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August birthdays starting school too early?

(9 Posts)
Pastarito Sat 15-Jan-05 11:00:01

Does anyone know if you are allowed to hold a child back by a school year if you feel they are too young to start?

My ds2 is an August birthday, and although he has no developmental delays, his speech is not too good. He will be 3 in August and is supposed to go into our school nursery. Whilst I am not too worried about this, I am a bit concerned about his starting school in reception year. My ds1, who was always quite advanced academically, is struggling in Yr1 (to my surprise!). What on earth is it going to be like for ds2!

I would feel happier if I knew that I could keep ds2 back by a school year if I needed to when the time comes.

I had heard that all you can do in the UK is keep them in nursery until the term of their 5th birthday - but then they still have to go into Yr1 the following September (so effectively missing out 2 terms of reception year).

Does anybody know of a way round this?

LIZS Sat 15-Jan-05 11:06:55

I think your last statement regarding direct entry into year 1 is correct and they don't have to go into full time education until the term after their 5th birthday. However you may lose out on your choice of school by going down this route as they would not be obliged to hold the place.

Nearer the time you may be able to find out how flexible the school is, if the nursery directly feeds into the Reception, perhaps he could split his time or delay his move by a term or so, if they have a January or Easter intake for example (our nephew did this). If you have a medical or SEN report to back you up you may even be able to delay his start altogether but he may then go through school technically a year behind, even though some of the kids would only be weeks younger.

Not sure how much this answers your query ! hth

roisin Sat 15-Jan-05 12:03:56

I presume you are in England, not Scotland? Scotland are much more flexible about starting school than the UK. Usually here there is very little flexibility possible. As you say, legally they do not have to start full time school until the term after they are 5. However, if you are in an area where children usually start school in the term after they are 4, it is unusual to find a nursery which will accept children of this age. And you have problems with school admissions, as the school is not obliged to hold a place for you if you choose not to send them at 4.

Hmm... So what's the good news? I feel quite strongly for the vast majority of children the best place for them to be is with their peers. And good schools will be geared up for children of vastly differing social and academic abilities.

Some schools will allow a degree of flexibility during the reception year - going half days, or only a few days a week. I would encourage you to go to visit the school you plan to apply to, and talk to the Head about your concerns, and see what their approach is.

starlover Sat 15-Jan-05 13:10:01

As far as I know you are right in saying that they have to start in the term of their 5th birthday.
My birthday is at the end of August (28th) and I started the Easter before I turned 5.
Why don't you wait and see how he gets on in nursery.. you may find he thrives and that his speech comes on when surrounded by other children and teachers.
As you know, no 2 kids are alike and just because ds1 struggles it doesn't mean ds2 will!
I am sure that the school will do all they can to support him if he does find things difficult, and he'll enjoy starting at the same time as all his friends from nursery I'm sure.

amynnixmum Sat 15-Jan-05 13:19:35

My ds was 4 in july and is having problems at school. I looked into the idea of holding him back a year and unfortunately although i could take him out of school now and start him again in sept he would have to go into year one (have checked with LEA and there is no way around this). I get so fustrated with the system in this country. DS school has asked LEA to do a statutory assessment as a result of his behaviour at school but i honestly think that if he had been allowed to start in reception this sept instead of last sept at just 4 he would have coped ok. Don't worry too much about his speech. I'm a cm and ime lots of children who have limited speech at 2 1/2 come along in leaps and bounds by the time they start school and nursery will certainly help this.

megi Sun 16-Jan-05 09:22:48

I agree - there is very little flexibility in the system. I am a primary school teacher with a 3 year old who has a late august birthday - so I also have a real interest in this issue.
There is a child at my school, who for various reasons started the school in the year group below what he should have done (I think he started in year 2 when he shold have stated in year 3) - BUT, legally, the child has to take GCSEs at age 16, therefore, they would have to be put into their correct year group at some point, which is obviously very disruptive because they will be with new peers, and will "miss a year" accademicaly, which would probably more disruptive than starting, and staying within their own year group.

Pastarito Sun 16-Jan-05 09:50:49

Thanks for all your posts! Looks like there is no way around it really. The school my children go/will go to has a long waiting list and the head is not known for her flexibility (quite the opposite). But I think I'll still go in and have a word with her about it. Ds2's concentration and small motor skills both better than ds1's were at 2, so he might be ok after all. Maybe it is just a case of waiting to see how it goes. I am worried about the speech though. Hopefully he will start to improve after 2 and a half.

My husband is Italian and now and again we do think about going back to Italy and putting the kids through the Italian system (as they start later), but there are risks there as well! What if it didn't work out? At least here I know what I am dealing with.

bee3 Sun 16-Jan-05 10:53:42

It can be hard for Summer born children, although some cope perfectly well. Often it's down to the individual child, in that some Sept/Oct born children find starting school hard too.

I think the answer lies in the way the Reception class is run. In the last LEA I worked (as a Reception teacher) all children started in the Autumn term, regardless of age. I was sceptical about this, but it actually worked well in that once they had started I still had huge flexibility about how to carry on through the year.

Most children settled quickly and were happy coming fulltime from the 3rd or 4th week (good for the Summer birthdays who were 'ready' but would have to wait until Easter in some LEAs). A couple of children came fulltime, but often not on Fridays, because they were very tired by then. Some children continued doing just mornings right up until Christmas, with occasional full days to see how they were coping. We tried to make sure everyone was getting the right amount of time in school for their stage of development and maturity, with the understanding that we were working up to as much time in school as possible. By the Spring term most were happy, settled and coming fulltime (although some still did have occasional 'tired' days, where mums felt they just needed to recharge batteries at home for a day). One child, after much talk with his parents, continued doing a mixture of half and full days right into the Summer term. I think this sort of flexibility is the key.

Talk to schools. Ask them about their 'induction policy for Reception'.

Carla Sun 16-Jan-05 11:37:58

Don't know if this helps, but when dd1 started school there was a child whose birthday was on 31 August. They kept him back a year, so now, rather than being the youngest in the class, he's the eldest. HTH XX

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