Staggered start to reception

(26 Posts)
Ilovecrumpets Tue 29-Jan-19 12:31:31

Hi everyone

Just looking for some advice/info.

My youngest DS is currently full time at the school’s pre school. He will move into reception from September ( I have an older son in Yr2).

The school remains an outlier in the borough we are in in retaining a 3 week settling in period of half days for the children.

I appreciate this is obviously not just about my DS - but I genuinely think reverting to half days for 3 weeks will be more unsettling for the majority of the children in the pre school full time ( and part time children now do 21/2 full days). I’ve tried to do a bit of research but can’t find much that supports the benefits of such a long settling in period.

I’m just wondering if anyone has had success will raising this with a school and potentially getting it changed ( or at least shortened)? Or could explain to me the benefits of such a long period of half days?

Many thanks

OP’s posts: |
KitKatandTea Tue 29-Jan-19 17:48:14

You don't need to argue this. You are legally entitled to the place full time from Day 1.

I agree with you about prolonged settling in.

Ilovecrumpets Tue 29-Jan-19 19:05:44

Thanks @KitKatandTea I guess I’d like to work with the school rather than insist ( although that is helpful to know). Even a shorter period would make more sense.

Also suspect DS would hate being the o Lu one left! Although I guess if there are quite a few of us ...

OP’s posts: |
BackforGood Wed 30-Jan-19 00:02:57

KitKatandTea - can you point us in the direction of that legislation please ?

SilverDragonfly1 Wed 30-Jan-19 17:34:46

Paragraph 2.16

BackforGood Wed 30-Jan-19 19:15:37

Thanks Silver - though I'm not sure that is specific enough to convince a school they need to keep your dc all day at the point in the term when they would argue that there is no Reception provision in the afternoon or whatever arrangement it is.

Thanks for the link though.

Korvalscat Wed 30-Jan-19 20:20:39

Especially last three paragraphs.


Ilovecrumpets Wed 30-Jan-19 21:02:49

Thanks @SilverDragonfly1
I guess schools could try to argue that as long as full time is available at some point in September they meet it ( although in my school they aren’t full time until October).

Need to read the adjudicator opinion referenced in the Guardian and may have a dig around to see if there has been anything from the adjudicator since then.

OP’s posts: |
Maryann1975 Wed 30-Jan-19 21:50:20

I really don’t get why some schools have such a long settling in period, although dd1s primary school only did half dYs until half term! Which was ridiculous!
Dc2 and 3 went to a different school, they split the year group, with half doing Tuesday morning +lunch and Wednesday afternoon and the other half doing the opposite (Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning+lunch). Everyone in for full time from the Thursday. So much easier and all the children cope fine (with what is often a shorter day than when they went to the onsite nursery. (Incidentally, the nursery struggle with ratios as they still have parents needing a place for the Tuesday and Wednesday whilst trying to start the new children for their funded hours). I assume this is a massive problem at your nursery if it goes on for three weeks.

Crazycrazylady Sun 03-Feb-19 16:01:41

I'm not sure I'd insist in this instance. I'd hate to start my relationship with my child's school in that way.
If nearly all of the other kids are finishing earlier leaving your child there on his own , I would nearly think that could be more unsettling to a child. I do agree that most kids don't need such a long period but not sure I'd choose it as the hill to die on.

widgetbeana Sun 03-Feb-19 16:24:47

I am in the same boat, my second dd starts in September. However I appreciate the settling in. It is not about your child's needs. It is about the teacher getting to know your child, the teacher has 30 children to get to know, it's not like nursery or preschool where the ratios are much smaller.

Remember school is education, not childcare.

BIgBagofJelly Sun 03-Feb-19 17:18:26

I think it probably is helpful for children who aren't used to full days or haven't been in the attached pre school. That said it's a massive headache for working parents and probably not an advantage for kids like your son. The school can't insist he does half days (although obviously most of his class won't be there).

widgetbeana Sun 03-Feb-19 19:42:03

In our school the children who insist on staying all day( 1 last year) were only permitted their half day in class and spent the extra half day in the office with senior management team.
Just ask what the provision will be if you do insist on them staying in school all day during staggered start.

BackforGood Sun 03-Feb-19 20:15:23

I'm not sure I'd insist in this instance. I'd hate to start my relationship with my child's school in that way.
If nearly all of the other kids are finishing earlier leaving your child there on his own , I would nearly think that could be more unsettling to a child. I do agree that most kids don't need such a long period but not sure I'd choose it as the hill to die on.

The problem is, Crazylady (and it's absolutely not a criticism - this was my thinking when we had ridiculous starting pattern when my dc started 15 yrs ago), that, because we all suck it up so as not to start off on the wrong foot with the school, then the same practice continues year on year.

widgetbeana Sun 03-Feb-19 20:21:33

I really don't understand how people think this is unreasonable.

It is 4 -6 weeks of your childs life. And school is about educating your child, it is not free childcare. The teacher is taking this time to find a baseline for each child they will teach. To get a firm basis of what will be yours childs beginning to educational life. This baseline takes time and effort, so half a day for 4 to 6 weeks is cheap at half the price!

