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Compulsory age for starting school

(47 Posts)
Mishap Sat 10-Aug-13 20:17:00

Can anyone answer this question please? I understand that the rules changed in April, but the DfE site is not particularly helpful.

As I understand it, children are obliged to start school in the term after they become 5. My GS has been accepted at a local school for September, but he is not 5 until Dec 20th. My DD feels that he should attend part time until he is obliged to be fulltime, as she thinks he will get over-tired and he needs to let himself in gently. The school are saying that legally she does not have this choice and that he must go fulltime in September.

What do others think about this?....aside form the fact that (in my view) 5 is too young to start school anyway.

janeainsworth Sat 10-Aug-13 20:22:18

Well Mishap I don't know either, but I can see that it might be difficult for your DGS to go part-time if all the other children are full-time, and also if he were the only one to start after Christmas, when all the others had started in September.
When my DDs started school, for the first few weeks it was mornings only - is that still usual?

Ana Sat 10-Aug-13 20:23:16

I don't know the rules, Mishap, but I'm surprised you think 5 is too young to start school. Surely most have always done, although I started at 4 and so did my daughter and granddaughters.

Ana Sat 10-Aug-13 20:24:28

(Should say that I went to a private school, although DD and GDs didn't!)

Galen Sat 10-Aug-13 20:27:33

And me and my children

mrshat Sat 10-Aug-13 20:31:06

My DGD who was 4 in July starts school full-time in September!! They seem to have only 1 intake per year rather than 2. It used to be 3 intakes (September, January and Easter) when my DDs were at school! confused

Tegan Sat 10-Aug-13 20:33:16

We were really concerned about my grandson starting school in the September, as his birthday wasn't till the following June but he was absolutely fine. I think that, with children these days going to nurseries and pre schools they slot into actual school very easily. I do understand your concern, though. We felt that, as some Scandinavian countries don't have children going to school until they were much older 4 seemed incredibly young, but our fears were unfounded. Also, if a child doesn't start in the September, by the time they do they will find themselves behind with the work and will have missed out on the initial friend forming stage.

nightowl Sat 10-Aug-13 20:43:10

I don't know the rules but I agree with you that children start school too early in this country Mishap. Personally I think we are hot-housing children these days without proper regard for their emotional development.

nanaej Sat 10-Aug-13 21:00:42

Mishap I am not sure about any changes to compulsory school starting age. As far as I am aware it is still the term after their 5th birthday. There have been changes at the leaving that all young people must be in training or education until they are 18.

Is it the LA that has changed its admission arrangements? Some have three admissions per year, ie for the children who turn 5 that term and others take all kids in in September of the child's reception year. some offer a gradual settling in with p/t for a few weeks others offer f/t from day one (working parents need this)

As a person who has received many 4 yr olds into school can I say that the overwhelming majority settled quickly, happily and enjoyed their time in school. However if your daughter feels it will not be healthy for her child to be in school she needs to speak to the school where she has accepted a place /plans to accept a place. LA admissions /academy/church schools/free schools will all have their own and probably different admission arrangements. LAs could not guarantee a place for a child choosing to defer a place. Academies may be able to take a different view.

If the school is formal and expects children to work in a formal environment then I would agree 5 is possibly too young. However, good reception classes will provide appropriate activities and play based learning inside and outside and gradually build up the sitting in groups/at tables over the year. He will be one of the older children in the class as he has a September term birthday.

There is a huge demand for places in reception. In theory it should be possible to defer, in reality it is not. it is like the myth of choice of school!

Ana Sat 10-Aug-13 21:03:27

But what age would you suggest, then, Mishap and nightowl?

The trouble is, we don't live in a world where most Mums can stay at home and take care of their children's emotional development and other needs until they're deemed ready for mainstream school. A lot of children go to nurseries and/or nursery school before that stage especially if their parents have to work.

Sook Sat 10-Aug-13 21:04:26

DS1 born May 80 started school Sept 84. I personally felt he would have been better starting a term later but seem to remember there was only one intake, he seemed to cope well enough.

DS2 born April 82 started school Jan 87. By this time we had moved to Cheshire and there were two intakes. If anyone was ready to go to school, he was, but the school wouldn't allow him to start in September.

My DGD will start school this Sept, she will be five mid October and like her father before her was ready at four. She has been in nursery for two days a week since she was nine months old, she is a confident lively little girl. She has been introduced to school life through a Teddy Bears picnic and a morning and afternoon school session. For the first fortnight she will attend a week of morning and a week of afternoon school.

