New report suggests adjusting August born's test results.

(230 Posts)
Suzieismyname Fri 10-May-13 05:27:34

www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-22469216
This will be ignored by Gove, won't it?

Blu Fri 10-May-13 05:50:17

Ignore it? Won't be sit up and take notice and swiftly make provision to allow Academies and Free schools to select on date of birth thus having more independence to manipulate their stats?

Interesting study. If the results gap is 6% perhaps they could adjust the figures by 0,5% per month.

NarkyNamechanger Fri 10-May-13 06:11:58

As above- you'd have to make allowances for each and every month then. My end of July child would instead become the 'youngest'.

losingtrust Fri 10-May-13 06:45:14

My child also end of July and has the same issues as an August born.

Suzieismyname Fri 10-May-13 07:38:48

Sorry, article does actually say 'summer-born'.

senua Fri 10-May-13 08:19:21

The concept is nothing new; I presume that they are trying to make a news story about some research that they have just done (on Millennium babies IIRC).
Our grammar school has age-adjusted the results of entrance tests for many years.

DeWe Fri 10-May-13 09:37:47

I suspect you'd then find employers and universities giving priority to winter borns. If they haven't caught up by age 18, when are they expected to catch up?

You're not going to find an employer saying "oh she can't be expected to meet as many targets because she's a summer born".

Suzieismyname Fri 10-May-13 09:44:47

I think you'd find that they already do...
www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21579484

SuffolkNWhat Fri 10-May-13 09:44:56

Tbh there are so many variables that can affect school performance that this makes little sense. Home life, parental input etc have far more impact than the month you were born in.

If anything this supports the argument that tiered school starting should be reintroduced.

lottieandmia Fri 10-May-13 09:45:57

I know a few people with primary aged children who were August born and were labelled as 'low ability' as early as reception or Y1. The problem is that these children get the message that they are not able from a young age and so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as they get older too.

At 4 or 5 years of age, even 6 months can make all the difference to a child's development imo. The gap certainly will close as a child gets older - I would dispute whether it makes any difference at GCSE level. But if children get the message early on in their school career that they are not academic then that's very unfair on them .

DeepRedBetty Fri 10-May-13 09:48:31

Surely if you adjust for August, you have to adjust a little bit less for July, then a little less again for June and so on right round to a tiny adjustment for October?

Lilymaid Fri 10-May-13 09:51:28

I have an August born DS (so this may be entirely anecdotal). He was always about six months behind the intellectual achievement of his class when he was at primary school. Hence, although bright, he couldn't retain what was being taught.

This impacted throughout his school career. In the end we paid a lot of money for him to be first tutored one to one and then go to a school with very small classes.

So, the answer is ultimately not to weight the marks but to give younger children more time and more attention ... but where is the money in the system for that?

50shadesofvomit Fri 10-May-13 09:54:55

My personal experience is that it makes a difference at primary (especially infants) but by secondary school age, it sorts itself out as long as sets are flexible.

prh47bridge Fri 10-May-13 09:56:46

As others have said this is nothing new although different research reports disagree about the size of the effect and the extent to which summer born children catch up during their school career. I don't know what can be done about it however. Moving the cut off date will simply disadvantage a different set of children. Evidence on allowing summer born children to start a year late suggests this leads to them falling behind their contemporaries.

Regarding Senua's comment on grammar schools, many use non-verbal reasoning tests, which are essentially the same kind of thing used in IQ tests. Scores in these change dramatically with age at the time children would be taking grammar school entrance tests so they definitely should be age-adjusted. One minor amusement is parents saying that the tutor they used achieved a big improvement in their child's NVR score when in fact the improvement was simply what one would expect with age!

SpanielFace Fri 10-May-13 09:56:54

This makes me sad.

PFB DS was born 31st August last year. He wasn't due until September, and the one thing I said was that he had to stay put until 1st September. He obviously didn't listen though.

There's no way you can keep them back a year, is there?

ReallyTired Fri 10-May-13 10:01:05

National curriculum tests and GCSEs are supposed measure ATTAINMENT not intelligence. Either a child can do the exam paper or they can't.

It would be ridicolous to take age into account when marking GCSEs. A six year old put in for GCSE maths would only need 5% to get an A and hapless mature student would be awarded an F for scoring 95%,

I think the issue is summer borns being made to feel stupid in primary schools by obvious and premature streaming/ setting. A lot of the problems with August borns could be negated by having more flexiblity about school starting age.

Secondary schools should be allowed to put children in for exams when they are ready.

wordfactory Fri 10-May-13 10:02:30

I think adjustment for Summer borns is a good idea.

The evidence is very clear. Summer borns do less well.

I think one of the main factors is expectations. In the early years, when age matters enormously the expectations of teachers, parents and pupils begins to set. Ideas are formed as to who is able and who is not. Ofetn without recourse to age! This can stick.

I have summer borns (and prem to boot) and I took no prisoners on this. I made it abundantly clear to everyone and anyone that they not entitled to peg my DC's ability without reference to their age.

Consequently they were always considered perfectly able for their age. Now as teens they are simply considered able...

Lottie4 Fri 10-May-13 10:10:38

I know they are working on averages, but just because they are born in August doesn't mean they can't do well. My daughter was born on 24th August. She is in all the top sets at comprehensive school (we decided against grammar for personal reasons) and her language and maths teachers have told the children in those sets they are all capable of getting A/A*, so even if she doesn't quite get there, it sounds like she's on course for some good A & B grades. Mind you, it could work to her advantage and she'll come out with loads of a and A*s.

everlong Fri 10-May-13 10:11:45

Ds5 is end of August born and this is the main reason I put him in private at reception. He's doing ok, pretty well in most areas and I think that's down to small classes. There's quite a few August born in his class and they are all about the same level.

FadedSapphire Fri 10-May-13 10:13:10

Just think how amazing she would be if she had been a September baby Lottie4.....

Suzieismyname Fri 10-May-13 10:14:33

To be honest, I'd like a system that dealt with individual children rather than arbitrary age cut off dates. My August born DD1 was not ready for school last September whereas one of her friends born in September was.
I think there should be some kind of assessment for each child but that would cost far too much, wouldn't it? Oh and let all children be children and start them at 7...

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Fri 10-May-13 10:17:12

Ridiculous. You take an exam, you either get the marks or you don't. It would be much better to supports summer borns during KS1 so that they are on a level playing field at 16 rather than tell them all that they are all so stupid they can't be expected to attain the same as their friends who are only a matter of weeks older than them. They will carry it with them their whole lives. When employers look at their DoB they will downgrade their results in their heads so a August child who got an A fair and square will only be given credit for a B.

Lilymaid Fri 10-May-13 10:17:48

Some children are intellectually mature for their school year, others are physically mature, some are both. DS was physically mature, but not intellectually mature enough for the work set in his class, his friend was the opposite and both were August born.
It would be interesting to know what proportion of OU students were summer born - underachieving at school but eventually reaching their academic potential.

ratspeaker Fri 10-May-13 10:25:26

I'd be interested to know if anyone has done a similar study in Scotland.
Those turning 5 March to February are in the same year group. So it's a bit different from England
There is an option to wait a year in the case of Jan/Feb birthdays and I think those born after Sept may get approval to defer entry , not 100% sure on that but def know of Jan birthday kids waiting another "year" before starting school

higgle Fri 10-May-13 10:29:22

I would hope that those who need it would get support, but one rule does not apply to all. My birthday is in late August and, like a few of my friends who were also summer babies, I passed my 11 plus a year early. The little group of us ended up doing A levels when we were still 16 ( we were 17 when the resuots came out) and all went to university. We would have found it very frustrating to have to accord with some general principles to holdus back.

I'm an August baby. When in primary school my reports were always mentioning that I was very bright but didn't have great attention levels. Mum said she kept mentioning that I was one of the youngest in the class and they told her it was rubbish, until mum spoke to another girl's parents with a similar birthday and discovered the same reports... However by middle and upper schools we were both amongst the brightest in the year. I often wonder if the challenges we were presented with helped us. It'd be great to have my marks adjusted, I'd definitely have come out top of my year then!!!!!

catinhat Fri 10-May-13 10:56:53

I must be a genius, then!

I was late July and my academic record is unfaulted!

hugoagogo Fri 10-May-13 11:12:31

Why don't they just allocate everyone's grades by when their birthday is and then they wouldn't have to bother with all the teaching, setting exams, marking them- and all that tedious stuff?

What is it they say about statistics?

dd is a may baby and top of her year at school, yes it makes a difference when they are very little, but these things even out.

Should I have my marks at the OU adjusted downwards because I am 20 years older than the average undergraduate?

Meh

Myliferocks Fri 10-May-13 11:18:02

DD2 is an August born who wasn't due until the September. She's not very academic and does struggle a bit but to be honest I think she would still have been like that if she had been born in the September.
Some children just aren't academic no matter what month they were born in.
DS2 is a September child who is doing very well at school but he is also the 5th child in our family.
Who knows whether he is as academic as he is because he is a September born or where he comes in our family. Iyswim

Struckachord Fri 10-May-13 11:19:53

Can I also shed a ray of hope. I was a summer baby and I was put up a year early from what was infants to juniors. Although socially it was difficult, I did not find academically I was struggling at all with people who were a lot older.

PrincessOfChina Fri 10-May-13 11:23:04

I'm interested in this from a personal perspective. DD is Feb born so slap in the middle really, but I'm a July baby and recall no issues whatsoever.

I have good GCSE'S and A Levels, followed by two degrees - all of which were taken at a younger age than my peers. My primary school operated a 1.5 class intake so with the exception of Reception year I was always in a class made up of 50% children from the older year (so up to 20 months older than me). I was one of 12 or so children chosen for this and off the top of my head there were August, July, June, May, March, February and October birthdays. I guess what I'm saying is my birth date had no affect on my academic achievements.

FadedSapphire Fri 10-May-13 11:27:39

To me it seems that children who are young in the year/ summer born should be monitored for any consequence of birth date on performance at primary school.
This I believe is particularly important in KS1.
Extra support should be given to level the playing field with older children if necessary. At no point should they be led to believe they are not able just because they are young.

CockyFox Fri 10-May-13 11:40:16

I don't think this would be a good idea. My DS is 31st August (11:44pm) born so the very youngest in his year. He is in the middle stream ( and yes I do mean stream there are no mixed ability classes in his infant school - not something I agree with either) he is really good at maths already a level three at easter year 2, and average at Reading and writing. I would hate to think of someone looking at his GCSE ( or whatever they will be then) results and thinking they weren't really as good they look.
DD on the other hand is November born and not as bright. I fully expect her to be put in the bottom stream and would hate her to be marked harder due to being that bit older in her year group.

LarvalFormOfOddSock Fri 10-May-13 11:51:19

I think this is a terrible idea. It could never be implemented fairly. Month of birth is only a single factor amongst many in the outcome of test results and attainment.

FWIW I was born end of July, 2 months premature, and I got the best GCSE and A-level results in my school. Each case is individual and education should (in theory) be tailored to each child to bring out the best in them.

But really, are we going to have to adjust results to take into account parents' educational level, standards of nutrition, number of books in the home? These are all strongly correlated with educational achievement.

pukkapine Fri 10-May-13 11:52:31

I think it's hard to make any system with a yearly intake 'fair'. However, as the article says, it's more a case of labelling - if the younger children have their self-esteem dented and their own expectations lowered from the very first few years of school it's a tough journey for them to break away from that.

Anecdotally I think I would have benefitted from realising my 'average-ness' at primary was actually me doing well for being a summer-born. Suddenly at GCSE's I was one of the top performing of the year and it came as a surprise to everyone, including me! Comparative to my siblings and peers who were autumn born I had already been labelled as less academic. On the other hand being summer born has benefitted my very able son - he's the youngest boy in the year but the highest achiever - I think if he was older in his year the gap would be even wider between him and his peers and that poses problems too. However, socially he clearly still is the youngest boy. As for my DD's, they are winter born but premmies and clearly not as naturally able as their brother, I think being amongst the eldest in their class will benefit them hugely. That's the problem, no system can truly account for all the idiosycracies of individuals and there will always be winners and losers.

