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I had a blinding epiphany moment today about school starting age!

(72 Posts)
tortoiseSHELL Tue 29-Jul-08 17:12:36

Dd is an August baby, and although she has done absolutely fine in her first year at school I'm aware that there are some August babies who have struggled.

It suddenly came to me that it would make MUCH more sense for the school age cut off to be July 30th - obviously this wouldn't make that much difference, but it would mean that children wouldn't spend the whole of their reception year being 4 iyswim (dd won't be 5 till next week, and yet she's done a whole year at school).

It's fairly arbitrary to me that the school cut off is at the beginning of the school year, not the end of the previous one, and it would just mean that the youngest children were 6 weeks older when they started, and the minimum starting age would be 4.1, rather than children who have turned 4 the day before starting school.

I also think for children within, say, a month or 3 weeks either side of the date, they could be allowed to elect which school year to put their children in. Dd was certainly ready to go, others weren't, and a blanket rule doesn't work. Her cousin is the other way - would be ready to go now, but has to wait another year. They are only 1 year different in age, and had dd been born 3 weeks later, and her cousin 1 day earlier, they would have been in the same school year, and yet they are 2 school years apart.

stitch Tue 29-Jul-08 17:21:31

in those parts of the world, where schooling is not considered a legal necessity, schools have the leeway to make such decisions. it works out better for all concerend. but , when you live in a place where children have a legal right to an education then i think there needs to be some sort of blanket rule to ensure that all children are covered.
perhaps what we need is a no sex in november rule? grin

tortoiseSHELL Tue 29-Jul-08 17:22:39

But if you had to sign up for a school year at the time you did school applications then that would work wouldn't it? So if you wanted to drop a year because you were August 30th, then you would just put a form in saying 'entry for the following year.'

IdrisTheDragon Tue 29-Jul-08 17:23:50

Isn't there a similar system in Scotland? I think they have the education starting age rather better sorted out.

AFAIK, the cut off date is end of February and school starts in August. So children start school at the earliest 4.6 and if you're within a certain range of dates, you can defer for a year.

<waits for people in Scotland to confirm the position>

deanychip Tue 29-Jul-08 17:34:25

here here i say! blinding great thought.
mine was 5 last week and has struggled so much with school...see my school report thread.

pooka Tue 29-Jul-08 17:38:28

Another idea would be for more areas to have multiple intakes per year. Here they have september and January intake. When I was little they had another in April.

The downside of this is that the later starters never get a full reception year, which has its positive and negative points. I am glad dd didn't start in September. But am also sad for her that she didn't have a full year of getting used to school, of settling in gently.

I think the idea would be to be able to defer entry for a year if you want, without being penalised by being denied a reception year. I.e. here dd would have had to have gone into year 1 with her peers. Whereas in Scotland I think she could have taken up a reception place a year late.

Is pants/.

Aimsmum Tue 29-Jul-08 17:41:16

Message withdrawn

tortoiseSHELL Tue 29-Jul-08 18:05:37

I think the problem with multiple intakes is that the younger children who are at a disadvantage anyway therefore have less reception, so would be even further behind.

So; My system.

You start school in the year in which you turn/have turned 5, between the cut off dates of July 31st. If your birthday falls between July 15th and August 15th then you can elect to go into either school year, but you have to state this on your school application form - so if you are choosing to start straight away you apply as normal, otherwise you put in a form that says 'deferring entry, will apply next year.'. Then they know you are 'in' they system, and not dropping through the gaps.

QuintessentialShadows Tue 29-Jul-08 18:09:39

Why not start school at five?

And have a final year in full time nursery free from age 4 with just some school related activities related to letters and numbers?

tortoiseSHELL Tue 29-Jul-08 18:14:23

Well, if it comes to it, I think 6 is a better age or even 7 if they have a structured playgroup - would give the boys time to develop their fine motor skills and not put them at such a disadvantage. Works very well in Canada.

Miaou Tue 29-Jul-08 18:14:50

Cut off date in Scotland is end Jan/beg Feb (I should know exactly but don't blush). Also you can defer school entry for a year if your child is not ready to go into school.

It makes far more sense.

bundle Tue 29-Jul-08 18:17:15

all the "best" readers in dd1's class were june/july/aug babies - incl 31 aug! - ANY date is arbitrary!

QueenMeabhOfConnaught Tue 29-Jul-08 18:18:26

In Northern Ireland the cut-off used to be June 30th (I assume it still is) so all July and August children started at 5.

Califrau Tue 29-Jul-08 18:23:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bundle Tue 29-Jul-08 18:26:55

cali just seen scrabulous has been pulled, you must be gutted!

tortoiseSHELL Tue 29-Jul-08 18:29:31

bundle - that's why I think there should be flexibility either side of the date - obviously some children will still feel in the wrong year, but at least you wouldn't end up with the situation in ds1's class with a very grown up girl, birthday 1st September and a very 'young' boy, birthday 31st August - they have both had challenging years as the girl could have done with being in the year above, the boy in the year below - he was born a week before his due date, but there is no flexibility.

I agree that the birth date isn't necessarily a determining factor - in dd's case, I would have worried if she had had to wait another year and she is doing fantastically well - top group for everything - but it seems a shame that it is so arbitrary. But giving 2 or 3 weeks either side can help the children right on the border line.

Reading isn't the only thing either that can affect a child's experience - 'academically' dd has streaked ahead, emotionally she has needed a little more support, and certainly ds1 as a summer boy found that 'taking responsibility' for himself and making friends took a lot of getting used to.

