School admissions shake-up looms

A MAJOR change in school admissions for five-year-olds is being considered in Suffolk, which could result in youngsters being able to start full-time reception education in September.

Graham Dines

A MAJOR change in school admissions for five-year-olds is being considered in Suffolk, which could result in youngsters being able to start full-time reception education in September.

The biggest benefit would be to summer-born children, who currently can find themselves in classes where other pupils have already been at school for eight months and are up to a year older.

Currently, the county has three admission dates for youngsters and if the go-ahead is given, Suffolk will be brought into line with the majority of education authorities in England.

Children in Suffolk are admitted to full-time education from the beginning of the term in which their fifth birthday falls, which results in start dates of September, January and April.

In some schools, youngsters attend reception class part-time until they reach the age of five, while in other areas of the county, children must go to nursery schools.

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In a report to next week's meeting of the county executive, the director for children and young people Simon White says Suffolk is out of step with the rest of the country, with most local authorities in England only allowing children to start school in September.

Norfolk admits children twice a year, Cambridgeshire once, and in Essex individual schools decide their admission policy.

“Some parents are concerned about the readiness of their summer-born children to start school, and the lack of choice open to them,” says Mr White. “Summer-born children are up to a year younger than their classmates when they are assessed at the end of each key stage and tend to do less well in national assessments all through their academic life.”

Graham Newman, portfolio holder for education, said the change from autumn, spring and summer term starts would widen choice, with parents able to decide themselves when they think their children are ready to start full-time education.

If approved by the executive, the plan will go out to consultation with parents and also with private nursery education providers.

What do you think of the plans? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.