Earlier this year I wrote in support of a Chatteris mum in her bid to change Cambridgeshire County Council’s school admissions policy, so that summer born children could attend school the following year to better reflect their growth and in line with recent educational research.
My constituent had contacted me to raise this issue of summer born children (born between April 1st and August 31st) who often have 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. Whilst this related to a her specific child, it also has much wider implications for many other local parents with summer born children.
As a dad of a five year old and a three year old myself, I very much understand what a difference small periods of time make to a young child’s development, and how the timing of school matters greatly as part of a child’s development. I set out the case in support of change for families of summer born children who want to delay the start of school in an earlier blog, click here.
Sadly Cambridgeshire County Council chose to ignore my representations, those of the child’s mum, and the initial guidance from the Minister for Schools, and told me that they would not change their existing policy in line with the latest educational thinking. This was regrettable, and in my view disappointingly unresponsive. So, undeterred I want back to the Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP to flag that the county council was ignoring his guidance, and to seek clarification of what further action could be taken.
I am pleased to now be able to report that the Schools Minister has written to me, letter enclosed, confirming that the Department of Education will shortly amend the School Admissions Code so that the County Council will need to implement this change. It would have made more sense for the county council to have done so voluntarily, but the key point is that mums (and indeed dads) who want their summer born child to have the time they, as parents, think is best before starting school, will now be able to do so once the Schools Admission Code has been amended.
I hope this news will be welcome to parents of summer born children, in giving them the freedom and choice they have asked for to decide which class year is the best one for their young child.