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

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

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

This one is more broad and talk also about sports. It also mentions the very interesting book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

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!

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 13:55:18

I'd like to make it clear I don't have any issue with setting or grouping differentiation, indeed IMO it is necessary.

I have an issue with whole class streaming, which is what happens at our school, from Y1.

Springdiva Fri 08-Mar-13 13:56:21

Mind you I was young in my class and did ok academically and sportswise.

cumfy Fri 08-Mar-13 13:58:24

The Relative Age Effect is extremely well-known, persistent, and well-studied phenomenon.

It does not just disappear if there is no streaming.

This isn't what I've seen in my DS1's education, he's in yr2 and has a late July birthday and is second youngest in his class (4/5th youngest across year).

He's top set in Maths, Literacy and guided reading (only things setted at this stage) and has ability across all subjects, but emotionally he is quite immature.

Streaming doesn't come into play at our state school until seniors I think. I wouldn't have liked him to be streamed as the 18 months from reception into yr1 was a steep learning curve for DS, becoming well numerate and literate. If streaming had happened, he may not have progressed that well.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 14:00:56

It doesn't disappear, no, but streaming brings with it a whole host of social issues.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 14:04:07

I don't doubt this thread will be littered with anecdotes of people with bright early developer summer borns.

But what about the average child? The one that is so oft forgotten about on MN. That is who streaming affects.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 08-Mar-13 14:06:56

People all quoting examples of their child not being affected must remember these studies look at statistics of a large group. I'm sure you can find Nobel prize winning scientists who were young in their academic year group. In the article I linked earlier, you can clearly see there are many many august borns admitted to Oxford. Similarly in the wiki article on Relative Age effect linked by cumfy, there are around 150 december born selected.

You simply can't deny the statistics shown by these studies that the "Relative Age Effect" exists. (Thanks cumfy for the link btw).

PhyllisDoris Fri 08-Mar-13 14:08:49

My DD is 17 and about to take her A levels. She was born mid August, so one of the youngest in her year. Her best friend is in the same school year, but is 11 months and 2 weeks older than her. The difference in maturity has always and is still noticeable. So much so that I've persuaded my DD to take a year out before going to uni - she's going to go to work in France for a year and start in 2014.
DD is a bright girl, but has never achieved her potential. I seriously put this down to the fact that she is very young for her school year. I am convinced she would have done much better if she'd been born 15 days later, and so started school a year later.

There will be sure to be exceptions - mature August kids, and immature September kids, but on the whole I think it makes a big difference.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 08-Mar-13 14:09:44

Also, they are studying the high achievers of participants in academia and sports. Though you might say getting into Oxbridge isn't an indication of being very academic.

SaltaKatten Fri 08-Mar-13 14:28:37

There's a fair bit of evidence to show that setting has a negative impact on mid and lower attainers with negligible positive impact on high attaining children. Jo Boaler's " The elephant in the classroom" gives a lot of very interesting information as well.
The toolkit which measures impact of use of pupil premium also has some interesting info about the negative impact on setting.

girliefriend Fri 08-Mar-13 14:34:53

I am really against streaming as someone who was always streamed fairly low and it had a massive impact on my self esteem and confidence. It has only been fairly recently as an adult that i have started to realise I am not thick just not someone who learns well in a classroom environment.

I personally feel 4yo is too young for most children to start school and think we should have the system they have in Scotland whereby the child is 5yo or very nearly 5yo when they start school.

Squiglettsmummy2bx Fri 08-Mar-13 14:43:26

My DS 7 was born 1st august so is 1 of the youngest in his year 3 class but is top of year 3 for maths at a level 4c, the same as year 5 are aiming for. His other subjects are all level 3s & at the high end of his year so no falling behind. I think it depends on the child.

I posted on this thread early on so the posts since mine are really interesting reading. I have to say, like girlie I was streamed low at school, but looking back I was very immature, not particularly stupid in any way. My DP's were horrified that I was in the lower set and said I wasn't trying hard enough and was a failure. My esteem was low indeed. I didn't think I would amount to much after that so at high school so started bunking off.

Back to DS1, this is why I am unsure; he struggles socially sometimes, the boys who will be 6 in the Summer have been pushing him around already, he struggles with writing, but his reading is good and his teacher says he is always one of the first to ask questions. I really don't know what to do, education is so important and if I can get it right for him now it could make all the difference.

lljkk Fri 08-Mar-13 14:51:34

I'm not sure if this thread ever entirely determined what the article meant by streaming.

I don't see that any alternative is superior to present system. I have a summer born. So what? Other factors besides his birthdate are Far more important to his long-term academic, sport or other success. Other Factors that I can control (whereas I can't really unbirth him).

nightingale452 Fri 08-Mar-13 14:58:59

It has been noticeable in my DD1's class that in the early years the children in the top group were, on the whole, the oldest, and now she's in year 6 the top group consists of more of a mixture. DD1's birthday is late April and this is the first year she's been in the top group for anything, although they seem to go up and down regularly. Interestingly although the school takes great care not to call the groups 1, 2, 3 and 4, everyone knows which is which, even down to reception.

Looking back at my own schooldays (my birthday is late August) I never did particularly well and always seemed less mature than my peers. I only shone once I went back to college in my mid-twenties.

So saying, someone always has to be the youngest.

AmberSocks Fri 08-Mar-13 15:18:35

theres no streaming at ds school,not til they start was that way with my own school too.

drjohnsonscat Fri 08-Mar-13 15:31:39

springdiva I think there's a section on this in Freakonomics or one of the Malcolm Gladwell books.

I worry about it as the parent of a late August son. I can also see the huge advantage my daughter had by being an October child.

BerylStreep Fri 08-Mar-13 16:19:31

Yes, interesting that streaming seems to have the effect of telling a child - 'this is your place in society'.

I was in an average stream at Grammar school, and I just accepted that good enough results was what was expected of me. Years later though I ended up with a 1st class honours and a Masters with distinction.

We were just discussing the other day that my sister was in one of the lower streams, and she felt she was being told she was thick. That label has stuck with her for all of her life, and you can really see that she lacks confidence.

In my DD's (7) class, we have a lot of young for their age - 9 out of 24 are May / June birthdays (our cut off is end of June for school years). I really notice that generally the older children, who are almost a year older are the ones who win the school prizes, do well at sports day, and get the main parts in the school play. Conversely though, the youngest child in the class is exceptionally precocious, in every sense of the word, and is by far the brightest in the class.

ATouchOfStuffing Fri 08-Mar-13 16:32:07

I have always thought these studies a bit odd. I am a July baby and in my (top) tier at school over half of us were born June-Aug. I really don't think there is as much in it as they think. They have to draw the line somewhere.

goingupinfumes Fri 08-Mar-13 16:35:32

You need to take into account where the child sits in the family as well the get a true feel for the situation? My youngest DS is an august born and there was no hesitation in sending him to school aged just 4 as he has an older brother, so was chopping at the bit to go to school.

ATouchOfStuffing Fri 08-Mar-13 16:38:39

I would like to point out however that the tier system seemed to stop after school and people in much lower sets now have Doctorates and Phd's. Conversely I fell a failure as the only one in top set not to go to Uni. Gave up career aspirations quite early on really! Career/intelligence are not always the same thing and are measured very differently in life to the classroom.

grants1000 Fri 08-Mar-13 16:42:37

With a child in Y6 and Y1 I can honestly say they even out before the of the school year, yes some Sept babies might learn to read quicker and yes some August might learn to read later but it really does no matter at all, because they will do it when the can and when the are ready. All this worry in based upon not being first at stuff and this is NOT what school is all about. This obsession about top and bottom and somewhere inbetween is frankly pathetic and only causes stress for the child and worry for the teacher. Teachers don't have top and bottom groups, streaming does not happen in primary school!! They help each child as they need it and they see necessary.

Parents of summer born children do not worry at all! Some early born kids in the year are very childlike still and some are very mature, it is certainly not a marker for the whole of their school lives, DS1 is 10 in Y6 and struggled so much with reading till Y2, now in Y6 he's on course for L5 (level 4 being average for end of primary school). Age is not the marker to use as snap judgement!

OP how do you know she's lacking? Do you go into school and watch her? Have you read notes on all the other children? Ignore shit in the papers and listen and talk to your teacher and give you child a chance before you start labelling her as 'less confidant' and 'poo concentration' she's younger, get over it, it won't do her any harm at all, only you will with this sort of negative talk.

Talk to the teacher not read the papers and stop setting your kids up to be failures by sodding constant comparrison, praise her, encourage her and nothing else, you don't know and will never know how other children are doing with their education and social skills you only think you do.

Shagmundfreud Fri 08-Mar-13 16:53:35


"I really don't think there is as much in it as they think"

But there is - and there is research to prove it. Of course there will always be some August born children who are in top sets at school. Doesn't disprove the theory.

It really, really bothers me that my youngest (July birthday) has been placed in the bottom set for literacy, not because he's not bright (he is - as bright as my other two who were in top sets all the way through school), but because his behavioural problems (he has ASD) have impacted on his learning. It irks me that he has to work with the two least bright children in class. (one of these children is the spit of Ralph Wiggum). These children have NOTHING to say for themselves. NOTHING. DS has a brain which is alive with ideas, but he struggles with his writing.

Morebiscuitsplease Fri 08-Mar-13 16:53:50

With a July born child who was six weeks early so should have been born mid August. She was definitely young in her year. She lacked confidence and I felt that as she was quiet was overlooked and we were in a vicious downward circle. Her self esteem became very low which was horrifying to see in a 6 year old. We took action, talked to school and managed to turn things round. She is now in top group for reading think she had always been good but had been overlooked and is doing really well. Most importantly she is happy and growing in confidence. The eldest in her close are super confident ...

ixos Fri 08-Mar-13 16:57:42

We can ALL give anecdotal evidence of bright, high achieving summer borns - it doesn't mean that these large and well respected studies are wrong. The evidence IS there, like it or not.

Shagmundfreud Fri 08-Mar-13 17:02:44

"yes some August might learn to read later but it really does no matter at all, because they will do it when the can and when the are ready"

But if it impacts on their achievement in a way which can be measured then surely it is worth worrying about?

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 08-Mar-13 17:03:19

Shagmundfreud exactly, there is proof for research supporting it. There is an effect of age in any age related system. One person doing well (or the reverse) does not disprove a theory.

But many parents of summer borns here also provided very positive anecdotes. Of course you shouldn't write off your summer borns (in England, as there are different cut offs for school in Scotland, etc). We can't just ignore the fact and say blah blah it's not true, you are just making it up. The right thing to do is support and nurture those summer born. Many parents here said they have done different things, eg sports, talk to the teachers, etc, to build the confidence. If the school is more likely to write off a younger child, then us parents should work doubly hard to make sure it's not the case.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 17:08:51

Grants100 read the thread. Streaming does happen in primary school. It happens in my DCs primary school.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 17:12:15

And the comment "you don't know and will never know how other children are doing with their education and social skills" this is very wrong.

That's the whole problem with streaming. Two classes one for educationally advanced and socially aware children .... And the other one.

So by doing this sending a clear message to all parents and children in the entire school about educational and social skills.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 17:13:21

Onelittle , yes you have to fight for your average summer born.

And that is unfair.

Fallenangle Fri 08-Mar-13 17:26:34

Bramshot. Apparently even setting within a class appears to have a detrimental effect. The study found that some sort of setting or streaming is very common. I believe it is known as differentiation. The academics think that children get the idea they are a particular ability level and then perform at that level. You can find the actual report at

mumof3teens Fri 08-Mar-13 18:03:23

DS1 is late summer born. Always academic but socially less confident. Did gcse maths and A level maths a year early (state school) and is now a Dr. Was put in ability groups for English and Maths from reception. All the children knew the order of groupings whether they were named after trees, colours or whatever. Started school at Christmas half time then Easter full time. Don't really know the answerhmm

Lcy Fri 08-Mar-13 18:40:37

DD was born at end of August. When she started school it was obvious that the older children in her class had more confidence, found it easier to leave their parents, more socially able etc... She was also tiny.

Her teacher and assistants made a lot of extra provision for her and really did so much more than could be expected to help her settle in and become part of the group. A year on and you can't tell she is a summer born (apart from still being tiny). I think it helped that we are in Wales and the focus of the first few years is learning through play. So much less pressure and more time to help develop important social skills.

Talkinpeace Fri 08-Mar-13 18:52:43

As the mum of an end of August boy.

I am utterly against streaming and utterly for setting
because sets will vary between subjects so most kids get to shine somewhere
but streaming picks one subject and makes all the others lump it - which is really bad for differentiated learning and contradicts "Every Child Matters"

I wonder if it is the same for Scotland? It makes my brain hurt trying to think about it. At my dc's last school there were a lot of children moving in from the English education system (forces), then there were parents who had always lived here - the longer term residents tended to send their dc to school later, so a late December - to mid Feb born child would generally start school at 5 and a half, but incomers used to the English education system would start their dc as early as possible, at 4 and a half (especially if they knew they would be returning to English education system). Comparing children that are a year apart in age seems obviously wrong to me.

I have noticed children with March birthdays in Scotland are much more mature/confident/advanced in general, I have even noticed children a few months apart in early years are at quite different stages. I think it would be fair if exact age was taken into account when judging ability especially when differentiating/streaming/setting.

rubyfoz Fri 08-Mar-13 19:22:02

I have 2 summer borns - DD1 in yr8, DD2 in yr6 - they were among the last cohorts to have dual-intake (they both started school in January) which I think was far more damaging than the current system. They were an entire term behind the rest of their year group and it absolutely took a year or 2 to catch up.
I would certainly have preferred them to start school in September and be a little younger than to lose a whole term of education.
I believe this will eventually show through in the relative age research studies - summer born children now are at much less of a disadvantage.

Pozzled Fri 08-Mar-13 19:22:23

Fallenangle, differentiation is not the same as setting or streaming. A lesson can be differentiated in many different ways to ensure that all children are challenged and making progress.

I think grouping by ability in a class could definitely be detrimental. If the groups are nearly always the same, if one group always sits with the TA, if the teacher always praises the higher group, or encourages a competitive atmosphere, rather than one where everyone's contribution is valued.

But as I said earlier, groups in themselves are not a problem imo- it's the way they are used. And that depends on the ethos of the school and the individual teacher.

Viviennemary Fri 08-Mar-13 19:26:52

I don't think it's to do with streaming. A lot of primary schools have grouping for maths and English. But I think it's more to do with they are younger when they start school and younger when they sit their exams. I have heard that a higher percentage of school leavers going to Oxford or Cambridge are born September to December.

Pozzled Fri 08-Mar-13 19:44:18

I think that there are two separate issues really. Summer-borns are known to do worse than autumn-borns, and streaming can also be a bad thing as it can set low expectations. But when the two occur together, you get Summer-borns believing that they're not as bright as others in their class, when the truth is that they're just younger.

