Give parents automatic right to send summer-born children to school a year later to prevent 'post code lottery', says Tory MP

Stephen Hammond is holding a House of Commons debate calling for a better enforcement of the Department for Education’s guidelines on the issue

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The Independent Online

Parents should be given the automatic right to send summer-born children to school a year later to prevent a “post-code lottery” from harming their development, a Conservative MP will tell the Government.

Stephen Hammond, a former minister, is holding a debate in the House of Commons calling for a better enforcement of the Department for Education’s guidelines on the issue and wants them to ensure children who are granted a deferral at the start of primary school stay in the same age group throughout their school years.

In some cases, local councils are forcing summer-born children who started a year late in primary school to skip a year when it comes to secondary school – meaning they go straight from year six to year 8.

Official figures show 11-year-olds born in August are 50 per cent more likely to be assessed as having “special needs”.

The MP for Wimbledon also wants special attention to be paid to prematurely-born children, with evidence showing they struggle to catch up with their peers. Children should be dealt with according to their due date and not their actual birth date, he says.

Mr Hammond, whose own son was born 22-weeks premature, told The Independent: “The DfE's guidelines are good as far as they read, but unfortunately in practice they tend to be a bit of a lottery.

“Parents of summer born children should have the right to defer the start of their education so that their children do not suffer developmental and education problems. These children should then stay in that cohort throughout their school years."

“Too many councils operate the guidelines in a way that appear to be a lottery to many parents. If I am able to persuade the minister to accept these changes, I think there will be some certainty for parents and summer born children will be able to have a chance of the best and most appropriate education for them.”

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