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Summer-born deferral - the long view seven years on

(42 Posts)
lingle Mon 20-Mar-17 12:46:28

I posted a lot about this topic in 2009-2010 and still get PMs asking about the year-deferral issue. I just got one today asking how it went for us with our child.

I thought I should leave some feedback. Please forgive me if it sounds a little brusque/insensitive - I was once very very involved and hugely sensitive/empathetic which made my posts naturally tactful - but I am no longer in that place.

To recap our child had a severe receptive language delay from about 18 months but began to progress again at about 3. We were clear that we were going to take things year by year, that he would stay in nursery for another year whatever the consequences.

1. So, how did it go? Best thing we ever did. For this child, this was the answer. He goes off to secondary not even on the SEN register and I have absolutely no worries about him. He is flourishing. This is a child whose language delay was severe enough that Bradford Council actually urged us to apply for a statement when he was 3.

2. It was crucial that we negotiated the secondary school position at time of primary entry. He is entering secondary in his adopted year this September (just got the offer). As the political winds have blown back and forth, there have been lots of people warning us about him missing year 6 or other such stuff but we have always been able to fend them off because it was sorted in 2009/2010.

3. I think year-deferral was particularly suited to our child because his language development had paused but had restarted at about 3. So he had a serious gap between him and the average of his default year but also a real prospect of benefitting from just being with peers without a statement provided they were the right peers. Had we put him in his default year, he would have been babied (by kids the same age as him). or worse.

4. If you are thinking about year-deferral purely to get your child to the top of the class, please please please don't. Just send them to a good school. Teachers are excellent at adjusting the curriculum. That's what good teachers do, even in the current climate of poor funding. A typically developing August born can progress from bottom of the class to top as they journey through primary school. Trust the teachers on this one.

5. If your child's SN are clearly going to be permanent, then your strategy will be unique to you and you probably don't want advice from me xx

6. If your child's primary need is to be with an adjusted peer group whose level of maturity matches his/hers, that's a great argument to year-defer.

7. There has been absolutely no social downside to the year-deferral. He only really grasped it in year 4 by which time he was completely accepted as a member of his adopted year group.

8 He came off the SEN register at the end of year 3 as he had transitioned from having needs to merely being quirky. It was at this age that his needs/quirks became about average (other children have other problems.).

But to anyone making the decision, I think what I'd say is this: imagine that every dire warning possible about the consequences of year-deferral. Being teased. Leaving school too early. Feeling like there is something wrong with you. Missing year 6.
If your reaction is "gosh yes, that's a downside", I suggest you may not need to year-defer. If your child is mature enough to worry about it, s/he is probably pretty switched on...

If on the other hand your reaction is a hollow laugh because right now nobody has any idea how to get this child up to year 6 let alone GCSEs and if a child teased them for being year-deferred the child wouldn't understand anyway: you may well need to year-defer.

Best to everyone and again, please accept my apologies that, now I have left this world, I am less attuned to the nuances of what I say, and how it might hurt people, than I once was.

Zodlebud Mon 20-Mar-17 15:05:31

This is such a brilliant post - thank you for sharing. My daughter has a 20th August birthday and not once did we consider deferring entry. She's small for her age and definitely struggled a little with the more physical things at the start but she's flying academically. Teachers are aware of the huge differences in age in the earlier years and they adapt and support accordingly.

Just because you can defer doesn't mean you should, and the idea of deferring just to give a forced competitive advantage is just wrong. Any decision should be made on the basis of the needs of the individual child and it sounds like it has worked extremely well for your son.

Your post is great advice for anyone considering deferral!

MrsHathaway Mon 20-Mar-17 18:05:03

Thoughtful and intelligent post, thank you.

My DC1 and DC2 are both "summer born" so would have qualified automatically under the new rules. They each started school at 4 and fitted in perfectly.

DC3 has a language delay and some behavioural issues. In both cases below the threshold for intervention, but enough for me to be glad he's an autumn birthday and has nearly eighteen months before he goes to school.

I have reservations about the genuine "choice" available to individual families, and the effect on the system as a whole, but it's undeniable that children don't hit milestones at the same age, let alone the same arbitrary date in the calendar.

Popkids Mon 20-Mar-17 22:41:53

I'm glad to hear that starting at CSA worked for you. We've had a CSA start agreed and know a few other parents who have too.

While MN seems obsessed with parents of summerborns seeking an advantage; most of the parents I know looking into deferral or CSA start are concerned about the ratcheting up of expectations in primary and in my case a strong sense that the year 1 curriculum is too formal and completely inappropriate for 5 year olds.

The evidence is also clear that summerborns on average do not "catch up " and although the gap narrows over time there's still half an ave grade gap at A-Level between summer and autumn borns.

