The Guardian’s education editor Richard Adams has an interesting perspective on the proposed new summer-born rules, suggesting they may end up adversely affecting disadvantaged children.
…Problems arise if not all parents choose to delay entry for summer-born children. Rather than a maximum 12-month age gap, teachers will have to deliver the same curriculum to children as much as 17 months apart, from a 25% age gap to a 35% one.
And while it’s true that some teachers have different year groups in the same class, such as in small rural schools, in this case they will be being taught the same curriculum.
Who is most likely to choose to delay their child’s entry to reception? The usual suspects: anxious middle class parents, understandably eager for their children to do well, especially those with access to an extra year of childcare. But those who have no choice will now be worse off – such as those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that parents already have a choice. While reception is open to four-year-olds, parents can keep their children out until they reach the compulsory school age of five, if they feel their child is not ready. Schools and local authorities then decide which class it was appropriate for a child to enter. Now that power has been taken away and placed into the hands of parents – another loss of school autonomy.
There is no easy solution to this problem. Children are born throughout the year, but school starts at a fixed time. Barring a radical change to the calendar it’s impossible to suit everyone. But surely it would be better if the starting birthdate for every child shifted to 1 April – or 1 May or 1 June – rather than become another bonus for the informed and determined?
Does Richard Adams make a valid point here?
Could these new rules have an unintended consequence of further widening the attainment gap?
Please let us know what you think in the comments or via Twitter…
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