Summer-borns deserve more sensitivity and a better reception

23rd January 2009 at 00:00

Thank you for reporting concerns about Sir Jim Rose's worrying recommendation that we should have one annual admission to reception ("Sir Jim faces revolt on September start for all", TES, January 16).

The remit set by Ed Balls deserves a more sophisticated response than this policy - as do the children who will be adversely affected by it. As the Schools Secretary pointed out, "entry to primary school can be problematic for summer-borns" and "can affect their performance up to the age of 16".

Although it is already common practice in the majority of local authorities, the proposal that one annual admission should be the norm, together with a tokenistic suggestion that part-time attendance might help the youngest children, ignores much more evidence than is quoted in the report.

Reception provision will have to improve considerably before it is an acceptable option for many four-year-olds who will be forced to leave nurseries and pre-schools where they generally have better staff ratios, fewer arbitrary interruptions to their learning and greater access to outdoors areas.

Settling large numbers of pupils who are up to a year below statutory starting age into reception classes is a complex task, but simple compared with the knock-on effect on groups providing for younger children.

Wider society, as well as the children and their families, would benefit if we could respond with more insight and sensitivity to the needs of our youngest children.

Wendy Scott, President, Training, Advancement and Co-operation in Teaching Young Children.

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