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Has anyone succeeded in getting their August baby to start Reception at five?

(69 Posts)
FelizFuturaMama Wed 13-Feb-13 21:47:48

My daughter was born a week early on August, 27 and I am keen for her not to suffer the well documented disadvantages of being the youngest in the year. I want to delay her entry to school for a year, so that she starts reception when she is five rather than four. I know I can defer her starting but can't find any advice if I don't want her to miss a year of school. I would really appreciate guidance on how to go about requesting this from others who have been successful. I know this is much easier in the independent sector, but that would be a real stretch for us financially.

thesecretmusicteacher Tue 19-Feb-13 17:43:27

I'm starting to think that the first job is to get professionals confident at identifying children covered by the current rules. If we do this, we can start reviewing results and gathering evidence.

At that point, we can have a more serious national conversation about whether England ought to move to a Scottish system where the earliest starting point is 4.6 and there is parental choice about start year for the latter-borns.

someoftheabove Tue 19-Feb-13 16:18:01

I'm not saying that schools always get it right with all children who come into reception in September. But for most parents, the choices are very limited if their child is summer-born. As I posted before, having had a child who didn't start school until she was six made me fear an early start for my ds, who started aged just 4. I still think it's wrong to get children into school when they just aren't ready for the rigour of it - it breaks my heart to see them filing into assembly in a line, all three-foot-nothing of them - but in the end it was that or start him a year later straight into Year 1 and as previous posters have said, no guarantee of a place.

duchesse Mon 18-Feb-13 23:48:32

He was second youngest and second smallest (although the smallest wasn't the youngest), so double-whammy.

ByTheWay1 Mon 18-Feb-13 14:46:06

My dd was second youngest with a birthday of 14Jul and coped just fine. We had no expectation otherwise to be honest... the school staggered the start - youngest went FIRST so they found their feet before the older ones started, and they all went half days if they wanted to until the term of their 5th birthday - my DD went half days til the Oct half term and was fine full time after that. She is in Y6 now and I wouldn't say you would think she or the other girl were the youngest in the class.

TheDoctrineOfSciAndNatureClub Mon 18-Feb-13 14:38:07

Duchesse, was your DS the youngest in his class with a 10 July birthday?

tiggytape Mon 18-Feb-13 13:15:18

I agree thesecretmusicteacher - identifying the children who should be covered by the current rules doesn't seem to be anybody's priority. To make it happen, the child not only needs to have the backing of professional evidence but also parents who push very hard for it. It is definitely an uphill battle even for those who currently qualify.

And I agree with duchesse - now that the head count will take place in October not January, schools will pressure parents not to delay at all and to start them all in September. However, the difference here is that the schools don't have a leg to stand on - it is a parental right to delay and the schools can moan all they want but they cannot take away places or otherwise punish parents who decide on a January / Easter start date. The right of parents to do this is protected by law (Admissions Code again)

thesecretmusicteacher Mon 18-Feb-13 11:59:02

I think I'm with duchesse, but I also feel I've got a bit more of an understanding of where tiggytape is coming from. Also tiggytape deserves thanks for putting the word "correct" in inverted commas smile

Shifting the whole system to start 6 months later would help a lot for children like duchesse's son... (as in Scotland).

A focus on identifying "suitable candidates" would solve the problem for the "obvious candidates", but probably not duchesse's dc sad

I feel strongly that school staff and health professionals don't at the moment feel able to exercise their professional judgment and make recommendations - the politics is too complicated and they can't be expected to sit at home with the admissions code every night.

To back this up: in my LEA we used to have a system where deferral happened as of right (like Scotland). Consequently the nursery manager approached not just me but three other parents to say that in her and the HT's professional opinion, these particular children would benefit from waiting an extra year. None of the others chose to.

