Tiffany's story

Toddler wearing white jacket sat in a field of daffodils

Tiffany's daughter Ella was born in the summer months at just 25 weeks. This is Tiffany's story about how she made the decision to delay Ella's start in reception year until she turned five.

“I wanted to give you all some hope on delaying school entry. We live in the London Borough of Merton and we have recently been successful in delaying our daughter’s entry into reception.

"Ella and Declan were born at 25 weeks in July 2011. Sadly Declan didn’t survive, but after 19 weeks in hospital, Ella came home.

Ella has had to cope with the normal developmental struggle all severely premature children face and, despite warnings about the impossibility of the task, we decided it was best for Ella to start school in the year she would have been placed in according to her due date.

"We spent several months putting together a pack for our application including:

  • Cover letter detailing the issues Ella faced both in the hospital and after she left, explaining our case and the support behind it. We specifically avoided any discussion on special needs, in part because Ella has none that we are yet aware of, but primarily because we felt this was not a case of accommodating a special need but simply allowing her to attend school with the healthy, full term children that were conceived at the same time she was.
  • Bayley’s assessment from when she was two years old corrected with an accompanying letter of support from the Neonatal Consultant explaining the results using Ella’s chronological age (as they are done on corrected age showing a skewed result).
  • Early years foundation assessment done by Ella’s nursery where she has attended since she was 13 months old.
  • Letter of support from the Dietician Consultant explaining her size in relation to others of her age, her nutrition requirements and the potential impact of starting school based on her birth date.
  • Letter of support from Bliss (not specific to Ella and printed from the site).
  • December 2014 guidance issued by the Department of Education on summer born babies.

We submitted the application in March to the School Admissions Manager, as we wanted Ella to go to a community school. We received a confirmation letter in the post in early May agreeing to the request, with the caveats that we would need to delay her application to nursery and that we would need to make a new application for Ella’s secondary school when that time comes.

"We are one of the first in our borough to be successful and we were told that a formal process has now been set up for others seeking a similar outcome in our borough.

I hope that this will be the start of the other London boroughs putting a similar process in place. I know many of you out there may be struggling, so hopefully our story will give you hope to keep trying, as I think things are starting to change!"