Kendodd Fri 10-May-13 11:54:07

I have read that if the age children start school is delayed until seven, as in some countries, this disadvantage suffered my summer born children disappears I guess because even the youngest in the class is old enough to cope by then. I'll try to find a link.

The government could save a whole heap of money, by just delaying school starting age, and solve this problem in one go. They could turn R and Y1 into 'pre-school' loose the academic focus and have explorative play instead. Oh and the money saved would come from the fact pre-school teachers are cheap and school teachers are expensive.

BTW I have both a September born and an end of August child (plus a Feb one).

Blackcathaireverywhere Fri 10-May-13 11:55:48

There is 7.9% points between boys and girls too. So can my sons have their grades adjusted too please?

As a poster on the first page said there are so many variables in acheivement it would be madness to focus on 'summer-born' as one factor. Isn't maternal education supposed to have the largest influence?

Kendodd Fri 10-May-13 12:06:56

Here we go, found the link, www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15490760

It says-

Early years specialist Dr David Whitebread, from the University of Cambridge, says one possible solution would be to increase the age at which children start school.

Children in the UK start school much earlier than most of their European counterparts. Dr Whitebread says research has shown that the later children start formal education, the less marked the month effect is.

"In countries where they start a year older than the UK, the month effect is less marked and in countries where they start as late as seven, it completely washes out."

If children are kept playing in kindergarten until the age of six or seven, they are better equipped to cope with formal education, he adds.

Sorry, posted on the wrong tread first blush

TheSmallPrint Fri 10-May-13 12:08:09

As a summer born (July baby) I never struggled and I think, as someone said up thread, if you haven't caught up by 18 then at what age do you expect to?? I can understand there may be more of a difference in Primary, hence adjustments for 11+ but even at 10 I think most children have levelled out and it then comes down to other factors.

TenthMuse Fri 10-May-13 12:20:29

As a teacher I agree with lottieandmia that a large part of the problem stems from the labelling of summer born children as 'less able' very early on, something that often becomes self-perpetuating as they go further up the school.

I used to teach in Year 1 and we were (ridiculously) expected to set targets for their KS1 and KS2 SATs based on the scores they came up with from Reception. Of course the September and October born children tended to come up with better scores (since many of the Foundation Stage profile targets are based on maturity/independence/social skills) and were consequently predicted better SATs grades. These children are then labelled 'more able' and many of their less mature summer counterparts 'less able'. I remember teaching an August-born Year 5 child who really came into her own in my class. Her previous teachers were genuinely shocked at her achievements because she was 'only average' and had 'always struggled' in previous years.

Think schools need to look closely at themselves and the systems they have in place to support the younger children in a cohort. Most schools I've worked in tend to identify children born after April as 'vulnerable' in official documentation (for Ofsted, of course!) but then do very little to rectify the problem - rarely is there any actual support. Then you still have a large number of schools who have a split intake, so the autumn/winter born children have more time to settle at school, with smaller classes and a lower staff:pupil ratio, while the summer born children have to play catch-up in a larger class from day one.

Surely allowing for a lower pass mark in exams for summer-born children is only reinforcing the assumption that younger children won't achieve as well, rather than actively trying to identify reasons for this and attempting to solve the problem?

gazzalw Fri 10-May-13 12:24:38

On a related topic, I'm sure I read somewhere that there are more Autumn born children at Oxbridge than those born in Winter/Spring/Summer

Kendodd Fri 10-May-13 12:26:47

Tbh there are so many variables that can affect school performance that this makes little sense. Home life, parental input etc have far more impact than the month you were born in.

Yes, you can say that about many, many factors, but that's not a reason to just shrug your shoulders and not do anything about this (or any other) factor.

Although age adjusting exam results may not be the best way.

TheChimpParadox Fri 10-May-13 12:29:30

Thin edge of the wedge - where are you going to draw the line in adjusting academic results to make allowances for the child - will children who come from a background with no parental input or support at home have this allowance ? Will children who have to change schools often - for whatever reasons - have this allowance ? Will we make allowances for gender ?

Schools should recognise that children born later in the year and are starting school may need to catch up emotionally and intellectually with some of their piers and make allowance in their teaching style and expectations in the first few years of schooling but when it comes down to GCSE's and A levels then I think it is wrong to start making adjustments as it will yet be a another dumbing down of what grades mean.

Each child is different so I can;t really see who this will be fair .

Have a August child myself and was a July baby- so not being bitter.

duchesse Fri 10-May-13 12:29:37

I always find it fascinating that in DD2's year at her very selective school she is the youngest by nearly 2 months (she's a 27th July birthday). Most of her friends have autumn birthdays, and the vast majority of the girls in her year are born before February. This is despite the fact that some aspects of the entrance exam are age-adjusted.

losingtrust Fri 10-May-13 12:33:47

If they scrapped KS1 targets that determine the future targets this would be sufficient for me. Mother of two summer borns whose expectations were set too low after KS1 results. How surprised the school were when he did well at KS2 when by that stage he had exceeded many kids but left to feel he was stupid in the meantime. Early streaming is the problem.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 10-May-13 12:40:17

Low expectations after KS1 SATS works with Sep borns too<sigh>

Utterly shocked at how low expectations can be.

TenthMuse Fri 10-May-13 12:42:03

Should add that I have a July birthday, a BA, MA and PGCE, so I realise that the summer birthday issue isn't insurmountable - certainly, other factors are more important. Still, it's interesting to note that the intake of my very selective grammar school was highly skewed towards autumn and winter birthdays in both my own and my brother's year. I was the youngest in my class by two months.

TenthMuse Fri 10-May-13 12:48:14

Losingtrust am totally with you on that. Many teachers (at least the more enlightened ones!) loathe these targets too. And there's no joined-up thinking whatsoever - I went on an Early Years course where they explicitly told us musn't use the Foundation Stage scores for target-setting as they weren't designed to be indicators of raw academic ability. Yet the very next week there I was in the Head's office having to do exactly that because 'Ofsted likes it' - my protests fell on deaf ears, sadly ( sigh ).

losingtrust Fri 10-May-13 12:50:55

Agree some Sept born not mature enough at 7. Who ever came up with these expectations at such a young age. Ridiculous. A child who is ahead at 7 gets extra support to hit higher levels and then at secondary they struggle. I was a winter born who was way above expectations at 7 but became just above average after 11. With the current system I would have failed in not getting all As but I lacked the key ingredient and that is a strong work ethic. In secondary that produces better results.

LittleMissMedium Fri 10-May-13 13:47:30

This is actually something I've wondered about a lot. I'm a very late July baby and whilst I got good GCSEs, A Levels and a degree, I did notice that it was the older kids that were in the top sets at school.

My particularly intelligent friends are Sept - Feb babies.

My best friend and I were in the same year at school. She's almost an entire year older than me, and wickedly intelligent. A year is a long time when you're growing up and developing.

FadedSapphire Fri 10-May-13 13:56:23

My two best friends at secondary were Autumn/winter borns and I was late summer. I started to [secretly] compete with them. By hanging onto their coat tails I did all right.
I was a right dozy one at primary and a teacher used to call me Lizzie Dripping [which those of a certain age will understand..].
A proper dilly day dream I was who struggled early on as too young for school really and got very behind as no support.

wishingchair Fri 10-May-13 13:58:53

I'm sceptical about it. I'm an August baby and did well in school. My best friends were Feb and August whilst at school and we did much better than others who were winter term babies. At uni my best friend was a whole school year older than me (actually 18 months) and we were pretty comparable ... I ended up with a 2:1 and she got a 2:2.

My niece is July and is now a junior doctor. One of my DDs is an August baby and is doing v.well at school (would be even better if she didn't chat so much grin)

We're individuals. Some are brighter than others.

wishingchair Fri 10-May-13 14:00:42

And to FadedSapphire's point - some have better attention and can cope with the structure of the classroom better than others. Think that is a personality thing though rather than an age thing.

FadedSapphire Fri 10-May-13 14:06:43

It is possible I would have been a bit of a dreamy dopey Dora if older in the year but being young in the year compounded the problem.
No one bothered really that I needed extra help to pay attention and I got behind.
I hope these days more attention is paid to young rather babyish children such as me. The thing is, once I grew up a bit and gained a little confidence I realised I wasn't stupid after all but actually quite bright.

gazzalw Fri 10-May-13 14:11:23

But surely it's not just about what month you are born in but other variables too which presumably have been factored in/out of the research?

An August-born from a high-achieving, education-focused family will do much better (surely) than a September-born who is not educationally stimulated at all at home????

Pozzled Fri 10-May-13 14:12:49

I think the gap in achievement is a real concern, and needs addressing. It's something I've thought about a lot. (I'm a teacher, with August-born DD1 and June-born DD2!)

However, I don't think adjusting exam results is a good idea at all- you'll end up with employers and universities discriminating against summer-borns because their A* is worth less than an Autumn born individual.

I would like to see funding made available to support summer-borns and ensure they are reaching their potential- in the same way as the pupil premium. I also think teachers should be more aware of (and make allowances for) birth year. DD1 is in reception, and doing brilliantly 'academically' but we've had comments from the teacher about how she is easily distracted and doesn't always concentrate well. Well, yes- if she were 3 weeks younger, she'd still be at nursery.

Lilymaid Fri 10-May-13 14:25:43

Pozzled - I agree with what you write, but it all comes back to money. My August born DS now wonders whether he had ADHD when he was younger (pretty sure he didn't but he was easily distracted because he just couldn't "get" everything that was taught to him). He was lucky as we did everything we could to help him but not everyone has parents who can or will put in a lot of effort (and money) to support their DCs.

stillenacht Fri 10-May-13 14:30:26

My DS1 born late August,bottom group throughout primary (state). It has had a real impact on him.Took him out of state,remortgaged 60 grand and put him year below in private.Much better. DS2 born early Sept..great I thought...oh no DS2 has low functioning autism...aged 10 still in nappies...what can you do eh?! ;)

pozzled that's the sort of reports I used to get.

I know quite a few of the younger ones in my year lost engagement with education thanks to being labelled slow. Maybe I was fortunate as they thought I was clever enough but the overall tone was that I was not concentrating on purpose.

Bonsoir Fri 10-May-13 14:32:41

My DD (8, Y4) is a November-born in the French system, ie equivalent to a July-born in the English system. She is bilingual (French-English) in a bilingual school, but English is her dominant spoken language.

In the early years she was not particularly good at French and was very much in the middle of her class and unremarkable. However, now, six years into her school career, it is clear that she has been on a steeper learning curve than many of her year group and she is beginning to be remarked upon for her abilities. I know she is very analytical and have faith that she will fully catch up with her peers on the nuts-and-bolts of language stuff which is not yet fully on top of.

stillenacht Fri 10-May-13 14:33:52

My DS1 became totally disengaged due to being in bottom group.All but one of 10kids in that group were boys,all but two were July-Aug born.

FadedSapphire Fri 10-May-13 14:35:27

I think that scenario is not uncommon stillenacht.

wheresthebeach Fri 10-May-13 14:35:58

The development gap is huge when they're young and at our school they are set from year 1. This means kids get a clear idea of who's considered 'top' and who's considered 'bottom'. It's not good.
A less judgemental and more flexible system which didn't label young children is the answer.

stillenacht Fri 10-May-13 14:36:59

Faded and wheresthebeach I agree

apatchylass Fri 10-May-13 14:48:13

I don't really get how it makes so much difference by the time you get to Sats. Both my two are summer born and while one was right at the bottom of the class throughout infants the other was at the top. They've both now levelled out and are doing fine.

Quite a few of the summer borns I know are top of the class by yr6, maybe because they were signalled as being behind by KS1 teachers so had extra parental input or worked harder once they became aware of the gap themselves in KS2.

