I am supporting a Chatteris mum in her bid for a change in school admissions policy from Cambridgeshire County Council, so that it reflects the new thinking in the Department of Education on summer born children rather than being stuck in the past.
The mum contacted me recently to raise the issue of summer born children (born between April 1st and August 31st) often having to skip the vital period in reception and enter straight into year one if parents feel they are not ready to start so soon after turning four. As a dad of a five year old and a two year old myself, I fully understand what a difference the extra time between September and July or August makes in a child’s development.
Back in September I was in the Chamber to hear Schools Minister Nick Gibb announce his intention to allow summer born children the right to delay admission to school and to allow children who have delayed admission to stay within the age group as they progress – including into secondary school. This is a common sense change because studies have shown that children born in the summer can struggle during the early stages of their schooling development which can have repercussions in late education.
An example of how this can shape later life can be seen in sport, where is there a massive discrepancy between the number of top sportsmen and women with autumn birthdays compared to summer birthdays. Selection for year teams at school, and the extra coaching they receive, often gives those born earlier an advantage.
This change in admissions policy places the needs and development of the child first, and responds to the wishes of many parents with summer born children. It would be considered on a case by case basis with parents not having to delay entry should they feel their child was ready to start school.
The Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP wrote an open letter to local authorities, schools and admissions authorities, urging them to adopt this process in advance and in preparation for the proposed changes. Although local authorities in other areas of the country have already adopted the proposed amendments, Cambridgeshire still has not.
I have written to Adrian Loades, Executive Directs of Children, Families and Adult Services at Cambridgeshire County Council to raise this issue with him. I include a copy of my letter below.