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MP wants more flexibility over when children start school

18/06/2013 Joanna
An MP is campaigning for parents of summer-born children to be given greater flexibility over when these pupils are first taught by primary school teachers.

The school admissions code requires local authorities to make it clear that parents can request their child's entry into primary school be deferred until later in the academic year or until the first term in which they reach the compulsory school starting age of five.

Yet according to Liberal Democrat MP Annette Brooke, the reality for many parents is that if they do not enrol their child in primary school in September, they then have to place them on a waiting list for year one.

She has as a result tabled an early day motion (EDM) arguing that evidence from around the world suggests England's "inflexible school starting age" has a long-term detrimental impact upon summer-born children.

Ms Brooke is therefore urging the government to uphold parents' right to defer their child's school start until they turn five without losing a place or being put on a waiting list for year one at their choice of school.

The EDM has been signed by seven other MPs to date and also has the support of a grassroots campaign group.

Ms Brooke told BBC News that all children differ in their emotional, social and cognitive development and parents should therefore have the right to delay their entry into school if they see fit to do so.

She explained: "A bad early experience could adversely affect a child throughout their whole education.

"I want to foster a joy of learning and that can only be achieved if learning experiences are appropriate to a child's stage of development."

Stefan Richter, who has set up the campaign group backing Ms Brooke's EDM, claiming education authorities often presented the choice as being between their child starting school a year earlier than legally required or else missing an entire year of their education.

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801600481-ADNFCR
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