JenaiMorris Fri 10-May-13 14:50:50

Adjusting for age makes sense for 11+ exams (although I don't think 11+ exams make sense anyway so that's by-the-by grin ) but as ReallyTired said, GCSEs and A-Levels are meant to measure attainment/knowledge not intelligence.

thegreylady Fri 10-May-13 15:01:03

Within my family the three academic high flyers were born:
August 31st-first Class honours degree from York
August 6th-2:1 in Philosophy from Sheffield
July 27th - 2:1 in Engineering and distinction in Accountacy diploma

The others were born Dec,April,May and all have good degrees too.The Dec born also has a Phd and the other two have Masters degrees. No allowance for age needed -1 privately educated others local comps.By 16 birthdate does not matter-an able child will shine.

racmun Fri 10-May-13 15:18:16

I read a really interesting article in the Times on Monday regarding ADHD. There has been a big Canadian study and there is a big correlation between being young in your school year and being diagnosed with ADHD. The younger you are the higher the rate of diagnosis.

It's a really tricky problem my ds is an August born and I am really worried about it. I think the real problem is that the school system is so rigid and it seems to be one size fits all.

Perhaps they would be better fitting grade expectations to actual age as opposed to school year.

sleepingbunny Fri 10-May-13 15:37:12

I have a friend who was involved in writing the IFS stuff on summerborns. Her response to it was "I did this research. Then I planned to have my children in September".
I have two July-born DDs. The first is in Yr1. She'd be doing fine if she wasn't so painfully aware of where she sits in the academic pecking order (somewhere in the middle). As it is she tells me that only the children on the top two tables can understand numeracy, so she doesn't bother.
Academically I assume she'll catch up - absolutely no reason why not. Confidence-wise, I'm not sure she'll recover.
If only they'd stop streaming and labelling children who are far too young for it!

MrsE Fri 10-May-13 15:51:39

My DD is 25 Aug born and youngest in her year. Her predicted grades for GCSE (Yr11) is A/A*. She has always been in the top set and very rarely struggled. Her best frined is 355 days older than her and is only predicted B in the majority of her exams.
I really struggle to see what difference as to when a child is born has on their academic ability.

WouldBeHarrietVane Fri 10-May-13 15:56:16

My German friend was shocked by the system here as in her German state this is what they do.

Children generally start school at 6. Each child is individually assessed for school readiness at 6 and if they are not ready at 6 they start at 7.

They have good educational results based on this system, she says.

Seems good to me!!

ChubbyKitty Fri 10-May-13 15:56:22

I'm an August baby and didn't do very well at all.

After reading on here about there not being enough support I'm starting to wonder if my failure wasn't entirely my fault, but it's probably way too late to know now.

But it does explain a lot. Seems I was one of very few people who cried for my mum in class in years 4/5 when everyone else had stopped(and so the teachers were never too nice about it). And yes. I am ashamed of thatblush

WouldBeHarrietVane Fri 10-May-13 16:02:22

Kitty, don't be - I cried floods and I'm not even summer born smile

ChubbyKitty Fri 10-May-13 16:03:27

I'm quite the cryer even now.

I guess at least I have an excuse for my terrible maths skills?

WouldBeHarrietVane Fri 10-May-13 16:05:39

Me too re crying smile

Panzee Fri 10-May-13 16:06:22

If they need to adjust to make it fairer for league tables then it's the league tables that are wrong and should be scrapped.

I'm not sure maths skills are too effected any more than anything else by being summer born. I have a first class honours degree in maths, award won for top of department at uni. I always found maths easy. I had to work harder at other things though. Maybe I'm a freak.

MrsCampbellBlack Fri 10-May-13 16:11:10

I'm august born and did fine at school but I realise that's not exactly proper research. wink

My eldest is august born and a boy to boot. He's now in yr 4 and as Bonsoir has experienced is beginning to come into his own but its taken a while. I was told by his teachers that its pretty common for it to take until year 7 or 8 for the age advantage to begin to disappear.

In some of the super-selective independents there are far less summer born children than those born sept-dec.

I don't think GCSE's should be adjusted but there should be more consideration for summer born children in primary. And being told repeatedly by a teacher 'well he's very young for his year' isn't massively helpful.

siluria Fri 10-May-13 16:28:10

My primary school decided half-way through year one to split the classes into Sep-Feb births and March-Aug births. I was born in July and went from the middle of the pack to the top and it gave me loads of confidence. I don't know why more schools don't do this.

working9while5 Fri 10-May-13 16:31:55

Personally I think there is an awful lot of kerfuffle about this here when surely what's really going on is that summer borns are being labelled as underperforming early on in their school careers rather than there being adequate scope for differentiation based on very natural differences in development.

Every school system has a start and an end to the academic year: therefore there will always be children who are younger/older when beginning.

Dh was end of September born was in Ireland in the 80's and he was taken in early in order to give another teacher a job) when starting school. His sister was younger (same story, November born shock). He is a highly qualified chartered professional with two degrees and a postgrad, she is a doctor.

I think that setting these low expectations rather than providing good educational practice and working with children's development and catering for their zone of proximal development (which really should and probably is the case anyway) is a bigger problem than the actual age of Summer borns.

Takver Fri 10-May-13 16:43:32

I really don't think that this is a good idea. It moves us even further towards the notion of exam grades as a 'sorting' function, rating people from top (clever) to bottom (to be shuffled off into some 'non-academic' hole).

The point of GCSEs was meant to be that they were criterion based, identifying whether you had learnt a certain set of skills and knowledge.

Frankly, as an employer, I don't care whether you got a C grade at GCSE at age 10 or 20, I care whether you can write a coherent letter and work out percentages correctly every time. And indeed, under this suggestion, how would mature students' exams be marked?

Its a bit like a driving license - you have to achieve a certain level in order to be able to drive. We don't say 'you're not a natural driver, so stay on your bike' - we say 'you need to take more lessons and work harder to achieve the required level.

I absolutely agree that summer born babies need more support. As others have said, why not just relax the absolute rules that say 'you must stay in your age cohort entirely' and allow teachers and parents together to make a decision as to when it is appropriate to move a child out of year.

DD's year has exactly the same issue at the other end; the two oldest children in her class - who are also quick learners - should patently be in secondary school now, not kicking their heels in primary for another year getting into trouble because they're bored.

Suzieismyname Fri 10-May-13 16:51:47

Golly, I'm jealous of the German system! That would be great for my DD1 all kids.
It's very heartwarming to read all these anecdotes of brilliant summer borns but unfortunately this research shows that on average summer borns fare worse than September borns.
Some summer borns will be brilliant, some September borns will be much less able.

It can have an impact on the other end of the school system too. DS (16) will be having a gap year (or even 2) before university, he was born in July and would struggle to cope away from home at just 18, particularly as he has mild Asperger's Syndrome.

We noticed ever since he started school that he seemed to lag about 6 months behind his peers in certain areas - it would take him longer to grasp certain mathematical concepts, so he'd have a lightbulb moment just before the exams and not have reaped the benefit of all his practice papers, consolidation exercises and revision while really understanding what he was doing. This was in spite of private tuition and lots of help at home - the cognitive skills required to do really well just hadn't developed.

This is still true during 6th form - getting the hang of exam techniques for GCSEs, and now AS levels, always seems to happen in late Spring instead of late Autumn when it might make a big difference to his final grades. We always got the impression that he's just failing to reach his full potential by 6 months!

Suzieismyname Fri 10-May-13 17:04:34

Being pragmatic, I can't see extra money being ploughed into getting children to start later or defer or have extra help in the classroom. I do think that prevention is better than cure...
So if this adjustment means that summer borns get some compensation for being disadvantaged then that's great.

Dauphin Fri 10-May-13 17:05:41

Purely anecdotal, but I, my husband and our two eldest DCs are summer born (3 of us in August, 1 July). I don't feel it has affected us as both my DH and I have achieved well, and are/were confident individuals; and both DS and DD are well above average according to their teacher's recent communications. We have a third child with an October birthday, so it will be interesting to see the difference....

losingtrust Fri 10-May-13 17:09:25

My ds summer born talked himself into the top group for literacy in year 6 after complaining that he got very high results in a test but still in middle group as had only got 2c in KS1. He had a teacher that have him the chance and ended up getting one of the best KS2 results. He did it without my knowledge. Teacher told me after. I was proud of him for sticking to his guns. Now Year 8 one of the top 5 kids. DD now Year 4 complaining work too easy. Again only 2c in Ks1 for everything and in low groups but teacher reluctant to move her now as gap too wide between groups even though she does not ever have to learn her spellings etc. therefore the issue is not as many people have said making GCSEs easier but either leaving formal education to later which has no material impact on later learning or scrap KS1assessments and leave these formal assessments to the last two years of primary. The problem is education trying to be done by a tick box approach rather than by children being left to develop at their own pace. Teachers are intelligent enough to realise when kids need extra help and there is more resource to do this than the days when we grew up with only one class teacher and no assistants. It is a disgrace that some children are disenfranchised from learning at such a key age. My dcs are both the type to speak up but there are many who are not able to do this.

Kasterborous Fri 10-May-13 17:34:35

When I started at primary school, quite a few years ago, there were three intakes a year. In September for Sept, Oct, Nov and Dec babies, in January for Jan, Feb, March, April babies and April for May, June, July and August babies. All in the same year at school all the way through, but some had started seven months before the others.

I don't think it made much difference to me, I was born in July, I didn't do brilliantly at school, but that's just me. My brother was August born and he did really well. Though he started in the September I just wasn't very bright.

TonysHardWorkDay Fri 10-May-13 18:31:45

I do love the way that any discussion on this topic always has summer borns showing remarkable lack of knowledge whilst insisting that the study is rubbish because they/their children did fine. Just because summer borns are statistically less likely to score as highly as Autumn borns does not mean that they definitely will score less, it is not that tricky to understand is it?

I don't think adjusting scores is necessary, I'd like to see a later start date and more support to those who need it. I think the one size fits all model is hugely damaging.

The labelling issue is a massive one though, I'm August born and internalised very early that I was thick. One particularly lovely primary school teacher even called me stupid in front of the whole class, 30 years on and that still hurts, I can feel the humiliation I felt as fresh as anything. I carried that with me my whole life and am now about to graduate from an elite Uni with a top science degree, but I still keep thinking I've been lucky in assignments and am finally going to get caught out for the thicko that I really am. That is the most damaging thing, even when I have my degree certificate I will doubt I deserve it as the message is so ingrained.

lilymaid That is a study I'd love to see. Purely anecdotally I have noticed a heavy skew toward summer borns out of the mature students. I've still got a chance to do something but there are a few that could have had their lives transformed if they had not been convinced of their lack of brains earlier.

apatchylass Fri 10-May-13 18:33:31

DH had to do some research for work about sports personalities and discovered that the vast majority of them are autumn born. They are chosen for teams at a young age as they are taller, stronger and have better skills. Their ability, experience and confidence grows from there.

We took out summer borns to anew sports set up where there were almost no other children their age so they had to get picked and they have come on incredibly. At school they are still on the sports scrap heap, but at their club one is captain and the other was player of the week last week. You have to find ways round the school bias towards autumn born children.

It's sad, but as other posters have said, there are so many unfairnesses - better a summer born in a loving home with high hopes for their DC than a September child in a home where everyone expects them to end up on the dole.

JenaiMorris Fri 10-May-13 18:51:52

I'm autumn born and quite dense. Ds is also an autumn baby and a bit of a late bloomer (at least that's my theory and I'm sticking to it).

Ergo, these studies are rubbish grin

MrsSalvoMontalbano Fri 10-May-13 18:54:46

What is surprising is that it is a surprise... Has long been noted that professional sportsmen significantly more likely to be Sept/Oct. And that academically makes more difference in the early years than at GSCE, when the advantage has evened out.
Surely in primary school where there is two or more form entry, would not be difficult to have a class of winter babies and a class of summer babies, and then mix them up later - if necessary. the current school year groupings are only arbitrary anyway - see how the German system etc does it now.

wordfactory Fri 10-May-13 19:00:23

apatch Stevie Gerrard has often spoken about how he didn't make the school first team because he was a little 'un!

