Dear Editor,
I am writing with great relief today and to share some information in the hope that it may help others. The government has announced plans to amend the Schools Admissions Code in order to allow parents the automatic right to start their summer-born child in reception at compulsory school age (CSAge), if that is what they wish.
Most children start school at 4 and reach CSAge (the term following their 5th birthday) at some point during their reception year. But a “summer-born”, legally defined as being born between April 1 and August 31, doesn’t reach CSAge until the start of the academic year in which they will turn 6. And while many parents are happy for their children to start school early, at age 4, it is a well-kept secret that there are other alternatives.
In fact, very little flexibility is openly offered to parents, even though there are provisions within legislation for part-time attendance and a deferred starting date, as per section 2.16 of the Schools Admissions Code.
I have been working with the Summer Born Children Campaign to help get the legislation changed so that the parents of summer-born children have fair and equal access to reception places at CSAge and an uninterrupted education after that.
As such, the recent government news is well received; admission authorities have been urged by the Minister to implement changes immediately to ensure no child is made to miss a year of education from this point forward. However, Durham CC has decided that it will continue to implement its current policy, which is where parents ‘request’ a start in reception at CSAge but it is left with the local authority and/or school to decide whether to agree or only allow a year 1 start (thus making the child skip the important formative education they receive in reception class).
The process for me to have my summer-born daughter start reception at CSAge remains a ridiculously long and complicated process and one which, after scrutiny by myself and the Office for Schools Adjudicator, was found to be non-compliant and has now had to be amended.
I am fortunate that I have the backing of our MP Phil Wilson, who has been a supporter of the Summer Born Campaign for some time, and I am hoping that with his influence we will be able to bring about changes within Durham County Council proposed by Government. Other councils in the country have already taken positive action, and it’s completely unfair that children in Durham may not receive a full education as penalty for starting school at CSAge.
I am also in the process of contacting all the schools within Newton Aycliffe for their view on the matter and I would ask other parents with concerns about their summer-born child starting school to find out more at
S. McCormick