The time is on us once again – the time to decide which school our 4 year old should go to next September. There are schools to visit, Ofsted reports to read, Head teachers to talk to, other parents to question…or are there? If your child was born after between April 1 and August 31, you now have the right to delay their school starting date for a year.
Haven’t we always been able to do this?
Well, yes, in theory. Legally in England your child doesn’t need to go into full time education until the term after they turn 5. So you could keep them home for a year longer. However! Previously if you chose to do this, then when your child began school they would begin in Year 1, effectively skipping Reception. Whilst this may have worked for a few children, the difference between Reception (where it is very much a play based curriculum), to Year 1 (which is much more formal) is a huge jump and both teachers and parents are often concerned about how their child will cope. However, from this year (2016) you can delay your child’s start to school for a year and they will enter in Reception.
I’ve been told they will have to move year group to be with their ‘correct year group’ once they get to the end of Year 6. Is this true?
Whilst this obviously hasn’t happened yet, the answer is bound to be ‘no’. If this happened then several children would be skipping Year 7 and head straight for Year 8 which would be harmful for them in their education, and would be damaging to schools. It would also make it hugely difficult for schools to know how many children they had in each year as they would never know how many children would be skipping Year 7! So there is very little possibility this will happen.
Will my child be bored if they go to Reception a year later?
The short answer to this is ‘no’. The long answer is that teachers are adept at ensuring that all children are assessed at the correct levels and will make sure that your child is given opportunities to develop at their own rate, whether this be higher or lower than the ‘average’ child. Children develop at so many different rates that some of the youngest children may be further along than some of the oldest children in the year – so really it makes no difference how old they are.
Will I still be able to access Nursery funding?
You will be able to access Nursery funding until your child turns 5 so they can still attend up to 15 hours of a pre school or Nursery during the year.
With Little Sir, I made the decision to keep him home for another year for two reasons. Firstly, he has only been home with us for a year, and we decided it would be very beneficial for him to spend longer bonding with us and feeling confident in his own surroundings. Secondly, he is just not ready for holding a pen, or sitting still for periods of time. He needs to be outside and moving still, and now we have the opportunity to do this, we have grabbed it with both hands. He will go into Reception in 2017, one of the oldest in the year, but only by 6 weeks, and for him this is the right decision!
The decision on whether to delay your child’s start to school is something only you can make. Some summer born children are absolutely ready for school at just turned 4, manage very well and there is no difference between them and their older peers. Other children are just not ready at just turned 4 – they haven’t yet developed the social skills to cope with a busy classroom, and aren’t ready to sit in a classroom and learn just yet. Yet other children could cope with the classroom, but it may be best for them to stay home for another year.
The main thing to remember is that whatever decision you make will definitely be right for your child!