Both of my DDs are Summer-borns, something that as a teacher I always hoped to avoid! And it does concern me because I know that statistically they're at a disadvantage. DD1 is only in reception, so too early to tell. She's doing fine so far... But then I think that if she'd been born 3 weeks later, she'd only start this September... And then she'd be a lot more confident, and probably have started school already reading.

TenthMuse Fri 08-Mar-13 20:44:56

I'm a teacher with a summer birthday - so have two perspectives on this.
Personally, I (along with most of my summer-born friends) seem to have bucked the statistical trend by coping fine academically, but I realise that individual successes don't mean that there isn't a broader problem.

I think it is potentially very easy to slip into a cycle of social/confidence issues with summer-born children, who are often smaller and less savvy about 'life skills' when they start school. Unfortunately, too many teachers fail to distinguish between superficial competence (ability to write name/tie shoelaces/interact confidently with others) and raw academic ability. As a Year 1 teacher, I noticed that the older children who were coming into my class from Reception were disproportionately awarded the highest scores on their Foundation Stage profiles. Since these scores are (erroneously) used by many schools for target-setting all the way up to Year 6, this means that September and October-born children are often 'expected' to achieve more highly than July and August-borns from the outset. I've taught several pupils with August birthdays further up the school (Years 4 and 5) who have suddently come into their own, and their previous teachers have commented "But they're low ability..." because they were less confident lower down the school.

I do think schools are becoming more aware of the potential issues with summer birthdays; it's now pretty standard to identify and monitor younger children (April birthdays onwards) in a similar way to EAL and other groups. But monitoring alone isn't enough; there needs to be more provision and 1:1 support for the very youngest, age should be allowed for when grading/scoring the children in the Early Years, and there should be greater flexibility for those who really aren't coping to start school slightly later, or be kept down a year. Sadly the system as a whole is currently far too rigid.

Startail Fri 08-Mar-13 21:10:55

Confidence is very noticeable in DD2's class. 3 out of 4 of the oldest girls are the confident / chosen for everything group. The April onwards ones are much quieter.

Whether this is nature or nurture it's hard to tell. It's a small cohort and DD2 (feb) and her Dec partner in crime are the clever DDs of clever parents.

However, I'm not sure DD2, would be as out going if she hadn't been the youngest in the Y2/Y1 class and her best friends being in Y1/YR.

She had to grow up and at 12 it still shows

whistleahappytune Fri 08-Mar-13 22:24:28

Tenth, so good to see a teacher question the orthodoxy of test scores, target setting and the identification of "ability" in very young children. If only more teachers and HTs thought as deeply as you clearly have about the whole system.

I wish you taught my August born DD. Your pupils are very lucky.

Perriwinkle Fri 08-Mar-13 22:51:46

All this "summer born children" stuff is a red herring IMHO. There may be so-called evidence to back up what they're claiming to be true but at the end of the day, you always have to look at the child as an individual.

I can only tell you about my own experiences with my late August born DS. He entred school at 4 years and 2 weeks old and was full time within 3 weeks. He never so much as looked over his shoulder once to to see where I was, whilst some of his Autumn born classmates were clinging to their mothers having to be, quite literally, peeled off them by classroom assistants.

He could read before he started school, I'd taught him, as soon as I thought he was able to take an interest, by going through phonic flashcards with him and this meant he didn't spend time doing any of the preliminaries that the others did in reception class and was able to move stright on to the reading scheme. So in that sense he was never held back by being a Summer born child.

He achieved well through primary school and finished the school gaining all 5s in his SATS. So again, no reason to feel that he was ever remotely held back by being a Summer born child.

He's now in Yr 8 at secondary school and still doing really well achieving target levels that predict he's on course for A*s and As at GCSE.

He's always been outgoing and confident too.

So all in all, I've no reason to think that he's been held back or has underachieved in his education as a result of going to school at just 4. On the contrary, he was more than ready to go to school when he did and was quite clearly far more ready than some children who were more or less a full year older than him.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 22:55:21

Rubyfoz - our school has dual intake still, Sep for the older group and Jan for the younger group, so my DD missed a term in Reception.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 22:56:45

Perriwinkle , with respect your child doesn't sound average.

Average summer borns do suffer with streaming.

Perriwinkle Fri 08-Mar-13 23:09:22

Perhaps my child is not typical of all children born in late August but then not all children born in early September will be high fliers.

All I'm trying to say is that as a mother of a child born in late August I was interested in what my child was doing, not in reading surveys about what other children born in late August were doing. I was guided by my child. I was not about to label my child based on what other children born in late August had done in the past, or were likely to do in the future. I'd never have let this sort of thing affect my expectations of his progress at school.

Like it or not, there will be children born in late Summer who will achieve well at school, maybe way beyond the levels of those children born at times of the year that surveys like this would have us believe always puts them at a distinct advantage educationally.

Every child is a unique individual and should be viewed as such.

I don't find surveys of this nature that label children and "identify trends" in this way remotely helpful, either to parents or children.

It is more than a little naive to think that the only thing that determines a child's academic ability, confidence levels and social skills is the time of year they were born. There's an awful lot more to it than that.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 08-Mar-13 23:11:32

DS1 is set for maths and literacy already in Reception. He is a late-July born and is in the top group for both - and interestingly all bar one of the other children in the group are June onwards birthdays.

I do think that streaming from such a young age is wrong, no child should be labelled as worse at everything, because it simply won't be true.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 23:12:00

In reality in a class of 31, children are rarely viewed as individuals. Less confident, younger, more average children are forgotten.

duchesse Fri 08-Mar-13 23:14:44

DD2 is a 27th July. She's at a very selective school. For her first three years there she was the youngest by 2 months. The bulk of the girls were born in the first term -most of her classmates are already 16 and it's only early March.

I think that's quite telling.

Taffeta Fri 08-Mar-13 23:17:27

Streaming at such a young age is wrong however you look at it.

To label a child as not as capable as others at such a young age, for all to see, damaging their self esteem potentially for life, is horrific.

Perriwinkle Fri 08-Mar-13 23:28:07

Tafetta I mean parents should view them as individuals. Look at them as individuals and see what they are capable of before labelling them based on the time of year they were born.

As far as I'm conconcerned, it's quite worrying how parents' preconceived notions of what to expect from their children when they start school will be coloured by reading surveys like this before their children even enter school. The same goes for teachers.

There are children of all abilities whose birthdays fall at different times of the year.

There can be some very academically and socially able and confident children with Summer birthdays. In fact, in my DS's class at primary there was quite a few boys with Summer birthdays who were all very able academically and I can remember his Yr 5 teacher remarking that it was quite unusual for a group of "younger for year" boys to be doing so well. This bucks two trends/stereotypes in one go - the first being that girls are usually brighter than boys and the second that Summer born children should be behind those born earlier in the academic year.

I wasn't surprised because I believed it was just a coincidence that this group of individuals had all happened along at the same time.

I don't believe it's helpful for anyone to pigeon-hole and label children in this way. Just treat them as individuals - not as widgets or statistics.

ATouchOfStuffing Fri 08-Mar-13 23:29:42

I am surprised at how many parents seem to know other kids months of birth in their DC's first few weeks. Is there some kind of birthday list sent out to all parents?
We all get labelled in one way or another as will our DC, be it in primary or senior school or at uni or at work. Yes exam marks are important but I think what people are trying to say is that not EVERY child born June onwards is going to be struggling - the words of hope and personal experience for many with older DC's or who are themselves summer babies should be reassuring, not over ridden by a study that is basing it's results on exams we have all pretty much said are unfair and label our kids anyway.

minibird69 Fri 08-Mar-13 23:41:23

I have an autumn born 7 yr old (yr2) and August born 5 yr old (yr 1). My eledest could quite confidently have started school at 4 whereas my youngest would have benefited from starting a year later at 5. The school is wonderful and supportive to both but I do feel that if we had been allowed by our education system to send DD1 when she was 4 and ready (desperate to go!) and DD2 at 5 (ready) then both would be happier - DD1 more challenged and DD2 ready to go. The system is a bit rigid

whistleahappytune Sat 09-Mar-13 08:31:18

Perri I don't think the problem is the parents viewing their children as individuals, it's the school that likes to categorise and pigeonhole. I agree that children should be seen as individuals. Of course.

I think these studies are incredibly valuable, as it does point out via evidence, not anecdote, that summer-borns can be (^can be not must be^) disadvantaged by too early setting and/or streaming. I know that my August born DD who is incredibly bright, got lumbered with a low/middle ability assessment when she was younger, and along with her parents has been struggling to advance ever since.

These studies that you so disparage aren't pigeonholing children. It identifies something that teachers and schools and parents should be aware of, so that children AREN"T pigeonholed.

Donner Sat 09-Mar-13 08:53:40

In Scotland our year starts mid August, not far off the English year but there is an age cut off for entry into the year. The child must be 4 by the end of February so that when they start school they are at least 4.5. Recently schools have shortened this so that if your child has a Jan or Feb birthday then the parents have a free choice to either opt for another year of nursery or send to school.

I was surprised to hear that in England as long as the child is 4 before term starts they can start so that some children are just 4. My son would not have coped at this age. My daughter is about to turn 4 and is far more settled and willing to sit and listen. She is interested in numbers and letters but she is still so little and still exhausted by half days at nursery.

All children are different and some may cope just fine. You have to go by your child and I think if there's any doubt about younger ones being ready then if its possible, hold them back. What's the rush? They'll be in full time education or work for the rest of their lives (hopefully).

LaQueen Sat 09-Mar-13 08:59:01

I think it depends very much on the personaility/ability of the individual child. A confident, clever child will always easily hold their own against the rest of the class, regardless of when their birthday is.

Both DH and I, were born at the very end of August - so we were always the youngest in our school year, but it never affected us academically, or socially.

I absolutely agree with setting in literacy and numeracy, right from the word go.

Both our DDs were free-reading by the middle of Yr 1, and DD2 often complained how boring/frustrating she found it, having to share/study a book with a child who was still struggling with Biff, Chip & Kipper.

And, I can remember feeling exactly the same at primary school. I was always desperate to read ahead, and got so fed-up, having to wait for my

Thankfully, the DD's school put them into sets (based on ability) at the start of Yr 2.

But, there is definite movement between the sets - which is a very good thing. DD1 was moved out of the top set for Reading, in Yr 3, for about 3 months - and it was absolutely the right thing for her teacher to do. She'd (well, we had) let her reading slide, she hadn't been concentrating, and so couldn't keep the pace with the other girls in the top set.

3 months of LaQueen's Reading Boot-Camp, soon had her back in the top-set, and she absolutely deserved to be there. She'd worked really hard.

musicalfamily Sat 09-Mar-13 09:19:28

I agree with LaQueen that setting does not seem to equate to birthday order at all in my children's classes.

Teachers on here will be in a better position to relay their observations on a wider scale, but from my own experience of my own children, being an August birthday hasn't held DS1 back in any way really.

LaQueen Sat 09-Mar-13 09:24:14

I'm thinking about the top table, in both the DD's classes.

There's a mixture of older and much younger girls on the top table. I think it's a far more telling indicator to look at the educational background of the parents, as opposed to the child's birthday.

whistleahappytune Sat 09-Mar-13 09:31:35

LaQueen you are lucky that there is definite movement between sets. In many classrooms this simply isn't the case.

LaQueen Sat 09-Mar-13 09:37:51

whistle I think sometimes you need to engineer it. I knew DD1's reading had improved massively, so I mentioned to her teacher all the hard work she'd put in, and the books she'd read. The teacher offered to read with her the next day, and the next week she returned to the top table.

Pozzled Sat 09-Mar-13 10:45:46

Whistle I think schools are having to show a lot more movement in groups and sets nowadays. The school where I work is under a lot of scrutiny right now, and assessment for learning is seen as absolutely crucial. We are encouraged to change the groups whenever necessary, tand children often work outside their groups. For instance, i have really good writers (imaginative, good vocabulary etc) who still don't always use full stops correctly. So when we do punctuation, they will work in a 'lower' group. We also work very hard to ensure that all children are valued and supported as individuals. My classes are really good at recognising that it's not as simple as X is better at English than Y. They know that X chooses excellent vocabulary, Y is really good at varying his sentence structure, Z has the neatest handwriting and so on. But also that their skills and performance change all the time and that they all need to be striving to improve.

It's this treatment of children as individuals rather than pigeonholing as a particular ability which I think should raise achievement for all pupils.

Dozer Sat 09-Mar-13 10:56:06

I find it really annoying on these threads when people weigh in with anecdotes, "well, I was Ok, my Dc is brightest in class" etc. and suggest that parents who worry about their summer-born DC are PFB, over-anxious etc.

There is good evidence that it can be a disadvantage. In Scotland, where there is more flexibility, the majority of parents choose to use it.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Sat 09-Mar-13 11:45:27

Dozer I don't think anyone is saying that parents are being PFB.

DS1 being summer born and a boy, I was very concerned about him getting a good start in school and we have been very careful to make sure that we are doing our bit in terms of supporting him in his learning at home, making sure he is eating and sleeping well and encouraging him in his friendships. I go into school and read 2-3 times a week which allows me to see how he is with his classmates, and means that I also have a good relationship with his teacher and TA, and the head and deputy.

LaQueen is spot on that you need to engineer things to an extent to make sure that your child isn't overlooked in a class of 30.

LaQueen Sat 09-Mar-13 11:53:34

Dozer I don't think anyone is being PFB, about it. I actually think it doesn't make that much of a difference, when your child is born.

If a child is clever, and born in July, then there's a very likely chance they will outperform an average abilty child, born in December.

I think the educational background, and the consistent input of the parent (regardless of their educational background) has far more influence on the child's progress through school.

The child of a barrister and a GP, born in February - but, whose parents never bother to sit and read with them, check homework, too busy to have long chats with them...probably isn't going to do as well, as a child born in July, to parents, who aren't highly educated, but do read with them every night, go through homework with them, etc.

Pozzled Sat 09-Mar-13 12:05:46

But Laqueen, the evidence says that it DOES make a difference, it's a well-documented issue. Perhaps a bright August- born child will still do well, but an average or struggling Summer-born child is likely to do achieve less well than the same child born in the autumn.

I agree that it's not the only factor, or the most important one, but it puts some children at a disadvantage. It's important to learn more about the effects in order to find ways of guarding against it. I hope that the effect will decrease considerably now that most children start in September, so they all have the same amount of time in reception. But I don't think we can just dismiss it.

grants1000 Sat 09-Mar-13 12:24:53

"yes some August might learn to read later but it really does no matter at all, because they will do it when the can and when the are ready"

But if it impacts on their achievement in a way which can be measured then surely it is worth worrying about?

The sort of measurement used is just one way of measuring their ability, it only impacts on their acheivement in the minds of parents who frett without need because they think their child is in a bottom group because they are slow or behind others, when that is not the case, they are yonger and it might take them longer to read, what's wrong with that? You are not comparing like with like, you are too obsessed with this one tool of measurement that you think must be set in stone and define a child for the rest of his/her life.

