Last night, Stephen Hammond MP led an adjournment debate in the House of Commons, calling on the government to make the vital amends to the School Admissions Code which were promised last year- these include allowing the use of due date, rather than date of birth when making admissions decisions.
Disappointingly, the Minister for Schools Nick Gibb MP failed to set out a clear timeline for the changes to be made. He announced that the government wanted to be sure of the best way to implement the policy changes and that an early cost analysis, based on limited data, revealed the cost of implementation would be high. When pressed by Stephen Hammond, who noted that professionals had highlighted to him that the cost of the policy change would be minimal, Nick Gibb responded that it would have an impact elsewhere in the early years education sector rather than at schools specifically.
Bliss Chief Executive Caroline Davey says, "I am extremely disappointed to hear the government is still no closer to consulting on and implementing this policy change, which would help so many children.
"It has already been a year since the original commitments were made, and a whole new cohort of children have started school; many at a time not suited to their needs.
"We would urge the government to consider the long-term costs of supporting children who are being forced to start reception a year before they are legally required to do so, or forced to skip reception altogether, when conducting a cost analysis. Research is clear that children born premature develop according to their due date, and allowing a delayed entry can reduce the possibility of that child requiring long-term additional needs support, or even being misdiagnosed with learning difficulties.
"While it is important that the policy implementation is carefully thought through, it is vital that a clear timetable is set to deliver the promised changes as soon as possible."
If you would like information about your child’s options when starting school, you can read our delay factsheet on our website.