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Boy who turns 4 this coming August, MUST he start school? HV says so!!

(50 Posts)
luckymummy Mon 25-Apr-05 10:29:39

I am asking for another MNetter who is finding this difficult to talk about. Her son will be 4 in August. She is concerned about him being so young in his year, plus he has just been referred by the HV for speech therapy (not at the parents' instigation, but HV thinks his speech may be behind). The mother suffers from bouts of agoraphobia, and she has had trouble getting her son to preschool... she (mother) knows she has to do deal with the agoraphobia, but she is trying to decide what's best for her son separate from that. The preschool says the boy is bright and thinks he would probably be ok to start school in September.

Thing is, the HV is adament that this boy "has to" start school, like it's absolutely, cast-iron, no exceptions, no choices, he MUST START. I thought that there was no legal requirement until first term after a child's 5th birthday... is there a link on the web somewhere for that?

The mother is feeling pressured and hassled which makes it all the harder to decide what's best for her son. HV is threatening to involve social services to make sure the boy gets to school every day.

TIA.

Hermione1 Mon 25-Apr-05 10:31:28

I don't think they offically have to start until they are 5, so i thought. I'd ring up the education autority to find out.

Hermione1 Mon 25-Apr-05 10:31:51

sorry can't spell, authority. thats better i think.

jampots Mon 25-Apr-05 10:32:52

gosh what a predicament. The poor mummy (and ds).

I dont know what the law is but my ds was very young for his age and I worried sick about him starting school but they settle in sooo quickly and easily within a couple of weeks I realised he wasnt going to run away and now he loves it. I suspect the HV is only trying to help the mum otherwise it can be put off for ever. Maybe if she speaks to teh school they will collect on the days where she feels unable to go out

bobbybob Mon 25-Apr-05 10:33:06

Sounds like crap - I'm sure SS would not be interested until he is 5.

She could always move to NZ. Compulsary education at 6 here!

Beansmum Mon 25-Apr-05 10:33:06

This is what they say in scotland, probably similar everywhere

Once your child reaches the age of 5 you must provide education for him or her from the start of the next session (August). However, most parents take advantage of the admission arrangements which allow a child who is 5 by the end of February to start school the August before.

motherofboys Mon 25-Apr-05 10:34:24

HV sounds a bit aggressive - thought they were supposed to be supportive not threatening?
I also thought it was not a legal requirement until they were 5 - but you may have trouble securing a place? Your local LEA is the place to go - they may have a website - try Google Search?

snafu Mon 25-Apr-05 10:34:49

Isn't the latest start-date the term after they turn 5? The HV sounds like a nightmare, tbh and I'm pretty sure she's talking total crap at least form a legal pov.

luckymummy Mon 25-Apr-05 10:43:37

Thanks, I just found the county website, it says the term after they turn 5 right there!

I don't know if that will be good enough for the HV....Any suggestions for how to convince HV to get off the mother's back?

Beansmum Mon 25-Apr-05 10:44:49

let the HV go to social services, they'll just tell her she's wrong and then she'll have to leave the mum alone.

handlemecarefully Mon 25-Apr-05 10:45:17

I think the key thing is that "the preschool says that the boy is bright and thinks he will probably be ok to start school in September" - that being the case, won't he be missing out to defer longer?

RnB Mon 25-Apr-05 10:46:45

Message withdrawn

snafu Mon 25-Apr-05 10:46:48

Well, I don't really have any concrete suggestions, but the fact is that the HV is talking out of her behind. It's not a legal requirement, so she'd get very short shrift from SS if she followed through on her threats to involve them. Can your friend not see another HV? This one sounds like a complete pain.

tabitha Mon 25-Apr-05 10:48:58

That sounds awful. I think that just turned 4 is terribly, terribly young to start school.
Things are different here in Scotland. My ds had an August birthday but didn't start school until he was 5 (day after his birthday actually) and he was by no means the oldest in his class - in fact there were children a good six months older in it.
Dd has a February birthday and we will have the option of her starting when she is 4 1/2 or 5 1/2 and tbh unless there are very good reasons not to she will be waiting a year as I have a number of friends whose children were in the same situation and started earler, which caused a lot of problems. In fact one friend's ds ended up having to repeat Primary 1 because he was just too young the first time.

jangly Mon 25-Apr-05 10:49:36

Legal requirement is first term after fifth birthday. see here

WigWamBam Mon 25-Apr-05 10:50:11

Get hold of your LEA's guide to starting school - you can usually pick it up free from schools and nurseries - and get her to show it to her HV. He doesn't need to start in September, although in many areas starting later will mean that there may be no places available for him at the school of his parents' choice. If pre-school say he'll be OK then he'll be OK - there will be other children there born around the same time so he won't be the only one.

