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MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Wed 15-May-19 15:52:28

Guest post: “A later start can be the best thing for many children.”

Four years ago Rosie wrote about her fight to delay her summer-born daughter’s school entry. Now she is a spokesperson for the Summer Born Campaign.

Rosie Dutton

Mum in the moment

Posted on: Wed 15-May-19 15:52:28


Lead photo

“Some summer-born children will enjoy school from age four and do very well, while others won’t.“

My summer-born daughter Olivia is the oldest child in her school year.

Nearly four years ago I told Mumsnet all about our ‘fight’ to start her in reception at age five.

Olivia is now in Year 3 and enjoying school.

But other parents up and down the country are still fighting for the same right, with their children being made to start at age 4 or enter Year 1 at age 5.

This is despite assurances from the Schools Minister Nick Gibb in 2015, that ‘summer-born children can be admitted to the reception class at the age of five if it is in line with their parents’ wishes’, and the promise ‘to ensure that those children are able to remain with that cohort as they progress through school, including through to secondary school.’

A later start can be the best thing for many children. Olivia enjoyed her reception year, but the jump to Year 1 was a bit of a shock and she found some of Year 2 hard. I’m so glad she had that extra year of development behind her to face those challenges.

No one could pick Olivia out in a crowd; she fits in perfectly well with her class cohort and is thriving in Year 3.

Despite all the warnings that she’d be ‘on the wrong register’, be ‘the odd one out’ or ‘have to take her SATs a year early’, we haven’t encountered any problems along the way (although she did receive a birthday card with the wrong age on one year, but that’s about as tricky as it’s got!).

Olivia even thanks me for what I did.

Every time I read about the summer-born issue it ends in confused debate, so I wanted to finish by debunking a few myths and ensuring everyone knows the facts.

I have always talked about it openly (and proudly) and explained my reasons to her. She tells me that she couldn’t imagine being in Year 4 right now. ‘I’m right where I belong, mummy,’ she says.

The truth is, Olivia knows more about the law than some staff who work in admission departments, and even some school heads. She often corrects adults who tell her she ‘should’ be in Year 4, saying, ‘I could be in Year 4, not should.’

Of course, every child is different. That’s why choice and flexibility is so important (but only if it’s fair for all). Some summer-born children will enjoy school from age four and do very well, while others won’t. Whatever choice parents make should be without judgement.

Every time I read about the summer-born issue it ends in confused debate, so I wanted to finish by debunking a few myths and ensuring everyone knows the facts.

What is the law? Do you know your rights?

The School Admissions Code requires councils to provide schooling for all children in the September following their fourth birthday, but a child does not reach compulsory school age until the term following their fifth birthday.

So, for a summer-born child (defined as born April 1st - August 31st), that’s a whole year later than when they could first enter school.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Summer-born children are still the only group of children who don’t have automatic right of access to reception at that point (compulsory school age); parents can only request that their child starts in reception.

Some admission authorities have a policy of automatically agreeing all requests while others will only consider requests if parents present very strong evidence of special educational needs or developmental delay.

It’s important to know that it’s your decision when your child starts school, whether prior to compulsory school age or at compulsory school age.

The admission authority for the school has to make a year group decision based on the best interests of your child at that point (i.e. compulsory school age). The discussion should not be about ‘school readiness’ or how they can meet your child’s needs at age four.

The question an admission authority must answer is: ‘What is in this child’s best interests at compulsory school age, reception or Year 1?’ It must then clearly explain the reasons for its decision.

Incredibly, it has been nearly four years since Nick Gibb’s assurances and promises, and in that time many children have been forced to miss reception or start school before their parents wanted them to.

There needs to be a consistent approach across the country, and soon.

For further information regarding the admission of summer-born children, please see the Summer Born Campaign website and join its Facebook group.

Rosie will be returning to the post on Wednesday 22nd May to answer some user questions

By Rosie Dutton

Twitter: @muminthemoment

Helix1244 Sat 25-May-19 19:25:03

If the diasadvantaged despite going to preschool from 2 are still not achieving then that policy is not working.
Maybe preschool homework for kids/parents might help to direct them towards what might help to work towards including school readiness.
Say today/week we are working on putting socks on or coat/getting dressed.

JaneLaw Wed 29-May-19 04:25:51

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Aurthom Tue 20-Aug-19 19:13:52

I have to disagree with this point. Having children 17 months older is a VW efit not a disadvantage to their youngest claaamates. What is incredibly difficult on all is if there are too many who are close to 4 as many need so much more individual attention and help. Having more older children in a reception class who can dress themselves without help, who are independent and don’t need the teachers help for most things, means that more individual attention can be given to the youngest children who need the extra help.

Aurthom Tue 20-Aug-19 19:21:19

@helix1244, children need more time to be children not homework at an earlier age! One of the biggest indicators of success in academics and later life, is the amount of free play children have with no adult intervention or direction. Trying to get them to learn how to be grownup at younger and younger ages is counter productive. So many studies back this up. They also show that homework makes no different to results in the short term or long term. Let’s let our kids be kids ❤️

Mediaemily Sat 21-Dec-19 12:21:02

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Isabella1123 Tue 16-Feb-21 15:56:37

Yeah, I am totally agree with you because I realize this thing for my child "A later start can be the best thing for many children". Thanks for sharing 😊

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