Summer babies do less well academically in part due to streaming.

(260 Posts)
TwistTee Fri 08-Mar-13 09:42:40

www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-21699054

I read this article with great interest and much concern. My 4 yr old daughter, born at the end of August already shows some signs of a lack of confidence and poor concentration when compared to the older kids in her class. Not surprising as some of them are almost a whole year older.
It worries me that she could potentially always be behind and I often question if we made the right decision in starting her schooling at age 4.
I'd be interested in your thoughts and experiences of summer babies in this context. Any tips on confidence issues?
And does anyone have a view on the issue of streaming as mentioned in the article? Her school are about to sort the kids but have not yet decided how. Her teacher said they might do it by age, ability or random. I was keen on the former as it would mean she stays in a class of 20 as opposed to a class of 30.

lrichmondgabber Fri 08-Mar-13 12:10:20

Good question I hope people with more professional knowledge than me join in.

I am going through the same worry with my 4YO. He was born end-July. Some of his class were five before last September, the rest, bar DS1 and two others, are/will be 5 before mid-April. Physically and mentally there is a noticeable difference. I am seriously considering keeping him back a year, I would rather him be one of the eldest than always struggling, however, it depends on the school and their intake. I may not have the choice. It is parent's evening next week so I will make a decision then. With regards to streaming, I agree with you, would prefer age.

VictorTango Fri 08-Mar-13 12:22:25

When does streaming start in primarys? Is it the same in all schools?

WhatWouldGrandmaDo Fri 08-Mar-13 12:23:19

5yo DS1 is a late July boy. He is keeping up well with the literacy / numeracy side of things and I don't think concentration is a particular issue for him, but I do worry about his confidence & social skills. Having said that he is by nature quite quiet and reserved and that's just how he is. They are grouped for literacy and he is certainly at the top end of his class, I'd say (sorry I don't want to be braggy! his reading is v good but his handwriting not so great). They didn't start grouping them till I think the second term of reception.

DS2 is an early October baby so will be starting reception almost a year older than his brother was - there are certain things he will definitely be 'ahead' on. For instance - DS1 wasn't toilet trained till quite late, just after 3, so when he started at school he had only been out of nappies just over a year; DS2 trained at about 2.8 and when he starts school he'll have been nappy free over 2 years. DS1 did have some toilet issues when he first started at school and there were a few accidents.

VictorTango Fri 08-Mar-13 12:36:29

I didn't ralise grouping or streaming started so early.

If dd1's school hasn't mentioned it , should I assume her school isn't doing it yet?

Pozzled Fri 08-Mar-13 12:57:35

I think it's important to distinguish between 'streaming', 'setting' and grouping. Streaming means putting the children into ability groups- the same group for all subjects. This is utterly ridiculous IMO- a child who is brilliant at maths may struggle with reading. Luckily, I don't think this happens much in the UK, certainly not in primary school.

Setting is more common, where children might be in one set for maths, another for English, and then have their other lessons with their normal class teacher. Personally, I think this can be very useful, so long as the groups are reviewed regularly and there is a supportive ethos in the school. Children will know which group there are in (it's almost impossible to keep it a 'secret') so the teachers need to ensure that this doesn't impact on the children's self-esteem.

Ability groups within the classroom are used pretty much everywhere, and I don't see how we can get around that- you can't give the same work to all children. But again, there's ways of doing it so that it's a positive thing. Groups should be fluid, children should regularly have chances to work with others, they should (imo) be praised for effort and progress rather than achievement. And work should (of course) be interesting, challenging and valued for all groups.

Sorry, this has turned into a bit of a rant, but my point is: setting and grouping can be done very well or very badly, and it all depends on the overall quality of the school.

fivecupsoftea Fri 08-Mar-13 13:00:47

My 9 year old has an August Birthday. It is only now, in year 5 that she is gaining confidence in the class, I think that being the youngest definitely affected her, I think the actions of the teachers had an impact. I noticed that speaking parts in assemblies and plays and other positions of responsibility were given to the more confident chidlren who were also the oldest in the class. When my child went into the juniors I began discussing the need to give my daughter these opportunities at every parent teacher conference, and I think that has changed things. I have had my daughter tutored which I also think has helped, she is in the top groups for everything. She also does a lot of sport out of school whch has helped her not to be the weakest in pe lessons. I don't think there is any way to avoid the impact of being one of the younger ones. sorry not to be more positive...

Mandy21 Fri 08-Mar-13 13:11:00

My children are further up the school now, but when they started, the 2 class intake was divided by age, so class A would be Sept - Feb birthdays and Class B would be March - Aug birthdays.

2 years later and it just so happened that if the school had followed that way of dividing them again, there'd have been 20+ girls in one class (and less than 10 boys) and vice versa in the other class. They thought that would be difficult for both classes so went back to just dividing the children alphabetically (nothing to do with age).

This was a couple of years ago now - and the school found that the results for reception (however they measure them) were the best they'd had for years. Its all formed some kind of research but demonstrates the complete converse of this article.

I have summer babies - at least they should have been July 15 babies but were more than 3 months premature and they're in the top sets. I think it has less to do with the month of birth, more to do with the individual children, the teaching and the school ethos in general.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 13:15:45

DD(6, Aug born Y2) is at a school that streams from Y1. It streams on ability, social and emotional development and they take into account numbers of sexes, friendships etc.