ReallyTired Tue 29-Jul-08 18:50:26

Sometimes very bright and academic children are emotionally immature. Even if they have wonderful fine motor control they haven't developed sufficient toughness for school.

I think there should be flexiblity for all children which year they are in, plus or minus three months.

Although I think to start school early should require an assessment by an educational pschologist who vists the nursery. This assessment should be paid by the parents in the the event the child does not meet the criteria and the state if the child is found to be gifted.

onwardandupward Tue 29-Jul-08 19:02:39

But none of the children have to be educated, at school or otherwise, until the term after they become 5.

If more parents saw the benefit for their children in waiting until that point to start school, then schools would have to start easing them in to school at that point, rather than the current ratchet effect where children seem to start reception at 4 to get ready for school at 5, and then they start pre-school at 3 to get ready for reception at 4...

After all, surely most of us started school either at 5 or the term when we would become 5? Did we "miss out" on reception? Did we bollox.

It's ALL to do with schools maximising their funding by getting as many bums on seats as possible as early as possible, and has nothing to do with the individual needs of your child. If your child is raring to go to school at 4 then great, send them. If not, just wait till they are 5. Why not?

tortoiseSHELL Tue 29-Jul-08 19:05:01

The problem atm is that if you wait till they are 5, then in dd's case she would be starting in September, in a Y1 class. And in any case there wouldn't be a school place for her. hmm

solidgoldbrass Tue 29-Jul-08 19:14:08

I think the cutoff date should be March for a September start (with about a mont's leeway either side depending on the individual child). That way the youngest will be at least 4.5.

onwardandupward Tue 29-Jul-08 19:17:29

But that's because everyone is thinking exactly like you. So everyone is sending their children to school early, whether or not they are ready, because they are afraid that if they don't, the schools won't have places, and the schools won't ease them in enough.

But if even 5 children in a class of 30 delayed until they were 5, then the school would be forced to give those 5 a proper induction.

I'm a bit *shrugs shoulders* about the whole reception thing, to be honest. None of us had a reception year, and we've all grown up fully human. The things schools do in reception years can perfectly well be done in other settings - the social stuff and the pre-literacy and blah blah blah. But the education industry is selling the "professionalism is best" thing hard. We all did our reception years with our Mummies, didn't we? With playgroup, and various activities, and little friend Susan coming round to play. (I think something like 20% of children in the 1970s were in some out-of-the-home daycare setting before compulsory school age, and now it's more like 80% - it's a huge huge cultural shift but whether it's for the children's benefit or not, in all cases, is another question)

The school places thing is difficult for many, I know. Again, in our school days, we just went to whichever school was nearest. But the result of all this "parental choice" where popular schools get over subscribed, means that in order to get your child into a near/reputable school, you have to play this game of perhaps starting them before it's really of benefit to them. I do understand it, and why parents do it. But I think it's complete pants for the children.

But there would be a place for a child who started at 5. Because by law, the State has to provide a school place for your child if you want one. I guess it would probably be 35 miles away in a sink school if you waited though. *deep sigh*

God I'm glad we've opted out of all this so far. (elective home educating)

Could I have written a more provocative post? Not without a lot of caffeine to fuel it grin

MamaGLovesMe Tue 29-Jul-08 19:17:36

How does that work then, my daughter will be 5 next month so has done a year at school and is still four? If I had refused school for her last September would she have gone straight into year one, and why don't we know we can do this? I was told she would start school when she did.

onwardandupward Tue 29-Jul-08 19:47:55

Legally your child does not have to be in full-time education (at school or otherwise) until the term after they become 5.

Schools mostly don't tell you this, because they want to maximise their funding.

If your child starts the term after they become 5, then yes, they go straight into year 1. The whole "reception year" thing is, in my opinion, mostly a money spinner for the education industry. I'm sure some children suit it very well and have a splendid time, and I'm delighted it's on offer for them, but legally it is completely completely optional, and the schools should be honest about that. Which they aren't.

And yes, you could have done all that getting-ready-for-school stuff with your child, through playgroups and play dates and learning at home and out and about.

Whoever told you she'd start school at only just 4 was either ignorant of the law or not being honest about it. Or totally invested in the "reception year is of immense benefit to all children" mindset. Or looking out for an extra £6,000 for their school's annual budget, or however much it is that they got from the State for the presence of your child for a whole year before they legally had to be in education.

onwardandupward Tue 29-Jul-08 19:47:57

Legally your child does not have to be in full-time education (at school or otherwise) until the term after they become 5.

Schools mostly don't tell you this, because they want to maximise their funding.

If your child starts the term after they become 5, then yes, they go straight into year 1. The whole "reception year" thing is, in my opinion, mostly a money spinner for the education industry. I'm sure some children suit it very well and have a splendid time, and I'm delighted it's on offer for them, but legally it is completely completely optional, and the schools should be honest about that. Which they aren't.

And yes, you could have done all that getting-ready-for-school stuff with your child, through playgroups and play dates and learning at home and out and about.

Whoever told you she'd start school at only just 4 was either ignorant of the law or not being honest about it. Or totally invested in the "reception year is of immense benefit to all children" mindset. Or looking out for an extra £6,000 for their school's annual budget, or however much it is that they got from the State for the presence of your child for a whole year before they legally had to be in education.

onwardandupward Tue 29-Jul-08 19:48:48

Yes, I really really meant that, and that is why I double posted it blush

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