It’s been a whole year since I last had a look at how the Summer Born Campaign was progressing, despite the fact that it comes up in conversation a fair amount here in the office. As an achievement gap in primary schools it represents one of the biggest, yet it seems to get less press than income or gender (for example). The campaign is starting to raise that awareness, but parents still look at me blankly when I mention delaying school start.
One important point that I noticed that seems to have passed a lot of people by, is the unfairness in the funding system for these children. As children recieve their ‘free’ 15 hours childcare from the term after their 3rd birthday, summer born children receive two terms less than some of their peers. This ‘free’ entitlement is meant to help prepare children for school, but the group that needs the most help is receiving as little as 40% less than their older peers. Why would the government use age for one entitlement and an abitrary September cut off for the other? This is only set to get worse once 30 hours arrives too!
Another important factor is, given that the evidence that children do better when they are the oldest in their academic year is so incredibly strong, no parent of a summer born child (April 1st onwards) would send their child to school when they were 4. Or rather, they would always take the legal and sensible option for their child to be in the cohort that would make their child one of the oldest in the year, rather than the youngest – other than the cost of childcare there would be no reason to not do this (unless justification is required which muddies the waters a fair bit). As a consequence of this, spring born children would then be hugely disadvantaged by the rules, children born on 31st March would be the youngest in the year and go on to do the worst, the argument would just get moved to a different position in the year.
So, why can’t we just send children to school when they are deemed to be ready (being able to achieve all statements of the EYFS to use a simple but possibly slightly flawed example), whether that is aged 4 or 5 (or even 6). Then every child could achieve the best possible results all the way through their education, couldn’t they? And does taking your GCSE’s aged 17 really make a difference?
We created some tips on good practice if you are looking to close the gaps in your nursery (age related or otherwise!), click here to download them.
About the author: Matt Stanford