Summer-Born Children (Education Guidelines)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:39 am on 7th September 2015.

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Photo of Stephen Hammond Stephen Hammond Conservative, Wimbledon 12:39 am, 7th September 2015

I am unsure that I necessarily followed that exactly, but the hon. Gentleman, as ever, makes a clear point. I am sure that parents in Northern Ireland will be listening carefully.

Going back to my performance on “You and Yours” today, several people have emailed me since and I was particularly struck by a lady who contacted me to say that she had triplets born prematurely at 25 weeks. They should have been born on 1 November, but she was told by her local authority that if she delays their start to school, they will have to go into year 1 rather than reception. That is despite the fact that her children have been diagnosed by paediatricians as having additional needs and developmental delay. Another lady got in touch to tell me about her grandaughter who was born in August 2005 in Dublin. In Ireland, as the Minister will know, parents can choose when a child with an August birthday starts school, so the parents decided to delay her entry into reception. A few years later, it was necessary for the family to move to the UK, where the local authority has insisted that the child starts school with her chronological age group in year 5, thereby skipping year 4. That has caused huge distress and anxiety for the child. Practice differs across the country, but the guidelines are being followed inconsistently and it has become far too much of a lottery.