Summer-born children will have ‘the right to start school later’

Nick Gibb, Minister for schools, has called for action to allow summer-born children to start school at 5 years.

The minister said admissions rules must be changed so children born between April 1 and August 31 cannot be forced to go straight into year 1 if they wait to start school until they turn 5.

He has written an open letter to encourage schools and local authorities to take immediate action, in advance of the proposed changes, and allow summer-born children to start in reception aged 5 if that is what parents want.

The government believes parents and teachers are best placed to decide what is right for their child, and summer-born children should have the same opportunity to excel at school as their peers – even if that means starting reception a year later.

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Mr Gibb said: “As part of our plan to extend social justice and opportunity, we want all children to have an equal chance to excel in school regardless of when they are born.

“Parents know their children best and we want to make sure summer-born children can start reception at the age of 5, if their parents think it is in their best interests.

“We are going to make changes to admission rules – but we want councils and academies to take immediate action.”

Children born between 1 April and 31 September are classified as summer-born for admission purposes. Whilst children are not considered to be at the compulsory age until the ‘prescribed’ day following their fifth birthday or if their fifth birthday falls on one of the dates, these include 31 December, 31 March and 31 August.

The new changes have been designed to allow parents and teacher flexibility and in turn allow summer-born children to start school aged four instead of waiting.

Any children who do start school later will remain with the same age group as they progress through school into secondary school.

The current school admissions code states that the admission authority must make the decision about what year group a summer-born five year old child would be admitted based on the circumstance of the individual case and best interests of the child.

Ordinarily, children start school in the first September after their fourth birthday, although parents of summer-born children can opt to delay entry into reception for one year.

Local councils and schools regularly insist summer-born pupils start school in year one and miss out on reception year leaving parents to feel under pressure to send their child to school before they feel they are ready.

Parents also have the option to send their child to school on a part-time basis before they reach the compulsory school age.

– Spadman

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