Government reviews school delay for summer-born pupils in Wales

The Welsh Government is in talks with local education authorities about when summer-born children should start school.

Most children enter reception class in the September before their fifth birthday. If a parent wants to defer their child’s entry they must seek permission from the local authority. A petition has been submitted to the Welsh assembly asking AMs to consider changing the rules to automatically grant requests for children born between 1 April and 31 August.

At Wednesday’s (21 Nov) Assembly question time, in response to a question by Labour AM Joyce Watson, Education minister Kirsty Williams revealed that a review of the school admissions code is underway.

Mrs Watson, who represents the region of Mid and West Wales, said:

“The first day of school is an anxious time for parents and children – you look at them and think they’re not ready; they’re too little. But the parents of summer-born children in some cases will have genuine cause for concern, and they’re now calling for more flexibility on those start dates. Cabinet Secretary, in response to a recent news report, the Welsh Government said a school admission code review would start this month. Are you able to update the Assembly on that? Is it under way and who is leading it, and what might the scope be of that review?”

The minister replied:

“I would agree that the start of a child’s schooling can be an anxious time as well as an exciting time, and sometimes even more so for parents than it is for the individual child. I remember being left devastated at the school gates as my daughter tripped into school without a look backward, leaving me feeling very inadequate. Of course, our youngest children are entitled to schooling from our foundation phase, which offers a unique education experience for children aged three to seven. It’s an innovative framework designed to meet the diverse needs of each individual child regardless of their stage of development. It is intended that this framework for our youngest learners is appropriate to their stage of learning rather than focusing solely on age-related activities.

“You are right to say that I have given a commitment for the code to be reviewed. That review has begun. In the first instance, my officials are discussing with each of the admissions authorities—i.e. each of our local education authorities—how they have been using the code over the last five years, and I have asked my officials to contact members of the summer-born campaign group to ascertain their views.”