What it creates, at a very early age, is a pecking order. No matter what ey call the classes, the children still call em the "lower" and "upper" classes. y6 children showing parents round last year were heard to say "this is the class where the bright ones go". shock it does a lot of harm to children's self esteem at a very early age.

Both my DC haven't yet been in the "lower" stream, but I think DD scraped into her class last year. It labels children early, which is not good. In June when people find out, it's envelope ripping open in the playground, tears, futile meetings with the head etc. it is just awful and if I had the option to abolish it or change their school easily I would.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 13:17:55

....before this system was brought in, it was split according to birthdate, which is much less divisive and controversial. Our school has a 45 PAN so it's split year.

The only benefit I can see to streaming is that it means there doesn't need to be so much differentiation in class.

WithASpider Fri 08-Mar-13 13:31:30

DD2 (7, Y3) has a late August Birthday, she's 3rd youngest in her year. Both her and the youngest child in the year are now in the top sets for English and maths. It took them till the middle of year 2 to get there, but they did it!

She struggled a little with the social side of things, and is still fairly shy. Put her on stage though and she's a star!

DD1 on the other hand has a December Birthday, and has been in the top set since year 1.

DS is September and it will be interesting to see how he does, as he'll be almost 5 when he starts reception.

I think summer born DCs are less able to cope with the social side of things, as they are still babies really. Some of their peer group will have had a whole year extra socialisation prep at pre-school.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 08-Mar-13 13:36:37

I agree with Pozzled it's important to target teaching to the children. If a school aren't allowed to do setting or grouping or whatever you call it, should they just teach to the average? This would leave the brightest bored, and the slowest frustrated.

I think it's more an issue on how best to target teaching to an individual child.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 13:39:33

It is perfectly possible to teach children in a differentiated way without streaming the whole class. Its how most schools do it now.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 08-Mar-13 13:43:17

And back to the issue of summer born underperforming, it's not entirely to do with streaming. This phenomenon has been stuided quite thoroughly. You can say it's a side effect on having school groups. There must be people who are youngest in the class.

Oxford entry and summer born
www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21579484

This one is more broad and talk also about sports. It also mentions the very interesting book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15490760

No one says summer borns (or Nov/Dec born if you are an Aussie) could not be a premier league footballer or a professor in Oxford. It's just statistically it's harder.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 08-Mar-13 13:45:27

Taffeta the issue isn't in streaming the whole class. Do you think that streaming is occuring in the US, Australia, Canada in such a wide extent that it affects entry to universities and to top level sports? This article I think it's just blaming it on streaming for a very well studied phenomenon.

Do you not think a child knows he's not picked for the top set maths class? Do you not think they know they aren't picked for rugby because he's smaller?

Springdiva Fri 08-Mar-13 13:47:03

I read in a book, which I've forgotten the name of, that the players in the college football teams in the US are mainly born early in their school year. What happens is that, as they are the larger in their year, they get picked for the teams which leads to them being picked for extra training. By the time the younger kids start to catch up in size these older ones are already better at the game. So in the long run they make up the majority of players.

So if you want a start player/athlete make sure they are born early in the school year.

gymboywalton Fri 08-Mar-13 13:47:04

i have an end of august born boy
he is very bright and doing well-working above average in everything
he has lots of friends, is very sensible and well behaved and does lots of sport

the only thing i would say is that the teachers say he can be very sensitive but i don't know if this is age or just his personality

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 13:47:41

Fivecups, I think confidence is a really important point.

It is a vicious circle. More confident children are the ones that get noticed, get the attention, get their questions answered, get picked for plays. This builds their confidence further.

Children that are less confident get forgotten about in classes of confident children. Add a summer birthday into the mix, and they are working at a disadvantage. My DD, who is according to her last teacher " not be of the ones that tugs at my trousers " is regularly passed over for many things, especially checking her understanding, as she doesn't have the confidence to always put her hand up. She had been in the school 2 years when I had to mention she hadn't yet had Star of the Week. She is not naughty, she is quiet. She got it the following week, but that just proved my point, really.

Children that are put in the lower streamed classes in Y1 often shrink into themselves, I've seen it happen, and it makes me angry and sad. No confidence = forgotten.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 13:48:47

It's not about the individual child knowing though, onelittle.

It's about everyone in the school knowing. And discussing it. As ts there for everyone to see.

Springdiva Fri 08-Mar-13 13:48:57

Oops I see someone has mentioned the book - it was Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I went to put the kettle on and came back to finish my post grin

rockinhippy Fri 08-Mar-13 13:49:05

My DD is at the opposite end, as in September born, but a few of her friends are nearly a year younger than her & yes this was very evident in reception through to probably yr3/4 - & they were definitely way behind her, so much so I found myself having to keep justifying her brightness by the age difference with DMs -

by year 5 age is making no difference at all - though that could also be down to how well this is dealt with by the school

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 13:49:30

...and the article doesn't say it's all to do with streaming, it says it is one factor, which I agree with.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 13:51:41

From the linked article "Streaming is generally defined as when a whole year group is split on ability across the board for all lessons."

Bramshott Fri 08-Mar-13 13:52:53

It's a very confusing article - it starts out by clearly stating the differences between streaming, setting and grouping, but then goes on to say "97% of the children in the study were grouped by ability by the time they were seven - within their year, class, or both. About a third were grouped within their year for English or maths and nearly 80% were grouped within their class for all or most lessons." which seems to be talking only about grouping, whereas the main premise of the article is that there's a problem if children are streamed at a young age.

I'd be amazed if the majority of children are being streamed in state primary schools!

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