When children are grown and go for a job interview do you think that the fact they learnt to read 6 -12 months after a classmate will have an impact on the chances of them getting that job? No. Because they can read.

It only impacts on their achievments if YOU let it. The way children are assessed and measured by the methods use by G'ovt and school are just one small way of measuring and assessing a child current state and potential. Top is not best with all else being a poor substitute.

"In reality in a class of 31, children are rarely viewed as individuals. Less confident, younger, more average children are forgotten"

Utter and total crap, a good teacher can look after all 30 children needs. All the children in my children's school have always put this first. If teachers can't, they are not a very good teacher.

Is my husband who is 3 years older than me always superior because he must have learned to read before me? No.

Snowylady Sat 09-Mar-13 12:39:47

I hope you don't mind me putting in my 3 pence worth. I am personally August born, a few weeks from being in the year below. It does make a difference when some other children in the classroom are almost a year older in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, it's not a big thing, but I was shyer in primary and I remember certain concepts took me longer (maths especially!), not in a massive way just now and again. Same for some other summer borns in my year and it was recognised by my school as being an aspect - I remember them adding a certain % on top of test results and explaining to the class why they did that. My Sept/Oct born friends weren't happy! I guess the biggest thing it can affect is confidence and I was slower to gain this and was quiet and reserved at primary. I did gain confidence at secondary though! You could say this is more personality related but my summer born friends at school were the same. Things do even out and the best thing parents can do is support and help with confidence - after primary I found my confidence increased and my education did not suffer and I achieved as well as other primary classroom peers!

QuickLookBusy Sat 09-Mar-13 12:44:19

Yes, research after research shows summer born dc are at a disadvantage. Because someone can say "well I or my dc are fine" doesn't mean the research is wrong.

It even affects university chances. Less summer born dc go to university.

Every govt goes on about "educations the individual" but they refuse to do anything about this problem, despite huge evidence to show that starting school at 4 years and 2 days has a detrimental affect on many children.

Pozzled Sat 09-Mar-13 12:52:01

grants1000 You seem to be assuming that month of birth affects the age at which children learn to read and nothing else.

This is not the case, it affects achievement in many measurable ways- a quick google makes this clear.

It is a statistical effect, so of course it won't matter for every child, and of course other factors are also important. But please don't dismiss it out of hand without knowing all the facts.

lljkk Sat 09-Mar-13 13:10:27

The problem with a flexible intake system is that it gets abused and results in increased social inequalities. It also creates higher risk of social problems, and emotional unhappiness undermines achievement far more than any age disadvantage. The most informed and more affluent parents defer the most, less informed parents & those who need school-as-childcare defer the least. Plus you can argue that flexibiity should go both ways, I've heard stories of parents demanding that their child should be allowed to start school a year early, too.

I would like flexibility (only up to 1 yr behind usual cohort) and only for very narrow circumstances, mostly when SN is formally identified by age 5 or premature birth (say before 40 weeks gestation).

Theas18 Sat 09-Mar-13 13:16:28

Gosh I didn't know primaries streamed beyond sitting on different tables to potentiate differentiated work.

My eldest (late july birthday) now 19 was in a study at infant school about this. They had groups for things and sets for english and maths from year 3 up. She always kept up/lead her peers academically (but was rubbish at sport- being younger or just a bit rubbish? hmm).

I do think we need to try to treat all as individuals

lljkk Sat 09-Mar-13 13:29:05

Ours does not stream like that, Thea. The kids move around ability groups constantly and I was under impression this was very much best practice and Ofsted would frown at a primary not seen to have very porous ability groupings.

Local Secondaries stream from early y7, BUT I have heard many stories about kids moving up and down the ability groups, especially at start of y8 or y9. Knowing they can move groups is often an incentive.

There's a local girl with late August Birthday who is one of the best in the county at several sports (now in y8).

GoByTrain Sat 09-Mar-13 13:40:26

I am an August child and I think I was very very very disadvantaged by being an August child. (Not helped by the fact that I was the youngest in my sib-set too so got less one-to-one with my parents.)

I was often in the low, or lowest, streams at school. It became a self-fulfilling downwards spiral.

And so, because of of all the streaming, and low sets, and low expectations, I began to think I was pretty thick (as opposed to just being a bit younger, which may have been the reality).

As a footnote, I think we probably do catch up (eventually) so I did pull my finger out for A'levels, did well, and went to Oxford.

whistleahappytune Sat 09-Mar-13 13:51:32

Pozzled I'm glad to hear that this is going on in your school. Do you think this is widespread? I have to say that this doesn't happen in our school. Can my DD transfer to yours?

LaQueen, consider how freely you identify a young child, a young child as being either "bright" or "average". How on earth can you condemn a kid to being not so able/thick at seven or eight years of age? This is the kind of pigeonholing that I feel is so damaging and antithetical to real education.

Pozzled Sat 09-Mar-13 14:03:40

Whistle I don't think it's widespread yet, but I think it will start to become so as the new Ofsted framework kicks in. Teachers and schools now need to show progress for every single child in every lesson- that won't happen if the same children always sit on 'top table'. Even if the 'top table' are all on a 3a or whatever, they won't all have the same needs. Even more so for the 'bottom table' who will probably have a complex mixture of reasons as to why they're there.

nokidshere Sat 09-Mar-13 14:33:36

My son was 4 yrs and 1 week old when he started school. He does not appear to have suffered academically from being in different sets in primary school or the streams at secondary (he is yr7)

There is however a huge gap between the emotional development of him and his older peers in the same class - and this has widened as they have got older. We will never know whether this would have been the case if he hadn't been setted or streamed.

lainiekazan Sat 09-Mar-13 14:45:23

I agree with Lijkk. People on MN trumpet on about equal life chances and social equality, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it would be MC parents who would keep their dc down a year.

When dd started school there was a meeting in the summer beforehand about staggered start dates. There was quite a vocal group of, er, a certain type of mother complaining about this and wanting their dcs to start full-time straightaway (and fwiw I know that they do not go out to work).

I would have killed to keep dd down a year as she is an end of August birthday. In fact I wish I had never sent her to infant school at all sad

LaQueen Sat 09-Mar-13 14:58:42

whistle I am not condemning any child.

I am observing that some children are more clever, than other children. And, that some children are of an average ability, and that some children are of a higher/lesser than average ability.

racingheart Sat 09-Mar-13 15:00:56

OP, I wouldn't worry. There is a noticeable gap when they are young but imho it closes (2 DC, both summer born).

And half the battle is trying to remind the teachers that they are younger. I got so fed up of teachers telling me X was reading sentences in Yr 1, and now we're in yr 2 and DS2 has only just learned to do this. But X was 10 months older than DS2, so was actually older when he reached the same attainment level. I also had to reassure DC that their friends weren't cleverer than them, just older.

But the gap closed, suddenly and markedly in junior school and DC both found they were in the top groups by yr 4-5. In fact, if I'd kept DS1 back a year because he was born so late, he'd have been clawing the walls with boredom. Our school only actually streams (grouping across the year group, not just in class) in yr 6 and both late summer born DC were in top groups by then.

Mandy21 Sat 09-Mar-13 15:25:38

OP I wouldn't worry either - I think the "evidence" is flawed because there are any number of variables that affect a child's development. Yes, they might have looked at the month a child was born but there is no "control". OK, lets follow child A who was born in Sept, and we'll compare her to child B who was born in August. How can anyone know whether the results would have been different if Child B had been born in Sept, and Child A had been born in August?! Child A might always have done well irrespective of when they were born. Then factor in the school, parents, whether they have older brothers and sisters etc.

PuffPants Sat 09-Mar-13 15:32:10

If all the August-borns are deferred till the following year - thereby making them the very oldest in their year, don't the July children just become the youngest instead? Where does it end? Someone has to be the youngest.

LaQueen Sat 09-Mar-13 15:36:34

Totally agree Mandy - there have been many studies, which show that the greatest indicator of a child's academic success at school, is the educational background of its mother.

When the child was born, is just one small reference point.

Talkinpeace Sat 09-Mar-13 15:37:00


diamondsneezer Sat 09-Mar-13 15:43:19

I think these articles are missing the point. Children are sent to school when they are too young.

If children started when they are a couple of years older, they would be able to cope much better with school and the demands it places on them. It isn't really about being the oldest or youngest in the class but being nearly 5 or only just 4.

We would think it ridiculous if we had a walking competition in October and entered all children who would be having their second birthday between September and August. Those with the autumn birthdays, i.e. age 2, would almost all be better walkers than the summer children, 13/14 month olds.

Of course, my example is silly but why do we expect that just 4 year olds can cope with full time education?

(And yes, I know that everyone knows someone who was born at the end of August and went to Oxford but the statistics and my personal experience has found a lot of summer strugglers).

diamondsneezer Sat 09-Mar-13 15:45:15

What ever happened to the idea that the summer ones could start later if their parents wanted them to, while the autumn ones could go earlier if their parents felt they were ready? Wasn't this one of the political parties campaigning ideas?

Talkinpeace Sat 09-Mar-13 15:51:05

Because it is impossible to budget for school places if you do not know how many children are coming up through the system.
Financial reality dictates that there have to be rules.
Or much higher taxes to pay for the free space in the system.

lainiekazan Sat 09-Mar-13 15:57:25

Dd was born at the end of August and was premature to boot. She had a miserable first year at school. I could blame it on her age, but she is by nature not a joiner - she hates group activities, clubs, large gatherings... I think it was a combination of both.

I agree with racingheart that teachers are often unaware. In Reception they make a big deal about saying that they know all the ages and make allowances, but from Year One it's an irrelevance to them. Ds was moved from Reception to Year 2 (without my knowledge angry ) and then the teacher said to me that he was quite "babyish". Fgs - he was only five a few weeks beforehand and there he was with kids already 7. I moved him from that school!

Pozzled Sat 09-Mar-13 16:16:40

Mandy21, the researchers do 'control' for the variables that you have mentioned. They compare very large sample sizes, they take into account other factors that can be measured, such as parents' level of education. They have found that the birth month IS linked to performance. The only other possible explanation that I can see is that a third factor is linked to both birth month and academic performance, which seems unlikely.

I've been saying all along that there are many other factors which affect performance/achievement- parental education, social deprivation etc. Month of birth is only one of them, but it does have an effect.

I wish people wouldn't keep dismissing years of scientific research- the effect is there, teachers/schools/the government need to decide how to mitigate its effects. My personal view is that allowing more flexibility will just shift the problem and further disadvantage the children of less-informed parents/poorer parents who can't afford childcare for another year.

I think a later school starting age, more play-based focus well into KS1, a revamp of the testing structure and a much more personalised approach to education is the way to go.

FrameyMcFrame Sat 09-Mar-13 16:43:47

I've been saying this for the last 7 years regarding my DD.

diamondsneezer Sat 09-Mar-13 16:47:09

Talkinpeace but it is foolish economic practice when more summer born children have SEN (which was another statistic to come out) and then need more support (which costs).

Again, going back to my analogy of making those 'turning 2' entering a walking race, it would be like declaring the slower children (the summer born) have something wrong with their legs and need to undergo physiotherapy...

But this is what happens in schools. See the latest 'Reading Recovery' programme

"Reading Recovery is designed for children aged five or six, who are the lowest achieving in literacy after their first year of school. These children are often not able to read the simplest of books or write their own name before the programme.

They are 5. Leave them alone angry

Talkinpeace Sat 09-Mar-13 16:48:35

Thing is if kids start school later, then they are just at childcare for longer which is either state funded or private
affecting women's (the reality) ability to work and provide for their children.
or affecting the required tax take on all of us.

Maybe the answer is to have a more flexible early years curriculum for R and 1 so that the slower developers can chillax

but the reality is that when kids start University, unless they do it a year late, those who were born early in the academic year will have had more learning time before the start of term.

whistleahappytune Sat 09-Mar-13 17:07:56

LaQueen, you cannot observe that a child is clever or not able. You can only observe the skills they have acquired or not acquired.

Which is not the same thing.

LaQueen Sat 09-Mar-13 17:16:50

Fair enough whistle.

I have observed that some children acquire skills far earlier and quicker than other children. And once they have acquired those skills, they can apply them faster, and more accurately than other children.

majormoo Sat 09-Mar-13 18:31:53

Other countries start children at school much later and I do not see how packing kids off to school at 4 here provides us with many benefits in comparison to other countries.

Starting school was so much easier for my Autumn born son than my August born daughter. For a start he was less exhausted by the whole process. It also makes a big difference that he is physically more developed than some of the younger kids. He loves the fact that he is good at football and that his 6 year old friends think he is good. Possibly he is just lucky to be taller/have more stamina etc because he is older. For him i believe being older has given him advantages and given him confidence which spills over into his academic work. Most of the children in the top literacy and maths sets are surprise surprise Autumn born children

My daughter came on loads with a fantastic year two teacher who didn't even agree with setting the kids but had to. She brought in the 'no hands up', talk partners etc stuff at their school which made a big difference to the class.Now in year 5 it is true the gap between older and younger children appears to have closed considerably.

If i have the chance not to send my now 18month old august born son to school at 4 in a couple of years, I will take it.

Talkinpeace Sat 09-Mar-13 18:37:29

children of working Mums are in Nursery from 8am to 6pm five days a week.
how is school more tiring than that?
YES, the EYFC needs to be lightened up a bit but sending kids to school a year later is not the issue.

majormoo Sat 09-Mar-13 19:12:44

well if you need childcare 8am-6am that need will not vanish on starting school surely?

A couple of friends in Sydney have recently posted first day at school photos
of their 5 and a half year old boys. Seemed odd to think my dd had done 18months in school by this point in her life.

majormoo Sat 09-Mar-13 19:13:54

6pm not am clearly!!

majormoo Sat 09-Mar-13 19:15:27

and in our case dd had been in nursery 3 days a week 8.30-6pm from ten months. she was still shattered starting school.

Taffeta Sat 09-Mar-13 19:22:38

I would love to hear more insight, anecdote, evidence and opinion about streaming on this thread, in relation to summer borns in primary school.

It's a subject I've never seen raised as a thread before on MN.

RB68 Sat 09-Mar-13 19:40:02

Mine is at state primary and they work in ability groups. Effectively streaming them. They work by subject in ability groups so they may be different for maths or english or science etc. Mine is an August baby that was 2 mths prem so double whammy when she first went. Reception was hard for her but she loved it even though I toyed with the idea of not letting her do it - I wanted to let her have a chance of friend making which I struggled with at school. She is lucky in that in yrs 1,2 and now 3 she is in a mixed year group. Previously I would have been against this but it gives children a taste of what its like being in different poll positions!! So my youngie gets to be a middlie this year. They work together for group activities, art, PE and so on but also spend time in the week on other activities forest schools for half the class and something else for the other. So it really mixes them up and I find that through out the school they all know each other reasonably well and work together - a few times a year they have mixed year groups for specific projects and are expected to work from yr 6 to reception together .

