Any parents of summer borns in YR Y1 experiencing unfairness in access to curriculum?

(184 Posts)
BromCavMum Fri 15-Nov-13 20:45:29

I would like to know if there are other parents out there whose summer born children are in YR or Y1 or even Y2 and are struggling a bit or put at a disadvantage by the pace/level of the curriculum? My DD turned 5 at the end of August. She started school last January with a brilliant attitude toward learning and I have seen her attitude become more and more deflated over the last several months.

She picked up on reading quickly but was only assessed as 'emerging' in literacy for YR. Today, she had 2 quizzes in school (yes--2 in one day). A 10 word spelling test and a math test. She had 20 seconds to complete 7 different equations. She got 4 out of 7 and was disappointed in herself. Although these equations were supplied to us a week ahead it seems to me to be a tough test for a 5 year old. The school is big on testing and streaming. But at this age, when development is a huge variable is this wise? When most of these kids in her class were her age they were not doing math at all and were barely reading. I feel my daughter is expected to work twice as hard to be considered half as good.

If there are other parents out there who have experienced this type of what I consider bordering on discrimination I would truly like to hear your experiences and maybe we can pool some advice on how to approach the schools with this problem.

It is very hard to constantly read on the news how summer born children are 20% less likely to go to university, be well adjusted at school, etc. I think we parents need to discuss how to look out for our young children, because the British education system does not seem up to the task (or interested in the problem).

I eagerly await hearing from you.

EmeraldJeanie Fri 15-Nov-13 21:08:12

This will invite 'my summer born is a genius' comments but statistically of course it is an issue. I'm a summer born who did suffer at primary level as dreamed my way through early years/ total daze and missed all the basics in maths for example.
I do think it should be taken into account, especially in KS1.
Reception and year 1 should be about fun and learning and it is very sad if your dd feels a bit squashed by the system already.
I have a summer born boy in Reception and so far they seem to be keeping him happy and lots of learning through play. I can see other older children [especially girls] a bit ahead of him but a big deal not made of it. He isn't noticing anyway- just doing his thing!
Good luck op.

DeWe Fri 15-Nov-13 21:10:26

I don't think this is discrimination, if anything it's the opposite, you're wanting differentiation, not treating them all the same.

But it also depends on the child. In dd1's form, by this stage in year 1 the top group in all subjects was all except one July/August birthdays, and thriving on it. They're all at secondary and doing very well too now.

Periwinkle007 Fri 15-Nov-13 21:11:29

what sort of equations?

EmeraldJeanie Fri 15-Nov-13 21:14:33

Differentiation and perhaps acknowledgement that some children are developmentally at a lower level due to AGE not because they are not able.

Anniemousse Fri 15-Nov-13 21:16:56

A sideline: my ds has what appear to be timed maths tests, but actually they are sums that the school are teaching the kids to learn by memory, rather than figuring them out. Some sums, such as 6+6, make life easier if you can quickly do them by recall.

They have the same quiz every week, the same sums, and it's a personal challenge - how many can you do before the buzzer goes. Can you beat your personal best.

Think they're called Learn It's.

They cover the sums repetitively through the week with fun videos and songs etc

Anniemousse Fri 15-Nov-13 21:17:59

Sorry, to add, the timed element is so they don't sit trying to figure them out, it's to practice the ones they know by sight.

PoppyWearer Fri 15-Nov-13 21:24:17

I have two summer-born DCs but only one in the school system so far (Y1).

She has done really well from our school's approach which is largely laid-back. So far they have no spelling tests. Assessments, yes, but no tests as such. I believe the tests start in the second or third term. The teachers seem very supportive and appreciative of her personality and presence and contribution to the class, as well as her academic abilities.

Although DC1 is one of the youngest she finds reading, literacy and numeracy fun, and we have tried to support that way of thinking at home.

I happen to know that one of the other top readers in her class is a summer-born boy.

We try to relax about it anyway as our (DH's and my) own experiences belie the stats. I'm a summer-born academic high-flier (Oxbridge) in spite of a very average state education, FWIW.

simpson Fri 15-Nov-13 21:46:59

DD does a spelling test (6 words), a timed big write and a timed maths test (number bonds to 20) every Friday.

