The announcement this month by the government that they are to launch a review into schools admission policy comes as welcome news to many parents of summer born children, and in particularly to those who are part of the ‘summer born’ campaign.
The review has been launched by Education minister Nick Gibb in response to concerns that summer born children face falling behind and being segregated into lower ability groups. These children can be competing with others almost 12 months older than them.
The government is now concerned that figures show summer born children are much more likely to be labelled as having special educational needs. Figures published in The Telegraph show that, by the end of primary school, 15000 of 11 year olds in England who are born in August are being identified as having special educational needs. Compared with 10000 of those born in September, these figures are indeed quite alarming.
Members of the ‘summer born’ campaign, which has been rising in publicity lately, have been arguing that summer born children (those born April-August) should have the right to start the reception class of primary school at the compulsory school age of 5 without parents having to battle with schools and councils who can currently insist that children starting school at this age go straight into year 1, therefore missing an entire year of school.
It is standard procedure in England to start reception class in the September following the child’s fourth birthday. However, campaigners, along with many parents of summer born children believe that many kids are just not emotionally or socially developed enough to start school so soon after they have turned 4.
If we compare school staring age in England to that in other countries, such as Finland, for example, where children start at age 7 and, incidentally, are consistently at the top of world rankings for achievement; English kids do seem to be amongst the youngest to start in full time education. When you add onto this the fact that summer born children can be up to 12 months behind their peers, they really do appear to be getting a bad deal.
Although it will seem entirely logical to parents of summer born children that school entry rules need to be reviewed, this latest announcement is in no way a final victory for the summer born campaign, however, it certainly does indicate that their hard work is paying off and concerns are being seriously addressed.
See also http://topmums.co.uk/summer-born-children-should-school-entry-rules-be-more-flexible/