Under the current system, the report claims, parents have one of two options for summer-born children; either enrol a child in school at age four, to make sure they have access to the full seven years of primary education, or wait to enrol the child at the compulsory starting age, therefore only accessing six years of primary education.
The Flexible School Admissions for Summer Born Children campaign group suggests that children born in the summer may not necessarily be ready for the challenges presented by school, a belief supported by leading academics who wrote to the Telegraph in September calling for a reassessment of national policies on early education.
The report is calling for the Government to clarify the school admissions code and to make it easier for parents to send their child to school at age five in one of two years; Reception or Year 1.
Research published last year by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that summer-born children get consistently lower results and are also more likely to leave education at 16, adding to evidence that these children suffer educational disadvantage because they are less physically and emotionally ready for school, compared to their classmates.
Report author Pauline Hull said: “We want flexibility for all summer-borns. The ones that are ready for school can start early and those that are not then start at compulsory school age – age five.”
A DfE spokesperson said: “We have changed the School Admissions Code so that it is more flexible for parents of summer-born children, making it easier for them to defer their child’s entry.
“Parents should also have the flexibility for their children to attend part time until they reach their fifth birthday or request their child enters reception class, rather than Year 1, following their fifth birthday.”
“Schools and councils must make this clear in their own admissions arrangements – and we have recently published guidance to reiterate these responsibilities.
“We are working closely with school admission authorities to make sure that they are acting within the rules and we will not hesitate to intervene where this is not the case.”
At a Commons debate this September, Elizabeth Truss, Education Minister said: “It should be the parents who are the primary decision-makers when it comes to deciding which route is most appropriate for their child and which environment will enable their child to thrive.
“We are absolutely clear that parents should be able to say to a school, ‘We want our child, who is aged five, to enter reception’, if they feel that that is in the best interests of their child.”