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School will not allow DS to repeat Reception - any options?

(48 Posts)
XtinaT Sun 19-Jun-11 16:36:52

We moved to the UK from the US a few months ago and my DS started in Reception in March and will have only 1.5 terms by the end of this term. He is summer born (22 July) and always been slightly less socially mature as his peers. He started from scratch with the academics in Reception because the US preschools don't start with phonics etc. until children are 5. He is behind the other kids in his class and fairly frustrated by the reading and writing tasks we need to do at home.

I inquired whether he could repeat Reception, and although his immediate teacher was open to the idea, the Headteacher of the school nixed the idea. Apparently it's never been done at this school and the Headteacher does not want to open this door.

I understand that he will get the needed extra support academically when ever needed and I appreciate this approach. The problem is in my gut I know he would do so much better and quite possibly with much less pain if he wasn't required to be pushed forward based on his birth date.

Do I have any options to hold him back until he's really ready?

Northernlurker Sun 19-Jun-11 16:42:18

He doesn't have to be educated until the term after he's 5 but I guess from what you say that's next term anyway.
He doesn't have to go to school though to be educated. You could home school for a couple of years and try and catch up that way?

Hulababy Sun 19-Jun-11 16:43:34

Does your child have an IEP at school? Or any diagonised special educatiional needs?

It is very very unusual for a state school to allow children to repeat a yea or to be placed in the wrong academic year group. There has to be a very strong case for it backed up by some form of education reports from various agencies.

There is more chance in an independent school but even then there has to be a strong case for it to happen.

nickschick Sun 19-Jun-11 16:50:56


I know exactly where your coming from,my own ds1 is August born and I insisted he only did part time hours in reception class blush,thankfully a wise and thoughtful head teacher manouvered the situation and ds1 started full time hours after Xmas and did enjoy it - all the children are at different stages academically and all find 'their' places.

Ds1 is now 17 and off to uni in Sept to study law.
This is all a bit of a giggle with my friends because he was so 'babied' by me cos he was just sooooooooo young imo.

step back take a breath and see what happens if by Xmas he is clearly struggling - reassess.

A lot can change with a childs educational development over a summer holiday.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sun 19-Jun-11 16:51:37

If the school had 30 children of the correct age applying for a place in the reception class, they would, by law, have priority over a child of the wrong age. The only guarantee of dropping down a year is to get a statement of SEN which specified it. If you moved to a school which had spaced in it's reception class it would be a possibility, but by Y6 SATs you may get a problem again, as your DS would either have to do them in Y5 or more likely, be disapplied, which would affect the school's league table. Private school is your best option if you can't find a sympathetic state primary.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sun 19-Jun-11 16:53:29

Spaces, not spaced in Reception!

ElfDiasphora Sun 19-Jun-11 17:01:09

Do try to feel relaxed about it. DS1 is a mid august birth, and has always been rather socially immature. Also, his fine-motor skills weren't fast to develop, so he found writing a struggle to learn.

But with the sensitive supportive approach that teachers are sually pretty good at imo he got through initial difficulties without suffering any knocks to confidence and all was wel. (He's 15 now.)

These age-related difficulties can even out quite quickly. (Though obviously if you have worries about SEN or his being rather senstive about his difficulties then my advice won't be relevant.)

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Sun 19-Jun-11 17:02:06

I totally agree with NicksChick
my friends little one didn't mind going to reception but it was (for him) nothing other than day care, he had no interest in learning letters numbers or the other things that were being (very gently I must add) taught.

In year one he had special time with his english and a bit more support but really with still little interest in reading or writing
He moved happily onto year 2 and wow, none of us know what has changed but he has all of a sudden found a love of books and writing.

