Let me start by saying that this post is written on primary school application decision day. A day that is bittersweet, as this means that I only have a few months of having Teddy at home on his nursery days off. I will be cherishing the lovely one to one times that we get when Florence is in bed and the older two are at school. That said I will always be grateful to everyone that has supported our decision to enable me to have these precious days with my boy. Secondly it’s also bittersweet, as for plenty, today will be a day that they didn’t receive the news that they wanted, be it they didn’t get their chosen school or they received that dreaded ‘NO’ for their little summerborns. My heart honestly goes out to them and can imagine how disappointed many parents must be today in the unfair postcode lottery system of summerborns.
I have always wanted to document our sumerborn journey, in the hope it may help someone else who is sitting up late at night googling how to go about deferring their child’s school place. I was this Mummy, who laid awake at night, even when Teddy was very small, looking for information on how to go about this process. I can only offer our honest advice on how to go about hopefully getting the much dreamt about ‘Yes’ whilst also in turn confirm to you that at this point in Teddy’s education we have had absolutely no regrets and this has undoubtedly been the best decision we made for him.
On paper Teddy had no SEN reasons for us to be applying for deferment. We just felt as parents that he wasn’t and would’nt be socially and emotionally ready for school at age 4 years and 6 weeks old. Seeing Teddy grow since last September has confirmed to us that this is the case, only recently showing signs he will be school ready. We also felt that he would miss out on crucial building blocks of life that he can get by spending more time being nurtured in a preschool and home environment.
My tips to parents and carers considering deferring
Approach your application to the process with an understanding of the supportive summer born statistics and a sound understanding of the campaign. But when it comes to your reasons for deferring, make them your own reasons and don’t seek to reproduce other shared applications. We factored into our decision our home life situation, Teddy’s nature and our firm belief that just turned 4 in our opinion is too young to start a formal education, and we as parents deserve the chance to choose. Our application was far more from the heart than a document quoting statistics that they may already be privy too.
Where possible have a good relationship with the chosen school(s). In our case we already had experience of our first Head teacher who laid strong foundations for our application in Lancashire and then also supported us in our move to our new school in Yorkshire. My husband had been a governor previously in the school and we had a good positive parent relationship with them. On moving to Yorkshire we knew nothing of the Head and school, so myself and my husband communicated with the school on the phone and then my husband in person to discuss Teddy’s application. The new Head agreed to uphold the Lancashire’s Head’s decision and was supportive and understanding of our reasons. Yes we were lucky on both counts for having this support. Also it doesn’t hurt in discussing your case to anyone else in the loop, a councillor on the governor’s board was given a good insight from ourselves into how Lancashire CC could be more receptive to change, and was also very supportive in trying to help us.
Have an equally good relationship with your chid’s nursery/preschool staff. We have always communicated with his nursery and in fact again had very supportive pro summerborn support from them. Teddy being in child-led nursery environments I feel has benefited us, as they understand that each child’s needs and learning path is different. They have never insinuated that they think that he is too old for the setting, as he isn’t, he’s 4 and possibly only 6 weeks older than some of his peers.
Trust your own instincts and support each other- You know your child best, you know the reasons why you feel it’s your right to have this decision. Both parents need to be supportive and in agreement on this. We have always agreed on our decision and have supported each other on this, and that has been key.
Don’t be swayed by well meaning friends or family. I have never really opened up our decision to be a debate. I think if we had seeked advice from family and friends I could have started to ponder my stance on it. There is always going to be people who have positive stories on their summerborns, and that is great, but like everything in life, each to their own. Also don’t be worried what others will think, we haven’t been met with any negativity (to our faces!) about what we have chosen to do, in fact quite the opposite.
Remain firm, when we had our ‘No’ from Lancashire CC in April 2017, we chose to read the small print in the letter and chose to take the risk of not accepting his September 17 offer and with the Head’s support we re-applied for a place in Reception in September 2018. Yes it can be a gamble but it was one we felt worth doing.
Lastly remain hopeful but be ready for a potential fight for your chosen decision. It’s been a long process but it’s been worth us pursuing. Our son has had a wonderful 8 months at home and nursery, exploring life as a 4 year old should, with the odd nap thrown in for good measure!
I have written several blog posts on the topic, the first was one of my most popular viewed posts so far, and then two more heartfelt updates on our application process, and I have linked them below for this who wish to hear more of our story and how we set out on Teddy’s primary application.