HSMMaCM Fri 10-May-13 19:03:29

At a management team building week where we had to do one of those stupid things where we all organised ourselves into when in the year we were born, we discovered that 90% of our management team were born in the Autumn term! I was shocked.

As a parent of an end of July daughter, I would be more than happy for her GCSE results to be adjusted upwards grin, as she'll only be 15 when she takes them. She noticed her age the most in yr 7, when the rest of the class were allowed to watch a 12 film and she wasn't because she was too young!

losingtrust Fri 10-May-13 19:25:45

Just to reassure you most of our management team are April,May,June,July and August although it is the type of company where you are more successful through the ability to sell and work hard rather than through academic qualifications apart from the two FDs both April born. Therefore the sensitive summer borns may have learnt to understand people better.

losingtrust Fri 10-May-13 19:30:07

Richard Branson is a July born and Alan Sugar late March. Maybe not relying on qualifications makes you more entrepreneurial so we could be encouraging our summer borns to use their nonces. Obviously grossly stereotyping.

leosdad Fri 10-May-13 19:31:52

How do you get round those schools (usually independent) who allow summer born children to join the year below so will be the oldest in the year but will have the July and August adjustment.
Also some of the older children in primary school have to tread water for much of the earlier years to allow the rest of the class to catch up. I had this with DC who was 5 on the first day in reception class and ready for reading and writing but had to sit through all the foundation stuff and go through the letters. They are taught the same stuff as summer born children.

losingtrust Fri 10-May-13 19:32:24

James Dyson May. Mick Jagger and Noel Gallagher both summer born.

Theydeserve Fri 10-May-13 19:33:57

My poor little boy - born 2 months prem mid July should have started Reception sept 2012. Instead he is Yr1 -one of the tallest in the class.

In somethings he does OK, but the whole concentration, not interested is so obvious. His teachers are lovely, just say he will do it when he is ready and they are so right.

Having said that he would like the monster child if he was in Reception now. Due date 29th Sept and he is currently 1m32 and size 1 shoes - so he looks like a Yr 1 boy but developmentally is not.

gazzalw Fri 10-May-13 19:48:24

It cuts both ways..... as Summer-born parents of Autumn-born children we speak from experience....

OddBoots Fri 10-May-13 19:56:57

I do think summer born is a mixed thing, I have an August born (prem) ds in Y9 and while I expect him to do his best and he seems to be doing well I do feel like he has a year 'in hand' over the Autumn children in that if he has to re-take either now or at A Level he will only end up finishing the time he would have if he hadn't been born early.

I do think the issue is with the idea that exams make the end of a road not just a step along it.

clam Fri 10-May-13 21:00:01

How many parents of September-borns wonder if their child would have been better off with the challenge of being in the year above? And, conversely, parents of August-borns wondering if their child would have been better as a high-flier in the year below?

The thing is, most of us under-play the fact that there are so many other variables that play a part, not least of which is ability. If your child is able, they will do well wherever. If not, they're more likely to struggle. Don't forget that the average attainment/ability spread in Year 6 is seven years. Seven years!

And, whilst we're in to bragging anecdotal evidence: ds was an August-born (serves us right, as teachers, practising for a September baby a month ahead of time!) and was in the lower groups in Reception. He moved "up" a group in Year One, and by the end of Year 2 was in the top group. Fast forward 10 years and he's got 13 GCSEs, 11 at A/A* and is House Captain and currently short-listed for Head Boy.

Summer-born parents, please don't despair.

ReallyTired Fri 10-May-13 21:16:29

Dd is born in April and can't wait to start proper school. I am relieved that only has to wait until september. I think she would go nuts if she had to wait until she was almost five years old. Thankfully she attend nursery which is part of a foundation stage and is being allowed to have a taste of reception activities.

Rather than adjusting the past mark of GCSEs prehaps we should allow some children to take the tests six months late. With huge secondary schools it would be quite easy to prepare some children for exams in June and some children for exams in November. Many secondary schools have eight classes in a year and it would be quite easily to divide up the year in half. Prehaps the brighter summer borns could do their GCSEs early and the less able winter borns could sit examsl six months later.

GCSEs and A-levels are designed to assess knowledge and compencies. They aren't an IQ test.

MrsCampbellBlack Fri 10-May-13 21:43:11

Anecdotal stories are great but surely people realise that research is slightly more valid?

The sporting stuff is well documented, god, I only have to watch the rugby matches to see how just physically larger boys who are almost a year older are than my August born boy.

MrsCampbellBlack Fri 10-May-13 21:45:10

And the final thing I'd say, is its not necessarily academic stuff which is harder for august born children (boy in my case) but the social and emotional maturity.

Not sure what can be done to facilitate that in schools though.

Noggie Fri 10-May-13 22:14:54

I think it varies so much BUT many of the younger ones find school more challenging initially . In Scotland you have the right to defer your child starting school if they are not 5 by the time term starts in August. Councils will not pay for sept- dec deferred kids but will pay for extra pre school year for jan and feb birthday kids. Not sure why it is different in different parts if the uk? I guess one of the important things for English summer borns is to support and encourage them and not label them.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Fri 10-May-13 22:22:18

My brother was a summer baby while I was an October baby. We both did equally well at school.....

When does this difference in birth date stop mattering - I always thoguht it was by aged 7.

I don't understand this focussing on 'summer borns' - in Scotland the cut-off is 28th Feb, so children a year apart (or as close as) can be in one year group.
The difference in my eyes is absolute age: Children here are at least 4 1/2 or thereabouts when they start school. Also, parents can chose to defer their Jan/Feb born children thereby allowing for individual differences. Nov/Dec born children can apply to be deferred.
There seems to be no will/desire to assess how 'school ready' an individual child is, irrespective of age sad as is done is some European countries.
There seems to be a focus on childcare costs (understandably, it is a huge burden on families) or some crazy ambition to have a school leaver as young as possible confused. I had many people expressing their upset for my DS1's 1.3. birthday which ment he did not start school until he was 3.5 (about which I was delighted).

Yy to treating each child as an individual. But I guess an assessment would be too expensive... hmm

DS1 was 5.5, obviously, when he started school, not 3.5. Gah! blush

Musicaltheatremum Fri 10-May-13 22:28:38

Have they allowed for the Scottish children? Our cut off date for school entry is 28 feb so you go to school between 4 and a half or 5 and a half . Daughter, April born one of oldest in year went to college at 18 and a half, son September born would just be going into year 13 this September in England but is going to university 3 days before his 18th birthday. Some people aren't 18 until the February of their first year at university.

Boys especially often ask to stay behind a year and they will help with jan and feb birthdays. My daughters reasons for suggesting people stay back if young is so they can drink when they get to uni. grin

Musicaltheatremum Fri 10-May-13 22:29:19

Pacific, you type faster than me...

grin
I might type fast, but not correctly...

edam Fri 10-May-13 23:34:13

ds is a mid-July baby. He's doing well at school, always has, but looking at him and friends of his who have birthdays in July and August, I get the impression teachers often forget about the importance of relative age - that many of these summer-borns have started school with a massive handicap. I can see how a couple of his friends were labelled very early on as 'struggling' with reading and how that cascaded and has continued to affect them. And even ones that do well, like ds, are compared against children who are 'doing well' but nearly a whole year old than them.

Bet if you looked at the gifted and talented list, it'd be dominated by autumn birthdays...

TonysHardWorkDay Sat 11-May-13 00:29:27

I've come to the conclusion that there really is no greater example of educational failings than when people are asked to comment on debates like this and prove they have no idea of logic or basic statistics.

Claim: Children who are the youngest in their year are less likely to achieve top grades than the oldest in their year. Less it means 'a smaller amount' not 'none because being born under Leo damages the brain.'

Source: Loads of studies they have been trotting out for years, I think they keep doing it in the hope that people will eventually get the point rather then saying my PFB was born at 11.59 on the 31st August and she/he is the cleverest eva so this study is rubbish! This has not yet been successful.

Why this claim is true: You either start school a year earlier, when you are 5 a year is a lot it is 20% of you life after all or you do your GCSEs with a year less schooling. Can you not see how this may affect some children? If you don't recognise that some does not mean all please line up for a knee in the kidneys, it may take me a while to get through the queue though, if any of you park in a parent and child space while waiting I'm going for both kidneys.

But, but, but. This is rubbish, I was born at 11.59 on the 31st August and I have a masters as does my DC who was also born at 11.59 on the 31st. You are a real example of the failings in UK education because you can't stop and think beyond your own limited experience. OR: My PFB is Autumn born and isn't doing well so this study is rubbish every child is different, lets face it starting school a year earlier would not have helped and neither would missing an entire years schooling. Could be helped by the statement 'every child matters' actually meaning something rather than being a triple bonus on the bullshit bingo card for education.

We can add to the but, but, but statements by Let me list a few people who where August born and successful, here is a few, I'm insinuating this study is rubbish! Look two rarely and exceptionally successful people were summer borns, this study is rubbish, if those thick summer borns were capable of anything they could have become billionaire entrepeneurs, if they didn't it is their own fault.

Any person who comes onto this thread and quotes 'lies, damn lies and statistics' is going to be brutally hunted, the crimes against science and mathematics are already too great to ignore.

gabsid Sat 11-May-13 07:54:07

I havn't read the thread yet but I believe that what is suggested in the article is not going to solve the problem. It is suggested that a small number of summer born DC suffer low self-confidence, lower achievement ... lowering expectations for all summer borns would be just creating another 'box' to put those DC in. It would be more sensible to look at the individual child when they are due to start school.

I think it would be more sinsible to relax the rules about school starting age and give the parents and professionals the option to defer a child who is developmentally and emotionally not ready to cope with what is expected at YR.

The fact is that most summer borns will settle and achieve well, if not at the start then within a year or so. I also know a few, especially boys, who struggled and still do years later. On the other hand my DS is not summer born (April) but is immature in every way so that he could be.

So it would make more sense to look at individual DC and keep those who aren't ready (probably mostly summer borns but not all) in pre school and/or provide a bit more specialised support for them in that less structured environment.

I am not including DC with special needs in my thinking here because more specialised people need to decide what would be the best, e.g. letting the younger DC start or not.

Tony I haven't seen people on here dismissing any research as rubbish. A lot of us summerborns who say we've done well aren't saying research is rubbish at all, but we are saying that there is more need to focus on why rather than just adjusting scores and grades which is what this topic is about. Also a lot of people are reinforcing that there is no need to despair if you have summerborns, there are plenty who do just fine despite the challenges that present them from entering the schooling system earlier.

Chandon Sat 11-May-13 08:20:01

In private schools they often compare results against age.

So my sons now get grades, but also assessments to show how they are doing " for their age".

Both test and grading results ( class ones and " compared to others their age") are used.

This was a nasty shock for me wink as Ds1 has SEN but I always thought " at least he is a September born!".

Anyway, it seems to priavte schools take into consideration the month they were born, often gender as well as SEN to get a full picture. This does not mean they adjust the grades though, but they interpret and use them as part of a wider assessment.

I think the focus on grades and grades alone is very limited and shows a "box ticking approach".

Also, in the end it does not matterthat much what grades you had in y6 or even GCSE ( A, B or even C).

I have interviewed lots of people for research jobs ( had to create my own team) and grades at school we really never a deciding factor, ever. Cannot even remember asking for GCSE grades confused, neither has anyone ever asked for mine.

Suzieismyname Sat 11-May-13 08:22:37

Tony you almost made me cry with relief...

Chandon Sat 11-May-13 08:25:44

Like Tony's post as well.

Could you please visit some other threads as well...

gabsid Sat 11-May-13 08:26:49

Chandon - that is also a solution to give a better picture about where DC are. For many it does matter at GCSE though and the whole thing would need to be brought together because many applying for jobs, apprenticeships, A-levels or college and that's where GCSE grades matter.

MrsCampbellBlack Sat 11-May-13 08:29:45

Tony - excellent post.