Whilst ostensibly the splitting of the year group is done on age there are exceptions mostly to do with other special needs areas and sometimes getting the balance in classes right. Also down to the emotional maturity of individuals but sometimes other factors e.g. one of my daughters friends has a brother in yr 2 (another August) but only around 5 yr 2's were in the 1/2 year. He was one not on ability or emotional stuff but purely to separate them and give him chance to grow into his own person - and it has worked beautifully. It was done in consultation and with the agreement of the parents. I can also say I haven't noticed any stigma particularly in the divide.

DD is at least a term ahead of where she should be in all subjects and a full year plus in reading, but I think she could be pushed along a bit more but I am happy she is happy and enjoying school so also happy to leave things where they are keeping an eye on the fact she gets a good grounding.

RB68 Sat 09-Mar-13 19:44:49

Should also say I love the fact the school was 100 pupils when she joined with an intake of 17 & class of 17 for reception! Times change though and this year we were 30 intake and that will now continue and the school will be expanding, it is in a constrained site though so hopefully that will be as big as it gets without losing all the playing space or having to split the children for break times.

alemci Sat 09-Mar-13 19:57:14

I don't think this is necessarily the case, depends on the child. DD is 17 and born in July but she is doing really well at A level doing A2 and predicted good grades. She seems to be brighter than my ED who is born in December.

I remember though when she was in Y1 they had just re-introduced kids going to school at 4.5 so her friends from nursery with September birthdays were in reception. up to then it was rising 5 so the Summer birthday kids got no reception.

she needed full time school earlier I feel.

lancaster Sat 09-Mar-13 20:20:54

I have a slightly different perspective on this to a lot of the other mums in Scotland I think (maybe because I am English). I think the fact that January and february born children (youngest in the year) can defer to start school for 1 year is actually incredibly biased towards more middle class families who can afford this option. It means that the oldest in a class is usually MORE than 1 year older than the youngest. What I would like to see in scotland would be something like EYFS as children here go much more into formal learning in P1.

Mandy21 Sat 09-Mar-13 20:56:53

pozzled I understand what you're saying but its only ever looking at averages / classes of people - a child born (in a particular month) to parents with certain level of intelligence, with a certain income level or whatever, going to an average schoo, compared to a child born in a different month born to similar parents etc. It can never take account of variations and individual characteristics which is why I think its not persuasive "evidence".

PurpleStorm Sat 09-Mar-13 21:21:22

I'd also be worried about a school streaming 4yr old children by ability. I'd be concerned that labelling a child as average or low achieving so early on could have lasting effects on academic achievements, whether because it affects the child's confidence, or whether it's because the teachers don't expect them to achieve as much.

DS is an August baby and was 6 weeks premature, and I'm concerned that this sort of thing will affect him when he reaches school age.

I'm well aware that there are plenty of high achieving August babies, but the research all indicates that birth month is a factor in how well a child does at school. I don't think it's sensible to dismiss the research just because some August babies do well. As far as I'm concerned, the research is suggesting to me that we're going to need to take extra care to make sure that DS is well supported when he does start school, because it's easier for August babies to fall behind at school than it is for the children born earlier in the year group.

PurpleStorm Sat 09-Mar-13 21:31:17

Mandy21 Sat 09-Mar-13 20:56:53 - not sure I understand your point here. If comparing an August born child and a September born child born to parents with similar levels of intelligence, with similar income levels, and both children going to an similar schools, isn't persuasive, then what would be?

Mirage Sat 09-Mar-13 21:38:55

DD1 was born August 29th,so started school the day after her 4th birthday.Luckily it is a little village school with only 10 in the Reception class and she didn't appear to be disadvantaged.The only concern that her teacher had was that she struggled to grip a pencil,which wasn't surprising as she was never keen on drawing and I wasn't going to make a 3 year old practise writing before she'd even set foot in a classroom.Anyway,we practised holding a pencil and within a few weeks she was fine.She is tiny and slight,and her Year 4 teacher said that in games she was worried about the older bigger children knocking her over,but apart from that she doesn't seem to be suffering because of her birth date.I'm sure being in a small village school with small classes has helped,it has 100 or so pupils now and can't take any more.

What will happen when she goes to secondary school,I don't know.Our catchment school is huge and has always had a bad reputation and the only other nearby school streams the top SATS achievers into separate classes,with everyone else lumped in together.Anecdotally,the 'average' children in those classes get ignored as the teachers are too busy fire fighting the rest.

Taffeta Sat 09-Mar-13 21:43:04

Purple, yes I agree about the damage of labelling so young.

Bright children will do well no matter what month they are born. Average children summer born are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to streaming.

Taffeta Sat 09-Mar-13 21:45:10

Bright children will do well no matter what month they are born, sorry this is too sweeping a generalisation. Bright children in the same situation as average children will not face the same issues.

Perriwinkle Sat 09-Mar-13 21:56:37

I think it depends very much on the personaility/ability of the individual child. A confident, clever child will always easily hold their own against the rest of the class, regardless of when their birthday is.

This is absolutely the most informed and insightful comment on this entire thread.

When my DS entered reception class at age 4 and 2 weeks (already able to read and write) he and another boy, born about a week before him, ended up being far and away the highest achievers in the class, and indeed right the way through primary school. This has continued on into secondary school too and they're now predicted to achieve A* and A grades at GCSE.

In fact, at the end of Yr1, my DS and his August born friend took some of the SATS papers that the Yr2 children had taken that year in order to assess where they were and they both performed well. As a result they were given extension tasks in their own class.

This goes to show that not only did these two August born boys have the ability to hold their own with their pre-Christmas born classmates, they had the ability to hold their own with children the year above them, some of whom were almost two years older than them, let alone one.

My advice to all would be, don't fall into the trap of pigeon-holing children based on when in the year their birthdays fall. Try your very best to support your own child through their education by doing as much with them as you can to augment what is being done at school and don't waste your time worrying about what their peers are doing. It's your child that matters, not everyone else's.

Mandy21 Sat 09-Mar-13 21:57:03

purplestorm I'm trying to say that there are far too many variables to make the "evidence" convincing - even if Child A and Child B are similar (on paper) in every way except the month of birth, they don't have exactly the same parents, or exactly the same teacher / nursery or the same genetics, so how can anyone say its down to the month? Lots of people have said its down to confidence, size etc. That has absolutely nothing to do with the date of birth.

Perriwinkle Sat 09-Mar-13 22:05:53

Miarage I wouldn't worry too much. In my experience in secondary schools it's the brightest children who are the ones that are disadvantaged, not the average ones.

The received wisdom seems to be that bright children are more than capable of taking care of themselves so they're the forgotten ones in secondary schools, believe me. They're the ones most at risk of not fulfilling their full potential.

Targets mean that all attention is focussed on the pupils most likely to jeopardise the school's ability to achieve the highest possible percentage of pupils achieving 5 or more A* to C grades at GCSE.

PurpleStorm Sat 09-Mar-13 22:06:07

Mandy21 - I'm just struggling to see what other variables could account for the consistent evidence suggesting that August born babies do less well on average than September born ones.

For instance, the mother's educational background has an impact on how well kids do, but it's hard for me to imagine that well educated mothers are far more likely to have autumn born babies than they are to have summer born babies.

And surely a child's size, at least when they start primary school, has a lot to do with the date of birth? A child who is 4 years and 1 day old is likely to be smaller than a child who is 4 years and 51 weeks old.

Mandy21 Sat 09-Mar-13 22:23:49

Purplestorm I'm sorry I don't agree - the evidence just can't take account of the variables - yes, two mothers might be more or less exactly the same on paper, but just because parents are similarly well educated (for instance) doesn't mean their approach to parenting is the same. How much time does the parent spend with their child? What do they do? How do they build their child's confidence? What other activities does the child do? What has their diet been like? Have the parents encouraged the child to spend time away from parents at nursery / with grandparents so they're more accustomed to being left? Have they encouraged the child to be in a group environment with other 4 year olds in the run up to school (family friends / cousins / mother has stayed in touch with antenatal group)?

Your point about size is exactly what I'm arguing against - you're making sweeping statements that a child who is 4yrs and 1 day is likely to be smaller than a child who is about to be 5 - no, its a generalisation. A child with tall parents might be tall, a child who was born in September but was a twin might be smaller than a singleton born later in the year. My point is it just depends on the individual child and their specific circumstances and whilst the child and those circumstances might appear similar, with their birth months being the only difference, there are a million and one variables that will have impacted on a child by the time they start school at 4 and no evidence can take account of all of them.

Taffeta Sat 09-Mar-13 22:31:23

Perriwinkle , I don't think people on this thread are pigeon holing summer borns as being behind. I don't think anyone does.

I think this thread and the evidence linked are referring to average ability summer borns, not ones that are sitting SATS tests early etc.

Taffeta Sat 09-Mar-13 22:32:51

It's also easy to say it doesn't matter what other people's children are doing when your school doesn't stream.

Then it does matter. A great deal.

Taffeta Sat 09-Mar-13 22:34:42

Of course it doesn't matter if your child is super bright. But if they are borderline or average and each year could be put in a class where they are judged by parents and children to have lesser ability, then all the confidence issues etc mentioned up thread come into play.

Which at age 5 is very wrong.

Fallenangle Sat 09-Mar-13 22:36:34

mandy we aren't talking about individuals. We are talking about overall attainment of large groups. The individual characteristics of each individual are thus evened out, giving significant findings for THE GROUP.

Bunnyjo Sat 09-Mar-13 23:05:34

My DD is late August born and now in Year 1, so I find these articles, and subsequent discussions, interesting. As I am not a teacher, I can only comment anecdotally. My DD is achieving highly for her age; she was streamed at the end of reception into the Yr 2/3 class. She is currently working at NC level 2 in all subjects and predicted to achieve level 3 (possibly level 4!) by the end of Year 2. This isn't a stealth boast; I am trying to explain that some children do buck the trend...

That said, there has been years of research on this, and the evidence does suggest that on average summer born children are at an academic disadvantage.

It really frustrates me; all this research is pointless and futile, unless it is used to instigate changes. It simply isn't good enough to say that summer born children are at a disadvantage, unless there are think tanks/policy groups looking to redress this disparity.

RegularVoltaire Sat 09-Mar-13 23:12:39

I have a winter born dc1, a spring born dc2 and a summer born (July) dc3.

My dc's school is a 2-form entry which is split entirely based on age (Sept-Feb/March, March/April-August) and then grouped for Maths and English.

Some children from the older class come into the younger class for these lessons, and some children from the younger class go into the older class. The rest of the lessons are taught in their own classes.

My eldest is winter born and had to go into the younger class for Maths and English throughout primary. The affect this had on confidence is still prevalent now (Y8!). Dc1 is average ability, with strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others, like most children I expect. She has pretty average SAT results, with some as high as 7c and some as low as 5c. She's doing well imho. If you ask her, she'll tell you that she's thick sad ...and if you ask her why she thinks that, she'll tell you that her primary teachers thought she was sad sad
I tell her that she has many strengths and many talents. She struggles to believe me.

I don't know the answer to that.

Conversley, my summer born dc has gone into the older class since Reception. She's fine academically, well actually that's a little unfair, she's very good academically, but has taken a good few terms to hold her own socially.
Lots of her friends stay in the same class for both and according to the parents whom I chat with, they're very happy and doing well.

My spring born is also in the top half of the class, but has been pretty much oblivious to it all until she entered Y5 and all the SAT's pushiness.

My experience of streaming early on (or is that classed as setting?) is that for those who stay in their own class, it's not a problem. For those who go 'down' for Maths and English - the effects can be devastating and long-lasting.

PurpleStorm Sat 09-Mar-13 23:28:45

So, Mandy, how do you explain the results showing that August born babies statistically do less well academically than autumn born babies?

Yes, the level and type of parental involvement will make a huge difference - but if what the parents do is the only factor, why do August born babies do less well academically on average? I believe that the average parents of August born babies are just as likely to encourage their child's development as the average parents of autumn born babies.

And yes, I am making a sweeping generalisation about a child of 4 years and 1 day being smaller than a child of 5 years. This sweeping generalisation of mine is backed up by the height charts in DS's red book. According to that, a 4 year old on the 50th centile is 103cm tall. A 5 year old on the 50th centile is 110cm tall. A 4 year old on the 99th centile will indeed be taller than a 5 year old on the 2nd centile, but this doesn't change the fact that the average 5 year old is taller than the average 4 year old.

As Fallenangle says, "we aren't talking about individuals. We are talking about overall attainment of large groups."

Perriwinkle Sun 10-Mar-13 00:06:58

Taffeta you said it's also easy to say it doesn't matter what other people's children are doing when your school doesn't stream. Then it does matter. A great deal.

I'm sorry but I still can't see why it matters what other children are doing. I never bothered what the others were doing. Their progress or abilities didn't concern me in the slightest . I wasn't one of those mothers who, with faux altruism, went into my child's class to listen to reading simply in order to nose in on what the others were doing to make comparisons like so many do. If comparisons are necessary, then your child's teacher will make you aware of it at the appropriate time.

If you become aware, or it is brought to your attention, that your child is struggling at school then as a parent is is your duty and obligation to do all you can to help bring them on. If it requires you speaking to the teacher to make a plan to support them at home then you do it, no question about it.

If after all of that they are able to move onto the "higher table" or put into the "higher group" or whatever it may be called at your child's school then great. If not, and they are still struggling, then that may very well just be a fact of your child's life. At least you will be secure in the knowledge that as a parent you have done all you can to raise their level of achievement and address any shortfall that may be occuring in the classroom.

If you aren't prepared to do whatever it takes to help them and simply blame the school or the time of year that they were born then you're doing your child a grave disservice.

If you'd prefer to sit back and say, "all the other children make my child feel thick" or "oh, they're bound to be behind because they have a late summer birthday and are much younger than all the others", that's just a cop out in my view. Frankly, I think it beggars belief that some people are still using this as an excuse into secondary school too.

I'm sorry but I still fail to see that worrying about what other children in the class are doing has any bearing on your own child's progress. Education does not begin and end in the classroom. Sadly though, far too many parents seem to think that it does and find it an easier route to blame everyone and everything (including bonkers surveys) apart from themselves for their children's lack of progress.

Your child's individual achievements and abilities, or lack thereof, will be noticed by any teacher worth their salt, who will tailor their learning accordingly. Anyone who tells you otherwise is doing decent teachers a great disservice.

Surveys will always manipulate data in order to prove a hypothesis. This survey is no different.

Children are all individuals and having a birthday fall at a certain time of year is certainly no measure of intelligence, or marker for how well they will perform at school or benchmark for what they will ultimatley achieve.

If parents of late summer born children send their children off to school on the first day expecting very little of them, or expecting that they will be disadvantaged in the classroom due to the time of year they were born however, I'm afraid this will prove to be a self fulfilling prophecy.

Taffeta Sun 10-Mar-13 07:41:59

So what if you "do your duty" as a parent, help them as much at home , as do all the other parents in class, and then they are still in the lower year?