Once the LEA changed its rules to make deferral harder, the nursery manager had to change to a bland "oh, he'll be fine......." response to ALL parents who asked about the (now almost non-) option. She said this both to the parents whose kids, she felt would be fine, but she also had to start saying it to the ones that, in previous years, she would have identified as appropriate candidates.....

duchesse Mon 18-Feb-13 11:28:03

tiggy, my summer born DS (10th July) sank so far without trace that his teacher assured me there was something wrong with him. It is simply not true to say that all tiny 4 year olds' needs are catered for. I think you might be telling the wrong person about this.

My second summer born child (DD2, 27th July) went in the January term of reception and it was still touch and go with her. Luckily she'd matured a lot in the extra 4 months in nursery and it was a bit better than with my son. She was always very much smaller and younger-seeming than her peers until she was 13/14. My DS was always that way until about 15 (ie most of his schooling).

Incidentally, DD1 (April birthday), same level of intelligence as her siblings, has always seemed more mature and in control and sorted than them.

I'm not willing to be gung-ho with a third of my children. And although the legal requirement is that schools have to wait until the child is 5, in practice a lot of pressure is put by oversubscribed schools for the child to come in with the rest of the intake year. We only managed to delay DD2's entry until January as capitation happened in January back in 2001. Now that it happens in September, pressure will rise to encourage parents to put their children in the Autumn term.

tiggytape Mon 18-Feb-13 10:39:28

The HT is very happy for people to delay their child's entry if they are summer birthdays. BUT she is retiring at the end of this academic year and I don't know whether the new HT will be of the same opinion.

It may reassure you to know that delaying a child's entry as you describe is a legal right that all parents have. The school or HT can not override this. Although much has been said on this thread about the almost impossibility of holding a child back an entire year, all parents automatically have the right to delay entry into Reception for a few months until the child has turned 5.
This doesn't mean they join the year below though - it means they join the 'correct' class but join it later than all the other pupils eg they miss Sept - Dec or they miss Sept - Easter so only have 1or 2 terms in Reception instead of 3.

As someoftheabove says - schools are used to this. No reception class is populated entirely by mature September babies who can read, write and cope with long days. At least 1/3 or 1/4 of any reception class will be tiny Summer babies all in the same boat and the teaching staff are well used to dealing with this and making sure they are O.K. When you have a Summer baby, it is easy to focus on the fact that there will be children in the class nearly an entire year older. But there will only be a few of those.

someoftheabove Mon 18-Feb-13 10:28:02

Just to give a different perspective, we moved to the former East Germany when dd was four, so she went to kindergarten, where there was strictly no formal learning, then left and went to the international school at six. Her first taste of the UK school system was just before her 7th birthday, when we came back. She's now 17 and doing just fine. DS, on the other hand, was just four when we came back to the UK and started in Reception three weeks after his 4th birthday (August baby). Having had the luxury of dd starting learning when she was ready, rather than when the state decided, I was terrified that DS would sink without trace, especially as he only did 6 weeks in pre-school. But he had a gradual start, part-time for several weeks and, now aged 14, is also doing just fine.

So my point is, you just can't predict how it will turn out. The school will be very experienced at dealing with younger reception children and will understand that some are more ready than others, regardless of age. Don't worry before you have to!

duchesse Mon 18-Feb-13 09:33:30

DD3 is also a 27th August birthday but she is due to start school in September. I am quaking. She is still tiny and barely dry or clean in the daytime.

She is registered to go to the tiny primary school in the next village. The HT is very happy for people to delay their child's entry if they are summer birthdays. BUT she is retiring at the end of this academic year and I don't know whether the new HT will be of the same opinion. So we are also investigating the Steiner free due to open in our city in September. DD3 is not especially healthy- she has many coughs, colds and general wheeziness- and I feel that she benefit from being more outdoorsy generally. DH is worried/dubious about the whole steiner thing though so I may have a job convincing him.

thesecretmusicteacher Mon 18-Feb-13 09:19:42

yes - does anyone have any insight into how the 11 + is dealt with?

