Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “Parents have campaigned for many years for a more flexible approach to admissions for children born in the summer months and the issue is much better understood than it used to be.
“Schools are required to provide a place for all children in the September after their fourth birthday but that start date clearly isn’t right for every child. In cases where families make a request for their child to start in Reception the following year, it’s about taking a sensible and human approach based on the individual needs of the child in question.
“Children do better when there is a good bond between the home and the school, and this bond begins to be forged even before a child starts school. The flexibility required in order to accommodate the needs of some children born between April and August each year can cause some organisational and financial issues for schools, but they are not insurmountable and more guidance from the government is helpful.
“The important thing is that each child is ready to start school, whatever that day might be. Research conducted by NAHT showed that eight out of ten school leaders reported that many children arriving at primary school are not ready to take part in classroom activities. Of these, 86 per cent were concerned that children’s school readiness is worse than five years ago. 67 percent said that the lack of school readiness was down to a failure to identify and support additional needs early enough. Clearly, early identification of a summer-born child’s needs is critical to a successful start to school for them.
“NAHT would like to see more investment in early education before children start school, and renewed investment in critical services for families. The support that families of all kinds regard as essential is being cut back or has already disappeared, whilst real-terms cuts to school budgets mean that it’s also getting harder to address these issues once the children are in school. Cuts to public services are having a significant effect on families and children, and summer-born children can be amongst the hardest hit.”
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