The Education of Summer-Born Children – Keeping Pace with Others

9 Dec

A child in this country is said to be of a particular school age when it is calculated from 1 September of one calendar year to the 31 August of the next.    In some other countries like India, the academic year coincides with the calendar one.

The statutory school age for children in England and Wales is in the term following her/his fifth birthday.  However, most local authorities admit children into the reception age group at the beginning of the academic year in which they turn five.

For summer-born children, this means that they are only from a month to three of having turned four years old. In some cases, children have their birthdays in the latter half of August, which makes them exceedingly young when they start main schools.  In the early years the rate of development is hugely more than the rate at which children develop in the primary and secondary phase.  By the time a human being comes to the age at which this writer is, development virtually ceases if not moves backwards.

Accordingly, parents are concerned that a very young reception pupil – i.e. someone who has just turned four – will be left behind the rest of the class in the learning that is going on.   So what can be done? 

For starters, this was the reason why a number of local authorities in the past phased in the start time of reception pupils – admitting those children who turned five early in the September of the academic year with other younger children starting school in January and then in April. However, parents discovered that many of their younger children were left behind when they started later.  When matters changed and more pupils were admitted in the September following their fourth birthdays, the very young ones found themselves in a social and intellectual sea of isolation because the older ones knew or appeared to be so mature and displayed great confidence.

Action, however, may be taken.   Many parents give their children head starts at home with care, love, attention, playing, constantly engaging in conversation, reading with them and (generally) spending quality time.

Despite this, however, some very young children could be out of their depth when starting school soon after turning four.   In extremis, the parents could ask that their children start school that much later – albeit no later than the term following their fifth birthdays and even be placed in the class below the age-determined one.  It will be up to the school to discuss the matter with the Educational Psychologist before applying to the local authority to seek its permission and have this granted.

Where this is not possible for a child, it will be imperative on the school to ensure that it makes strenuous efforts for the work to be differentiated, and strategies put into place to help the child develop social skills and gain in confidence.

3 Responses to “The Education of Summer-Born Children – Keeping Pace with Others”

  1. Katherine December 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    “It will be up to the school to discuss the matter with the Educational Psychologist before applying to the local authority to seek its permission and have this granted.” I’m afraid that’s not correct. It is up to the parent to apply to the local authority for a summerborn child to enter reception year at compulsory school age, not least because the parent will not yet know which school the child will attend. And there is nothing in the Schools Admissions Code requiring consultation with an educational psychologist.

  2. Katherine December 11, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    It’s good to see you identifying the challenges that summerborn children face. However this is not correct: “It will be up to the school to discuss the matter with the Educational Psychologist before applying to the local authority to seek its permission and have this granted.” It’s up to the parents to apply to the local authority for their summerborn child to enter reception year at compulsory school age; the school could not apply anyway since the child has not yet been allocated a school. Also, there is nothing in the Schools Admissions Code requiring consultation with an educational psychologist.

  3. Gem December 12, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

    Katherine is correct the educational psychologist is not required, parents need to apply directly to the LEA requesting a delay. The LEA must consider each case on its own merits. Professional evidence or an educational psychologists agreement are not necessarily required although the threshold for delaying varies widely between different LEA’s. Please refer to the admissions code and the ‘guidance for summerborns’ on the DfE website.

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