Starting my child at 5 is about reducing the academic and emotional risks for them in the current system.

childmaintenanceserviceinquiry Mon 20-Mar-17 22:54:41

Hi, thank you for your post, I guess our children are a similar age. Mine is year 7. But sadly that is where our stories diverge, my child started school in yr r in the January not even age 4 1/2. My ex and I could not get a deferral then. We separated the following year, my son is now in year 7. He has severe Sen and is at a specialist school but without a statement or ehcp. My ex fights me on every opportunity, my son was in mainstream until yr 5. A well to do mainstream primary in a selective area, you can imagine how parents who are paying thousands of pounds of tutoring for grammar loved having a child with Sen in their children's class, my late August born so needed for his well being to be with children just a few weeks younger. So you are right the crap I read on here, about it being to do with pushing my child to the top of the class. Bloody hell, no one is more judgemental towards a child than other parents.

TheSecondOfHerName Mon 20-Mar-17 23:18:45

I'm glad things went well for your DS and that he has made so much progress.

To offer a story about what happens when you don't defer:

DD was born 5 weeks early in late July. By the time she was 1, we realised she had some developmental delays, at 2 we were told she had global developmental delay, worst affected were speech & language and large motor skills.

Her paediatrician asked us if we wanted to defer school entry, but she has a twin brother (who had no developmental delay) and we did not want them to be in different school years.

She had some physio and a year of SALT. She started reception aged 4y 1m with her chronological year group, by this age she was speaking in 2-3 word phrases.

She made good progress in KS1 and was speaking fluently by Y1 and reading and writing by Y2.

She made surprisingly quick progress in KS2 and finished Y6 above national average (NC level 5) in Maths, reading and writing.

She is now in Y8 at a secondary school that is partially academically selective, and loving it.

I don't know what would have happened if we had deferred her school start, but I have no regrets about not doing so.

lingle Tue 21-Mar-17 09:09:10

great to hear other long-term perspectives!

BarchesterFlowers Tue 21-Mar-17 09:16:27

My story is abit like yours Second - no deferal, born three months early so summer born rather than Autumn.

Very very immature, especially emotionally for at least years R-4, struggled academically for the first three years but then flew. Above average in all areas, passed selective tests without tuition and is just a fab all rounder.

Pleased we didn't defer too.

isthishouseamidden Tue 21-Mar-17 09:18:33

This is a great to hear. We've just had our application for DD approved to start at CSA. She has had a similar language issue which is now resolving itself at 3.5 but has left her behind in many areas. As a perm baby who appeared on the 29th August I've been sure this is the best for her, but it is really reassuring that it has worked out so well long term.

Would you consider posting this, or a version of this to the summerbornchildren.org website? Or on their Facebook group flexible admission for Summer borns. It's a site that lots of people have turned to for support since the rules changed in 2014. However there is limited information for parents about how deferral has been good in the longer term.

BarchesterFlowers Tue 21-Mar-17 09:31:46

What does CSA mean midden?

RedSandYellowSand Tue 21-Mar-17 09:51:41

Compulsory school age - so the term after you turn 5.
Which for summer Born's used to be September, starting in Y1. They now have the choice to start in the September, but in Reception, if I've understood properly.

lingle Tue 21-Mar-17 09:54:54

isthishouseamidden,

Please feel free to cut and paste my post to the site you mention.

I need to resist getting emotionally dragged back - it was a bloody hard stressful time as many of you will know!

paddlingwhenishouldbeworking Tue 21-Mar-17 12:10:56

Great post. I'm so glad it worked out for you.

Here's our story.

DC1 - August born, very quiet and we may have deferred given the option because we were worried. Absolutely flew once in school and never looked back, well in advance of his peers and teachers struggled to keep up with his speed of development.

DC2 - June born, initially struggled more than DC1 but absolutely fine and can't imagine him being in the class below now.

DC3 - born in March and how I wish we could have deferred. She was premature, has language delay from glue ear and other developmental issues. Started in reception in September. If she was starting this September she'd be about ready.

smashedinductionhob Tue 21-Mar-17 12:48:56

great to have perspective not just long term but multiple children in same family.....

Dozer Tue 21-Mar-17 12:57:50

I don't think the evidence supports your points about summer born DC without (known) SEN "catching up", and I don't personally trust teachers' opinions on this because many seem strongly against educating DC "out of year group".

