peers until they get to KS2. This was an absolute lifesaver for a little girl who started reception at 4.0 in our school. She was in reception, then "pure" year 1 (but all the younger ones) then in a mixed year 1/2 class (where she wasn't always the youngest).

something to consider....

tiggytape Thu 07-Feb-13 22:21:23

I know it is frustrating but I think you have to mull over the options you do have, not the ones you don't
The LA will confirm what the H/T has said because the system just doesn't cater for any flexibility in this matter except in exceptional circumstances.

The buddying idea sounds like a good one no matter what start date you pick and the H/T can say what he likes about missing phonics but you have the absolute right to keep DD at nursery until Easter or Christmas. I am sure you won't be the only one to do this. Or you can opt for part time hours. Normally the more formal teaching elements are covered in the morning and afternoons are more play based so you could decide to build up gradually.
And as others have said, DD will not be lost in a sea of 29 September born children - many others in the class will be born June - August too, many (regardless of Birthday) will be immature or even unready, many will need a lot of time to settle, many will need a bit of extra help.

Yardarm Thu 07-Feb-13 22:44:29

Tiggytape is right, you have the right to defer entry until they are 5 but then they have to go into the correct year for their age. So rather than miss Reception altogether you could defer until after Christmas or Easter. My DD (July birthday) started after Christmas and was fine by then.

A friend of mine managed to negotiate mornings only for the first half term for her August DS, but our school would not have allowed this for funding reasons.

But I will say that Reception teacher friends of mine say that it's more of an advantage to have more time in Reception even if they are very young as it gives them more time to get used to the school environment, systems and expectations gently before Year 1. Also there are two very young 4 year olds in my DD2's Reception class and they seem to be thriving. Don't forget that schools are used to dealing with this situation and I am sure they will do all they can to make it work.

Backinthebox Thu 07-Feb-13 22:51:32

My daughter, starting school in January and being the only one in her class to do so, has not been disadvantaged socially. The other children were all curious about 'the new girl.' It did help that about half of the class had been with her in pre-school, but her current best friend is a girl she did not know before and who had started school in the September.

As has been pointed out by others - schools have a responsibility to cater to all the children in a year, not just the oldest.

I'm happy that my August-born child is in the right year, and know it she will be OK. I have a bit of experience of what it is like to be the youngest in the year myself - my birthday is in August. I have not done too badly for myself! I had a degree by the age of 20, owned my own house by 21, and married at 22. Most of the older children in my year have still not caught up!

Bunnyjo Thu 07-Feb-13 22:52:33

My friend's DS was born on 31st August, but was 8.5wk early. His actual due date was 31st October. Despite developmental delay and various recommendations, he started school at 4yrs old (and a few days). He is now Yr1 and he is coming along really well.

My own DD is late August born (my friend and I were in hospital together!) and now in Yr1. DD struggled to settle in nursery; she found any change unsettling and literally cried at every drop off.

I will be honest; I was completely worried about her starting school. We moved in the July before her starting school, so we also had to change schools. We found a lovely village school - our catchment school - and the HT was very approachable and amenable to DD's possible needs. She said we could defer until spring/summer term, DD could do all mornings or 3-4 full days per week - she even said we could 'play it by ear' and work together to find the best solution for DD.

As it was she ran in on the first day, with a quick look back and a 'bye mummy' before disappearing into the class, and she has been like that ever since. She is also ahead in terms of educational achievement; she has been streamed into the Yr2/3 class with a couple of her cohort and is currently on 2b/c/b for reading, writing and numeracy - expected level of achievement at the end of Yr2. Physically, she is still much, much smaller than the rest of her class and she can appear clumsy. But we take her to gymnastics and swimming - activities she enjoys, but that also improve her strength and co-ordination.

If you had asked me 2yrs ago, I would have told you that I wish I'd just kept DD inside for a few short days longer. If you ask me now, I'd tell you that she is positively thriving.

Tiggytape is right; you need to focus on the options you have, rather than mull over those you don't. I completely understand how unjustifiably unfair it seems, but there has to be a cut-off somewhere. It just so happens that the cut-off makes our DC the very youngest.

pooka Thu 07-Feb-13 22:54:41

actually Peanutbutter only - I was pondering this earlier. Have dd (July) and then ds1 and ds2 who are both early September (ds2 on the 1st). DD had a circle of friends who all went to school at the same time. She was fine, settled well and has always more than kept up with her cohort.

DS1 gravitated to the slightly older children and they started school a whole year before he did. He was intensely bored by the end of preschool (although emotional maturity wise it was good that he started at 5, academically he could have easily coped with being the youngest in the year above) and year 1 was no better than reception.

I tend to make a note of the age of the children ds2 plays with at preschool, and have a slight heart sinking at the fact that he (having 2 older siblings and being desperate to keep up with them) also gravitates to the older children who will be starting school this September. He is noticeably less interested in the children who are younger than him.

While I do believe that he will benefit from being the eldest in the year in some respects (his speech should have improved and I'm hopeful for successful potty training by September next year wink), there are disadvantages in terms of the long year after the others have gone and him adjusting to them not being there any more.