He hasn't been forced, or bullied or anything and he has found his own way but still being in the same group as his peers,

My worry about him repeating reception is that what if it doesn't click in the next 12 months? he can't stay put until it does. If he is frustrated at home, take your foot off the pedal, even though he is at school you can dictate the pressure he feels. We didn't do any "homework" unless it felt like DS1 was excited by it and wanted to do it.

mrz Sun 19-Jun-11 17:02:16

If it's a state school then there are all kinds of problems teaching a child out of year (keeping him back/repeating a year) at some point he would have to rejoin his correct year group which would mean missing a full year's input. Many reception children will be moving into Y1 having spent only 1 or 2 terms in reception and will initially be behind their older peers.

megapixels Sun 19-Jun-11 17:04:18

They don't do all that much in the way of actual "work" in Reception class, it's more a case of getting used to the routine of school and everything it involves. So could you perhaps work with him a little in the holidays to get your son upto speed in the 3Rs? You could ask the teacher where he needs to be and you have the whole of the summer holidays to do little bits slowly. The teacher will be able to tell you if it's doable.

If you make him repeat a year it might be better in the short term but I don't know how it'll pan out later, as another poster said wrt SATs and secondary admission.

blackeyedsusan Sun 19-Jun-11 17:04:58

some children never got any time in reception and went straight into year one not so long ago. some children still do not start until january. some who do start in reception and do a whole year will be at the same level as your ds.

if the tasks are too hard for him, there is a problem with the tasks. he needs to work at his own level. trying to do something too hard will not help him catch up. ask the teacher what you can do at home to help. get her to be specific. children learn at their own pace. you can't force it although you can encourage it. a good year one teacher will take the children from where they are when they start and move them on from there.

meditrina Sun 19-Jun-11 17:08:46

My DD had a girl in her class who had moved from the US and was similarly adrift in literacy from those who had been in the UK system. This may be a case suitable for some targeted tutoring. I don't know all the details, but I know the girl in question was tutored, at her form teachers recommendation and by one of the school's teachers on maternity leave. It was specific and short term, and completely transparent to her teacher (the school is normally not in favour of tutoring).

Might this be something you could discuss with yours?

IndigoBell Sun 19-Jun-11 17:15:34

He'll be fine. Lots of kids don't learn much formal stuff in reception. If he doesn't have any SEN he'll catch up in Y1.

Your other options are to go private, where you probably would be allowed to repeat reception, or home educate.

But almost no LEAs allow you to be kept back a year......

Mum2be79 Sun 19-Jun-11 17:29:57

Summer born children 'tend' to be behind their peers early on in education anyways but will catch up.

UniS Sun 19-Jun-11 18:32:42

He's only been at school 6 weeks less than my march born DS. IN Dss class there are some August born kids. One you would not guess was a summer born at all. Has bags of energy was desperate to start school, gets along with everything and on teh whole has appropriate behaviour in the playground. ( I'm an MTA, I see them 3 days a week in playground) . The other... HAs bags of energy, doesn't always remember teh behaviour rules in playground. BUT none of them are as immature in behaviour as one or two of teh spring born kids and one of the September born kids still needs reminding about going to the loo.....

Can you have a chat to his year one teacher NOW and lay it on teh line about what difficulty's you think DS will have and see what they think/ say about it.

IF he stays back a year... The first term will be spent with lots of 4 yr olds relearning the VERY basic, washing hands, lining up, going to loo with out reminders, He won't get special attention to get him up to age 5 appropriate because he won;t be with age 5.

better to be teh one who is bit behind in Year one and gets attention to help than to be the odd man out not a new boy seemingly quite able Reception kid who sees his peers doing different stuff and moving on in Year 1.

By end of Year 2 its all kinda panned out anyway and is hard if not impossible to work out who is summer born and who is Autunm.

mummytime Sun 19-Jun-11 20:01:35

UK schools are very very different to US.
UK schools work on the policy of keeping children with their age cohort, and "differentiating" the work to make it accessible, appropriate and challenging for the individual.
I have known children arrive in year 1 with no prior school experience, children arrive at the end of year R with no English (and children arrive much later with no English). UK teachers and schools are used to this.

I am confident your son will do fine. In a UK classroom he may well cope much better than in a US one, especially as a lot of schools are taking on a lot of learning through play lessons from the foundation stage.

So I would suggest that you talk to the teachers about your concerns, not demanding specific solutions which although maybe appropriate for the US are not really appropriate here. Listen and make sure your concerns are heard, but do try not to worry.

