Plans to allow children born in the summer months to start school a year later has been delayed.
In September 2015, schools minister Nick Gibb said rules would be changed so kids born between 1 April and 31 August would be allowed to go into reception a year later if parents felt they weren’t ready to start school.
However, there have now been concerns around those parents having a “head start” in applying for places at popular schools.
“We need to ensure that parents do not use the flexibilities as a mechanism by which to gain an unfair advantage in the admissions system,” Gibb told MPs in a Parliamentary debate, according to The Telegraph.
Gibb said he doesn’t want parents applying for a place in the reception class of their preferred school when their child is four, then again when their child is five.
The current system gives parents the option for their children to start school following their fourth birthday, or the term after their fifth birthday.
The debate around allowing children to start school a year later was down to children being “less emotionally-developed” compared to others in their class.
In May 2013, an Institute for Fiscal Studies report highlighted large differences in educational attainment between children born at the start and end of the academic year.
The conclusion of the report stated: “These differences are largest soon after children start school and decrease as they get older (as the difference in relative age declines), but the gap remains educationally and statistically significant at the end of compulsory schooling.
“Children born in August are 6.4% less likely to achieve five A*–C grades in GCSE or equivalent exams than children born in September.”
Gibb added, when addressing MPs: “We will support summer children in the best way we can, but it is important that we also consider the wider impact of any policy changes.”
Commenting on the change, Siobhan Freegard, founder of video parenting site ChannelMum.com told The Huffington Post UK: “Being a summer-born baby isn’t a disadvantage. Many of the world’s top leaders and entrepreneurs from Sheryl Sandberg to George Soros to Barack Obama were born in late summer – and I was too. The differences maybe more pronounced when children start school, but summer-born children catch up fast and can even be more motivated than children born earlier.
“Shifting the school starting time simply means another cohort of kids become the youngest in the class and moves the issue onto them.
“But every child is different and there may be many reasons why a child isn’t ready to start school and if you’re worried, discuss these with the school and come up with the right plan for your individual child. But there is much more to successful education and a bringing up a happy child than the date they were born.”