Chandon Sat 11-May-13 08:34:33

By the time they are doing GCSE, surely the age gap does not matter so much ? Does it? The difference between maturity of a 4 year old versus a 5 year old is huge compared to the difference between a 15 year old and a 16 year old.

I think a lot of problems with ( state) education are to do with people's obsession with grades. I would not want my childfen to get A's if it does not mean anything, I care much more whether they have actually learned something.

Artificially adjusting grades upwards does not mean these children actually KNOW as much as their autum born peers. This actual knowledge gap should be adjusted ( maybe through extra help) rather than inflating grades.

gabsid Sat 11-May-13 08:46:18

Adjusting grades would mean nothing to the 4 and 5 year olds because they aren't really aware of all that. What matters to them is that they are with a group of DC where everyone else can do things better, everyone else is can explain things better, can read better ... how does that make them feel? How do teachers judge them? They are not stupid - they are not expected to do as well - they won't do as well.

Of course its not all summer borns but maybe 1 or 2 per class I assume and maybe 1 who is a bit older. Wouldn't it make more sene if those 3 stayed out of school and had more unstructured play based education for a bit longer - it dosn't meant they won't learn, they may learn more than being in YR and not having a clue what's going on.

A major issue by GCSE age isn't whether they're mature enough, its more the damage done by branding them stupid, slow or awkward at a young age so much that they disengage from schooling early on. Do something to stop disengagement then look at the result differential. I know I wouldn't have tried so hard to get my good marks if I knew my results would have been upward adjusted because I'm august born, why bother - just leads to more disengagement.

wheresthebeach Sat 11-May-13 08:56:30

The point is that the study shows things don't even out when they are older. The damage to their confidence is too great. Sure some kids thrive regardless but not all

wheresthebeach Sat 11-May-13 08:58:27

And more wild cheering for Tony's post!

Tony grin

"The plural of anecdote is not data" - may I quote this and keep my kidneys intact?

I don't have an issue with what the evidence shows and how said evidence was arrived at, but I don't believe that 'adjustin exam scores' for summer-born children is right either.
This is not something were one rule will ever fit all. Of course, looking at each child individually is just not practical (nor is there the political will IMO).

I struggle to understand why Britain continues with such a young school-starting age when the evidence (maybe particularly for boys) suggests that kids do better if allowed a later start to formal learning. Threads about 'teaching my 2 year old to read with flashcards' just make me despair tbh.
Start school at 4, leave school aged 16, go to college, have a degree aged 19 and then work until you reach pensionable age... round about 85 the way things are going. What is the rush??

Chandon Sat 11-May-13 09:28:53

Those of you who say " the damage has been done" and " they believe they are stupid" and such things, are you against streaming then?

I only moved my kids across from the local state school to a private school a year ago, and one of the things I noted ( and liked) was that they do not stream for English. They think there is a basic level all the kids should be taught at ( which must be challenging as DS has SEN, along with about 5 others , and the class also has a few very gifted kids).

Anyway, I am not sure a lot of damage is done by streaming, but if so many of us think it may be a bad thing for the bottom sets, why do schools persist with it? Schools appear to not be that comfortable with streAming, really, as they try to confuse the kids and parents by calling it " butterflies", "pears" or "the red group", but kids ALWAYS figure out what the top and bottom sets are.

Is the problem with "sets" rather than callender age?

IamMrsElf Sat 11-May-13 09:55:52

The problem is with calender age - fact.

To add a little anecdotal evidence - when teaching any bottom set group there is always a disproportionate amount of Summer borns - IME.

My DB was a summer born and when he started school he found it hard to cope and spent most of his time playing in the sand pit. He felt like a total failure the entire time he was at school, because he was alienated so early on. He is now very successful, with a well paying job and all the trimmings. Being a summer born will not stop you from getting on after school, but something needs to be done to help integrate children into education.

My DS is 3 in July, he is clearly bright but with bags of energy. I am worried that when he starts school he will struggle with having to sit still and focus on one task. He is loud and bold. I worry that he will be branded a problem child and will end up disillusioned like my brother and father - both summer born males that struggled with school but are very successful now.

Setting is not an exact science, it takes time to adjust it, to get it right - every child is an individual and will progress at different rates, monitoring progress is vital to ensure a child is correctly set and supported.

Children will always look to see who is in the top set and who is in the bottom - that's a natural thing to do - we need to make sure they know why and they feel supported.

Suzieismyname Sat 11-May-13 10:16:21

I'm trying to digest the actual report...

It's for England rather than Scotland.

It does say that August borns are less likely to go to university, but if they do manage to get there then they are more likely to finish and get a 1st/2:1 than September borns! (More motivated it suggests.)

It mentions giving parents more flexibility to defer a year but says it wouldn't be a good solution. .. I can't find the reason why though. ..

TonysHardWorkDay Sat 11-May-13 10:24:38

God I was pished last night! First night drinking in a while and I ended up necking a whole bottle, could vaguely remember being on my laptop and had to tentatively check my history, thank god I stayed off facebook smile.

I get very emotive around this subject as I am very typical of a summer born and still carry the baggage and lack of confidence today. I'd like to see a proper debate as to how we can improve education for all children as the one size fits all approach lets many down for a wide variety of reasons. Rather than the 'but I was fine' that it invariably comes down to.

Suzieismyname Sat 11-May-13 10:28:39

Wouldn't like to get into a debate with you when you're sober then Tony!!

Taffeta Sat 11-May-13 10:37:10

I find threads like this really hard to read, esp when teachers come on and talk about summer borns being labelled early on as less able and this becoming a self fulfilling prophecy.

This is happening to my DD ATM. (6, Aug born Y2). She is doing OK for reading but her Maths and writing need more work. Her self esteem is low; she is on a table in class with 7 children (most Autumn borns 10 or 11 months older ) and says she isn't clever compared to them. She, along with 6 others in her class, were asked to sit in another class this week for an afternoon as "we aren't clever enough to take a Maths test the others are doing" ( I assume this is a L3 SATS paper).

There has never been any mention by any of her teachers or in reports etc about her age. I am sure it affects her, sure, Maths may not be her thing,but I have noticed with her ( and never noticed with her Oct born 9 yo brother ) that she gets things when she gets them, not when I or the school expect her to. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that her brain just isn't developed enough or hasn't yet built the connections or whatever to understand information before she is ready, if that makes sense.

TonysHardWorkDay Sat 11-May-13 10:59:09

I'm as quiet as a mouse when sober suzie!

It makes sense Taffeta just try and support her as much as you can. That she is getting the impression that she isn't clever enough at age 6 is awful and I know how that feels, maybe try involving her in maths at home but so it doesn't feel like work IYSWIM? There are lots of ideas for games that can build confidence with numbers. I'd definitely speak to the school about the children being made to feel less able and point out how damaging this can be.

DewDr0p Sat 11-May-13 11:22:42

Well said Tony

I'm a primary school governor and I can tell you there is always a small group of summer born children whose progress we keep a watchful eye on. Always. It's not about writing them off though, it's about giving them the support they need to close that gap.

3littlefrogs Sat 11-May-13 11:23:12

Adjusting the exam scores seems ridiculously complicated IMO.

What would really help would be the option to keep a "young" summer born child back a year. We already start children in formal schooling far too young in this country. The state system has this stupid "one size fits all" attitude. There should be more flexibility to enable parents to make the best decision for their child.

I am an August baby, but I was born 10 weeks premature. I really feel that I would have benefited from starting school a year later. It has affected me my whole life.

Ds2 is a July baby. He is very clever, but I also feel he would have been better at nursery for an extra year, just for the chance to mature a little. Maybe this is more of an issue for boys? I don't know.

gabsid Sat 11-May-13 11:29:21

In any case, there is enough research to suggest that an early school starting age is not going to make DC learn more. Some are really put off by this and loose self-confidence and it doesn't alway have to be just the summer borns. Some are just not ready to learn to read or to fit into a fairly structured environment at age 4 and they should be picked out and allowed to learn in their own way for a bit longer - or, alternatively let them all stary YR a year later.

Most other countries start later, why can't this government listen to reseach and professionals. What would be lost if they started YR aged 5-6 and did their GCSEs at 17. And there would probably still be a few who wouldn't be ready.

edam Sat 11-May-13 11:29:22

Love your drunken post, Tony. grin It's often very frustrating trying to discuss data or studies, because there seems to be some natural human response where people get all anecdotal. Which is fair enough if they realise it's anecdotal and not actually contradicting proper research. It's when they try to disprove the research by saying 'my sample of one is different, ner ner ner ner ner, those researchers are spouting rubbish'.

You can criticise research by pointing out flaws in the methodology or assumptions, clearly, just not by saying 'well, my personal experience is different and that trumps all data ever'.

"I struggle to understand why Britain continues with such a young school-starting age when the evidence (maybe particularly for boys) suggests that kids do better if allowed a later start to formal learning. Threads about 'teaching my 2 year old to read with flashcards' just make me despair tbh."

Yes, this, exactly!

I can say that my winter-born DSD in Scotland also struggles with school. She started P1 when she was 4.5 and it was way too young. She is making progress, but she is consistently behind - not only behind her peers, who are all older than her (she's the youngest in her year), but also about six months behind her so-called "reading age", according to various "learn to read" publishers. It is not just reading and spelling she struggles with either - she still does not have basic sums in her head - she is nearly done with P3, and still doesn't know 8+7 off the top of her head.

During P1, she may as well have not been there. None of the material she went over during the entire year stuck. It finally began to stick about halfway through P2, just before she turned 6. I believe that is when a lot of children are more developmentally ready for a formal school environment. You can close the gap between summer/winter borns and the older kids, but the most practical answer is not by fudging the exam scores - it's by putting children into school when most of them are more developmentally ready to handle it.

In my DSD's case, yes, my DH and his exW could have deferred her. But the staff at DSD's nursery said she was ready for school. And so, they trusted the nursery. By the time they figured out that DSD being able to read/write her first name, but not her last name, might not cut it for P1, it was too late - she was enrolled.

MTSOrganicChickenFan Sat 11-May-13 12:02:26

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newgirl Sat 11-May-13 12:23:08

I think schools help the younger ones now (well ours does). I think that's where the help needs to be. I think by juniors the age difference starts to even out.

BooCanary Sat 11-May-13 12:33:03

My DD is end August born. One of the issues I believe is key, is that often when there are split classes/year groups, the youngest go into a class with the year below and the oldest with the year above. I think this has a significant effect on their learning.

This happened with my DD, and consequently she spent 2 years in a split nursery/reception class, her Y1 in a Y1/reception class. Now she is in a full Y2 class, it is clear that the children that spent a year in nursery/reception, a year in a mostly Y1/some reception children class, and a year in a mostly Y2/some Y1 children class are WAY more advanced (DC start in Nursery where we live).

Whether it is intended or not, DCs in classes where they are part of the younger cohort of years do better than vice versa. More is expected of a Y1 child in a Y1/Y2 class than a Y1 child in a YR/Y1 class.

Lilymaid Sat 11-May-13 12:46:40

Sorry ladies but I'm of the opinion that sometimes a child simply isn't as bright or mature as the other kids and that being the youngest is just a coincidence.

Piffle

wheresthebeach Sat 11-May-13 12:47:51

Setting is a minefield. My dd complained that she wasn't being challenged in maths. Her teacher told us (and her) that someone would have to move down if she moved up. She was told to 'fight' for her spot. Two weeks later dd moved up a table and a child was moved down.
So it's not about 'are you able to do the work' its about table space???

wheresthebeach I got that in maths and science, they didn't have the space. I got moved up in science but not maths. Did a catch up course between GCSE and a level. Completed a 5 day course in a day. I found it easy. Head of maths went nuts about why I was kept down over other less able top set kids. My teacher didn't like me because I didn't seem to pay attention but when she challenged me I'd done the work and just wasn't challenged at all. I wasn't the only one they discovered.

though i think head of maths was more upset as it affected his marks - I couldn't get an a on my paper, probably would have aced the higher one and they'd have better stats wink

3littlefrogs Sat 11-May-13 13:00:06

Intelligence, emotional maturity and readyness to learn/cope with formal teaching are all very different things.

