Mother is fighting for her daughter to be allowed to start reception a year later as she is “not ready”


A mother of a young girl is fighting to delay her child starting reception class by a year because she only turned 4 years old a few weeks before school started.

Rosie Dutton, 30, who is mum to Olivia, thinks that her daughter is not ready for school and has exercised the right to delay the start of her schooling by a year. She is fighting Staffordshire council who are considering sending Olivia straight into Year 1 because she is being held back.

Mrs Dutton said: ‘I felt Olivia was not emotionally ready to start school just weeks after turning four. She’s quite sensitive and takes a long time to get used to people.

‘She was still finding it difficult to adjust to pre-school and I knew she wouldn’t cope with the full-time hours of school – she often still needed a nap in the day.

Current guidelines released by the DfE state that summer born children (those born from 1 April to 31 August) are not required to start school until a full school year after the point at which they could first have been admitted.

The rule was introduced after research showed that summer born children were more likely to struggle at school.

However, some councils are still sending children straight into Year 1 if they are held back, unless exceptional circumstances can be proven.

Mrs Dutton said: “We have been asked for evidence of special educational or psychological needs, but she doesn’t have any.

“I’m being told that she will probably have to start school at the same level as those in her chronological age – so she would skip straight to Year 1.

‘It means she will miss out on an entire academic year, which makes no sense. She will start already a year behind her peers, it will mean she is destined for a school career which will see her struggling and playing catch-up – exactly the situation we were trying to avoid in the first place.

Mrs Dutton does not want to let her child start in Year 1, and is considering quitting work in order to support her education by home schooling her.

Many parents up and down the country will be faced with similar circumstances to that of Mrs Dutton and Olivia. A debate about the legal age a child should start school is set to go before the Government’s Education Committee next month.


2 thoughts on “Mother is fighting for her daughter to be allowed to start reception a year later as she is “not ready”

  • March 4, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    My son was the same. We send our children to school and support them to get through it, each to the best of our knowledge and experience. When I trained as a teacher, I thought the same. Just get through it! I have had 30 years of working in childcare and education and work – as a childminder. It’s great. I can spend time with the children and enjoy what I do. When I talk to my childminding friends, most of whom are well educated as I was, we smile at the way the education system takes learning so seriously. Many of our 4 year olds still needing a nap, are now coming home talking about ‘digraphs’. I make sure my children get a nap if they need it and if they want to read and are ready – I do that too.

    Many children can be reading before they go to school. What is the rush to start them at school, because until there is more flexibility with the children’s learning the conveyor type of learning will lose many of them. Let’s get creative: hours to suit the child or teachers working with early years settings instead of how to work new baseline assessments? How about a class with summer born children in the year 1 cohort? I think people would be surprised how little difference there would soon be between the late starters and the ‘regulars’. Certainly other countries, who leave the serious (formal) learning until around the Junior School age, seem to be getting better results.

  • March 2, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    We are all on a developmental journey and reach the various developmental milestones and abilities at roughly the same time, but importantly, not at exactly the same time.
    The majority of children are ready for ‘big’ school at around four and a half years, but a significant minority are not and maybe to a greater or lesser extent subsequently disadvantaged for the rest of their academic career. Going off to school with confidence is vital to a child’s onward journey.
    The lack of bureaucratic commonsense thinking effected by both County and National authorities is a constant source of amazement and bafflement and a little bit of wise flexibility and a ‘can do’ approach would go along way in satisfying the needs of those who would simply benefit from a little bit more ‘growing-up’ time.


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