This would affect those children held back because of social communication skills but with potential for academic excellence.

racmun Sun 17-Feb-13 22:14:23

My son was born mid August at 6 weeks early so he will go to school having just turned 4.

I have torn myself apart over the fact he Is going to be one of the youngest but have decided to roll roll with it. We're concerned that going forward there may be issues with 11+ exams etc where sitting them in the 'wrong' year can cause major issues.

It's sooooo annoying

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 17-Feb-13 19:05:08

very tricky,

but yes, I have to accept - a child whose LEA is urging application for a statement at 3 but who in fact - given time and good interventions between 3 and 5 - catches up completely, is not going to be the most common case....

Still - even though it's all in the past for me, I feel an obligation to stick around these debates and point out the cases where it's the most necessary and important intervention that can be made.

If we just got the clarity, nursery teachers would feel that they could make judgments and tell parents their children were appropriate candidates for deferral. Unfortunately, most nursery staff now think "it's not allowed" so ideal candidates are missed (unless their mums read this thread).

We are in serious danger of agreeing with each other - must stop!

teacherwith2kids Sun 17-Feb-13 18:56:51

TSMT - a child with high levels of SEN has a good reason - and a good chance of being allowed - to stay down a year. The child I have taught out of year was one such (although there is a difficulty in extreme cases that the child is not ready a year later either - I had a Y4 [age] child in a Y3 [school] class, with the needs of an 18 month old and making c. 1 month progress per calendar year in school. There is an argument that in some cases the child was no more ready a year later and might as well have remained in year IYSWIM?)

'But they'll be the youngest and - temporarily - at a statistical marginal disadvantage' is much more common...and should not at present be allowed.

tiggytape Sun 17-Feb-13 18:42:49

thesecretmusicteacher: Your case is rarer - children warranting a statement at the age of 3 are largely covered by existing rules. Compelling medical advice already allows them to be kept back a year and it sounds like you were allowed to do this and had a good outcome. That is exactly as it should be and how it should work. It is what the current rules intend to happen.

Most people however are asking for their child to be held back simply based on birth date and perceived disadvantage as opposed to high degrees of additional needs. They worry their child will be the youngest and so be behind initially and be the smallest in the class. They worry they are too immature for school (but still within the normal range for a 4 year old). That is when I agree with ByTheWay1 - somebody has to be the smallest, the youngest, the most immature, the fidgetiest etc. If August babies are allowed to stay behind just based on birthday, it will be July babies who are the smallest and the furthest behind. If you allow all Summer babies flexibility, it will be April and May babies who have the disadvantage passed on to them

Even in the Scottish system with a different cut-off and greater flexibility, practically all Jan and Feb babies choose to be held back and November babies get forced to be the youngest instead (because of the funding issue for them) so it just shifts the disadvantage (although in Scotland they are generally older at this stage than English babies)

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 17-Feb-13 18:22:35

It's really complicated by the way smile

I could have answered your question - "which children would you want to be disadvantaged" by saying that the 2009 reception cohort would have been disadvantaged by having DS2 in it because he couldn't access the curriculum and so would have needed lots of attention/TA time, etc.

Whereas the 2010 class has benefitted from having him because he contributes to lessons, behaves well, sets a good example and helps others smile

Also, think of the money you've saved in your taxes not paying for my child's statement (I was urged to apply for one when he was three). It's cost you a lot less to fun your little bit of his extra nursery year smile

So for the right child it is win-win for everyone.

ByTheWay1 Sun 17-Feb-13 18:06:59

I feel a bit hmm about all this holding back a year thing - it will surely just cause problems later on??? Taking the Grammar test , moving to Secondary is done at a certain age... etc..

I also wonder at the "I want MY child to be top of the class /picked for the team" stuff....

I have one Dec DD and one end July DD -(stealth boast coming) both have been in the school Netball team, both have been top of the class in Maths- neither was anything to do with their age/size/emotional age.

