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School delay does not help summer-born, study shows

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Delaying a summer-born child's entry to primary school has little impact on attainment, research suggests.Children born in England between April and August, whose start in Reception was put back a year, did only marginally better in Year 1 tests, according to a government study.The number of applications to councils for delayed entry has risen sharply.Head teachers' unions want clearer guidance on whether delayed school entry for summer-born children works.Department for Education researchers looked at results achieved in the Phonics Screening Check, taken by pupils at the end of Year 1.
Pupils whose school start was delayed a year in 2014 and 2015 scored on average 0.7 marks higher than other summer-born children. The researchers say the difference is not statistically significant. Pupils who were not summer-born outperformed both the delayed and normal admission summer-born pupils.
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The analysis also found parents with higher incomes were significantly more likely to request a delayed school start for their child.It also found the majority of applications, 74%, were from white British families.Children in England usually start school in the September after they turn four but parents of children born between 1 April and 31 August can request to delay entry for a year. Typically, this would mean a child starting school in Year 1, forfeiting Reception year. If a parent wishes to delay their child's admission to school until compulsory school age, at five, and be admitted into Reception, a request needs to be made to their local authority, for their child to be admitted out of their normal age group.Councils are required to make a decision in the child's best interests, taking account of parents' views and information about the child's development.
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How long are you going to liveIn a separate survey of parents from Liverpool, Hertfordshire, Devon and Lewisham, who had all delayed their child's entry into Reception, 79% had a household income of ?25,000 or more. Almost half earned more than ?50,000 annually.
97% feared their child was not ready for school
38% cited a medical condition or developmental delay
13% said a lack of places in their preferred school was a factor
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "It's about taking a sensible and human approach based on the individual needs of the child in question. "The flexibility required in order to accommodate the needs of some children born between April and August each year can cause some organisational and financial issues for schools but they are not insurmountable and more guidance from the government has certainly helped."Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, called for "a consistent approach across the country" and urged the DfE to "review this matter to develop a policy based on emerging evidence over the impact of delayed entry to school and what works best for children".
Primary education
Schools
Children
State schools
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