Ds2, the youngest in his year, all As and A*s at GCSE, 4 As at AS level, 3 As at A level and in his final year at university, would STILL have benefited from starting school a year later. IMO.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 11-May-13 13:07:09

Tony, good post smile

My friend's DS is off to school this year at 4 and 4 weeks sad unless he changes a lot between now and September he is not ready.

Taffeta Sat 11-May-13 13:09:17

Lilymaid - surely maturity and age have a huge correlation?

Taffeta Sat 11-May-13 13:10:43

Sorry that comment is for MTS not Lilymaid

Taffeta Sat 11-May-13 13:11:51

And FWIW I would say its just luck that you have mature summer borns.

MTSOrganicChickenFan Sat 11-May-13 13:17:44

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Taffeta Sat 11-May-13 13:21:05

Offensive.

LackaDAISYcal Sat 11-May-13 13:22:44

Our YrR has lost the academic focus. They are in mixed classes of reception and nursery children and the emphasis is on free play and learning at their own pace, though they do split up for phonics lessons. My DS1 had a more formal start in reception; DD went through this more informal route and is positively thriving, where DS1 (end of May born) struggled right up until Yr5. I think the school's new system would have benefitted him a lot more.

I thought all state schools were adopting this more relaxed system?

Taffeta Sat 11-May-13 13:25:19

It's possible to have an August born who is neither naturally bright and mature but not "developmentally delayed". One who has parents who do extra with them at home.

Children that just average for their age. But August average for their age, which is not the same as children 11 months older, and therefore considered behind. And told they are stupid by school, thus creating a self fulfilling prophecy.

MTSOrganicChickenFan Sat 11-May-13 13:25:38

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MTSOrganicChickenFan Sat 11-May-13 13:26:44

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Taffeta Sat 11-May-13 13:29:55

It's offensive as it comes across as "I have bright summer borns, I do work at home with them, stuff the problems anyone else has"

Taffeta Sat 11-May-13 13:30:14

I have to go out now.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 11-May-13 13:31:28

Mts it's not preconceptions but stats!

Pozzled Sat 11-May-13 13:39:00

MTS Your experiences do not negate years of careful scientific research. Youight like to read Tony's post above, which may help you to realise why you are wrong. Summer-born children are at a disadvantage compared to autumn-born children in England; that's a fact.

Anecdotes on here are interesting, but as stated above they are not data! Especiallynot when they are from a self-selecting group of parents, who care enough about education to: a) come to this forum, b) read the thread and c) post on it.

And FWIW my August-born DD1 is (at least in reading) top of her reception class. That doesn't mean the effect doesn't exist. But I do believe it's possible to minimize it with the right support and understanding. And that's surely what this thread is all about.

MTSOrganicChickenFan Sat 11-May-13 13:40:35

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MTSOrganicChickenFan Sat 11-May-13 13:45:09

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Pozzled Sat 11-May-13 13:47:45

'the problems of having a summer born child can largely be negated by having proactive parents'.

But what happens when my summer-born child compares herself to autumn-born children who also had proactive parents? They will be 11 months ahead, and she won't understand why. Neither will they. Both children will notice that theolder child is more fluent at reading, can write more neatly, run faster etc etc. And they'll draw their own conclusions.

MTSOrganicChickenFan Sat 11-May-13 14:03:35

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whistleahappytune Sat 11-May-13 14:28:33

One of the problems as I see it is that really young children are doing SATS in Y2 and then, unfortunately pigeon-holed. I know that it shouldn't happen, but it does. My August born DD was 6 (!) and didn't do well - she just wasn't ready. I wasn't particularly fussed about it at the time, believing that her innate intelligence and hard work would eventually assert itself, in time.

Now towards the end of Y3, she's roaring ahead, but I have to be vigilant about her sets, as she's been labelled as "middle". No kids should be labelled that young. It's wrong, wrong, wrong.

Suzieismyname Sat 11-May-13 15:31:28

mts Special dispensation is being recommended in this report because summer born children are disadvantaged all the way through their education because of an arbitrary cut off date.

TonysHardWorkDay Sat 11-May-13 15:47:53

So mts the many many studies carried out all over the world that repeatedly show the youngest children in the year to suffer a disadvantage are a complete coincidence? August borns suffer worse in the uk, December borns worse in the US it is pure coincidence that in both countries the youngest do worst and nothing to do with them being younger? It is also completely coincidental that countries where children start school later at 7 years of age have no months of birth where the children are likely to be weaker than their peers? You really believe that?

Your comparison of children beginning school unable to speak English is not convincing. For a start allowances would be made for non English speakers that are not made for younger children. Extra help is provided, if they are not doing as well as their peers they are told it is because of the language barrier and they will catch up, they are not getting the damaging message that it is because they are stupid. In fact they will likely be praised regularly on their language improvement which can bolster their confidence further. So its a rubbish, meaningless comparison.

Apologies for typos I'm not drunk at the mo but am on my phone.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Sat 11-May-13 16:39:06

Whistle that happens across the board not just with the younger ones in the year.

I have twins(both Sep births),1 who matured a lot quicker than the other and got 3s in everything.His twin in some ways brighter still just wanted to be outdoors playing and just got 2s.

Not an issue however the school's bloody attitude is.They are treated completely differently and when you complain they look up their data on a laptop and just say "well going by his Sats" angry. The level 3 twin gets pushed more and they're aiming for 5s but not the level 2 boy.

In year 4 I don't give a shit re Sats taken in year 2- news flash- kids mature at different rates and shouldn't be written off at 7.

losingtrust Sat 11-May-13 17:17:48

Well said Blue. The system labels too young.

whistleahappytune Sat 11-May-13 17:20:06

Oh Blue that's awful. You have my sympathies but you clearly have your twins interests at heart and I'm sure they'll be fine.

It's enraging isn't it? I have to constantly remind the school (gently at first, and then more forcefully) that actually you cannot measure ability, only attainment. Sorry, I know it's been said before on MN, but why is it so rarely stated by educational professionals? And no, I'm not a teacher-basher.

losingtrust Sat 11-May-13 17:37:21

Can't believe somebody has written that month of birth and maturity is just a coincidence between the ages of four and six. Do they really not believe that 11 months would make a difference at that age. Like the sound of private schools if they do not stream at that age. Too late for mine though.

MrsCampbellBlack Sat 11-May-13 17:43:47

I normally stay clear of these threads as they make me so ragey. Thank goodness for Tony's clear albeit drunken post wink

Honestly, nobody said August children can't do well. I mean, I was born in August and you know, did ok in my exams but I realise that's not the same as proper research. Gosh, I'm sure I've said that already.

The fact that some of us worry about our August born children to me suggests we are pretty involved parents who care about their education.

My eldest is definitely catching up but he is yr4 now and he is in a very good school with small classes and luckily quite a few summer born children.

But I think you are being a little silly if you don't perhaps realise that being born in the summer is a disadvantage in the early years of education. The lack of social and emotional maturity in a just 4 year old boy compared to a just turned 5 year old is a lot and I'm very surprised some people don't see that.

However, the research about them then doing well at university (if they go) is encouraging.

And now I'm going to talk anecdotes. I have noticed that those people who've had to encounter some difficulties in their early lifes often become more successful adults, perhaps because not everything has always been easy and they're used to working hard/struggling.

LynetteScavo Sat 11-May-13 17:45:59

Would letting summer borns stay at school another year if they wanted be a good idea?

I would love to move my summer born down a school year. The only way I think it would be possible is if we sent her to an independent school.

MrsCampbellBlack Sat 11-May-13 17:47:49

My dc's are at private school and so many summer born children are being held down a year. Our school doesn't like it but will allow it. Problem is if you're ever then in the state system you've got a problem.

Startail Sat 11-May-13 17:50:14

Nothing new, our primary school test booklets were age weighted.

I know because the teacher told me I couldn't have an A for maths, despite having 90+% because I had a winter birthday.

losingtrust Sat 11-May-13 17:55:13

Tony quoted successful people because the post above had quoted management team being Autumn born. This was to reassure not to say research was rubbish. If you had read my further quotes you would have understood that I completely agree with the research although not the solution to adjust Gcse results. To me this would be just a lazy attempt not to change early years streaming and labelling so that ofsted does not have to change their grading system.

TonysHardWorkDay Sat 11-May-13 18:22:18

Apologies losingtrust I was rather drunk and get a bit over sensitive about the topic. I don't agree with adjusting grades either, its addressing a symptom and does not thing to solve the problem about young people being labelled and made to think that they are stupid.

MTSOrganicChickenFan Sat 11-May-13 18:57:46

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Taffeta Sat 11-May-13 20:44:52

MTS , a 4-6 month gap is not what is being discussed. We are discussing a 11-12 month gap.

workingmumto1 Sat 11-May-13 21:25:54

For what it's worth, by secondary school, the only thing most schools are concerned about is whether students have been offered appropriate help early enough for it to make a difference. Gcse exams are,rightly or wrongly, impartial to age. I do know that the average rating age for GCSE students is 10.7, & the exam papers are you to a reading age of 16. It is possible for schools to request a modified language exam paper for students with with no formal assessments needed. Working in a school, with data, I can honestly say i've never noticed birthday being a factor. I Will have a closer look now though smile

gabsid Sat 11-May-13 21:32:44

I once looked at the science top set of a large secondary school and found that about 2/3s of the group were autum born whereas the silliest boy of a Y9 bottom set was born in August! And I only did 2 checks just out of curiosity.

gabsid Sat 11-May-13 21:43:49

mtso - the point is, that some of the youngest and most immature are finding it very hard to cope and that has an impact on their self esteem, progress and future - that's a fact and its irrelevant of what your personal experience, of what you think you saw. And this discussion is about how to improve things for those DC.

thepestinthevest Sat 11-May-13 21:57:09

Really enjoyed reading this debate with interest. Whilst the overall trend shows younger students tend to perform % points below their earlier born peers, I think simply making sweeping changes to give special weighting or lower passmarks to summer children is not the right way to go. To be honest, I feel its the easy way out and insulting to children.

I can't imagine employers sitting there comparing grades and passmarks with age-related weightings.

Labelling, as many have said, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I can recall being in secondary school (a long time ago), when in first year, everyone was put into a set. 7A was the top set and everyone knew it, even though the teachers never actually declared it as such. It then progressed through 7B, 7C and so on to 7F, which everyone knew was the least academically able group, even the kids in 7F said they were in the "thickies" group.

In reality, everyone learns, achieves and progresses at different rates with everything in life. That's why we have 14 year olds studying for Masters degrees, 55 year olds passing a Maths GCSE.

tiggytape Sat 11-May-13 23:17:40

I wouldn't argue with the stats - there is obviously a link (although it is important to remember many other factors also create disadvantage for many other groups of children - birthdays are easier to focus on) but I think arbitrarily adjusting GCSE and A Level results is not the way to go.

Apart from anything, it doesn't help an August born child who is a D grade in maths to be awarded a C if they don't actually have the skills to match it. They need the skills not just the grade.

And it also addresses any disadvantage far to late. Following 12 years in formal education, an end adjustment is no good. It would be much better for adjustments to be made at the very start of the process or at age 7 or 11.
As August born children statistically do less well in exams, then it seems almost unkind to let them go for 12+ years lagging behind and feeling less clever than their peers only to top up their marks shortly before they leave education anyway.

Callipygian Sat 11-May-13 23:24:49

If you're going to adjust for summer borns, then why not give boys a boost in their results too in subjects where boys dont do as well as girls? Dont forget inner city children, and children who go to schools that dont perform very well. Why dont we just equalise all the scores so that everyone gets the same grade.... or not.

It's not easy to know where to draw the line, there are loads of things that can indicate exam performance. For example black boys tend to under-perform (although this gap might be closing - http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/nov/28/schools.gcses it still seems to be there in core subjects). Should we also be giving score boosts to students (and therefore penaliseing others) based on their ethnicity? This sounds quite racist.

I totally agree calliypgian.