My DD has speech and language problems and the local authority agreed to her starting reception a year late in a "community school", ie where the local authority controls admissions. We don't, however, have permission to apply for out of year group admission to local junior and secondary schools that are their own admission authority, which means very limited "choice" in the state sector.

catgirl2 Tue 21-Mar-17 13:07:56

Thank you for this - so useful. We are considering deferring for our now 2.5 year old who has Epilepsy and a speech delay and has had glue ear / grommets. You mentioned missing year 6 - is this still the case do you know - at some point would the child have to miss a year? Thanks

paddlingwhenishouldbeworking Tue 21-Mar-17 13:15:48

Catgirl - my advice would be not to have any preconceived ideas until its time to make the application and reassess then. You might see a huge change in your daughter if she has grommets already. Mine didn't get them until she was 4.5, so IN reception, and is very behind. Seeing her speech progress in the last 3 months, I think things would have been very different if she'd had them 2 years ago.

blaeberry Tue 21-Mar-17 13:24:25

I'm in Scotland so a bit different as the cut-off is the end of Feb (not August) and you can defer any child born after August - you have to start school before you are 6. You only get the extra year of nursery funding if you are born in Jan/Feb though.

My dd was born in Feb so one of the youngest in her potential year. I took advice and trusted the teachers I spoke to, crucially secondary teachers not primary ones. As a result I chose to defer. I do not have any regrets. She fits in her year group fine (why wouldn't she?). She does not need to trail all her friends moving up social clubs (friends' children struggle with this). She had a lovely extra year before school started. Why the rush? She is now 11.

Summer bornes as a group do not catch up.

zoemaguire Tue 21-Mar-17 13:28:52

This is really helpful except, I'd respectfully suggest, for the last bit. Things don't need to be as dire as you suggest for deferring to be a really good idea.

I'm in the position of wishing to god that I'd fought harder to year defer my DS. Not because things are totally awful, but because it's becoming increasingly clear that it would have been the best thing for him. He is an ex-prem who 'skipped' a year (i.e. due oct, born june). He struggles hugely with fine motor skills esp writing, and with maths. Currently investigating suspected processing issues. He is immature and though he is very sociable, he struggles to keep up with peers emotionally. Is he struggling enough to need a statement? No way. Does he hate school because every minute is more effort than it should be? Yes. Would he have fared better starting school later? Absolutely no question whatsoever. He's always done things in his own time. The school system just doesn't allow for this, it ploughs on regardless. He's lost every ounce of his confidence and enjoyment of learning, and is extremely frustrated and angry a lot of the time.

The dire warnings did absolutely put me off trying. I really wish they hadn't! We'll get him to year 6, he'll probably do ok in the end, but there was just no need for it to be this difficult for him.

Itscurtainsforyou Tue 21-Mar-17 13:41:36

Great post, thanks OP.

Can I ask how you arranged secondary school so early on?

My very premature baby was born at the end of August so we're probably going to delay to the following year. I've contact two local schools - the grammar said that he would have to sit the entrance exam in year 5 (so would miss year 6) and the high school said the current rules allowed entry in his adjusted year group (but didn't know if things would change between now and then).

The education authority said that they're all academies so can do what they like unhelpful

Dozer Tue 21-Mar-17 13:42:59

That's what mine said itscurtains.

Itscurtainsforyou Tue 21-Mar-17 13:43:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lingle Tue 21-Mar-17 14:40:05

"While MN seems obsessed with parents of summerborns seeking an advantage; most of the parents I know looking into deferral or CSA start are concerned about the ratcheting up of expectations in primary and in my case a strong sense that the year 1 curriculum is too formal and completely inappropriate for 5 year olds."

Fair point. So annoying - such a solvable problem not to have a stupidly formal year 1 sad

lingle Tue 21-Mar-17 14:41:30

flowers and anger and sadness childmaintenanceserviceinquiry

lingle Tue 21-Mar-17 14:47:42

I take your point Dozer,

What a blessing to have got this far in the thread without any of the "I was born in August and went to Oxford" posts. How I remember those. Oh and "someone has to be the youngest" is a great bingo card filler.

I suppose I'd suggest that outliers like my son (had he been forced into default year) are the "creators" of the saddening statistics as that is how statistics work.

I also take your point that once the choice is removed, the teachers come under great pressure to say "oh he'll be fine".... and they do this with the best of intentions but....

Very sorry to hear about the lack of follow-on to junior and secondary school. Clearly your child desperately needed to defer otherwise you wouldn't have taken that hit as it were.....

"I don't think the evidence supports your points about summer born DC without (known) SEN "catching up", and I don't personally trust teachers' opinions on this because many seem strongly against educating DC "out of year group".

My DD has speech and language problems and the local authority agreed to her starting reception a year late in a "community school", ie where the local authority controls admissions. We don't, however, have permission to apply for out of year group admission to local junior and secondary schools that are their own admission authority, which means very limited "choice" in the state sector."

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