Accept that your child should be labelled and judged by all? Accept that other pupils in the school will say they are in the class for the ones that are a bit dim? Accept that other parents will make comments like "I was surprised your DS/DD is in that class. I thought they were clever." ( I know someone to whom this was said about their Y1 5 yo last year ) Accept that your child will have lower expectations made of them, perhaps just because they are not an early developer?

It is very naive to assume that people of current average ability summer born children assume they will always be average ability and/or have low expectations for them. I, for example, am aware that my DD learns at her own pace, and has always reached milestones when she is ready, rather than way ahead of the curve at an early age, like my DS. I think she will be a late developer and blossom further up the school.

But this becomes less likely if she is put in a lower class, as her confidence will be dented by the lower expectation of the school and the comments of other parents and children in the school. No matter how I build her up at home, I can't control comments and attitudes to her at school ( by other children especially )

I stress I am not talking about setting. I am talking about streaming a whole class, where all can see who for a given year ( and there is little movement year on year ) is in the lower stream and the higher stream, from age 5.

Please don't minimise the impact this has when you have no experience of it, Perriwinkle.

duchesse Sun 10-Mar-13 10:20:39

The most interesting bit about that article linked below is that many very bright children are being labelled with special needs diagnoses by schools who simply can't really cope with them. This rather accords with my experiences with young for his year DS who was "diagnosed" in Year R with Aspergers, in Year 1 with some kind of defiance problem and in Y2 with being a bit dim and/or lazy. Now 19yo and doing very well in 2nd year engineering. grin But his school days were fraught from beginning to end, having started badly at age 4.

Two of the local schools here have an intake of 45. They composite classes from Y1 and do so by age. Their own explanation for this shows that they use age as a proxy for ability.

I refused to put either school down when I applied for DS2's school place, even though they are our closest two schools. He's August born and I want him to be judged on his ability not his age. It's completely fine for him to be in the bottom groups, so long as the judgemeng was based on what he's capable of and the support he needs. I don't want him immediately put with the younger children so as to 'reduce the differentiation needed in each class'. It strikes me as a really obvious way to create a self fulfilling prophecy.

I'd feel the same if he were September born. I'd want him judged on his actual ability, and not to have any additional pressure to succeed academically based on being older. Using age as a proxy for ability is just lazy school management and teaching.

stopgap Sun 10-Mar-13 12:33:30

I now live in America and the idea of summer-born children struggling is such a wide-held belief that such children are often "red-shirted" and held back a year. Originally such an approach was to benefit school sports teams by providing them with bigger kids, but parents have become so antsy about children in general struggling. It is now outlawed in some states and a hugely controversial subject.

I'm in NYC and the private schools here will not, no way, no how, accept summer boys for their K intake. The official cut-off date for intake is August 31st, but they don't even consider children born beyond May. Interestingly the public schools here (local state schools) take children born Jan-Dec, so my son, a late August boy, will not be the youngest in class. If we'd decided to do private school, he'd only be eligible to start at 6.

Pozzled Sun 10-Mar-13 12:34:48

It's really frustrating how many people are dismissing this research, or saying that it doesn't matter because the bright Summer-born children will still achieve highly.

I have two daughters, one with a June birthday, the other with an August birthday. I'm aware of the research, I am very confident at supporting them in their learning and I will do everything in my power to ensure they aren't disadvantaged. I'm not really worried about them.

But there are thousands of other children born in the summer whose parents won't be able to give them a great deal of support for a wide range of reasons. They're already at a disadvantage. And if they're put into a lower stream group early on because they can't read as well as a child nearly a year older, that can have a profound effect on their self-esteem.

I don't see how anyone can say that it doesn't matter.

LaQueen Sun 10-Mar-13 12:38:03

"I wouldn't worry too much. In my experience in secondary schools it's the brightest children who are the ones that are disadvantaged, not the average ones.

The received wisdom seems to be that bright children are more than capable of taking care of themselves so they're the forgotten ones in secondary schools, believe me. They're the ones most at risk of not fulfilling their full potential."

I totally agree with Peri on this one.

Several of our friends/family teach in secondary schools, so I know this is the case.

The very clever/able ones are pretty much left to get on with it, while the vast majority of the teacher's attention/effort goes into ensuring that the border line pupils are pulled up from a D/E to the all important grade C.

The pupils who are on target for a A*, are left to their own devices, much of the time.

duchesse Sun 10-Mar-13 12:38:06

I don't think the issue is so much of being the youngest in the class as being too young to cope with the whole package of school. Children mature a lot between 4 and 5 and there's a very good reason imo that school starts at 5/6 in most civilised countries (ie not ours). So being 364 days younger than the oldest child in the class isn't the problem per se, it's being very 4 rather than 5 that is the problem.

LaQueen Sun 10-Mar-13 12:42:44

Further to add, I know this practice of letting the really bright kinda coast along, is also present in primary schools.

DD2 is G&T for numeracy, and has been since Yr 2. So, she gets extension numeracy sheets to complete while she's in class. But, she whizzes through these...then, by the sounds of it (have friends who volunteer to help in her class), DD2 is used by her teacher as a free TA, to help the rest of her table hmm

Instead, of being given more input/harder maths etc.

The consensus seems to be that if DD2 has completed the extension sheet, then box ticked, job done - even though she is clearly capable of much more.

Mandy21 Sun 10-Mar-13 13:12:41

The point I'm trying to make is that people shouldn't attach too much weight to "research" like this because there are too many variables to consider in looking at children's attainment, the month of birth is just one small part of that. So I simply don't accept that August children will always be at a disadvantage to September based children. Its down to the individual child.

Pozzled Sun 10-Mar-13 13:38:18

No, of course August born children will not ALWAYS be at a disadvantage compared to September born children.

However, the evidence says that ON AVERAGE an August born child is likely to do less well than a September born child from a similar background.

This research had been carried out by various different researchers, who know how to apply all sorts of statistical analyses to rule out other possible explanations.

Yes, month of birth is just one factor that affects attainment. But it does affect attainment. Therefore, we should find out more about how to deal with it. Just like we should find out more about how to support children with less educated parents, or children living in poverty.

Grinkly Sun 10-Mar-13 13:45:05

It isn't "research" Mandy , it is research. And I was a young starter at school and though I did do well academically I was babied by the other girls when I started school as most had started at Easter and only a couple of us started in Sept. Did this harm me in the long run, not sure but I chose a less than inspiring career prob below my capabilities so who's to say that that mightn't have been different if I'd always been one of more capable ones who teacher sought out to 'help'.

Laqueen, yes, certainly annoying if DD is being made use of by the teacher but on the other hand 'helping' the others to learn will expand your DDs understanding, explaining how things are done to people who struggle to grasp is an art in itself imo.

LaQueen Sun 10-Mar-13 13:59:57

Grinkly to be honest, I don't know that DD2 is especially good at explaining how to do maths, to other young children?

Granted, she can do maths easily herself, but I don't know how much use she is as a TA? I wouldn't be at all surprised, if she doesn't just do the other children's maths sheets for them - and think that she's being helpful

QuickLookBusy Sun 10-Mar-13 14:12:20

As someone with 2 bright dc who are now at very good universities I'd like to say that ime they have had amazing support form their teachers.

They have not been left to get on with things by themselves at all. In fact DD2's teachers went above and beyond the call of duty with her when she did her A2s as she was going through an awful time. She had extra sessions at lunch times etc by teachers who guided and encouraged her. This was by no means a one off, they did it with dc who needed that extra push.

QuickLookBusy Sun 10-Mar-13 14:16:02

Should have added they went to our local comp and this school regularly sends students to Oxford. (Not Cambridge for some reason) 2 boys went to Oxford form DDs tutor group this year.

Mandy21 Sun 10-Mar-13 15:34:09

grinkly I don't understand how being looked after by older children as a 4 yr old would have influenced (detrimentally) your choice of career persumably 15-20 years later? Isn't an issue like this down to you as a parent? If you think your child isn't confident enough / well grounded enough to deal with school (whether thats due to age or something else) then you make efforts to change that / build up your child's confidence etc, and if you think your child is in a group for literacy / maths whatever that you're not happy with (irrespective of the basis on which the teacher has assigned your child to a particular group) its down to you to talk to the teacher / school about changing that?

Dozer Sun 10-Mar-13 16:00:58

Mandy and others, it has been shown that disadvantage is still there despite parents providing extra support, input etc.

I don't understand why some posters repeatedly deny there is an issue, against the evidence.

Those whose DC are young for their year and doing fine, well that's great, but those DC are bucking the trend.

In Scotland they seem to think it is best for all DC to be at least four and a half before starting school, but it's too early to tell how their policy will turn out in terms of educational and other outcomes.

Grinkly Sun 10-Mar-13 16:06:53

Well I am talking about a time when parents had no input into schooling - the 60s.

Someone on here was saying what I had thought, that she had not been held back by being an early starter, and that she was a teacher now (as if that was proof).

Couldn't help thinking that maybe she would have been a brain surgeon or CEO if an elder in the class. I assumed I hadn't been affected by being youngest but this thread is making me wonder.

Pozzled Sun 10-Mar-13 16:13:49

Mandy, you are putting an awful lot of responsibility on the parents.

Do you think that parents always have the power to overcome issues at school? Even when the school has a system where there is a 'bright' class and a 'lower' class, and everyone knows it, as described by am earlier poster (I think it was Taffeta?)

What about the huge group of children whose parents can't or won't be so proactive in their children's education? Should we just write all those children off and just blame it on the parents?

Mandy21 Sun 10-Mar-13 16:40:58

Pozzled - but I think thats the point (and this is a whole other issue and not really whats being discussed on this thread). I do think that education is down to the parents. Of course school has an input, but the adults our children turn out to be will be a result of their homelife / input from parents (whether that be good or bad). Parental approach / encouragement has a massive impact on confidence / attainment / independence / risk taking etc - much more than the month you were born.

Dozer - I am a bit dismissive of the evidence and thats because as I've said, I don't think you can ever get round averages / statistical assumptions etc and that shouldn't apply to individual children. But the bigger question is really what it means even if you choose to accept it as written - and again, there are enough people on here saying their DC are bucking the trend for the OP to take it all with a pinch of salt. Yes, be aware of what some report says about what an average child might do in average circumstances, but focus on your child in your family in your school and react accordingly.

almostanotherday Sun 10-Mar-13 16:49:45

I have an Aug child and he did better in his exams than others who were born in earlier months.

StrawberryMonkey Sun 10-Mar-13 17:11:58

My ds is a summer baby and I considered holding him back in nursery a year. Then I discovered he would have to start in y1 not yR because of his dob if I did that.
The law states children must be educated from the term following their 5th birthday.
All the school places are allocated in yR. a parent is unable to reserve a place for a child they wish to start in y1 due to being a summer baby.
Therefore the "choice" whether to start school at 4 or to continue at nursery until the term following their 5th birthday is not really a choice at all for summer babies. This will leave you with no school place in an over subscribed school. Even if its your catchment school. Even if you have siblings of child at the chosen school (and therefore it wouldn't be possible for you to collect and drop off at two schools at different locations at the same time)!
Effectively mothers are forced to send their children at 4 whether they like it or not (unless they plan to home educate).

StrawberryMonkey Sun 10-Mar-13 17:29:36

Until the day before my ds began school he was still having 2h naps in the afternoon (and sleeping all night too!).
In order to maximise his educational potential and keep him from getting overtired, I take him to school and back in a buggy.

Sadly some other parents are thoughtlessly allowing their children to mock him "look at him, he's a baby in a baby buggy!" Etc at the classroom door occasionally. confused

I'm an experienced mum of several children. I know from experience how tiring and overwhelming the whole classroom experience can be for a young school starter and so I will continue to take him there and back in the buggy because the days we haven't used it we have had tears, upset and he has fallen asleep before tea time.

He is small for age too which perhaps contributes to his tiredness. That and joint hyper mobility.

He is however aside from occasionally being upset by children at drop off (because I bring him in a buggy), coping marvellously with school work and reading. He is extremely happy and sociable and is reading and writing already! (Infact he was reading after about 3 weeks at school!) shock

I hope y1 is a positive experience for him too.

He has exceeded all my expectations coping far better than I had anticipated with full time school.

Incidentally today my boy was playing with a good friend of his from school who is a y1 and this boy is one of the eldest in y1 (will be 7 in autumn) and this boy was a good foot taller than my boy in height!
Amazing to think they are only 1 school year apart but almost 2y different in age!

flowers123 Sun 10-Mar-13 17:38:32

My daughter who is almost 24 is a late August baby. It never held her back whatsoever. She qualified as a medical doctor last August.

There are numerous threads on MN about the impact of summer birthdays. There are always numerous contributors whose own experiences suggest that summer birthday need not be a limiting factor (e.g. me - DD1 was born 31 Aug, has a clutch of A*s at GCSE and hasn't even finished Y11 yet).

As a primary teacher, I differentiate work for the children in my class. Some are strong in both English and maths, others are not. Some have a reading age more than 2 years above their chronological age, some have barely started reading and do not yet know all of their letter sounds. In every class I have taught there have been summer-born children achieving at the higher end of the spectrum. My present class has 10 June, July and August birthdays out of 30. The 'best' performing child has a September birthday, but she is eclipsed by an August-born boy who is hot on her heels despite being 11 months younger.

sheeplikessleep Sun 10-Mar-13 19:13:48

I'm expecting DC3 in August, 29th August to be exact and I'm keeping everything crossed I go overdue by 3 days (although DS1 and DS2 were both 3 weeks early, so chance is slim).

I'm worrying a lot about it and tbh, it's tainting the enjoyment of my pregnancy a bit. DS1 is October born and in reception and taken to it so well. I'm hoping that by the time DC3 goes to school, I will know enough about it all, to be ultra supportive and do as much as I possibly can at home with him / her. I'm also hoping a third child may be more used to interacting with older children / more confident possibly too. I'm keeping everything crossed!!

PeanutButterOnly Sun 10-Mar-13 19:57:13

Slightly off-topic but the thing about primary grouping that annoys me the most is when I hear people talking about grouping by 'ability'. A teacher said this at my DD's parent meeting at the beginning of the year. Surely it would be more accurate and perhaps more sensitive, given the multitude of factors (including by not only ability) that play into which group children go into (birth month, background experience etc. etc.) to say it was grouping by learning stage or similar?

I thin it depends on whether you see 'ability' as something fixed or not. I'm quite happy for my kids to be grouped by their (current) ability in any task. That's because I see it as the same as learning stage etc, rather than a comment about whether they are 'clever' or not. If they are struggling to learn your times tables, I'd like them grouped so that they can get support in this area. However, I'd be unhappy if that grouping were to mean that they were 'crap at maths' forevermore or 'low intelligence'.

Radicalwithage Sun 10-Mar-13 20:41:02

I have twin dd's born 4 weeks prem in the middle of August. They definitely weren't ready for school at just turned four years old and without the added benefit of older siblings, both are very young for their age. A fact that was and is very evident amongst their peer group.