I was four when I started school in 1958, I loved it so much that I used to scream blue murder at weekends because I had to stay at home grin

I agree with Tegan that if the child starts later than others their age they will miss out on the initial friend forming stage.,

nanaej Sat 10-Aug-13 21:12:36

For those of you who are concerned aboutchildren going to school too soon some of these clips might make you feel happier about it!

There are some clips of good classrooms /activities that children are engaged in by the end of reception ie June /July.

nightowl Sat 10-Aug-13 21:18:28

I think 6 is probably early enough, as in Germany and some other European countries Ana. I do understand that mothers can't always afford or don't always want to stay at home with their children until they are old enough to start school and as someone who was a working mother myself, I would be the last person to criticise anyone for putting their child in nursery. I just think there is too much emphasis on formal learning from too early an age, whereas I feel that children should be nurtured and allowed to develop at their own pace, whether that is at home or at nursery. In my son's case that development started after the age of 16!

Sook Sat 10-Aug-13 21:33:48

nightowl I was really against my DGD going to nursery at just nine months old, but seeing her develop into a confident, lively articulate little girl has really changed my opinion. Her mum didn't want to, but had to go back to work as most do these days. I have had the pleasure of being involved in her upbringing for two days a week and her other GP on the remaining day.

Re your son, that sounds about normal for most men doesn't it grin (runs for cover re sexist comment)

whenim64 Sat 10-Aug-13 21:34:09

My little twin grandsons were 4 on the 30th August and started school the following week. They've just completed a full school year and are still 4 for another 3 weeks. They seemed too young, but fortunately they have loved school, and have lots of friends. It does seem strange, though, for them to be assessed for their progress, when they wouldn't even be at school yet if they hadn't been born a month premature!

I would prefer that children were at least 5 before they started school. They were very tired in the first term, and would fall asleep in the car going home. They're fine now, but you can always tell when they've had a challenging day, and for 2 days a week they spend an extra hour in after-school club. A lot for little 4 year olds.

nanaej Sat 10-Aug-13 21:52:22

I do agree that those August birthday children often do get tired!

I also think there does need to be some flexibility for those July/August prem babies. My nephews (both prem) were born late July and late August. One would have benefited from stating school a year later. As a HT I did arrange for a couple of children to repeat reception (parents wanted that and I agreed) as they were late summer prem babies.

ninathenana Sun 11-Aug-13 11:57:37

DGS starts school in September. He will be 5 in May '14.
However he will start mornings only, till 1/2 term then two whole days and 3 half days until January.
This applies to the whole class. I think this is an excellent solution. DGS can't wait and is very excited. He has been going to nursery in the afternoons for the past year so that helps.
As far as I'm aware there is only one intake per year in our area. It can lead to extremes though. DD had a class mate who had his 4th birthday 3 days before he started school. Where as my nephew's 4th birthday was the day after term started so he had to wait till the following year when he started school on his 5th birthday so was a full year older than some of his class mates.

Mishap Sun 11-Aug-13 19:48:30

I do not think our laws about starting school should be based on the assumption that mothers will want to work and need child care. They should be based on children's needs and what would serve their interests, both emotional and educational, the best.

I think that 6 is quite early enough, and Finns send their children to school at 7, and they have an excellent track record with education.

All the evidence points to the fact that children gain nothing by starting school any earlier. In an over-pressed education system with many poor quality schools, some of the problems could be solved by just having children start later, and taking some of the pressure off.

I think that little children need to be with parents or known loved-ones, and they need to play and exercise their imaginations - they only get one crack at childhood.

The problem for me is that the education is now over-regulated and tested and assessed - the later they get sucked into that lot the better I think!

Nelliemoser Sun 11-Aug-13 19:55:39

If he is 5 in December he is going to be one of the older ones in his year which should give him an advantage. To be honest the sooner he is integrated into his class the better. Friendships are probably not closely set at the age of 5 but the sooner he gets to know the other children in his group the better.