MtSuvie Sat 11-May-13 23:39:05

If by the time a summer-born DC gets to GCSE age he/she is still doing less well than her older peers then there has to be something seriously wrong with the way the child has been educated for the last 12 years of his life.

Maybe the experts should be looking into that rather than suggesting ways of masking the problem.

WannaBeCareerWoman Sat 11-May-13 23:49:02

So, do you HAVE to send them to school at 4+ or can you wait and send them a year later? My boy was born on August 27th so we'll have to face this soon enough. I thought that compulsory education starts at 5, so in theory you don't have to send them to school till then?

tiggytape Sat 11-May-13 23:52:39

MtSuvie - that's my thought too. Sending them off with an artificially inflated grade at the age of 16 or 18 just masks the fact that 12 - 14 years of formal education have been unable to help them make up for an initial 6-11 month disadvantage.

It doesn't address the fact that after 12-14 years at school, they are still behind in the sense of being (statistically) less likely to perform as well in exams and course work. That surely calls for very early changes not throwing a few extra points their way when it is too late to make any real difference to them.

tiggytape Sat 11-May-13 23:55:22

Wanna - you can send him when he is 5 but he'd have to skip reception and go straight into Year 1
There is no option for you to put him in reception class the month after he turns 5 - not unless you go private or unless he has additional needs at a level of severity which leads professionals involved in his care to insist he is held back. It is incredibly rare for a child to be held back and parents have no right to make it happen.

Perriwinkle Sun 12-May-13 00:00:39

My DS was born in late August. He is very bright and a high academic achiever but has Autumn-born children in his year group, that he's been with since Reception class, and they're way below him in terms of academic achievement. My DS on the other hand is no good whatsoever at practical stuff like DT and Art. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and if you're naturally bright, I guess that will tend to start to shine through from very young. Just as if you're not particularly bright, for some children, no amount of help will compensate.

I'm not in favour of making allowances - even though my own child might benefit under such a system.

There are many, varied and complex reasons why all sorts of children might be disadvantaged academically. If we're going to compensate for age should we not then be taking each child's individual case for claiming disadvantage on its merits and making allowances accordingly?

BrainSurgeon Sun 12-May-13 07:15:19

Just to add my tuppence - DS born late August too - I was worried sick when he had to start Reception at 4years and a week sad

Totally agree that adjusting the grades for age is NOT a solution. The way I see it, the only way to improve things is to start school later (imo 6-7 is the perfect age)

MtSuvie Sun 12-May-13 08:14:30

Brain - at our LEA the summer-born-ish kids start in January when they are at least 4.5 years old. I always thought that this was standard but apparently not.

Round about 3 years old I started to do literacy and numeracy with my DC. Nothing Einstein-ish. I would simply get him to count the number of peas on his plate for example or the number of coins in my purse. As for reading, basic flash cards with pictures and like 'car' and 'cat'. In addition to this he went to play groups where there were older kids.

Basically, by the time he started Year R he was used to being around older kids and academically he was equal to his older peers.

No, this is not me being smug. I am merely making the point that the problems mentioned upthread are not inevitable.

As for starting school later I don't think that this solves anything. Various reports have talked about how some kids enter Reception with poor numeracy and literacy. With some kids its because the parents believe that young kids should be free of academic stuff until they start school. With others it's because the parents are unable or unwilling to support their children.

So, if the starting age were to move to 6-7 my DC will have spent those extra years doing numeracy and literacy with me. Consequently he will start school 1-2 years ahead academically speaking, compared to a child with a less pushy involved parent. Being behind by 6-11 months is quite insignificant compared to the gap now being opened up by pushy parents.

IMO non-PhD opinion any effects from being summer-born should have dissipated by the time that the child leaves primary school. If it hasn't then the parent needs to seriously look at what they themselves are doing or not doing with their DC. The teacher and TA can only do so much when they have 30 kids to teach. There are already provisions for SEN or kids starting school with no English. Most schools don't have the resources for another set of provisions.

gabsid Sun 12-May-13 09:52:24

I think this is the problem in England. You may watch your little just 4 years old and they may be chronologically older but still too immature and not ready, but all you can do is postphone the problem by sending them straight into Y1.

The problem with this discussion is also the focus on summer borns, I would rather suggest to focus on those DC not developmentally ready to start, they don't necessarily have to be summer born (I have an April born who was similarly not ready).

I feel trying to teach these too young ones to read and write is like trying to teach a 6 months old to walk - its not going to happen how ever much you try and support, it will just put them off and they will feel inadequate. Whereas trying to teach and support them 6 months later will be easy and lead to success. But trying to do things too early is a waste of time that could be used in a more productive way, e.g. chatting to the baby, reading and playing.

Adjusting expectations for all summer borns (the majority of whom will be absolutely fine) is inappropriate and insulting.

MerryMarigold Sun 12-May-13 09:55:02

So many things can affect a child's development. My ds is 7 and has some sensory processing problems. He is October born, but has always been labelled as 'young' and in lower groups plus his confidence has taken a massive knocking. He is beginning to catch up (Y2), although still a long way off. I think this scheme is ridiculous as there are so many factors involved in child development. If children all developed at the same rate, then it would safe to assume that a child born 11 months later would need some compensation, but children do not develop at the same rates. An October born child can easily be at the same developmental level as an August born child. 6% is nothing in the grand scheme of variables.

gabsid Sun 12-May-13 10:04:09

Mt - someone else suggested that these problems could be avoided by proactive parenting and teaching them before the start school. This is completely beside the point, as 3 year old DC who are interested in counting, adding and subtracting peas and showing remote interest in letters and numbers, having the ability to listen etc. will be ready anyway, readiness for school does not constitute specific reading and numeracy skills.

This thread is concerned with those who do not have the basic school readiness. I am sure most of the parents on here do everything to promote these basic skills and still feel their DC is too young. I feel it is a bit arrogant from you to assume if they held flashcards confused in front of their small DC all would be well.

MtSuvie Sun 12-May-13 10:24:58

gab - As some poster said, some kids are not ready no matter how many peas they count prior to starting school. That is obvious but I was directing my comments at the parents whose kids are ready to learn but may subscribe to the view that maths and numeracy can be put off until they start at school. How does that make me 'arrogant'?

As for this thread being about basic readiness for school, I thought that it was about a report that said that GCSE results should be adjusted to take into consideration the so-called summer-born effect?

bemybebe Sun 12-May-13 10:26:58

I would prefer to send my baby (late June) to school a year later and wtf someone decided for it not to be available.

gabsid Sun 12-May-13 10:38:58

Most parents on here anyway, will encourage their DC with whatever they are interested in and will count all sorts of things, point out letters while reading, make letters out of spaghetti or play dough etc, which is age appropriate 'teaching' and will benefit DC's development and learning. But teaching them to read and write before school with flashcards etc is not and will do nothing to close the gap of those young and/or immature ones.

Its your idea of teach them early and they will learn more that's so wrong.

tiggytape Sun 12-May-13 10:40:01

bemy - it is available if there is an overwheming need why your child must be held back a year and if the experts involved in your child's care state that it is necessary. It is unusual that it would happen though - even children with significant additional needs are normally supported in their correct year group even if this means giving them 1:1 support.
Otherwise, it is not possible unless you go private. But you then have to be able to sustain that through their entire education as returning to the state system later may result in them being made to skip a year.

MtSuvieUS Sun 12-May-13 10:49:43

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

I am August born, DS1 is late July, DS2 is September as is DH so I always read these debates with a degree of vested interest.

I don't believe adjusting the results is the right thing to do, not in primary and certainly not for GCSE. Whilst age is indisputably an issue picking that one issue out of many would lead to distortions in other ways. Should we be adjusting for the educational background of the parents or their IQ since parental support and engagement with education has an influence just as an example off the top of my head? I am sure there are others. If we adjust for this one thing there are bound to be others that become significant. We can't adjust for them all.

My other point was that this study will have been done for a massive sample but adjusting everybody the same way wouldn't be fair. If you look at DS1's year at school, the cohort was massively skewed towards summer born. I remember the head commenting that 50% were born June to August and yet they did no worse than any other year, where the numbers were more balanced, at KS1 or KS2. The reason is I suspect, because the school couldn't afford to let the children think that being summer born was a disadvantage and had to support them appropriately. Because stats are just averages with many exceptions, it would be far better to bear them in mind but still treat children as individuals or as a subset like DS1's year, with a particular set of circumstances, than to label a whole group of children as needing a boost regardless of whether it is fair to them or the ones that apparently don't need a boost just because they are older.

Interestingly, DS2's year is also skewed having a disproportionate number of Autumn born children. He is only in Yr 4 so we shall see if his yr do any better at KS2 because they are that much older than previous years.

The other thing that would help massively would be to have more flexibility to hold back children a year. We thought about it briefly for DS1 because he was being assessed for SEN at the time he started school but as an over subscribed school the head couldn't guarantee him a place if we did that so we didn't. The system isn't set up for flexibility and it would have been good to have the option. Ironically he actually settled into school much quicker than his autumn born brother who didn't want to go at all for quite a while. I know a child born on 31st Aug, at 23.5 weeks so as premature as you can get, who has had to fight very hard to not start school full time at 4 yrs old. There shouldn't have to be a fight if it is in the best interests of the child to hold them back.

gabsid Sun 12-May-13 11:45:14

Mt - most parents with DC who are ready to learn will encourage them to learn and will teach them as best as they can. I do not think however, that the formal teaching of very young DC (before school starting age) is the way to go.

Besides, its not those DC we are talking about here.

gabsid Sun 12-May-13 12:01:23

My DD (5 in October) will start school in Sept. Its important to me that she socialises well, takes turns, can join in games. She dresses herself does buttons and zips. She draws very well, writes about 10 words, mainly names of favourite people. She loves books, we read chapter books and discuss them, she has great listening skills, knows some letters but blending not sure, she adds to 10 but can't count securely to 20. She is very sporty and pre-school mentioned several times that she was very bright and will do well in school.

We do lots of stuff together, she loves to go to museums, theatre and we talk about all sorts of stuff ... but I don't think that I will do her any good if i did phonics with her now and hold flashcards of high frequency words in front of her. No! No! No! She has the readiness to read and when she goes through the phonics programme from Sept it will fall into place for her.

DS did very little of this when he started YR at 4.5. He would not draw, was not keen on books, loved being silly ... and he felt really lost in YR. Now in Y3 he is academically average but struggles with self-confidence and still has poor listening skills.

gabsid Sun 12-May-13 12:09:27

I agree, a bit more fexibility and consideration individual needs of DC would solve the whole issue, probably not solve, but improve things.

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 12:15:58

Gab. You are doing the right thing. The later you leave reading, the quicker it will come so why force it when kids are too young. IMO everything you are doing is far more important. Neither of mine were interested in reading until age 7 but they have no taken over all the early readers. My nephew taught himself about age 4 because he was interested and his parents read with him. No more help required. My DS taught himself to swim at 4 but gave up swmming at 11 because he could not keep up the speed. Early swimming like early reading does not mean you will be the best so why stream a child early as all kids develop differently - this is more the argument.

losingtrust Sun 12-May-13 12:18:54

Reading to your child and sharing picture books seems to be a good way to build vocabulary later in the school career.

Bonsoir Sun 12-May-13 12:27:37

Vocabulary is built primarily through exposure to a rich spoken language in the early years.

I agree with gabsid - this whole debate should not concentrate too much on early academic attainement which is irrelevant in the longterm, but on maturity: emotional, social, psychological development, not 'intelligence'.

My DS1, March 1st birthday, was clearly v bright and for a split second we thougth about applying to have him go to school early (in Scotland: by date of birth he was in the next year's intake, but we could've applied to have him start school aged 4.5 - which is still a lot older than some of the summerborn kids in the English system). However he still had spectacular tempertantrums, was very scared of various rather random things (dogs walking on leashes past our fenced garden, minding their own business, would trigger major melt-downs) and Just Was Not Ready. The fact that he had taught himself to read and was a wizard with numbers (he still spooks me in that respect) had nothing to do with it.
Many people were hmm that I 'held him back' - I don't feel I did. I concede, it was an easy thing to do in that I did not have 'to do' anything actively, just wait for his intake to come along. If he had been born on his due date, Valentine's Day, he'd've been in the previous years intake and I would have 'held him back', you bet your bottom dollar.