You chose to have a child, there were always going to be times when it is hard. I get that it is difficult and complicated, but it is not schools fault. School is not responsible for caring for your child so you can work. Schools are responsible for educating children, that is what they are trying to do.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sun 03-Feb-19 21:59:10

It might be worth talking to the LA and seeing what their position is. I know ours do have a document that they sent to schools that points out that children are entitled to a full day’s education from day one and that they should be making provision for that.

Somethingsmellsnice Mon 04-Feb-19 17:20:34

Yes welcome to the world of Reception. Kids who were either full time at nursery settings or a pre-schools taking a step back. some even have first week leave before lunch, second after lunch and so on. It is what they do! Good luck with persuading them to do otherwise.

However one thing I would point out is that during that period they did carry out a home visit to each child to see the child in their home setting so I kind of got where they were coming from in this regard. Just annoying especially for working parents who had to seek temporary childcare solutions.

BackforGood Mon 04-Feb-19 18:39:18

Wigetbeana - because in my world, I don't have annual leave I can book when I want. It isn't that unusual. Even folk who do have annual leave they can theoretically book when they want, don't have that many days a year.
Some of us were unfortunate enough to have lost both our parents before our dc started Reception. Others live nowhere near their parents. Others might have parents who are still at work themselves. Others have parents who aren't capable of looking after little ones.

Is it really so hard for you to understand ? Many, many children have been used to full days in childcare. They are used to being out the house for a full day.

widgetbeana Mon 04-Feb-19 20:55:03


I myself have no family in this country, I also don't get annual leave I can book. I am a teacher so when my child is in school so am I! These things I was aware of when I choose to have a child.

I say again school is for educating, it is not their problem to sort out childcare for your children. They have clearly stated what it needed for children to have the optimum educational chance. I really don't understand why people think it's ok to berate teachers and schools for saying what they need.

People seem to think they are entitled to 6 hours of free childcare a day. It is not childcare it is education.

BackforGood Mon 04-Feb-19 23:52:41

It's very cliche to trot out the 'free childcare' line - happens every time on these threads.

Yes, as a teacher myself, I know that. But I also know that you have to balance everything in life and you can't leave a 4 yr old to trot home on their own. That - when my dc started school, they'd been attending Nursery school the previous year for the same hours as a school day - and were very confused by the whole stop / start nonsense their school did. It didn't help their start to be so disrupted. It ^didn't help them settle to not know what mish mash of cobbled together support we could beg to have them when they could have been in school.
If you are a teacher, you will understand that learning happens so much better when the children are settled and secure.

DippyAvocado Tue 05-Feb-19 00:04:41

A school in my area used to enforce half days for a couple of weeks for Autumn-born children, half-a-term for Spring-born children and a full term for Summer-born children! A parent contacted the LEA who told the school that legally, they had to provide a full-time place from the first day of the school year.

I would contact the school and let them know how you feel. You could suggest a shorter time period as a compromise. If you don't get anywhere, I would contact the LEA.

I'm a parent and a primary-school teacher and cannot see the point in staggered starts for longer than a week maximum. The vast majority of children have been in nursery or pre-school before coming to the school and don't need the prolonged settling in.

widgetbeana Tue 05-Feb-19 07:22:15

I'm going to give up now. I am astonished that he teachers on here are struggling to get my point. A teacher has 30 children, who are mostly 4 years old, to meet, understand and assess. Doing this takes time and patience as we all know 4 and 5 year olds aren't always the easiest to understand.
Yes they have been in nursery or preschool, that's fine, but the teacher wasn't there to learn about them.
This time is about letting the teachers met, assess and understand who your child is and what they need. It is a hard job with 15 in the room and pretty much impossible with all 30.
It is for your child's benefit for educational life.

prh47bridge Tue 05-Feb-19 09:55:59


I understand where you are coming from but legally you don't have a leg to stand on. The Admissions Code, linke to up thread, has the force of law. Paragraph 2.16(a) states that the child "is entitled to a full-time place in the September following their fourth birthday". The Schools Adjudicator (whose decisions are binding) has made it clear that this paragraph means exactly what it says and that schools must comply with parental wishes.

I'm not sure that is specific enough to convince a school they need to keep your dc all day at the point in the term when they would argue that there is no Reception provision in the afternoon or whatever arrangement it is

As above, the Admissions Code has the force of law and the Schools Adjudicator has been clear that paragraph 2.16(a) means exactly what it says. If the school is not convinced the OP can refer the matter to the Schools Adjudicator who will make it very clear to the school that they must comply.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Tue 05-Feb-19 19:46:57

I’m not sure that the first week or so in a new setting is a good time to assess regardless of whether children are part or full time. And I suspect the very drawn out settling processes in some schools actually makes settling into a routine harder for some children.

Offering parents a choice is the best way forward.

wtftodo Tue 05-Feb-19 19:58:11

Our school started all 2 classes / 60 reception children 3 days later, to allow for home visits. Starting with two mornings, then two short days, then full time. By half term we’d had a parents evening with impressively accurate feedback on our kids and their attainmemt/development etc. Friends kids didn’t even start their schools until that week. How is the teacher getting to know kids that aren’t even there??
Plus for my highly anxious child - for whom the whole lead up to starting school was stressful - getting stuck straight in was definitely the right thing.

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