To me the issue is more about ability (at the moment, the kids in top sets in yr1 will not necessarily be top sets at 16!) than age or when a child's birthday is. There must be some kind of differentiation within the class.

DD is in the top groups, but the kids in the lower groups have easier spellings, less maths questions in the same time and are not expected to write as much.

DD is in yr1 btw.

DS (now yr4) was in the 3rd out of 4 tables in everything this time of the year in yr1. But by Xmas was in top sets in everything but needed more time (due to being youngest - 31st Aug birthday) to get there. But in fairness, he did not have as many "tests" as DD does.

EmeraldJeanie Fri 15-Nov-13 21:59:20

Our primary does not do spelling tests as feel they do not work.
I tend to agree. They seem to suit children with a good short term memory but [in the early years] they then promptly spell them wrong in a sentence.
ANYWAY off the thread point there!
As long as the younger child is not inherently seen as less able when perhaps just less developed. Conversely the older child should not be labelled more able as may be just more mature.

BromCavMum Fri 15-Nov-13 21:59:58

Periwinkle 007: the equations were: 1+1, 2+2, 3+3, 4+4, 5+5, 2+3, 3+3

She knew all but 4+4, 2+3, 3+3 although we've been practicing all week. I think cognitively she is not quite ready for maths at this level.

The test was 20 seconds giving 2.85 seconds to read each equation and write the answer. I think that's a bit tough for a 5 year old. Would it have killed them to make it 30 seconds?

TicTocCroc Fri 15-Nov-13 22:03:40

I have 2 summer borns (the oldest being an August born in yr 1) and I'd say the issue here isn't your DC's birth month, but the school's way of working.

Or, to put it another way, I'd be just as pissed off at that level of testing in year 1 if I had a September born, rather than an August born.

NorthernShores Fri 15-Nov-13 22:06:31

You said they were good at streaming -does this mean she'll get work more suited to her level? (due to age obviously).

Our school streams and tee head likens it to joining an advanced yoga class when you've not mastered the basics.

stargirl1701 Fri 15-Nov-13 22:12:47

There is no such thing as the British education system. In Scotland, where I teach, parents can choose (most do) to defer their child. It is a very different system.

Periwinkle007 Fri 15-Nov-13 22:33:05

are ok - those are number bonds. sorry I was imagining something different.

I think my daughter does number bonds like that in tests too but she rarely tells me about stuff unless it annoys her. 20 seconds sounds short to me but I have no idea if that is standard.

I agree that sometimes it is harder for the younger ones but to be fair my reception daughter (not one of the older children, summer term birthday) has been announcing her number bonds to me over the last week quite randomly and she knows them. I am not saying she could do them in a quick test but she has only been at school half a term.

I tend to work on the principle that yes maturity can vary but in most cases all the children in the class have been in formal education for the same amount of time so 'technically' they have as much chance as each other of being able to do the work if that makes sense.

however I don't have a young summer born who is finding it tough so I am not seeing that side of it.

christinarossetti Fri 15-Nov-13 22:58:52

That sounds a bonkers amount of testing for the first term of Y1, and I agree demoralising for children who aren't quite there yet.

I disagree with periwinkle re all children have been in formal education ... all have as much chance as each other" etc in EY and reception though agree that things do level out more as they get older. There is a huge developmental difference between a just turned 5 year old and a just turned 4 year old - physically, emotionally and cognitively. In OP's dd case, she's only been in school for 2 full terms if she started in January, so hasn't had the same input as autumn borns.

OP, in your position, I would request a meeting with the class teacher or use parent's evening to discuss your concerns. If the school's approach is knocking your dd's confidence, they need to reconsider how they're doing things imvho.

simpson Fri 15-Nov-13 23:56:26

OP, I think the key part of your first post is that she was keen in wanting to learn and now she is not. That I think needs addressing with the teacher.

BromCavMum Sat 16-Nov-13 00:56:51

Actually you can't assume they have been in education for the same amount of time. Take preschool--my DS was born in November and will have an additional year of preschool from what my daughter had. He will also be funded for most of that year. So the older children get an extra year of preschool and are older when they start reception--hardly what I would call a level playing field.

lljkk Sat 16-Nov-13 02:27:24

20 seconds to write answers to ALL of those equations?! Some of them can't even write a single 8 in that amount of time. Are you sure it wasn't 20 seconds for each question??

