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Call for clarity as new guidance on summer born children is published

By Rachel Lawler
 
child summer born
The Local Government and Social care Ombudsman has issued guidance on how complaints about school admissions for summer born children.
 
Parents of children born between April and August can ask to delay their school start date until they reach compulsory school age. This has been the government’s policy since 2015.
 
Parent decision
However, the guidance published today has contradicted this, suggesting that admissions authorities, not parents, should make the final decision on whether or not a summer born child can join reception at age five.
 
The Alliance is calling for more clarity on the rules, three year after the government announced its policy on the matter.
 
Code amendment
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s guidance says: “There was a Ministerial statement by the Minister of State for Schools in 2015, setting out his intention to amend the Code so that summer born children could automatically be admitted to reception at age five, where parents or guardians want this.
 
“The Minister has since reconfirmed his commitment to making the change when Parliamentary time allows, but this has not yet happened, so cannot form part of our considerations.”
 
New approach
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “It has now been more than three years since the schools minister pledged to give summer-born children the right to start reception at age five – and yet the admissions process is as confused and inconsistent as it ever was.
 
“The government has acknowledged that the current approach needs to change, and that is it for parents, not admissions authorities, to decide what is best for their children on this issue. Why, then, is it dragging its feet on making this change official?
 
“It’s time that the DfE took definitive action on this to ensure that no parent is pressured into placing their children into school before they feel that they are ready.”
 
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