I actually think the problem here is her agorophobia, not when her son needs to start school. Is she having it treated?

Freckle Mon 25-Apr-05 10:50:35

A child is not obliged to start school until the term following the one in which he/she turns 5 - so technically your friend's child could stay out of full-time education until September 2006.

Having said that, it depends on how heavily subscribed is the school that she wants her son to attend. If it is a very popular school, they may not be able to hold a place for the child until 2006, so she runs the risk of keeping her child back longer, but losing the place at her preferred school in the process.

aloha Mon 25-Apr-05 10:50:54

IMO and according to all studies, no, he won't be missing out. There is no real lasting benefit to starting formal schooling early - in fact, there are many disadvantages.
No, there is no legal requirement to start school at four - thank God. My 3 yr old ds is Sept born and so he won't start until he is very nearly five and I am so grateful. And yes, he is bright. He is reading, can count, add and subtract, speak some French, but he has got all that from home so I completely fail to see why he - or any other four year old 'needs' school.
I would simply tell the HV she is wrong. She can go away and check her law if she wants, but she is wrong. There is no legal requirement for four year olds to be in any sort of education. I think her behaviour is absolutely shocking btw and should be reported. Agoraphobia is awful and yes, you might be concerned about a mother and a child where the mother suffers from a debilitating phobia but to deal with this with threats is, IMO, disgraceful, stupid, unprofessional and downright cruel.

zebraX Mon 25-Apr-05 10:52:03

RnB -- May I ask how you feel so confident about delaying your son's school start? What will he do next year, when he is "scheduled" to be in school, can he still go to preschool for another year? This is worrying about things years in advance... but my youngest has a June birthday & I wonder if I will want to delay him starting, too. I meet a lot of boys, with May-August birthdays, in DS1's reception class, boys who I think really don't seem that ready for school (to me).

aloha Mon 25-Apr-05 10:53:11

Actually, there is no legal requirement for ANY child of ANY age to go to school, merely that they should be educated. Not recommending this to your friend btw, but just pointing out that the HV is doubly talking out of her behind!

Saker Mon 25-Apr-05 11:03:56

I am also delaying my ds2's school start. He is 4 in August but has special needs and I don't want him to start until Sept 2006. However although it is legal to hold a child back you have to be very careful that the school doesn't then put the child straight into the year that they would have been had they started on time - ie so they miss reception. Cambridgeshire LEA (where we are) are likely to enforce this so we do have to get permission from the school and from the LEA which is taking an interminable time. If your friend wants to hold her son back, she needs to speak to the school immediately and get a guarantee of a place next year and get it in writing that he will go into Reception not year 1. The preschool ought to be able to help with this or the preschool service in the area as he has some level of SN. She will probably need to speak to the LEA to see what their view is. Although it is not illegal it is much better to get everyone on side from the beginning.

RnB Mon 25-Apr-05 11:05:56

Message withdrawn

luckymummy Mon 25-Apr-05 11:06:39

This is all quality information and suggestions, thank you so much. Any more comments still welcome. XxX - LM.

RnB Mon 25-Apr-05 11:06:52

Message withdrawn

LIZS Mon 25-Apr-05 11:13:57

HV sounds a bit heavy but it is a diffiuclt situation. There is no have to about him attending school in September -coudl wait a full year hence but agree with Saker about the year group issue.

However, given the mum's problems, it may be of more benefit to her son to attend school, possibly mornings only if they operate a half day for younger ones, and be in a regular social environment. Perhaps the HV thinks his lack of continuity in attending preschool is a factor in his speech if he otherwise lacks social contact. Sounds as if the HV's energies are being misdirected and would be better spent addressing the mum's fears of him being not ready and the pressure of having to get him to the school each day, perhaps by organising a Childminder who could do the school run for her.

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