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Debunking the Myths about CSA Starts

There are so many myths about CSA starts and the effects on children. Here we will address common questions.

  • My child will have to start in Year 1 - not if you request and obtain a CSA Reception start. We can help with this.

  • My child will have to skip a year at some point - no the government and DfE support CSA starters being kept in their new cohort throughout their school career. CSA starts are also relatively new. Only a handful of children have reached Secondary age and so far all have had their year group maintained. Any 'past experiences' are probably children who have started late or repeated a year.
    Read Gavin Williamson's Statement re this here.

  • The school have said "no" to a Reception start - we can help to read the response and then complain if the decision process used was incorrect. Do NOT simply accept the "no" as it usually can be easily challenged. It is very rare that a complaint does not lead to a decision being changed. However you must seek help to challenge. 

  • My child may get teased or bullied - your child is more likely to be teased and bullied for being the youngest and smallest, rather than the oldest. Children get picked on for all manner of reasons but again, so far in our experience, being the oldest isn't one of them. 

  • My child is bright and will cope fine in Reception - Reception is the gentle starting point for school. It is slower paced with free flow experiential learning via play. Many younger summer born children who start school at 4 start to struggle in Year 1 when they are expected to sit at desks, write, concentrate and be quiet for extended periods. A bright child can still be challenged in nursery.

  • My child will get the best start if I put them in formal education asap - The benefits for a 4 year old to have another year at home or in nursery with a play based, exploratory education are huge - in a year a child grows physically; their gross and fine motor movements improve; their self esteem improves; they have time to learn about themselves and to practice important pre-school skills. Yes children may survive in Reception but they will thrive with an extra year, and the benefits of confidence and self assurance will be seen year on year right through to university level and into work. You are giving your child the best possible start to life.

  • My child will be bored in nursery or will repeat work - The Foundation stage curriculum is a continuum which any skilled nursery practitioner will use to keep building on your child's skills up to the age of 60 months using the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (the same continuum which leads into Reception). A summer born only usually gets 3 terms of nursery, so they miss out on 3 terms compared to summer borns. Why can't they have the same time in nursery?

  • My nursery says my child can't stay - you need to argue this one with the nursery. There is no reason in an LA nursery why your child can not have a second year. However some private nurseries can be difficult, and you may need to move your child if you can't make progress.

  • My child is tall and will stand out - there are tall and small children in every school year. It usually evens out as time goes on.

  • My nursery / school say that my child is ready for school - What do you think as your child's parent? This is not just about academic ability but also social, emotional and physical development. This is about long term too. The leap from Reception to formal learning at Year 1 is huge. Equally the jump from primary to secondary school is massive. That extra year really makes a huge difference. 

  • What about sports teams? - the Football Association is supportive of CSA start children playing out of year. 

  • My child will go through puberty at a different age - puberty can start as young as 8 or 9 and lasts through until 15/16. A child who is possibly a day or even weeks younger than the September borns, is not going to go through puberty any differently. Remember there will be summer borns who are a year younger than the September borns. 

  • Will my child need to take SATs or GCSEs a year early? - No the summer born guidance is clear that any exams or tests should be taken with the cohort the child is in. 

  • Children can leave school before their GCSEs - if a child doesn't want to do GCSEs then you can not force them to write in the exams. Any parent who appreciates the value of a CSA start is likely to support their child to get qualifications.

  • If my child fails their GCSEs, can they retake? - Yes the DfE says summer born children are an exceptional group and are entitled to 3 years post 16 education like all children.

  • Are there any negatives at all? - the only ones that we can see is that you may have to pay for milk immediately and school transport at the age of 16. You may need to organise your child's first flu vaccination too - but only the first year. These are minor compared to the positive impact that an extra year at the start can give your child. 

    We have heard many other excuses from Heads, Governors, Nurseries and Admissions Authorities over the years. DO NOT believe everything you hear! For correct information join the "Flexible Admissions for Summer Born Children" on Facebook.  

    The Summer Born Guidance can be found by clicking here.
    Do read all the parts. 

    We have experience of applying for CSA starts; of responding to tricky schools, nurseries and LA's; and of the complaints process both for typical children and those with an EHCP. 

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