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Mum campaigns for summer babies to start school a year later

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Rosie Dutton, 30, is fighting against Staffordshire City Council to ensure her daughter is allowed to start school a year later rather than begin education in Year One.

Olivia turned four just a few weeks before she was expected to begin reception, however her parents exercised their right to delay her education by 12 months to allow Olivia to develop a little more. However, Olivia is now expected to skip reception and begin proper education right away.

Not ready to start school

Mrs Dutton says: ‘I felt Olivia was not emotionally ready to start school just weeks after turning four. She’s quite sensitive and takes a long time to get used to people. She was still finding it difficult to adjust to pre-school and I knew she wouldn’t cope with the full-time hours of school – she often still needed a nap in the day.

‘When I looked into it I discovered legally she didn’t need to start school until this September. But now I’m being told that she will probably have to start school at the same level as those in her chronological age – so she would skip straight to Year 1. It means she will miss out on an entire academic year, which makes no sense. She will start already a year behind her peers, it will mean she is destined for a school career which will see her struggling and playing catch-up – exactly the situation we were trying to avoid in the first place.

‘We have been asked for evidence of special educational or psychological needs, but she doesn’t have any.  There is no way I will let her start in Year 1, I will have no choice but to quit work and home school her.’

September born babies are higher achievers

A 2009 study by the Department of Education found that just 40% of children born in the summer months achieve a satisfactory level of development, whereas 50% of spring children and 64% of autumn children often do. In fact, September-born babies are twice as likely to achieve good grades than their August-born counterparts.

Partly due to these findings, the Department of Education guidance established last year states that summer children can wait until the September after their fifth birthday to start school if their parents think they need more time to develop. The guidance begins: ‘In recent months, an increasing number of cases have come to the attention of the department and ministers in which parents, local authorities and admissions authorities have struggled to agree on the year group in which it is most appropriate for a summer-born child to start school.’

Flexible school admissions

Flexible School Admissions For Summer-Born Children, a campaign group ran by Pauline Hull, is lobbying ministers and demanding that legislation is made clearer. Hull says that the group has received a ‘flurry’ of complaints from parents who wish to delay their children by a year but feel they are being forced to send their children regardless.

On the Dutton’s situation Coun Ben Adams, cabinet member for learning, said: ‘We are working with the school and Olivia’s mum in order to get the best outcome for her and any admissions decision will take into account the latest DfE guidance plus information provided by Mrs Dutton in support of her application.’

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5 Responses to “Mum campaigns for summer babies to start school a year later”

  1. Natasha

    maybe could change the months for those who are 4 or 5 between Sep and June and anyone who turns 4 or 5 between June and Aug cant start until Sep its strange when you start a year and one turns a year older than the other within a week! I say 4 or 5 as I am not certain of the start of school age!

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  2. Kelly

    I too Struggle with this my daughter will turn 4 on August 28th and then start school 5 days later with children turning 5 the same week. A year is a very long time and especially when your a child and is a massive difference in their knowledge and she will be expected to keep up and will always be chasing her older peers but expected to be achieving at the sme level.

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  3. Trudy Gray

    My daughter is the youngest in her class in year 1 and she’s doing fine. She never had a problem going into nursery, but is a little shy. I think Rosie has actually been a little selfish here. When children start Reception, certainly in our school, they are eased into it. A couple of weeks of half days, then a week of half days & lunch then finally, all day. Yes, her daughter may have struggled in the beginning, but you have to consider the long term. How would her daughter feel in a few years time being a year behind everyone else? I think you have to give young children a bit more credit. They adapt far more easily than some adults think they can. Now her daughter is either going to miss out on all the social aspects of attending school by being home schooled, or she’s going to be thrown in at the deep end!

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  4. Gemma

    Surely its clear that children develop at different rates and some of the very youngest won’t ready – isn’t is common sense to let them start when they are ready? We will save money putting them in the year they suit best rather than having to give them extra support to help them cope with being in the ‘right’ year?

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  5. Julie Scott

    This system works without issue in Scotland where parents can choose whether or not to delay their child’s entrance to school. Some take up the option others don’t. In a country where we start formal education way earlier than the rest of the world it’s natural that the youngest ones are going to struggle the most.

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About Siobhan Harmer

About Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan Harmer is an English Freelance writer who drinks far too much coffee!!

Website: Siobhan Harmer

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