Iris445 Sat 16-Nov-13 06:40:00

I have a September born and streaming is a great thing. She would get very bored otherwise.

The system sucks for summer born babies. Sadly there is not really anything that you can do.

EmeraldJeanie Sat 16-Nov-13 07:30:27

All you can hope is that teachers are aware and don't label children as not so able or very able without acknowledging the month of their birth.
Of course there are other life aspects to consider but developmental age is something a child can do nothing about.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 07:40:01

BromCavMum the "equations" you mention are the Big Maths Learn It's for Reception children ... Y1 children have 17 questions (in 30 seconds - 1.76 seconds per question) based on the Y1 addition facts so it seems your summer born is being given easier work.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 07:45:57

The purpose is to achieve automatic instant recall of these facts and each week the challenge is to beat your own personal best score ... so your child's target is to get one more correct next week so focus on one sum they are getting wrong.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 07:54:02
EmeraldJeanie Sat 16-Nov-13 08:39:36

That would be a challenge for my Reception summer born boy Mrz.
May manage with eg 4 conkers plus 4 conkers etc or numbers in dot form.
Would think tough for many Reception children in the Autumn term whatever month they were born.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 08:44:55

It's meant to be a challenge EmeraldJeanie and no one expects a reception child to get 7/7 at the start the aim is that they can by the time they move to Y1 ... learning 7 number facts over a whole year isn't a huge task.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 08:50:50

Reception Learn It's are

simpson Sat 16-Nov-13 09:03:21

Just asked DD what she does in her timed maths and she says 30 seconds but can't remember how many questions, just that she got them all right yesterday and one wrong last week.

She said she was asked 16+4 and 17+3

And also a couple of subtractions too.

AquaCouldron Sat 16-Nov-13 09:11:36

I always wondered whether labelling children as 'gifted and talented' is discriminatory - it's surely easier for a competent September- born to be in the the top 10% of the year group for, say, numeracy or literacy than a competent August-born

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 09:21:00

I haven't got my Big Maths folder handy simpson but from memory (in 30 seconds if the school is using BM)

taught over the whole of Y1 with aim to know by Y2

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 09:25:03

IMHE it rarely works out that way AquaCouldron August borns are just as likely to be high achievers and September borns strugglers. Lower expectations of summer born boys can be a self fulfilling prophesy

NorthernShores Sat 16-Nov-13 09:44:01

Half my daughters class are still practicing writing numbers down. My daughter is one of the brighter ones (in a mainly low ability group, she may well not be elsewhere!) and wouldn't know all those learn its quickly if written out like that. She'd be able to work them out if you asked her, or have a number line. But not in that format. I would expect she could by the end of the year but it would be pointless doing that in my daughters class at the moment.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 09:57:24

Is your daughter in reception or Y1 NortherShores?

AquaCouldron Sat 16-Nov-13 11:04:45

mrz - I agree that a child born at any time of year can be naturally high-achieving (or not), but all things being equal (parental support, good teaching, natural ability etc) then a child who has an extra 10 months of practice and maturity is going to be at an advantage, however slight.

So the effects might not be pronounced, but statistically the 'discriminatory effect' is still there.

NewNameforNewTerm Sat 16-Nov-13 11:09:56

So if some posters feel the curriculum offered in primary school classrooms discriminates against summer borns what do they want the curriculum to be?

AquaCouldron Sat 16-Nov-13 11:20:12

I don't have an issue with the curriculum itself (I have a high-achieving summer born, for the record) - I guess it's all about the quality of teaching and effective streaming to make sure that all children can keep up with what they are being taught.

I have always thought the G&T thing was a bit weird and unfair though - if you go through school feeling like you're 'ungifted and untalented' because you're never included in those groups (and are statistically less likely to be if you're younger in the year) then it does seem a bit discriminatory.

