How many parents are delaying their child’s entry to school across England?
A BBC Freedom of Information request (October 2018) said there were 2,243 requests made to 110 local authorities in England to defer starts to the 2018 school year – 18% higher than the previous 12 months.
School admissions and summer-born pupils
As a parent of a summer-born child, the issues of ‘admissions of summer-born children’ concern me greatly.
- 1 in 9 children are born prematurely
- 1 in 4 of those will have SEN
- At the time of writing, statutory maternity pay begins at the time of birth.
This research published by the Department for Education should raise some concerning questions for the profession. The report covers local authorities’ admissions policies for handling requests for summer-born pupils to delay entry to reception.
Local Authority Accountability?
In February 2017, the Department issued an online survey to all 152 top tier local authorities and the findings published in May 2018. In July 2018, the DfE re-issued this survey, issued again, to all 152 top tier local authorities.
Only 94 local authorities completed it – not even a full response! Can you imagine being a parent with a summer-born child in this local authority? Of those 94 local authorities, only 62 completed all of the survey in both years.
Where is the accountability on LEAs?
- Figure 1: 62 per cent of local authorities ask parents to make a case to delay admission
- Table 1: For parents with a strong case, there is a skew towards all children, rather than those born prematurely
- Figure 2: There is an increasing demand for parents to delay their child’s entry to school
- Table 2: In 2019, 88 per cent of all requests are granted.
- There has not been a significant change in admission policies between 2017 and 2018
- In the 2018, 9 per cent of the local authorities said that they grant all requests for delayed admission
- Nearly 62 per cent of local authorities said they are now more likely to grant requests
- The number of requests received for delayed entry in reception has increased each year
- The number of requests almost doubled (91 per cent increase) between applications for summer-born pupils for delayed entry in September 2016 and September 2017.
- The percentage of requests that are granted has increased by a small amount
- The majority of local authorities said that they encourage parents to speak to schools about delaying admission
- Local authorities are more likely to say they ‘agree all requests for delayed entry’ or ‘agree requests after parents have made a case’ for children born prematurely compared to all other children.
Shared here for clarity: a child does not reach compulsory school age, however, until the “prescribed day” following their fifth birthday (or on their fifth birthday if it falls on a prescribed day1). The parents of summer-born children (born between 1 April and 31 August), are able to delay their child’s entry to school by a full academic year after they are first entitled to a place. They may request that they are admitted out of their normal age group, to reception rather than year 1, at this point. One LEA said:
Many parents request a delayed entry as they feel this is the only option. When talking to schools they understand more how the school can meet their child’s needs and the benefits of being with their academic peer group.
I do wonder what would have happened if I had delayed Freddie’s entry to school? More importantly, what should happen to the LEAs who do not report back to the Department for Education?