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Fri 08-Feb-13 00:09:41

My experience of this issue is from an SEN point of view, where to start school out of the correct year group if summer born would be really useful and often developmentally delayed DC coped really well given this chance. It used to be the norm for DC from the special pre school that my DS attended.

It all changed with the Infant Class Size law. If a school was fully subscribed they couldn't, by law, offer a place to a DC in the 'wrong' year group if it then took a place from a DC of the correct age. If a school is undersubscribed the school can take the decision to teach a DC in the 'wrong' year group if logistically possible. You would still have to accept a place in the correct year, and either start in the summer term then drop down in the Sept, or defer the year and start in the Sept. Very risky, because if the school happens to be full that year, your DC would have to go straight into Y1. Doubly disadvantaged, very young and with a year's less schooling.

You may still get a problem at secondary, some DC have gone from Y5 straight to secondary because the secondaries won't take them out of year.

The only way to guarantee a place in the year below is if you manage to get a Statement of SEN where professionals have advised that a year delay is essential and this is written into the Statement. I wouldn't think your DD would get this.

Yardarm, schools legally must allow children to attend part time until they are five.

thereonthestair Sat 09-Feb-13 09:00:42

Slightly off topic, but I think it's actually quite straightforward with prems, you draw the line when the due date was. Traditionally we correct the dat so there is an actual and corrected age until they are 2. But there is a lot of discussion about changing that to correct until they are either 5 or 7. The more prem the more there is an argument so the 24/27 seeker should have more options, not less. Personally I think it is absolutely imperative, prems have quite enough to cope with as it is, pushing them to school when they are in fact 3 months too young by conception ( and remember a lot of development does take place antenatally) is bonkers! And there are quite a lot of campaigns on this by bliss and others. As there should be!

Bunnyjo Sat 09-Feb-13 09:35:42

You would think so, thereonthestair. My friend tried to get her DS started in his age corrected year group, but met hurdles and opposition every step of the way. She was also told that, even if they allowed her DS to start the year later (when his EDD was) that she would have to begin the process again when he was in Yr5 to stop him having to go straight from Yr5 to Yr7 in secondary. In the end she allowed him to start reception with his actual age cohort

SCOTCHandWRY Sat 09-Feb-13 10:13:47

Tiggy - autumn borns in Scotland have the choice to delay, 100% the parents choice, a child does not need to enrol for primary 1 until the August after their 5th birthday, ie they can be rising 6 at entry to p1.

This does not affect funding to the school place, only to the optional "free" nursery places in the years before school entry. You may be denied funding for the nursery year if you decide to send your autumn born to school at 5 3/4, but a school can't stop you choosing to start p1 at that age - as all the council entry info do point out!

Our October born will be starting at 5 3/4. If nursery funding is refused, that won't change our decision smile

dollybird Mon 25-Feb-13 23:23:56

The inflexibility works the other way too - DD is a 31/8 birthday - her brother is 15 months older than her. From Day 1 that he started school she wanted to go to school and was going to be in Miss X's class (she was!). She was so ready for school and would happily have gone full time from day one but she had to do half days until half term, no choice whatsoever. Yet a friend of mine's DD who was a July birthday was given the option of half days or full time at another school. I don't know why you can't be given options as standard rather than each school having different rules.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Tue 26-Feb-13 07:03:56

Dolly, I think the law now would allow her to start full time from day 1 though you would have to argue it out with the individual school as all use different ways of staggering start dates.

prh47bridge Tue 26-Feb-13 10:16:59

This is an area where the current Admissions Code is open to interpretation. You can read it as implying that you can insist your child starts full time from day 1 but it could equally be read as allowing schools to insist that younger children start part time. Unless someone takes a case to the LGO or to judicial review we won't know for sure.

MiaowTheCat Tue 26-Feb-13 13:40:19

Bliss I know have been hammering away at the cause for prem babies for a while (thankfully?! I had my prem baby due slap-bang in the middle of the year at least so didn't get hit by it!).

I have taught two out of chronological year group children in the past - one independent sector so minimal fuss (what school's going to quibble about an extra year's fees after all?) and one in the state sector - who'd done their nursery year but was obviously really floundering in reception so repeated reception and then progressed up the school with that cohort as her peers (by the time I taught her they were in the upper reaches of KS2 and there was no sign of bullying or anything going on - indeed I don't think it had even dawned on half of them that she wasn't the same age as them - but they couldn't half be an oblivious bunch at times bless 'em!). Her parents then had the second hurdle to jump though - the fight to get her secondary school entrance delayed a year so she could continue on with the cohort she regarded as her peer group - LEA took a good while to consent to doing that as I recall and it was quite an anxious time for mum and dad (and all at the school who were very fond of her).

If it's any consolation one of my school friends was one who missed the cutoff for the next year by about 10 minutes - and we fought out for top place in tests and anything academicr bitterly all the way through school!

bananasontoast Fri 01-Mar-13 13:30:44

Hi OP, this can and has been done, although not always easy. Check out the googlegroup "Campaign For More Flexible School Admissions For Summer Born Children".

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