SocietyClowns Sun 19-Jun-11 20:36:33

Can anyone give me a credible reason why it is not possible to repeat a year in this country? I come to this as someone who was educated on the continent (where deferring entry to primary and repeating years if necessary are quite normal) but have lived here nearly 20 years. My summer born dd is due to start reception in September at barely four years old and she is not only going to be one of the youngest, but also young for her age. Why is she forced to be in her 'year group' where some of her class mates will be almost an entire year older? Shouldn't it be up to parents to decide if their child is ready? And no, I do not consider home educating an option because she would drive me round the bend...

mrz Sun 19-Jun-11 20:38:14

It is possible

SocietyClowns Sun 19-Jun-11 21:51:56

Well, only if you label your child (possibly permanently) as SN. My dd is not special needs, she is just very very young and not ready for formal schooling from 9 to 3.30 for five days a week...

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sun 19-Jun-11 22:15:12

She doesn't have to start straight away, she doesn't have to start until the term in which she turns 5. But that would mean she'd have had less time in school and be younger than the rest of the class. TBH, it was an unforeseen problem with the 30 per class policy for infants that there is no flexibility to be taught out of your year group in schools which are full.

UnSerpentQuiCourt Sun 19-Jun-11 22:16:59

I don't think that you label them as 'special needs'. I have taught two classes recently with back-yeared children; one with physical but non-obvious SN (heart problems hence many operations) and another who was just very 'young' at 4 ... none of the other children ever seemed to notice, even up to year 6. They realised that these boys were older than the others, but never remarked on the fact.

I have managed to have my daughter held back (summer born and bilingual) and am very glad I did. Even now it will be quite difficult for her. I am very glad I did so.

Of course it should be up to parents - schools take themselves faaaar to seriously.

mummytime Sun 19-Jun-11 22:22:39

Because this country has education based on educating children for their best keeping them in their age cohort. You can alternatively make children repeat a year, but that can mean that for example dyslexic (Mrs whatever we mean by that) pupils are effectively given the same instruction that didn't work the first time around. By keeping them with their age cohort, the teachers have to endeavour to meet their needs, and try alternative strategies.

There is a lot of research that shows that keeping children down (or advancing them) does not help them. It is a matter of debate, but this country takes the view that it is better for children to stay with their cohort.

Also as keeping children down is not national policy, if locally it is allowed two things can happen. First the child moves and has to "jump a year". Second a new group become in charge of the local council (Brent I think had this) and suddenly all the kept down children have to join their cohort at secondary.

Also from a friends experience, where summer children were regularily kept down, it just changes the effective cut off point. So parents of daughter's who are summer born are advised to keep them down even when they are ready because otherwise when they are 11 they will be in a class with 13 year old boys. So instead of the cut off being the 1st September, the cut off becomes 1st June, with those with birthday in late May being the youngest.

SocietyClowns Sun 19-Jun-11 22:34:52

UnSerpentQuiCourt how did you manage to hold back your daughter? Did she not have to go straight into year 1? Genuine interest here as my dd is bilingual (and very very shy and summer born and only just recovering from glue ear...)

IndigoBell Mon 20-Jun-11 03:52:26

Some LEAs allow you to keep children back, but most don't......

I think the UKs policy of differentiating work rather than keeping children back works far better......

If I had been given a chance to keep my DD back in Reception or Y1 I would have taken it. Now that she is in Y3 and still bottom of the class I'm very glad I didn't keep her back. Because if she was in Y2 now she would still be doing badly but she would find it harder to make friends and would be more self conscious of the fact she is doing badly.....

UnSerpentQuiCourt Mon 20-Jun-11 14:05:52

Society - I bumped into an educational phsychologist at a Sure Start group when she was 3, got into converstation, got the name of the appropriate person to write to at the LEA, requested a visit from an EP (turned out it was the same one), bribed her to only speak French to him - it didn't work, but that didn't seem to matter anyway - and he recommended it.

Firstly I went to the school and discussed it with the HT so that she knew I wasn't trying to go behind her back, but that might only be a good strategy in a small village school and if you know that they might be sympathetic. I had heard good things about her.

I wrote a detailed letter to the LEA explaining the reasons and showing that I knew the possible consequences ie I promised that she would not be allowed to leave school at 18 before she had taken any qualifications. I said lots of nice things about how wonderful school is for children and how I wanted her educational career to start off well and just hinted that if they didn't do what I wanted I would H.E. her myself.

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