Parents win deferred school entry for daughter

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Parents of an August-born child have won a two-and-a-half year fight to defer her school entry until after her fifth birthday.

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The Berkshire couple, one of whom works as a teacher, requested permission from their local authority for their four-year-old daughter, whose birthday is at the end of August, to start reception class a year later to enable her to 'thrive at school rather than just cope'.

Their daughter, who turned four on 29 August, was expected to start school in September 2012. A child born between 1 September 2006 and 31 August 2007 would usually be required to start school in September 2012.

However, the schools admissions code (2.16) states that 'admission authorities must make it clear in their arrangements that parents can request the date their child is admitted to school is deferred until later in the academic year or until the term in which the child reaches compulsory school age'.

The couple say they faced opposition from their local authority which seemed reluctant to defer their daughter's school entry as it was worried it would create a surge of similar requests.

They claim that their local authority made them 'jump through hoops' and requested they provide evidence to support their request as well as get permission from their chosen school and the local authority in which it is based.

The Berkshire parents told Nursery World, 'Initially our local authority said we couldn't defer our daughter's place and we were told to put in an application for her to start school in 2012. They claimed that our daughter would cope with starting school just weeks after her fourth birthday but if she had any difficulties she could repeat reception.

'We argued that we wanted our daughter to thrive at school rather than just cope, as research shows that August-born children are more likely to end up on the special educational needs register.'

The parents gained support from their local MP for Reading West, Alok Sharma, and clarification from one of the authors of the schools admissions code at the Department for Education that local authorities must accept applications for deferred entry. They also contacted Michael Gove.

Less than four weeks before their daughter was due to start school, the couple received the news that they could defer her entry by a year. They now have to re-apply for a school place for September 2013.

'We were lucky in that we got support from our daughter's nursery and the school,' they explained. 'We realise we are not guaranteed a place at the school we want our daughter to attend but it is a risk we took to enable our child to start a year later.'

Last June, Nursery World reported that a father of three children was facing opposition from his local authority over deferring his two-year-old daughter's school entry by a year.

Stefan Richter has now received permission for his daughter to start reception in September 2014 after her fifth birthday, which also falls in the last week of August, as their chosen school has become an academy.

Admissions to academies are dealt with by the Academy Trust rather than the local authority.

Mr Richter, who created a Google Group and Facebook page, 'Campaign for more flexible schools admissions for summer born children', is continuing his fight to make it easier for parents of summer-born children to delay their school entry, and hopes to meet with the Department for Education to discuss the issue in the next few weeks.

  • Further information on the campaign

https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/schoolstart

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