Layl77 Sat 16-Nov-13 13:12:04

How the heck do you all know what exactly your reception children and even they friends are doing? I have no idea and I have a really chatty ds who likes to talk all the way home about what they're doing.
We haven't had parents eve yet, they're not reading to teacher yet either confused

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 13:16:19

Last year the eldest child in my class struggled all year and continues to struggle this year despite excellent parental support and targeted interventions in school and from other professionals ...he is just very immature despite his age whereas the youngest boy, August 31st birthday, was more than ready for new challenges and absolutely flew with very little home support.
Children are all different and to expect more or less because of month of birth would be discriminatory

According to research streaming in primary is ineffective Aqua

EmeraldJeanie Sat 16-Nov-13 13:33:43

However, that August born would be doing even better if Autumn born mrz.
The system is as it is but of course age relevant even if difficult issue to deal with or it seems acknowledge.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 13:43:32

and how would we know that for sure EmeraldJeanie?

EmeraldJeanie Sat 16-Nov-13 13:53:28

Just seems logical to me!
8 to 11 months more mature/ better motor skills etc, etc.
So able August born would likely to be more able at school if few months older.
Difficult to prove of course.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 14:00:39

It seems logical that these children will be more mature /have better motor skills but experience says that development isn't linear and children have spurts and stops so impossible to predict

lljkk Sat 16-Nov-13 14:00:53

DS (y1) has beautiful writing (he wants to be a scribe when he grows up).
If he had to write the numbers so quickly he'd get very stressed out (real tears) because he loves to write perfectly and can't do that so quickly.
Am so glad DC school does not do this cockamamie fast quiz of number facts.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 14:04:52

It takes him longer than 2 seconds to write a single digit?

NewNameforNewTerm Sat 16-Nov-13 14:06:07

Maybe, EmeraldJeanie, the child would be further ahead if they were an autumn born, but it is a rather simplistic view of academic achievement and progress to assume this is the case. Children don't follow smooth, consistent academic development patterns. Education is a marathon not a sprint and schools do differentiate. Parents (and some teachers) worry about "the year 1 curriculum" or "the year 3 curriculum", when in reality teachers usually teach what the individuals and groups need next rather than what is in a specific year. A newly qualified teacher was fretting about the new 2014 curriculum. I have already looked at the English, Maths and Science and in reality very little will change in my planning and teaching. Just because it is in the Year 2 section it doesn't mean I will be teaching it unless a child is ready, and once we've mastered lots of Year 2 objectives I will be dipping into the Year 3 things regardless of how early in year 2 it is.
Where I do feel a little frustrated is when schools are criticised for not having all children reaching the same milestones / levels at the same time by certain powers-that-be.

EmeraldJeanie Sat 16-Nov-13 14:13:38

I think with numbers like 8 my ds takes some time mrz! He talks through the process as he writes the numbers.

EmeraldJeanie Sat 16-Nov-13 14:14:28

He is Reception....

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 14:18:25

Then he would be learning just 2 of the "Learn It's" and his target would be 2 correct in 20 seconds (double 1 and double 2) so 10 seconds per answer

lljkk Sat 16-Nov-13 14:25:47

yes, mrz, he loves to get it just so.
1 would be fine, but he'd have to pause to think which way the 2 or the 9 point and then the time to get it just right can be a few more seconds.

Not an academic child so please don't take away the one thing he's very good at.

Oral test fine for the math, but a written test also taxes motor skills.

simpson Sat 16-Nov-13 14:51:41

DS also does this every Friday (just quizzed him!) but not all the kids do the same one.

He is in yr4 with some of the kids doing the yr3 one and some of the kids doing yr5.

They don't have to write out the questions though just the answers, in the time allotted but I am sure DS now does multiplying/dividing in his.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 14:58:41

In my Y1 class some do reception "test" and some Y1 ...strangely they love it.

in Y2 there are 40 questions mixture of addition and multiplication (90 seconds)
in Y3 24 questions all multiplication in 60 seconds
Y4 42 multiplication questions in 60 seconds
Y5&6 72 multiplication in 100 seconds

AquaCouldron Sat 16-Nov-13 16:19:45

mrz - yes of course you can find examples of struggling autumn borns and high achieving summer borns in every class. But isn't there an overall statistical effect which shows that summer borns are at an educational disadvantage, and that the older children are overall more likely to be in the top sets early on, which affects self-esteem etc?

clam Sat 16-Nov-13 16:47:33

OP: "maybe we can pool some advice on how to approach the schools with this problem."