I've had to sadly watch the struggles they endure during their schooling, both socially and academically. Questioning the school continually on the gradual decline of one of my daughters confidence. This has always been brushed off as just August born, youngest of the class, nothing to worry about. They made me feel like a pushy parent wanting their child to be in the top sets, rather then a mother concerned about the struggles and confidence issues of her children.

Now in year 3 they were both finally screened for dyslexia with results of one high and the other moderate. So not only are they both at a disadvantage of being August born they are both dyslexic. In one teachers words 'at a double disadvantage'.

During parents evening I was informed that the results from last Novembers school tests put the girls reading at their correct age and spellings 2 months behind. Yet they are in the lower set, in between bottom and middle groups. Speaking to the teacher she mentioned that had they been 7.8 they would be in the middle group. Obviously this makes those children who are older at an advantage.

Another poster may view my children as not so bright and view me as a parent who doesn't spend the time helping their child with their phonics, reading, maths etc. I personally couldn't give a flying fig. Having spent 3 painful years spending hours after school making up games to help with phonics and reading, enduring many tears and tantrums I have taken a step back. My number one focus is on building their confidence back up, before school sucks what little they have out of them.

Just to add a teacher friend of mine spoke of her daughter who was put on the g&t programme aged just 6 with a reading age of 11. All that occurred was everyone else eventually caught up.

Perriwinkle Sun 10-Mar-13 21:05:42

I can't believe the amount of broad brush generalising that is going on in this thread. No, not all children who are just 4 when they start school will necessarily be small, scared, tired, lack confidence or social skills, be behind their older peers etc. Just as not every child born before Christmas will be big and tall and confident and outgoing and bright. Some might fit all or some of the stereotypical criteria, some might fit none of it.

Each child is an individual, despite the time of year they were born, and should be viewed as such.

When my DS started school aged 4yrs 2 weeks he was by no means noticeable as the smallest in the class. He was of average size and I'd say, one of the, if not the most confident, verbally able and outgoing children in the class. He could read and write by the time he started school too, which is nothing remarkable in my view. However, he was not able to dress himself very well in comparison to the others but I put this down to always having done a lot for him and not making him do it for himself. He soon learnt this skill though.

There was a girl in his class who turned 5 in the first week of school. She was huge compared to all the other children, she cried bitterly and clung to her mother every morning for the whole of the first term at least and all this despite being very familiar with the school as she had 2 older sisters there. She was a slow learner and although she didn't, and still doesn't, have any specific or statemented special needs, she remains below average in terms of academic achievement.

There were also many children in his class older than him (well they were all older than him anyway) who had to spend most of the day sitting with the teaching assistant because they lacked the confidence to join in with the others, cried for their mummies or had little "accidents" and needed to come home wearing different trousers/skirts etc. Nothing like this happened to my DS though.

So what do we make of all of this? I say nothing. It just goes to show that all children are individuals who do not need to be pigeon-holed by half-baked research in order to be understood.

It is a fact of life that groups of children will be more or less able than eachother in many ways. They all have different strengths and weaknesses, qualities, skills and abilities. This is affected by a list of variables too numerous to be listed, let alone fully understood.

Listen to and learn from your own child and do whatever you can for them. Education does not begin and end in the classroom.

bunchofposy Sun 10-Mar-13 21:13:38

Depressing reading for a soon-to-be mum of an August child!

Although I agree with those who are saying the research is obviously true, on average, (I did the research before conceiving, but my fertility did not pay attention), the anecdotal posts are the ones I am hanging onto.

I'm not sure that the research either pigeonholes children or is 'half-baked', particularly given that the point seems to be that school practices of setting (which are sometimes decided only on age in infants classes) do contribute to August born children underachieving relative to their peers. (They will have controlled for other factors). That doesn't deny the individuality of any child or assume children will do badly. Indeed, it criticises school practice which produces underachievement precisely because of assumptions about age and capability. So it would seem to be absolutely against pigeonholing.

TheSeatbeltSignIsOn Sun 10-Mar-13 21:25:35

DS is a late summer baby.

He went to a (London state) primary which had a teacher and 2 TAs all through KS1 and an additional room for children needing extra support. This meant that there was enough attention to mean that they did not need to be streamed or set. Certainly the children were not aware of any streaming or setting - but as SATS approached in Yr 5 and 6 they did do different work on different tables. And held booster clubs and enrichment clubs etc. So all in all, the children were given the support they needed, and not set in rigid permanent streams.

He was one of the later readers in the class, almost certainly due to age and developmental age.

He is now in a streamed comp, in the top stream, G&T for reading and some other subjects.

I would use this information to ask prospective schools questions such as how early do they differentiate children by ability? How do they support summer born children? How do their SATS reflect the ages of the children? Will they be taking this research into account?

reawakeningambition Sun 10-Mar-13 21:35:11

Although I agree with those who are saying the research is obviously true, on average, ........ the anecdotal posts are the ones I am hanging onto.

LOL, you and many others, but most of them don't realise what they are doing!

Pozzled Sun 10-Mar-13 21:35:46

"all children are individuals who do not need to be pigeon-holed by half-baked research in order to be understood."

Yes, children are individuals.

No, they should not be pigeon-holed. They should be treated as individuals.

No, the research is not half-baked. It is a well-documented effect, found in various studies.

"So what do we make of all of this?"

As a society, we recognise that ON AVERAGE summer-born children are at a disadvantage. We ensure that all children ARE treated as individuals, so that August-borns are not labelled as 'less able' because they don't have the same skills as a child a year older. We continue to research the effect and find out how to prevent it from occurring so that ALL children have the same advantages and opportunities.

Grinkly Sun 10-Mar-13 21:37:38

How can your Aug born achieving X be proof that the research results are wrong - your Aug born could have achieved more - no one will ever know.

The other issue is that much of the research was done on children who started school after Easter purely because of their birthday, rather than the more common September start. It is logical that children who have missed two terms of school need a while to catch up.

Pozzled Sun 10-Mar-13 21:43:55

Yes, postmanpatscat. I hope that now all children can start in September there will be less of a difference. I wouldn't be surprised if the difference still exists to some extent though- but that's why we need to continue doing the research.

Taffeta Sun 10-Mar-13 21:45:40

Good work on this thread Pozzled

Perriwinkle Sun 10-Mar-13 21:49:14

bunchofposy you have the right attitude. Be guided by your child and concentrate on your child and your child alone.

The alternative is judging your child and your expectations of him/her on the basis of research like this. Before you know it you'll have a self fulfilling prophecy on your hands and will be resigning yourself to the fact that it was a given that your child would underachieve/have difficultes at school based on their month of birth.

I just tried to have a baby and didn't care what month he/she might arrive in. I never gave stuff like this so much as a thought. In fact, when he arrived in August rather than September, which he could have done if he'd been a few days late, I was glad he'd have the chance to go to school early. When it came to it, he was more ready to go to school that some who were almost a full year older than him.

You never can tell what will happen so just go with the flow.

reawakeningambition Sun 10-Mar-13 21:57:26

My first rule of summer-born threads is that those who say "Look at me, my birthday is 31st August and I got a 1st at University therefore there is no summer-born disadvantage" always got that 1st in a subject other than statistics.......

2nd rule: there are two separate issues. First: do we start academic study too young in England? Second: which if any children are the ones who really suffer as a result of starting school at 4.0 (to which the answer is those who are immature for their own birth month).

3rd rule: someone will always say "someone has to be the youngest" to which the answer is "yes, but it shouldn't be the child who is immature for their own August birth month because of prematurity or a developmental imbalance - those children should wait for everyone's sake".

4th rule - award self glass of wine for saving so much taxpayer money in relation to my own son. We were told by LEA to start him at 4.0 and apply for a statement of special needs. We and the head felt he might still "even up" and gave him an extra year instead, starting him in reception at 5.0. Just had parents' evening in Year 2 and the teacher "has no concerns at all" about him. That's what you call transforming someone's life-chances through early intervention and it's cheap cheapity cheap-ty cheap to do. You just need skilled professionals to help spot the candidate child.

Pozzled Sun 10-Mar-13 21:57:51

Thanks Taffeta. I've spent the wekend ill on the sofa so have been far more drawn into MN than I normally would!

QuickLookBusy Sun 10-Mar-13 22:19:59

Great post reawakening. Totally agree.

Youaresoright Sun 10-Mar-13 22:22:24

Reawakening - that's great. How did you start him in reception at 5.0 though? I thought he would have to go into Y1?

TwistTee Sun 10-Mar-13 22:48:20

It's been really interesting reading all the different views on this. My main concern remains on dd's confidence. It is far easier to teach knowledge than it is to build confidence, although I believe the two are intrinsically linked. I accept that her ability will vary on different subjects and will change over the years, and reading the posts I am even more determined to find ways to boost her confidence and can only see streaming on ability as an obstacle to this. Perhaps it would work in an ideal world where every teacher she will have was perfect and there was no chance of her being made to feel less than her peers, but unfortunately it isn't so.

My own experience of primary school was one that streamed. We had classes such as 4, 4p and 4x. The students took the p and x to represent pass and fail. I was only ever in a p class once but remember the disappointment I felt and the superiority that existed over those in an x class. Yes, some kids said very horrible things to/about those in the x class. I also remember that most of the kids in x stayed in that class throughout primary school. This was in part because the most experienced teachers got the best performing students. This was a long time ago but some of these problems will still exist.

Yfronts Sun 10-Mar-13 23:11:27

In my 10 year olds class, it is the case that 30% of summer borns are in the top set along with 70% of September borns. It has been like this through most of his schooling years so far.

However, I want to point out that all the high achieving summer borns were book worms and read lots. I also think a supportive family background can make the biggest difference with both less able and high flyers regardless of age.

racingheart Sun 10-Mar-13 23:26:04

reawakening that is such an important point. Imagine the difference it would have made if he'd been statemented when all he needed was to start the following year. Was it a struggle to get your LEA to agree to defer for a year?

HorribleMother Mon 11-Mar-13 08:08:09

I also think a supportive family background can make the biggest difference with both less able and high flyers regardless of age.

I am 99% sure that's what all the research shows, too.

Also 99% sure the birthday-effect exists whether they start school at 4, 5 or 6, and whether they had September start or later in school year (look at the international studies, places where everyone starts at same time). Might even out by the time they are 10. wink

Someone once said that in Australia they construct classes completely by age for first few years, and everyone is close in age in same class & starts together (rolling starts thru the year), I wonder if their birthday effect is any smaller.

My ideas:

1) Allocate preschool funding on the basis of time to starting school, not on age. So everyone could get only one year of funded preschool sessions only starting 1 Sept. after 3rd birthday. This would put everyone on a more level footing. I am pretty sure that this is shown to have negligible effect, too, though.

2) Could have a policy of smaller class sizes for youngest reception group where school has enough classes, or dedicated TAs for the youngest. This hasn't been tried as a targetted policy, but won't happen,costs money!

It is likely the they'll have controlled for family background in this research. It's well known that family background (and particularly the mother's highest level of education) is associated with performance at school, so it would be ludicrous not to have controlled for it.

reawakeningambition Mon 11-Mar-13 09:59:46

Youaresoright/racing, thanks for replies.

It's got harder thanks to Jim Rose's dropping of the ball in his report on the issue. But Rose himself agrees that he never meant there to be no exceptions to the rule.

Tiggytape has posted elsewhere with specific excepts from the school admissions code and the guidance issued to LEAs alongside the code (if you search her posts you will probably find it). The guidance is very negative (and misleading in my view) but it says there must be "cogent" reasons to place a child out of year.

BLISS (premie charity) are currently campaigning to change the tone of the issued guidance which would be a good step forward I feel. I think there is a chance of reaching a consensus that premature and "developmentally imbalanced" children are the ones we should look at first. It is their extreme experiences that contribute disproportionately to creating the distressing statistics.

lainiekazan Mon 11-Mar-13 10:27:55

I have two August dcs, both born prematurely.

Dd in particular was not ready to start school. The local school is over-subscribed so deferring till year 1 would have meant no place. I belligerently sent her part-time, mornings only - for the whole year. The school kept questioning it, but every day at 12 o'clock I turned up and collected dd. Her teacher privately told me I had done the right thing.

And I returned with her in a pushchair to collect ds, as we live a mile from the school. It's one thing doing a mile to school and back once a day when you're 4, but add another couple of miles on top and that pushchair is needed!

I started school at 5. I hated it and wet my pants on the first day as I had no idea where the loos were. As everyone started when they were five, new children were coming all the time so there was no going through procedures.

I guess if you're not a school person, you're not a school person, whatever age you start.

bunchofposy Mon 11-Mar-13 10:36:06

That's interesting reawakening as I had also thought that placing children out of year was out of the question. Changing the attitudes of schools/LEAs towards keeping children back from school until they are ready would be a great step imo.

Perriwinkle - I agree about self-fulfilling prophesies and going with the flow (my conclusion after I found myself worrying about getting my unborn child a tutor!). I had wondered about sending my DC1 summer born to school a bit later, but in fact I think she will be more than ready. It all depends on the child - and the policies should definitely allow for this.

BraveLilBear Mon 11-Mar-13 10:39:56

This thread is very timely for me. I'm expecting my first Dc in late July/early August. As soon as I knew the due date, I knew that myself and DP would have to work hard with LO to get them ready for school at an early age. Barring other factors, I believe it is 100% achievable to bring our child up to feel confident and willing to learn (though I know it may not be as easy as that!).

I know many July/August babies who have had varying success at school. One DSis was late July and struggled from the word go - despite the same level of attention and word-game playing that I received before I went to school. But there was an added twist, she was a 'difficult' baby, who, it is now suspected with hindsight, was probably lactose intolerant and so cried constantly for years. As a result she was small (though now much taller than average), lacked confidence and rejected school to an extent. She is now, however very successful.

My DSS is a July baby and struggles with some elements of his school life because of what appears to be dyspraxia and some hyper-mobility. He is also very naive and seems young for his age, but is growing up quickly.

In both of these cases, there are/were other factors at play that differentiate them from average ability summer-borns - and we will never know whether their academic slowness is down to these factors or their age, alhtough I know that in my sister's case, her age was seen almost as an excuse and she wasn't pushed as much as older kids.

Sometimes, ability is slowed by age maturity. Sometimes it is slowed by other factors (eg preemies, those with early health/development issues). Sometimes both can be counteracted by lots of hard work by the parents and professionals.

There will always be a bias, but the bias will unwind eventually - the biggest focus should be on finding ways to positively encourage all children to work as hard as they can, and praise them for that rather than their 'abilities'. It has been shown (read Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman) that telling a child 'well done, you're really smart' is more damaging to self-esteem than encouraging a child for the effort put in.

And surely, bottom line here, summing up all the posts, is finding a way to raise academically confident children who believe in their own ability to try harder and achieve, whatever their current or perceived level.

bunchofposy Mon 11-Mar-13 10:41:50

lainiekazan v interesting that you sent your DD part-time. Good on you for sticking to your guns. This is what I mean about changing attitudes. I don't think the school should have kept questioning you on that. Another person might have felt pressure to go full-time too early.

