Council told to revise school admissions policy for summer children after complaint

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A watchdog said it was at odds with itself and national policy

Peterborough City Council (PCC) has been told to revise its policy around delayed school admissions for children born in the summer.

A watchdog, the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO), said the council’s policy is at odds with itself and national guidance.

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PCC’s website says children born in summer (1st April – 31st August) may be admitted to school in a different year group “in exceptional circumstances” which is “usually due to concerns in relation to a child’s development”.

Peterborough CityCouncilPeterborough CityCouncil
Peterborough CityCouncil

But the LGSCO says this is a “very high threshold” and that the government’s school admissions code actually says that parents can decide not to send their child to school until they reach compulsory school age, which is the term after their fifth birthday.

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Guidance for councils further clarifies that parents of summer-born children must be able to make a decision about whether their child is ready to go to school at four or whether it would be in their best interest to wait another year, it adds.

PCC’s website hasn’t yet been updated and at the time of writing still says this may only happen in “exceptional circumstances” – but the LGSCO has given it until 2nd May to show it’s complied with its recommendations.

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The LGSCO said PCC’s policy also appears to be at odds with itself as it says it operates a permissive approach, yet also states that “the policy of the council is not to delay the entry of pupils into reception”.

The issue over the policy arose after the parent of a summer born child complained to the LGSCO.

She requested delayed entry in April last year and was told by the council that it would respect the request, but that the child would begin in September 2024 in year one rather than reception.

A senior manager then affirmed this decision when she complained before she escalated her concerns to the ombudsman.

The LGSCO says PCC has now agreed to apologise and reconsider the request as well as review and revise its policy.

PCC has been contacted for further comment.

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