Yes, I think 6-7 is, for most children, the best age to start formal education.
But then again, I would say that, being German an'all, and having started school aged 6.4 grin.

ElizaDoLots Sun 12-May-13 15:36:43

I agree with this: 'Employers need graduates who have reached a certain standard of education. Giving some students a grade which is adjusted downwards would lower their standard of achievement when it actually needs to be raised. This will have the opposite effect to what is intended.'.

Surely more sense to direct attention to the younger children who need it (but not all - DC1 being an example - end of July but top few in class - wouldn't have been fair to give him extra input).

gabsid Sun 12-May-13 20:06:23

And that's exactly it, its just a few and not necessarily the youngest - according to research most do will be OK, despite the fact that they do start so very young. It would make more sense if they were assessed and parents and pre-school/nursery decide together whether it would be best to defer or not.

I was almost 7 when I started, I sat at a desk and had to get on with it. I do think the British Reception year is a great idea if it does what it should do - introduce DC to the school environment in a playful way.

Perriwinkle Sun 12-May-13 22:07:32

I don't agree with a "one size fits all" approach. I had the chance to hold my late August-born DS back and send him to school in January but I didn't want to as I felt it was unnecessary. He was/is very bright and was absolutely ready to go to school at 4 years and 1 week old, in all senses, socially, confidence wise etc. Would it have been fair to hold him back, or to send a child like that to school at 6 or 7? I think not. I'm glad he was able to start school as young as just 4 because for him, that was the right thing.

The other side of the coin was a girl he started Reception class with who turned 5 on 1 September. She was most certainly not ready for school - particularly because she was still so utterly dependent on her mother. She was the third child of three (an afterthought as her mother was desperate for a boy after two girls). There was quite a gap between her and her doting older sisters and she was quite clearly mothered by, effectively, three mothers. She still came to school in a buggy for a few weeks (until they must have considered it looked faintly ridiculous) and she had to be peeled away from her mother sobbing every morning for weeks. She was among the very last ones in the class to start going full time. This girl always had to have additional help in the classroom throughout primary school too, but never had any particular learning difficulties.

So, I don't agree to a "one size fits all" approach. Children who are late summer borns are not always at a significant disadvantage to those born earlier in the academic year. Some might be just as some born earlier in the year might be disadvantaged compared to thier peers. You can't legislate in a way that takes into account individual needs and until you can, it should be left well alone.

TonysHardWorkDay Sun 12-May-13 23:15:02

Personally, from my own experience and the experience of others I know the greatest disadvantage to summer born students is when we gain the impression that we are stupid.

The summer born effect should vanish a few years down the line, it is not a problem in countries with a later start age, that it does not vanish in the uk suggests that the real problem is due to the low sense of self worth that these students develop. The study quoted in the original report says that they don't link summer borns to later problems many other studies disagree. For a start there is the reduced life chances from poorer educational outcomes, but they have also found increased criminality self harm, addiction and mental health problems. This is hugely worrying as our system is potentially having a seriously damaging effect whilst at the same time providing no benefit to the older majority as the most successful educational systems all start education later.

My experience had a rather awful teacher tell me I was stupid and she did humiliate me on several occasions. Some of my friends remember this and said they felt awful years down the line but they were glad it was not them at the time. My experience was extreme but other children are just as dangerous, not been put in for the SATS so as not to damage the schools rankings and they'll be plenty of kids willing to tell you that you're thick and we often take our peers judgements more seriously than the people who can truly judge our ability. The constant testing and pressures on teachers to meet targets also means that the average for their age summer born will be left behind, the teacher must focus on bringing those children just slightly behind up for the stats, the youngest who are likely to be weakest in the year are forgotten as the attention will not improve the schools SAT scores. The children soon begin to understand that they are not worth extra attention.

My personal experience has been awful. I am not stupid, I am far far from stupid, I know that I am very intelligent but I don't think I will ever feel it. I went back to education in my thirties after lots of encouragement, I'm doing a science degree at an elite university. My grades are so high that I can go into each of my 4 exams and do nothing but draw a penis on each paper and still get a 2.1 (or possibly expulsion so I won't risk it). Yet I constantly feel like I don't deserve my place here, that my grades are due to luck, that they will catch me out eventually, I know that it is stupid but I cannot turn off the lack of worth that sits inside of me and dates back to the early lessons I learned.

I feel physically sick at the thought of others getting the same messages and carrying them in the same way. What makes me so angry is that no one is benefitting from our system. We are damaging some children for their whole lives for no bloody reason.

Not drunk on tonights rant just very emotional as I am feeling pressure of looming finals and still feeling that I don't deserve the top degree I will get cos I'm thick and will get caught out sooner or later.

TonysHardWorkDay Sun 12-May-13 23:20:34

Oh and the real reason I finally took advice and returned to study. I was being encouraged to go for a serious promotion at work. I'd learned pride in my work abilities and was terrified that a senior role would see me being caught out and exposed for the fraud I was really.

I think I'd benefit from very expensive therapy.

Taffeta Mon 13-May-13 17:41:10

I'm in tears reading your post Tony. sad

ElizaDoLots Mon 13-May-13 17:54:50

That's a sad post Tony. Good luck in your finals - I hope you get a big fat first as a two fingers up to those teachers.

This is a whole new thread, but teachers that humiliate children make me mad. A teacher at my childrens' school was nearly fired last year, but the little b£&stard got to come back and continues in his nasty ways. We may get him next year for DC2, and on the back of your post, he may have a fight on his hands.

Tony, that is so sad. [Sad] You clearly know you are clever but your emotional side hasn't caught up yet. You could probably do with CBT in my unqualified opinion. I say this as a summer born who has had CBT and not at all in a flippant way. I wish you the very best of luck and lots of positive thinking for your finals.

I don't want to blame the teachers but I do think reports like this one are a bit self fulfilling in that they give some teachers an easy way of categorising and, in a sense, writing off children. You get it quite a bit in the infants especially it seems. I am sure they don't mean to but any hint of a problem or delay and the first response is to say 'well, they are summer born, they are bound to struggle. That may be true, it may not but the parents and the children know they can't change being youngest in the year and so that sort of labelling can start defining how a person thinks of themselves. As I said earlier, DS1's year in the juniors were made up of 50% summer borns and the teachers just couldn't use birth dates as an excuse for anything (though they did try a bit) because to do so would be to write off half the year. They had to look at what else was going on and work out if there was a real problem or whether it was just a touch of immaturity that the child would grow out of given time and a bit of support.

Weirdly it would help if reports like this one weren't published and children were dealt with as individuals and not defined by the date they were born.

goinggetstough Tue 14-May-13 10:26:47

Big I agree with you but don't you think that the self fulfilling prophecy works both ways. I have heard friends say that their DC wont be able to do such and such because they are summer born. Whereas if they were older in the year and struggling they would assume they needed to help them more? Parents can be guilty too..
Previously there have been other threads that say I am so worried about my 12 month old summer born..... and his exams!! Yes, schools need to be aware of (and generally are) of age differences but what IMO is important is that our DCs reach their potential and not to blame a date of birth or a teacher.
I believe many of these studies compare DCs who started at different times during the reception school year. In these cases the summer borns were not only younger but also had less time in school depending on where they lived. Now legislation says that they can all start in September it will be interesting to see whether these changes affect the statistics.

I think you are right Goinggetstough, it does work both ways. I hadn't thought of it in those terms directly. I had thought of it in terms of parents who perhaps let children get away with things like bad behaviour or use it as an excuse not to acknowledge SEN problems because they don't want to acknowledge any problem exists, but it definitely works the other way too - some will see a problem where there isn't one except a level of immaturity.

Whichever way you look at it, as a piece of research it is open to abuse or as an excuse for all sorts of behaviour. I don't think cause and effect are as clear cut as these stats would have us believe.

BrainSurgeon Wed 15-May-13 08:32:36

Oh Tony sad

I do wonder how can I best support DS, we constantly tell him he is wonderful and clever etc but he's still little... Things will get more serious in secondary school and I fear so much for his self-confidence, especially as he's not sporty at all. Things like Sports Day will probably give him nightmares for the rest of his life sad

losingtrust Wed 15-May-13 09:39:59

Hi Brain. Don't worry about sports day. My DS is the least sporty and it never bothers him. Oh and he grew at 12 so is now average from his little start and caught up by Year 5 and 6. I did read a lot with him as found that reading was the key area as only a 2c in Ks1 which made me panic but unnecessarily. Found a few authors that he really liked and read him them first. The How to Train Your Dragon books were good and then John Wyndham. Doing the same with DD. they seem to find their natural level more in Maths. The joy of two summer borns in a school where every parent is engaged so the differences are more apparent. To be honest I was October born and my mom used to let me and my sisters have a duvet day for sports day as I was so awful.

ElizaDoLots Wed 15-May-13 23:43:14

BrainSurgeon - I think, like anything, sports day will only be an issue if you make it an issue. Some schools make a big fuss of sporting achievement and not academic achievement which is annoying - but generally my two out of three fairly unsporty children regard it as an afternoon off!

PamTeesBestee Thu 16-May-13 10:28:13

I'm July born and so are both my DCs. DP is late June (I wonder if its anything to do with it getting darker earlier in Oct/Nov and there being nothing decent on TV past the peak summer months smile )

I am not aware of being disadvantaged in anyway by being summer born but that could be because my recollection is clouded by age. As for my DCs, they were a bit small compared to their classmates in Year R but by Year 2 you couldn't tell that they were among the youngest in their respective classes. Academically speaking, we never noticed any summer born disadvantages there. However, we did 'extra stuff' with them at home so that could have disguised the problem.

A lot of parent's here have different experiences with their summer born. Then there are the studies that back up these parents. However, I still don't see why kids that are summer born should get special dispensation.

Some kids are a bit immature for their age. Some don't pickup things as fast as others. Some have two left feet. A proportion of these kids will be summer born and a proportion won't be. Why should one group get special treatment?

Also. a lot of countries that score higher than us in international tables start school at roughly the same age as us. So IMO pointing to higher ranked countries where kids start school at 6-7 as 'proof' that our starting age is 'bad' is just cherry picking data.

Hamishbear Thu 16-May-13 10:41:59

My August born was set for Maths whilst 6 at the end of Y2. There are 8 sets in our v large primary and whilst an upwards move possible if not a high achiever at the end of KS1 the odds are stacked a child that makes a later spurt. The pace is slower outside of the top 2 sets and the top sets work ahead & cover more. Levels at the end of KS2 are predicted in advance and children going forward are placed where they can make 2 sub levels of progress. The school believes in teaching children according to their ability.

PamTsBestee Thu 16-May-13 11:03:06

Our primary is a one form per year set up. I don't recall at which point they started setting but we are just talking about 'tables' in the same class. So movement was quite fluid in our case.

whistleahappytune Thu 16-May-13 11:32:00

Hamish, I know it's bloody enraging. Same situation here. Very little fluidity between sets. I've almost given up on her learning maths at school and have hired a tutor, as well as working with her myself.

The school cannot teach children according to their ability. They can only teach to their attainment. Which is a whole different thing.

Hamishbear Thu 16-May-13 11:38:28

Our school believes strongly in teaching to the children's ability. That's what they've said.

Hamishbear Thu 16-May-13 11:39:53

Sorry to hear Whistle. I think/hope it must come right by the end. We're Ofsted Outstanding and incredibly highly thought of.

losingtrust Thu 16-May-13 22:19:05

Out primary set at year 2 as well and it is a disadvantage for the lower groups who do not cover the same level a week and then kick in later.

losingtrust Thu 16-May-13 22:20:36

Home tutored both my dcs summer born to catch up and ds managed to go up groups in Year 6. Starting earlier with DD.

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