Clarity call for summer-born children

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MANY summer-born children are being forced to miss a crucial year of education or start school too early due to unclear admission rules, it has been claimed.

Campaigners are warning that a lack of clarity over the school admissions code has effectively reduced the compulsory school age for babies born in the summer months to four rather than five.

In a new report, they argue that evidence has shown that summer babies, who are usually the youngest in their year group, are not always ready for school and are more likely to face social, emotional and academic challenges.

Under current law, children in England must be in education from the term after their fifth birthday. But it also allows for pupils to start school earlier, and the vast majority of youngsters begin their education by attending reception classes at age four.

The new report by the Flexible School Admissions for Summer Born Children campaign group, claims a lack of clarity in the school admissions code means it has been misinterpreted by many schools and councils. As a result, they have developed their own policies and practices which have made it difficult for a child to start school at any time other than joining reception at age four, or year one the September after their fifth birthday.

The report says: “Essentially, in the process of affording parents the choice of enrolling their four-year-old children in school prior to compulsory school age, the primary education legislation that still says parents can wait until the term after their child turns five has effectively been forsaken.”

The group is calling on the Government to make it easier for parents to choose whether to send their summer-born child to start school at four years of age.

They say it should also be simpler for parents sending their child to school aged five to choose whether they join a reception class – which is often seen as the final year of early years education, or year one – usually seen as the first year of formal schooling.