The Education Committee has written to Nick Gibb, Minister for School Reform, to ask the Government to give parents the means to appeal local authority or academy decisions that determine when summer born children or those born prematurely start school.
Graham Stuart MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said:
"Our recent ‘evidence check’ examined issues related to school starting age. It was very clear that the month of a child’s birth has a measurable effect on their academic outcomes and their likelihood of SEN diagnosis.
We also heard that there is a greater risk of summer-born children being bullied, and placed in low-ability groups.
In particular, some parents find their summer-born child may be forced to start school in year 1, rather than reception, when the child reaches compulsory school age. Even if parents think their child is not ready, they currently have no right to appeal this decision.
We heard evidence that Government guidance for admissions authorities about summer-born and premature children is sometimes overlooked."
The Education Committee has written to the Department for Education to ask the Government to:
- Consider what further steps could be taken to communicate Government guidance on summer born admissions to admissions authorities;
- Undertake an analysis of which admissions authorities fail to provide the flexibilities described in the guidance;
- Monitor the effectiveness of the Government’s guidance in altering admission authorities’ behaviour;
- Publish the available data on the number of complaints received regarding admissions into year 1 rather than reception;
- Consider whether to produce guidance for parents on how to request admission for a premature or summer-born child into reception class, rather than year 1, at compulsory school age;
- Consider the merits of using a child’s due date rather than birthdate in the definition or interpretation of the compulsory school age, and more generally in admissions policies;
- Assess how a right to appeal a decision regarding a child’s year of entry to school might be introduced;
- Undertake an analysis of the additional cost of summer born children being misdiagnosed as having Special Educational Needs which might be avoided if there were more uptake of admissions flexibilities for children who are not ready to start school; and
- Investigate with Bliss whether an issue exists relating to continuity of pre-school provision for children born prematurely.