Friday, 3 June 2022

A midyear intake for schools

is back on the books. It is another attempt to try and sort out the confusion over when children should start school, when they should transfer from primary to secondary and on to further education.

When I was a kitten school was not the same at all. There were three terms in the school year, not four. You began school in the year you turned five. You could begin at the start of each term. Some children remained in Reception longer than others before going into Lower One. It depended on the child and how the teachers thought that child was progressing.

Now there are four terms in a school year and the holiday structure has changed. Eight years ago they stopped having what was called "the midyear intake". It is only because of pressure to get parents back to work that the midyear intake is being reintroduced. Nobody is actually saying this. It is all wrapped up in what is "best for the child".

I actually started school when I was four years and five weeks old. My birthday comes at the very end of the year. Yes, I was going to be five that year.  The law said I had to start the year I turned five. My mother, with my younger brother and a new baby in the house, obviously thought it would be good to have me occupied elsewhere. 

I was probably ready for school in the sense that I could already read and I knew my "basic number facts".  Physically I was not ready for school but then it was not likely that I would achieve that in the next twelve months so off I went. It was made a little easier by the fact the Senior Cat was teaching the Grade Five class further up the school. 

For the most part school bored me. It seemed slow. The other children were struggling through learning the alphabet and then the "double letter" sounds. I don't remember actually learning those at all. They had appeared on the pages of the books the Senior Cat read to me at bedtime and I had been fortunate enough to "just learn" what those squiggles represented. I was doubly promoted again in a vain attempt to keep me out of mischief. After that I read books under the desk while I waited for the teacher to help the others and then write things down for me.

I know much more about learning to read now. In my later years at primary school and into secondary school I was one of the students who, in the absence of volunteer mothers, was one of those expected to hear the youngest children struggle with "Run Nip run" and like  words. My parents taught me and several others how to help, what to do, what to say and what to listen for when a small child was trying to read. It is not easy to learn to read and it is something I genuinely appreciate now. 

So what about that midyear intake?  It probably is a good idea if you are ready for school. It doesn't really solve the "age gap" problem - unless you continue to transfer children to the next level in mid year. It may help some children but it won't help all children. 

What it should not be done for is the convenience of the parents. If a child is being shunted off to school so that both parents can go back to work that is not necessarily the best thing for the child. I think the problem needs some more work done on it.  


Holly said...

I respectfully disagree - at least in the US - sending the child to school (and we unfortunately do not have mid-year intakes) means free lunch for low-income children and being in an environment that doesn't include TV as the main child sitter,
Mind you - I don't see school as child care - but the idea of learning structures based on child biological age rather than learning ability and readiness is rather outmoded anyway.

Anonymous said...

We don't have free lunches here - children take food from home - and rural children often have to travel very long distances to school - some do round trips of over 100 miles. It's a complex issue. It is made more complex by the fact that it is school attendance at a certain age which is compulsory. Parents who want to home school in this state have to get permission.