My children were both very ready for school as are a lot of children who have been raised in stimulating and happy environments. Those children who have not experienced these good early years experiences are those who have greater need of good basic learning skills. That is they will probably get more mental stimulation basic social skills etc in school that ever they will at home. The sooner this group get into early years "education" the better.
The issue is perhaps not to make early school to competitive or pressured. however with Mr Gove presiding over the curriculum these poor year1s will be expected to recite list of the Kings and Queens of Britain by rote.

nightowl Sun 11-Aug-13 20:32:51

Mishap I agree with every word you have written. And although I agree with Nellie about the children who have not had good early years needing to develop learning skills the most, I feel they also need the most nurturing. I still feel that day nurseries - which, let's face it, exist for the needs of parents rather than for the needs of children (and I stress again that I am not criticising parents for working, I did it myself and it's a necessity in this day and age) - should be providing nurturing care rather than following stupid 'educational' targets for pre school children. All the research shows that children cannot begin to learn unless they have been able to form good, secure attachments to those caring for them.

MargaretX Sun 11-Aug-13 23:23:45

My sister in law taught primary school children for over 40 years, retiring some years ago now. She said according to her observation the natural age at which most children learned to read and write was about 6 years old.
Many learn much earlier as we know but there should not be too much regimented learning at the ages of 4 or 5 in her opinion.

ninathenana Mon 12-Aug-13 08:05:27

It may have changed, as frequently happens. But last time I spoke to a friend who is head of early years i.e. reception 4-5 yr olds. They weren't allowed to teach reading and writing until year 1 5-6 yr olds.

nanaej Mon 12-Aug-13 08:56:18

You are allowed to teach reading and writing in reception! The point is that good Early Years teachers know the children well & provide a variety of interesting activities, inside and outside, for the children to play with. Through this play they support children to develop good skills to help them become good learners: listening, exploring, investigating, thinking, problem solving etc etc. I see a lot of excellent practice out there! There are also places that are too formal too soon but that is NOT what the statutory framework says.

If a child is keen/ready to read or write a good teacher will support that, not force it! Also it can be done through play and fun..not formally.

My experience is that many parents put a lot of pressure on schools to be 'teaching' reading and writing from the very start. Parents are easily impressed with tidily completed worksheets and equate that to a 'good school'. At the school where I am governor a parent of prem twins, at the meeting for new parents for reception Sept 2013, wanted to know 'when wil the bedlam stop so they they can get on with learning properly' My DD who knows the twins from a playgroup said 'good luck to the teacher trying to get those two to concentrate on anything!' Fortunately the parent got the message that the school believed in play based learning and she has secured places at another , more formal, school.

Can I also say that in Scandanavia ,that people are keen to promote, children are at nurseries for a long time and they are supported to do a lot of the things that you see in a good UK nursery / reception class. We can learn form one another. Also because our written language is so non phonetic, compared to many other languages, it does take longer for the 'rules' to be taught, learned and then applied. I would prefer to see play based / practical learning continue well beyond reception as I think it makes for better understanding and secures concepts and facts more effectively.

Mishap Mon 12-Aug-13 09:12:33

I am not concerned about my GS's academic progress (he is already reading at age 4 - he is a brainy boy) but his emotional needs. At the point when he starts school, his father will have been away for 5 weeks (and he cries for his Daddy every night), he has had to adapt to a new brother, his mother has been ill and seriously harrassed for about 2 years, and their house is being ripped apart and they are going to stay in temporary accommodation. He is a very sensitive little boy and his mum thinks he needs the reassurance of home at the moment and would be better off going to school part time.

My big concern is the stranglehold of OfSted and of rules and regulations. I knwo that the school want him to go fulltime so that their attendance record is not sullied for OfSted. And I feel that the sort of programmes of education of little ones are gradully becoming more formal (whatever the guidelines might say) in order to get the children on target for future years and keep up their OfSted rating.

I understand that our ,angauge is a complicated one, but the children's emotional needs are more important at this stage.

I am governor at a primary school and everything we do is OfSted geared, even down to the questions we ask that can be minuted to prove to OfSted that we are challenging the staff.

On a lighter note (and to indicate what a brainy little chap he is - we are not sure where he gets it from!!) I was playing at pretend digging up of dinosaur bones with himjyesterday (he is mad about dinosaurs) and I joked that I was a paleontologist's assistant. He thought for a moment and then siad: "Grandma, what is an assistant?" - he had no problem with paleontologist!!

moomin Mon 12-Aug-13 09:12:54

My daughter and her family have been living in New Zealand for 7 years, youngest GD started school 2 weeks ago, just after her 5th birthday (having been at nursery for 3 years). They are moving to Australia for a couple of years and as she was born after 30th April, she cannot start school there until next year. She will be able to go to kindi for about 15 hours a week, but it will be interesting to see what happens when they go back to New Zealand in a few years in terms of whether or not she will need to 'catch up'.