So, you don't think that the education establishment are already aware of the issue of Summer-borns? Thank goodness you've come along.

Schools nowadays differentiate, not discriminate. We don't "judge" children about their stage of development, but construct a learning environment for the stage they're at, regardless of their birth-month.

"I feel my daughter is expected to work twice as hard to be considered half as good." I think that is more likely to be "your stuff," rather than the school's belief.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 16:53:54

perhaps AquaCouldron that is in part due to the fact that historically summer borns started school one or two terms after their older peers so were playing catch up from their first day in school and teachers expected less especially if the summer born was also male.

AquaCouldron Sat 16-Nov-13 16:57:46

Not sure what the answer is btw. I assume some differentiation has to take place for learning to be effective, it's just a shame if the system includes such overt elitism as 'gifted and talented', especially for primary age children.

mrz - By streaming I don't mean whole class streaming for everything (if such a thing exists at primary) - I suppose I mean things like differentiated reading and numeracy groups, do you mean that these have been proven to be ineffective? Whilst I suppose these also risk 'labelling' children they can at least be fluid and not made too overt.

AquaCouldron Sat 16-Nov-13 17:04:42

Clam - mrz is saying that the summer-born effect doesn't exist, isn't she?

But if there is an effect, then I would have thought that the issue is more with the child's own self-esteem, not that teachers are 'judging' the younger children (I'm sure they don't).

However isn't it true that NC levels don't compensate for any difference in age within a given year group?

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 17:08:16

I'm saying, as the mum of two summer borns that there are other factors that have historically impacted upon "summer born effect" which make it unreliable to attribute difficulties wholly to month of birth.

simpson Sat 16-Nov-13 17:09:03

Mrz - that rings a bell (72 questions) I do remember him bringing home the year 5 one to do at the end of yr3.

DS is very quick and gets all of his correct but has not yet managed to do all 72.

Both classes in my DC school have ability tables (4 in DD's yr1 class, not sure about DS) and each child is given appropriate work for where they are. The top table is given extension work to be getting on with when they have finished the class work.

lljkk Sat 16-Nov-13 17:11:07

No, it's not just a historical effect of later start to full days of school or fewer preschool yrs, and it happens across cultures and even when kids start at older ages (so in countries where they start after 6th or even 7th birthday, being the youngest still puts you at a likely disadvantage).

I can find the good quality studies to cite for that (multitudes).

I don't think it really matters (yes that mean that seriously!). Because other disadvantages or advantages in background matter more, as do other things like personality or innate talents or emotional weakness, and most of those factors parents have huge influence over or they are hardwired regardless of age or arise because of other circumstances. Life was never fair to any of us, either. Just... get over it. Do what you can and be satisfied with that.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 17:11:18

"judging" I wish I had a pound for every time I've heard a teacher say "don't worry he is summer born boy" hmm

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 17:13:01

lljkk did I say it was?

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 17:14:23

simpson we find most Y5/6s can complete the 72 in under the 100 seconds when their challenge becomes a personal best time

lljkk Sat 16-Nov-13 17:15:00

Good pop science type article about why being youngest in the class may be much better than oldest.

simpson Sat 16-Nov-13 17:17:00

Mrz - yep, I was told that about DS in reception!

As the mother of a 31st Aug boy (if born 20 mins later would have started school a year later and born 2 weeks early) I do think that summer born children find school tougher early on. DS struggled all through reception till about June.

However, they do/can catch up and by KS2 onwards there does not seem to be a lot of difference academically (3 summer born boys are in the top group for numeracy including DS).

simpson Sat 16-Nov-13 17:18:30

I must ask DS if he finishes them now, maths questions, not asked him for a while. He does love doing them though grin

tumbletumble Sat 16-Nov-13 17:20:54

OP, I do sympathise with you and your DD because I agree summer borns may be at a disadvantage. My DD is in year 1, and I believe all the children on the top table have a Sept/Oct/Nov/Dec birthday.

However, I'm not sure exactly what you're suggesting. You say The school is big on testing and streaming. But at this age, when development is a huge variable is this wise? - this seems to imply that you don't agree with streaming and think everyone should be given the same work.