TwistTee Mon 11-Mar-13 11:15:56

Horrible The point you raise about class size is a very important one,

"2) Could have a policy of smaller class sizes for youngest reception group where school has enough classes, or dedicated TAs for the youngest. This hasn't been tried as a targetted policy, but won't happen,costs money!"

My dd's school had to put on an extra class this year to accommodate all the kids who didn't have placements. As a result she is in a class of 20, not 30. All classes have the same number of teachers and TAs, so all other things equal, she must be getting more help than a child in a class of 30.
The split was done by age and her birthday is 27th of August. For year 1, the children will be split up, but the school hasn't decided on what basis. However they will remain in that stream until they move to junior school. The class of 20 will remain at junior school but they have not had to worry about it yet as they have a couple more years before the kids reach them.

I really want the class of 20 going forward and do feel this would work greatly towards any knowledge issues and may help with her confidence. My greater concern would be if she is in the "middle ability" class of 30.

On the other hand will she be challenged enough or will expectations be lower?

mam29 Mon 11-Mar-13 14:34:13

Eldests 1st school was 45intake so

30youngest reception
15oldest ie pre xmas b day in r1 with 15youngest in year 1 reasoning is only few months between them.
year 1 the middle 15 ie my child feb combined with 15eldest that were in r1 and wasent until year 1 really noticed differences not so much in terms academics as they were other class has no idea at time but confidence/maturity.

Eldest went from being oldest in reception to youngest as jan was cut off.

Her confidence dropped and it was brought to my attention by summer term she was struggling academically.
They had started setting them on tables.
everyone knew each others reading levels and she would cry and say older ones made comments that she was reading baby levels.
Shes just average I guess but was in bottom table for literacy and numeracy in large class of 30 she found it hard to hold her own.

The youngest 15 who were in r1 in reality had better year as split keystages meant ta would take reception ones to play and lot of the teaching was done smaller groups and better teacher than year 1s.
Also the eldest in her year had better teacher in reception. reception was job share wiith main teacher being off sick a lot.
So felt when it got to year 2 the oldest 15 had advantage and the youngest 15 seemed on much higher levels than the middlle.

some july/august people were top table which then knocked daughters confidence further once again she was bottom table for literacy/numeracy and crying that she would never catch up.

also they kept 2 down and moved 2up to the 2/3 class so began to teak at whos in what class.
I have freind whos convinced her july born child is gifted and worriied she be held back in the 2/3class yet the school state its not ability its purly dob but they do ocasionally consider other factors.

Its not that I dont agree with setting/differentiating but it wa clear to all in class what each table meant and some in her clas were very competative and tad point cruel combined with some very pushy parents made me feel like nervous wreck.

So we moved her to small village school 20per year and although they have groups its far ore subtle and everyones an individual shes not lost in the system, shes getting extra help to ensure she catches up to where she needs to be.

I dont think its all age in our case was the school factors such as naughty disruptive kids, poor teachers, no consistant teacher all played a part hated fact mine was average and always in middle as felt in old school middle ones never got much attention.
She is big ie tall for her age and this benefits her in sport yet old school waseent sporty and maybe if they had praised her for that or her art rather than focussed on academics she would have been happier.

I have 2other kids sept born-worried she would have been better starting this year but cant start until next year already she seems more confident than eldest at preschool but think being younger sibling watching eldest makes her seem more grown up.

Youngest boy hes still not talking and 2 next month so near the younger end of year do worry about him.

mam29 Mon 11-Mar-13 14:40:38

I do agree smaller classes.

more flexibility around starting would love to start my september child after easter next year as think she be bored stupid by time she starts as be 5 yet her sister was 4.5.

Unsure if to defer youngest to start after xmas or easter.

I would like to see later age starting too and kindergarten brought in as everyone says preschool/nursery same as reception in eldests case it waseent it was straight into reading, phonics and homework fro term 1.

we need informal play education until age 6 give time for younger ones to mature but still socialise.

We behind school leagues of countries that start later so starting at 4 gives us no advantage.

much more focus on preschool education needed as childcares expensive and due to sept birthday got extra year of nursery fees.
Feel nursery was of massive benefit to my kids developement.

15hours come september wouldent be enough to occupy my 4year old.

I know being oldest in year supposed advantage but know she be ready sooner.

ladydepp Mon 11-Mar-13 14:58:16

I am in the fortunate position of having 3 autumn born children. My youngest is a September born 5yo in her first year at primary. I could not have imagined sending her to Reception a year earlier. She was still napping regularly, was extremely clingy and just would not have coped with 5 days a week.

Now she is a confident, bright girl who still finds school tiring but is able to cope. I think it is ridiculous that schools in this country do not allow parents to hold summer born children back for a year. What on earth could be the reasoning?

Of course there are summer borns who do amazingly well but sadly for many it will mark them for life.

lisata Mon 11-Mar-13 17:16:37

What annoys me about this debate in the UK state system is that if kids were able to slip up and down between year groups it would not be a problem. In other countries it is very common for a summer born slow developer to stay down a year. And slightly more well developed autumn born kids to move up. There is little stigma attached to it.

I would so love my August born year 3 DS to be in the year below... so much so that I am saving every penny I have to try and move him to private so that he can do that soon. I really don't think he is less intelligent he just needs that little extra time to develop. He would be so much more comfortable with his slightly younger peers.

According to our head it boils down to funding issues but it seems so short sighted.

CockyPants Mon 11-Mar-13 19:39:25

DD is July born, currently year 2. Out of a class of 22 about 8 are June July August. My DD has been a free reader since year 1, and is in top group for both maths and English. She is outperforming children who are almost a year older than her.
I post this to say one cannot generalise, it very much depends on child, their personality, motivation, how involved parents are in education etc etc.
DD started school at 3 and couldn't wait to go. She settled easily into Reception at 4, and has been happy and doing well from the start.

LaQueen Mon 11-Mar-13 20:03:56

Ideally, I think Reception through to Yr 2, should be one, big mosh a very large room, with 3 teachers and lots of TAs. With plenty of movement, and all children working at varying levels, depending on their academic/emotional maturity.

So, it would be common place, to see a bright Reception child, reading in the same group as slower Yr 1s, or even Yr 2s. Or, some Yr 2s playing with Reception children.

When DD2 started in Yr 1, she was sent up, into a whole other classroom, to sit on the top tables for maths/reading, with the Yr 2s. It didn't end well...DD2 was very miserable, she was out of the loop with her friends in Yr 1, and the Yr 2s were a bit hmm at this little girl in their midst.

Some of the children on that top table were 20 months older than DD2 hmm

duchesse Mon 11-Mar-13 21:01:00

I agree, LaQueen. That's why DD3 (27th August) will be going to a tiny village (59 total pupils) school in September, with two mixed age classes, where she'll most likely be one of less than 9 reception aged children in a class spanning R-yr 2. I really honestly believe this is the best option for her. Our other option is the other end of the spectrum- a reception unit of 63 with two teachers and two TAs all working in the same shared space. I think the mixed aged teaching will allow for a lot more movement than rigid age classes.

HSMMaCM Mon 11-Mar-13 21:51:25

DD (July birthday) was put in different sets in primary school. Children were moved up and down around the sets all through primary. This was perfect for her, because she was flying through her maths, but still struggling with reading and spelling. She has been set again at Secondary, but some of her friends attend Secondarys where they have been streamed, which is ridiculous, because not many children are good/bad at all subjects equally.

Being a July baby has not been a problem for her.

Having said that ... I am a September baby and on a recent management training event, we discovered that 80% of the (large) management team were born Sept/Oct/Nov! What are the chances of that?

My dd1 is an early Aug child and she is now 10. She has never struggled in school, she is among the top achievers in her class, confident and mature. In fact she is ahead of some of the september/oct/nov/dec born children.

My dd2 is a may born child and is doing well in school, but seems quite young compared to some of the older ones in her class, not sure yet if this has had an impact or not.

But like a previous poster said we are in wales and the first few years there is a greater emphasis on learning through play

duchesse Mon 11-Mar-13 22:21:04

I still think that fact DD's year in a highly selective school is dominated by Autumn-borns is very significant.

KathleenWinsor Tue 12-Mar-13 08:18:24

Many private schools allow you to drop your summer born down a year. The advice I've received from many heads in the private sector is to always do this even if the child was above average and coping well (which surprised me).

GooseyLoosey Tue 12-Mar-13 08:33:57

Dd is a late Aug baby and it has been a struggle for her - both socially and academically. She often appears dreamy and distracted and her default when confronted with a new task is to immediately seek help as she "can't do it".

I have thought a lot about why this is the case as dd is apparently fairly bright.

Many years ago, I read "Games People Play" and it occured to me that dd has been cast since reception in the role of class baby and this is now the role she plays. She says she cannot do things because for a long time everyone was watching to see if she needed extra help. Like the poster down thread said, she too would be given the smallest speaking parts etc on the basis that she lacked confidence. She would also be cast in roles that relied on her being cute.

I suspect that this happens to many children who are the youngest in class and that once you recognise it, you can take steps to ease your child into another role.

Bonsoir Tue 12-Mar-13 08:38:41

Talkinpeace - there is a problem with setting, as opposed to streaming: it means that DC in any single class are "all over the place" with their learning and makes them very heterogenous. It does actually facilitate learning if all the DC in a single classroom and it makes it easier to track DC and know where they are. I am all for specialist teachers within a streaming situation in primary, but my experience of setting (from the outset at my DD's school) is that it slows down learning for everyone, right across the board.

I'd argue the exact opposite. I think streaming is a dreadful idea in primary schools. Al it does is ensure that children who struggled at the start stay in the lower streams forevermore.

Bonsoir Tue 12-Mar-13 08:43:25

I think setting does that: it makes it very hard to help the children who don't achieve because it is much harder to track their learning and progress.

Only if the teacher is crap, bonsoir. I'd much prefer a flexible setting arrangement than any streaming.

duchesse Tue 12-Mar-13 08:55:41

I agree with Arbitrary. Most UK teachers would beat French ones into a cocked hat in terms of ability to differentiate and teach. French ones tend to have a lot more actual knowledge, but struggle to convey it to every child.

Bonsoir Tue 12-Mar-13 08:55:47

It's not to do with a crap teacher: it is the fact that if you set, as opposed to stream, the number of child-teacher combinations increases dramatically and it is really hard to get all teachers talking to one another about each child. Lots of experience of this, I am afraid!

Bonsoir Tue 12-Mar-13 08:57:25

The English teachers talk a lot about differentiation, but actually I am not that sure they are very good at it (again, talking from experience). Differentiation is the buzz word in Anglo-Saxon teaching but it doesn't bear up to scrutiny.

Hamishbear Tue 12-Mar-13 09:11:36

Can you explain in more detail please Bonsoir?

Bonsoir Tue 12-Mar-13 09:13:10

What don't you understand?

Hamishbear Tue 12-Mar-13 09:22:46

This bit: Differentiation is the buzz word in Anglo-Saxon teaching but it doesn't bear up to scrutiny.

Bonsoir Tue 12-Mar-13 09:47:37

My opinion is that differentiation in classrooms is often discriminatory and plays to the strengths/weaknesses that have been fostered by the home environment or age differential rather than potential. It's fairer, in primary schools, to do whole class teaching in streams as it is easier to measure and track pupils' ability to get to grips with the material.

I think setting is important and differentiation is vital to allow the children to achieve their potential. It stops the bright ones getting bored and the less able getting frustrated and disinterested. Perhaps Bonsoir, your experience is of less than satisfactory schools? You can't stream (if you use the definition further down the thread) and expect to take all the children with you. Some will struggle whilst others will be bored. You can't and shouldn't escape having differentiate in class. You have to encourage all levels not just focus on the top the middle or the bottom and hope the rest come along with you. It won't help anybody.

From my point of view, I have experience at both ends of the spectrum. I have a late July born DS1 who bobbed along the middle of the class expect for reading and spelling where he was in the top set but settled into school well despite have some SEN and was confident and keen to engage with the teacher. Maybe it helped that a 3rd of his year were born in July and August. He was not in the miniority at all. I also have a September born DS2 who took ages to settle into school but is in all the top sets despite being very shy and retiring. They constantly tell me they have to encourage him to speak up and to join in. About 40% of his class are born in the Autumn term and all his close friends are September.

I think perhaps on that basis that the intake they are in makes a difference. Maybe DS2 would have been more confident if there weren't so many older children and maybe DS1 would have been worse off if there had been less summer borns. I am not sure, from the research I have read that that has been considered. It is very difficult to isolate that difference in dynamics unless you have a very large study set. You would need to look at a lot of different classes and their relative ages to see if that were the case.

LaQueen Tue 12-Mar-13 10:48:26

I absolutely agree that children should be set, from Yr 1.

I was a precociously good reader, and used to be bored to tears always having to wait for my reading buddy to catch up. Looking back, clearly my teacher used me as a free TA, and she used to always buddy me with the slower readers - basically I taught them to read.

There were 3-4 really good readers in my class, who used to be separated, and each put on a table of less able readers, so we could help them. Not very fair.

wordfactory Tue 12-Mar-13 10:51:29


I have summer born twins, who arrived at school unable to read or write etc

In R and Yrs 1 and 2 their classes were mixed ability, though they sat at different tables according to achievement levels within subject. Obviously neither of my two were on high achievement tables to begin with as they couldn't do anyhting!!!

What could have happened is that they were forever consigned to that level, however I for one would not allow that. I perpetually pointed out that their level refelcted achievement not ability. Fortuanately the school were with me on this and acted accordingly.

A few parents (of older DC)were a bit [hmmm]. They had it in their minds that they had the able child and I was a poor deluded mother. One even asked why I was so sure I had able children in the face of no supporting evidence. I pointed out I couldn't be sure, indeed I couldn't know yet, so I jolly well wouldn't assume their ability was low.

I can only say that this approach worked and would urge any summer born parents to do the same.

wordfactory Tue 12-Mar-13 10:53:46

I suppose what I'm saying is that setting/streaming/different tables etc only work well if everyone understands they are a temporary reflection of achievement.

They are not a reflection of ability. They are not a reflection of potential.

All they do is seperate the DC into what they can do today.

LaQueen Tue 12-Mar-13 11:02:19

WF I think I agree.

DD1 has been moved on/off the top table for reading a few times. Her ability is excellent - however, her achievement only reflects how hard she is prepared to work, at that time...when her hard work slackens off, it really shows.

But, when I put her through reading boot-camp, her achievements increased dramatically, in just a few weeks.

Oblomov Tue 12-Mar-13 11:02:30

In ds1's school, they are grouped. In reception, (circles (no sides = lowest 'set'), triangles(3 sides), squares(4 sides), hexagons etc. All the kids KNOW its related to how many sides. They know what group they are in. Teachers try and hide it, but all the children KNOW.
In Yr1 or Yr 2 (can't remember) they are put in 2 groups for numeracy and literacy.Higher and Lower group. It is not called this, by the teachers. But once again, the children KNOW.

