Summer-borns deserve more sensitivity and a better reception

23rd January 2009 at 00:00

Children born in summer months are educationally vulnerable in the school system.

In many cases, these children have had normal births and to date no significant, developmental complications. But hold on! Some of these children - unknown to schools, unless disclosed by the parents - were born prematurely. Some by only a few days, some by significantly more, which further serves to obfuscate teachers' perceptions of expectations and progression.

These premature children do not go on in general to have special educational needs, but the school system labels them as such.

I know of cases where headteachers have endeavoured to be receptive to parental requests to hold a summer-born child back a year, only to be told by an administrator, when the child is in Year 5, that they must transfer to secondary school because there is no funding for the child in Year 6.

This always ends in disaster for the child and causes unnecessary and significant distress for the parents. Schools should be allowed a margin of flexibility regarding age of entry and age grouping so that these children may be better understood.

George Crowther, Consultant educational psychologist, Reigate Surrey.

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