Your daughter's birthday in August may mean that someone in the higher year group is younger than she is, how would she feel about that? How would you feel about leaving that child to be the youngest in the class?

and finally - which children do YOU want to be disadvantaged.... ok - not yours I get that, but someone will always be the youngest in the class, and by allowing people to pick and choose date of entry it just skews things to those who are not so educated , towards people who do not know that this could be a disadvantage and will not work hard at home to overcome it should it be one......

gabsid Sun 17-Feb-13 17:23:58

My DS is Y3 and is still struggling all round, he liked his play orientated infant school and very slowly getting used to his new junior school - its still too much for him, he is not ready to be so independent and grown up. I wonder when he gets over it?

Besides, many do fine but many, especially boys are too young and would benefit from having another year to get ready. The fact is that summer born children are at an overall disadvantage.

bananananacoconuts Sun 17-Feb-13 16:58:49

my ds and dd are 25 and 26th of august. neither has had problems academically. dd also fine socially. ds is under review for asd at present so has had a few problems but nothing that could have been better had he been held back a year. in fact i personally think they are lucky that they have so much knowledge compared to their friends from nursery who are a few days younger yet are nowhere near them academically. ds is year 2 dd reception

AWimbaWay Sun 17-Feb-13 16:49:00

Similar experience to Fuzzymum1, my late August born ds (due September) is struggling a little. I'm sure he'll catch up, he's still only year one, but I don't feel he was ready to start school when he did and even now he gravitates towards the older reception children. I see him looking longingly into the reception playground on the way in to school. If I could have held him back I would have.

shushpenfold Sun 17-Feb-13 16:33:01

In 2 English state schools (different counties) a resounding NO.

In 2 English Independent preps and now senior schools (in different counties), a resounding's the main reason why we moved over.

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 17-Feb-13 16:29:25

should add that I still support greater parental choice as in Scotland but let's concentrate on the cases where it is considered most likely to make a really big difference first.......

thesecretmusicteacher Sun 17-Feb-13 16:27:40

thanks Tiggytape - gosh - I'm a little shocked that the Government has announced there is "no evidence" when it is the Government itself that has failed to gather the evidence because Jim Rose dropped the ball so badly.

All the better that the government has now asked Bliss to gather evidence.

If health professionals were confident that their recommendations to year-defer wouldn't suck them into postcode-lottery politics with LEAs, I think that would be a huge step in the right direction. Sadly we can't expect most parents to have the support of heads because usually the head won't get to know the child until it is too late because they are already in reception, and repeating reception is a different kettle of fish from starting reception at 5.0.

I think health professionals are good at "looking for" suitable candidates - that's what they do all the time anyway. So they are in a good position to spot children who are challenged-but-could-well-catch-up-if-oldest-in-class. And that will include certain premature children, certain children with special needs but, I accept, only a subset of each.

tiggytape Sun 17-Feb-13 15:44:42

I was quoting from Department of Education guidance which is filtered down to each Local Authority to explain how they can make decisions about holding children back and emphasising the assumption that this is very much an exception not the norm and all other avenues are explored first.

This chap needs to meet my child's paediatrician, head, SALT, SENCO and teachers. If I say it, it's anecdote, but if they all said it, maybe it would count as "evidence"?

Yes it would be evidence. If all of those experts wrote in support of your child staying back a year, then you could go to the LA and succeed in getting that granted. You may still face future problems with secondary schooling (being asked to skip Year 6 and go straight from Year 5 to Year 7 for example) but if you stayed living in the same LA and negotiated it in advance, yours is a case that could qualify.

In the overwhelming majority of cases though, either a parent wants the child held back a year just because they're born on August 29th and will be the littlest in the class. Or the child is August born and has some additional needs but not to the degree that these could not be supported in class.
In these cases (where it is basically parental preference and not necessity) children are not allowed to be held back. It has been debated for quite a while - I think TAMBA may have been involved at some time too (twins are often premature). It is a subject a lot of people feel quite strongly about and don't realise how little flexibility there currently is.

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