Teachers have to teach according to ability. But how you stop this affecting a childs confidence, I have no idea.

Oblomov Tue 12-Mar-13 11:03:48

reading boot-camp ?
I did not know such thing existed. How did you find out about this?

wordfactory Tue 12-Mar-13 11:09:42

oblo I think you stop it impacting upon DC's confidence by making it clear that it is not a refelction of ability or potential.

In the same way that if you were to start a cycle club you would seperate those who have never sat on a saddle from those who ride every Sunday. That doesn't mean the new riders will never ride, or that the Sundat riders will forever be 'the best riders'. Everyone would accept that.

But somehow that goes to pot in school. Teachers start to assess ability for DC who are barely out of nappies. Parents feed into it. DC begin to accept the pecking order as fact.

This is how summer borns can be forever over looked. Their ability is seena s being in line with their achievement.

This is how Stevie Gerrard ended up never being picked for his school footie team! Summer born, small lad, not particularly co ordinated at 5/6/7...seen as less able than the Autumn babies grin...

Well this Mum said No!

LaQueen Tue 12-Mar-13 11:14:55

Ob no, it wasn't anything formal smile

It's just my name for it, and I did it with her.

She had dropped down from the top reading group, and I thought 'No daughter of mine isn't going to be in the top reading group - pah'. So, for the next 12 weeks, I read with her, for half an hour, every single night - and longer at weekends.

Her reading improved dramatically, and she was back in the top group in 3 months.

DD1 has a slight issue with how her eyes scan the page - so she has to work harder to read smoothly/fluently. The school wanted to take her down the path or using coloured gels over the page, specialised eye-tests, different fonts etc, etc.

But, I wasn't having any of that, because I know it would have become a crutch for DD1 'Oh, I can only read when I have my special coloured gel, and the right sort of writing, and when the wind is blowing from the north-east...' type nonsense.

I knew her problem was only slight, so decided to see if we could work it out of her. She really grafted, for those 12 weeks, and now coloured gels are just a distant memory. She reads as fast and as fluently as any of the other girls in the top group smile

wordfactory Tue 12-Mar-13 11:39:03

laqueen I think intense bursts of activity can help any DC in most things. Indeed it can help most adults no?

Oblomov Tue 12-Mar-13 12:04:57

To the last few posts.

It is hard to fight the system though, when children's confidence is based on how good they think they are/what group they are in.
Ds1 announced last night that he wasn't very good at maths. Actually he is, very good. I have already thought about talking through the techniques to improve his confidence.
Was a shock to me how his confidence has dropped, very quickly!

LaQueen Tue 12-Mar-13 12:40:44

WF yes, absolutely. And, I think far more children will rise to the challenge, than many teachers/parnets give them credit for.

LaQueen Tue 12-Mar-13 12:45:03

Ob yep, this is why we're having DD1 tutored for the 11+ this September.

She went into Yr 5, on all Level 5s, so she's clearly a clever girl. But, she simply can't feel that, herself? One of her friends is in 2 maths groups lower than DD1, yet DD1 assumes her friend is better than her at maths (mainly because her friend is very self confident, I think?).

So, we're having her tutored to give her more confidence - but, I'm not convinced it's working? Her work has come on in leaps and bounds - especially in maths, she's racing through algebraic sequences with her tutor, and she's won several maths merits recently...but, she still doesn't think she's good at maths?

Bonsoir Tue 12-Mar-13 15:19:11

I think schools have a hard time measuring ability though. It's so much easier to measure achievement, and it is often used as a proxy for ability/potential.

There is a boy in my DD's year whose mother I know well. He is a late December-born (equivalent to August-born in UK) child who was put on a "low/middling" track at school and there was lots of talk of him being less clever than his bright spark of an older sister.

This year, his class teacher suggested to the mother that she have him tested (WISC-IV). Turns out he has an IQ of over 150... His achievement isn't great because he has never needed to apply himself to anything at all to "get by" and the assumption was quickly made that, as a December-born, he should struggle. It is somewhat awful that it took over 5 years at school for anyone to think anything odd might be going on.

wordfactory Tue 12-Mar-13 15:26:42

I agree bonsoir.
It is much easier for everyone to look at achievement and decide the student is clever or able or whatever.

And lots of people (teachers and parents included) buy into it.

I was very lucky that DC's teachers accepted that age may play a factor. My DC were certainly not written off as low ability. It was simply accepted that being so young and being prem babies would impact upon their initial achievement.

I thik it's been a bit of a revelation to a few parents though wink.

MerryCouthyMows Tue 12-Mar-13 16:31:46

I think that it DOES show during Early years, right up until around Y4-Y5 ish, when it mostly levels off.

Though having said that, my DD's friends, who have the same SN's as her, who have had exactly the same amount of support as DD, through Primary (very little support there mind you) and Secondary (far more support), are NOT achieving the same sort of grades as my DD - DD is getting D-G's, they are getting F-U's.

The only real difference? Their birthday is August 29th, DD's is early March.

So it probably DOES make a difference, even in Y10, even with all other variables being the same.

Perriwinkle Tue 12-Mar-13 17:01:26

Does it still show when you're 45? confused

Taffeta Tue 12-Mar-13 17:21:13

Re setting/streaming, we have both! So the class is streamed according to ability, social and emotional development at the beginning of the year, but there are still different settings within the class for numeracy and literacy.

So they are being taught by a mishmash of people.

I really value the point made about ability/potential vs current achievement. I am hoping that everything comes to he who waits. smile

lainiekazan Tue 12-Mar-13 17:38:23

If every child in the class has exactly the same brainpower, then I don't doubt that the summer dcs would probably be on the bottom table, especially in Yr R/1.

But they don't have the same brainpower. Some pupils are bottom table people, whether they are born on 1st September or 31st August. And although sitting on the Circle table (or Red table, Elephants etc etc) might dent their confidence, whaddayado? Mix up the tables randomly? They'll sink and the abler ones will get frustrated. Whole class teaching? Then it's back to the 70s and before and the less able ones will be daydreaming and fidgeting at the back.

Also I can't imagine any school limits movement between tables. Dd started school at 4 years 2 days and couldn't read a word. In fact wouldn't read a word for an entire year. Refused point blank to try. Was she condemned to a career on the bottom table? Of course not.

Bonsoir Tue 12-Mar-13 18:47:11

I don't like the mishmash of teachers business. This is what we end up with at DD's school: there are 5 French classes of (average) 25 pupils (and they are streamed) and 6 English sets (English is 1/4 of the day). That means that there are 30 possible teacher combinations for 125 pupils (that is not counting specialist music or sport teachers or, from next year, Spanish which is also setted but not everyone does it). Each year, all the pupils in the French classes are mixed up and "restreamed" and there is some movement in English, too, as the classes vary wildly in size for no better reason than classroom size. And that means that, as the DC move up the school, no two DC ever have exactly the same teacher combinations. My DD has one friend who has had the same teacher combinations as her for the past four years. That is typical. And so basically the number of teacher combinations means that they don't know one another, never meet to discuss pupils current status let alone progress... It's a managerial nightmare. I completely understand the reasons behind it and all sounds very fair but actually the reality is that pupils' progress is barely monitored and, unless you get a really good teacher (as DD has for French this year), it's very hard to get any decent feedback.

Bonsoir Tue 12-Mar-13 18:47:48

5 classes (125 children) per year group

whistleahappytune Tue 12-Mar-13 20:55:41

lainie you talk as if "brainpower" is some kind of fixed static unchangeable state, like having red hair. Intelligence is rather more complicated that that. The idea that some people are "bottom table people" is as ludicrous as it is wrongheaded.

wordfactory Wed 13-Mar-13 08:39:34

I suspect there might be fixed IQ - perhaps within bands? But much of a pupils academic career owes as much to application as raw intelligence. For example DDs triple science set has bumped anyone lazy because although it is not particularly difficult it is incredbily fast paced. The girls have to be prepared to graft.

lainiekazan Wed 13-Mar-13 09:42:29

But also the idea that the "bottom table people" are all wronged souls who are just bursting to demonstrate their latent ability but are condemned to the lowest table by malicious or indifferent teachers is no less ludicrous.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Mar-13 10:03:02

Yes, I agree, wordfactory. Like all facets of human nature, there is a certain potential fixed at birth and we will achieve our own personal maximum potential if we apply ourselves and practice (if given the opportunity to do so) but we cannot work miracles. I could have trained with the world's best trainers for hours a week but I would never, ever have got anywhere as an athlete!

cory Wed 13-Mar-13 10:24:35

When I was a child in Sweden, the parents of any child who was near the dividing line between different year groups were allowed to choose whether their child should start school at the earliest opportunity or defer to the next year.

My parents felt that I was quite precocious mature so let me start when I was 6.5 and the youngest in my year: their neighbours felt their son was a bit young for his age, so he started at 7.5 as the oldest in his year. Neither of us stood out or were perceived as different- we were only a few weeks older/younger than the next oldest/youngest in our year, after all.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Mar-13 10:38:18

The debate about "redoublement" (repeating a year at school) as well "le saut de classe" (jumping a year) rages as always in France, the world champion of the practice. Parents are very attached to the idea that their own DC will do better a year ahead or a year below his/her calendar intake, and teachers love the system as it removes responsibility from teachers for a child's progress in a particular yeargroup.

But all the research points to the fact that DC do best when in their own calendar year group at school.

LaQueen Wed 13-Mar-13 13:50:49

I agree with WF. I do think some atributes are fixed at birth.

Even at nursery DD2 was showing an uncanny aptitude for numbers/maths - the staff regularly commented on it. I genuinely think this was something she was born with, and inherited from DH, who was exactly the same.

reawakeningambition Wed 13-Mar-13 15:01:36

"But all the research points to the fact that DC do best when in their own calendar year group at school. "

Interesting Bonsoir.

I think if you're going to take children outside default year groups, it's best do it at the start. No-one thinks of DS2 as a child how "ought" to be in Year 3 - they've all forgotten he ever could have been....and he isn't yet aware of it.

Both of mine are late summer born and DS1 was way behind for the first couple of years in school because he took a long time to master reading which impacts on your ability to access other subjects. Now in Yr5 he has largely caught up.

In fact their birthdays were one of the reasons I went down the private school route because I thought the smaller classes would be an advantage. The school doesn't set formally until Yr6 I assume because it isn't problematic differentiating on an individual basis if you have 15 children to one teacher and one TA. The other thing that the school does is to mix up the classes each year (3 classes per year group) so in-class groups are split up. Because the classes are small, everyone gets to be star of the week and everyone gets to speak in class assemblies.

I agree that setting is only worthwhile if it is fluid and based on current acheivement levels. If DS1 had been put in a stream in Yr1 and that level had defined his school career from thereon it would have failed him hugely.

Bonsoir Wed 13-Mar-13 19:32:41

reawakeningambition - even if it is done at the start, I think that problems can arise later on and it is really hard on DC to repeat a year if they have been ahead. I have very strong feelings on this matter as both my sister and I were bumped up a year very early on. My sister, who is December-born, stayed in the year above her correct-for-age year all the way through and bitterly regrets it (despite Cambridge degree, MA and PhD) whereas I, as June-born child, was made by a school I moved to when we moved house to repeat a year (fortunately early on - I was mighty bored). My DP also got bumped up a year before entering primary and stayed a year ahead until he was 14, when school insisted on him repeating. He hated it, though admitted it was absolutely the right thing - he had found primary school very easy but every year in secondary became more of a struggle. Perhaps unsurprisingly we have quite a few "year ahead" friends and they none of them ever want their own DC to go through that. Many of our friends have had problems arise much later in life due to maturity issues that weren't sorted in adolescence...

duchesse Wed 13-Mar-13 21:50:04

My nephew in France (now aged just 15) jumped a class at the end of maternelle. Since he went to secondary school, this has become more and more of a problem as he doesn't have the maturity to have the workload in a sensible way, especially as he has coasted through with average marks without needing to work. He's just realising now that maybe he needs to stretch himself a bit and do better. My sister has had to coax him a lot and I think she is regretting having allowed him to jump a class, even though she did it with very good and particular reasons in mind.

reawakeningambition Thu 14-Mar-13 10:08:51

Bonsoir, I hear your testimony about your experience and that of your sister. My uncle's life has been similarly damaged after being sent up to Cambridge at the age of 16 (ridiculous). But you need to bear in mind that, for some infants, being placed in their default year would result in an experience very similar to the one your sister had.

If DS2s' secondary school were to make him jump 6 year now, we would again end up with similar problems to your sister. Does that mean I should have sent him to school at 4? No, I would not think so for a single moment. Because at 4 we bump into an absolute fact - he couldn't access the curriculum. So you can't project to 18 and work backwards with a child. You have to look at 3 and 4 year olds and accept that some of them are not at a stage where it is in their interests to join the default year - they need more time.

To put it another way, the "bored" able September-born problem (that you and your sibling faced) is totally different in kind to that of the 3.11 year old August-born who will not be able to access the reception curriculum in a month. The September-born's problems would be solved by excellent teaching and adequate funding, whereas bumping her up a year is a cue for social struggles (which I think is what you are indicating about your family's experience and certainly has been in my uncle's case). The 3/4 year old who cannot access the curriculum yet but might still even out needs their peer group adjusting, and they need time.

Thankfully, DS2 should be able to stay in his offset year provided we remain in Bradford LEA. He has no idea that we made a decision about his year-group. He wasn't conscious enough at 4 to have any sense of what was happening. Socially, year 2 is his correct year - his skills fall roughly within the year2 level, not within the year 3 level. But we know that this was the right decision because, after the "extra" year (or extra 11 days, really), he has kept pace with his adjusted peer group at all times.

Bonsoir Thu 14-Mar-13 10:13:16

reawakeningambition - every case is different and there will always be some exceptional cases where being out-of-year is the right thing for an individual child. But they are that: exceptions. It is of course very difficult to know when a child is young how it will all "turn out in the wash", whichever decision is made.

reawakeningambition Thu 14-Mar-13 12:26:59

yes I think that's right Bonsoir. A friend also year deferred - her son had a similar profile to mine. After a couple of years, the school were begging her to move him up to his default year - he was too far ahead at maths but not mature enough to cope with being the "cleverest".

But again, they offered flexibility, not a one-size-fits-all solution

Anyway, all this has freaked me out a bit, so I've called up Bradford to make sure my year-deferred child won't be forced to miss year 6. The answer: "of course not - why would we do that to him?" reinforces everything we've both been saying I think.

Grinkly Mon 18-Mar-13 01:47:58

But all the research points to the fact that DC do best when in their own calendar year group at school

Well that makes sense - the older ones do a bit better than the rest , the younger ones do a bit worse and it evens out on average that a child will do best overall.

But obviously doesn't cater for the wee Aug born but is fine for the Feb.

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