Home Babies needs Why school is NOT closed for summer babies: parents no longer have the automatic right to postpone the start year

Why school is NOT closed for summer babies: parents no longer have the automatic right to postpone the start year

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Children born in the summer will no longer have the automatic right to postpone their place at the reception school following a government U-turn yesterday.

For years, ministers had plotted legislation to force all councils to agree to postponements. This followed a long campaign by parents who felt their children were not ready to start school because they were the youngest in their year.

Currently, children start school in the fall after age four, but parents of those born between April and August can request to delay entry by a year.

However, requests are not always accepted. So in 2015, then-Schools Minister Nick Gibb promised to introduce legislation ensuring that summer babies could be admitted to reception at the age of five if that is what their parents wanted.

But yesterday Academies Minister Baroness Barran announced the U-turn, suggesting the advice is now much more lenient than in 2015 so legislation may not be needed. Pauline McDonagh Hull, from the Summer Born Campaign, said: ‘After years of empty promises, the government has committed itself indefinitely to inequality for children born in the summer.

The government has announced that children born in the summer will no longer have the automatic right to postpone their place in the reception school

“The DfE does not provide for any circumstances where it is in a child’s best interests to miss a school year, but allows head teachers and councils to implement this against the parents’ wishes.

“This latest development is a travesty.

“Broken promises mean postcode and birth code lotteries will be exacerbated.”

Previous research has indicated that people born in the summer months may perform worse on assessments than their older classmates born in the fall.

The difference is so stark that some schools disproportionately label children born in the summer as having special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

According to the London School of Economics, 26% of summer-born girls receive SEND support at some point in primary school, compared to 16% of autumn-born girls.

And a study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found pupils born in August are less likely to get good GCSEs or go to university than those born in September.

Campaigners say the difference in educational achievement is due to children born in the summer being less ‘school ready’ at reception.

Currently, children start school in the fall after age four, but parents of those born between April and August can request to delay entry by a year.

Currently, children start school in the fall after age four, but parents of those born between April and August can request to delay entry by a year.

They may be shorter than their classmates, less confident, have a smaller vocabulary, and may still struggle with the basic skills needed in class.

In 2014, the DfE amended its admissions code to require councils to consider parental input when deciding whether or not to delay admission.

The following year, then Minister for Schools Nick Gibb wrote to councils to say that children should not be forced to join year one if they wait to start school at the age of five years.

He also promised to introduce legislation to enforce this.

A 2018 survey found that 63% of councils did not approve all applications and 26% only authorized those with a very strong case.

Councils that refuse to comply often tell parents that if they insist on delayed entry their child must start in Year 1 – missing a year of schooling.

Yesterday’s U-turn was announced by Academies Minister Baroness Barran.

Academies Minister Baroness Barran (pictured in 2017) made the announcement

Academies Minister Baroness Barran (pictured in 2017) made the announcement

She suggested councils are now much more respectful of parents’ wishes than they were in 2015, so legislation may not be necessary.

She said: “The summer born admissions system now works much better than it did in 2015.

“I am reassured that good progress has been made on this issue and that these improvements suggest that the system is now working well.”

“Given all of this, I do not intend to pursue legislation on this issue at this time, but I will keep this position under review should the situation change.”

She said that in 2020, 22% of councils had a policy of accepting all applications from five-year-olds born in the summer at reception, up from 9% in 2019.

She also said most delayed entry requests at reception are now approved, with almost nine out of ten approved each year.

However, the Summer Born campaign said this data is “based on responses from a minority of admissions authorities and does not match the experiences of our group of nearly 19,000 parents”.