But then you say I think cognitively she is not quite ready for maths at this level - so what about the children who are ready (maybe because they are older)? Should be held back until everyone is at that level?

I think grouping by ability is an effective way of teaching, providing it is recognised that some children will develop later (either summer borns or just because they have a knowledge spurt) and the groups must be flexible to accommodate this, with easy movement between the groups, and without labelling children as "bright" or "backward" at a young age.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 17:20:58

good pop science type article that is only looking at month of birth not other possible contributory factors... which is part of the problem lljkk AFAIK there is no comparisons studies
Month of birth seems to be more of a factor in secondary according to research simpson but that doesn't mean they won't excell

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 17:28:57

A study carried out by the Institute of Education concluded that "Ability grouping in primary school may reinforce disadvantage of summer-born children, study finds"

and Effective classroom organisation in primary schools concludes that there is no evidence that lower Key Stage 2 pupils learn more effectively in sets for mathematics at any level. In fact, the study tentatively suggests that children of all levels of attainment do better when taught in mixed ability classes. The author also recommends mixed ability teaching because of its social and equitable benefits, and suggests that setting is usually adopted in order to make the teacher’s job of whole class teaching more manageable hmm

choccyp1g Sat 16-Nov-13 17:45:26

OP, you think your Dc might not be ready for this kind of "instant recall" maths questions.
Is that because she needs more time getting to grips with what the numbers actually mean; counting physical items, combining two piles and counting again; taking one away and counting again.

And a queston for Mrz is there a risk that these rapid recall sums could be disguising some childrens number problems, a bit like "whole word reading" can disguise phonic problems which come to light later?

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 18:13:48

choccypig the "rapid recall" of 7 sums is the product of a whole years teaching input. So children will have lots of practical experience of working with objects and finding totals. In the first term children are learning 1+1 & 2+2 so it can be 1 teddy and 1 more how many have you got now? or 2 buttons plus 2 more how many altogether? or 1 thumb and another thumb how many? but like times tables knowing number bonds frees the brain to carry out more complex operations just as knowing how to combine sounds to read words frees the brain to extract meaning.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 18:17:38

I'm assuming the OPs daughter is in Y1 rather than reception (so has been in school for a year?) but she is still working on the reception Learn It's which suggests the teacher is differentiating work/targets appropriately.

BromCavMum Sat 16-Nov-13 19:46:59

mrz - you said: "August borns are just as likely to be high achievers and September borns strugglers". This is completely false--read the news.

And then you doubt LLjkk who says 2 seconds is not enough time for DS to write a single number. If you have nothing to contribute and are going to mock and disbelieve people who are discussing their real issues, then please spare us and drop out of this discussion.

BromCavMum Sat 16-Nov-13 19:56:03

Clam, there is no need for your hostility. Why so much venom? Do you think you can be more constructive and less hostile? If not, please do not post any further comments.

mrz Sat 16-Nov-13 20:20:35

BromCavMum rather than relying on the news (do you believe everything you see on TV or in the papers because I don't) I prefer to base my opinions on 20 years experience as a teacher and the mum of two summer borns.

I teach 5 year olds so I have some knowledge of how long it takes a child to form a single digit and 2 seconds is quite a long time even for a perfectionist.

If you don't like the message that your child is being "positively discriminated" against (ie given work suitable for a younger child) then sorry but facts are facts!

neolara Sat 16-Nov-13 20:27:07

OP - My dd is a summer born. She, and the rest of the summer borns, were pretty much all in the "bottom" groups until the end of Year 2. The autumn borns much dominated the "top" sets until the end of Year 2 as well. After that, it began to even out much more. It's crap but it does get better. The main thing is try to keep your dd feeling OK about work. Tell her one of the reasons it is hard for her at the moment is because she is younger. Tell her, it will get easier. Don't let her see you are worried.

Huitre Sat 16-Nov-13 20:48:13

My DD is in Y2 and there seems to be a big mix in the birth dates of the children who are being given extension work (to my certain knowledge, early Sept to late June). It is certainly true that the older ones seemed a lot more grown up in Reception but at this stage any differences seem to have evened out a lot.

clam Sun 17-Nov-13 00:15:09

BromCaveMum, unfortunately, you cannot police who posts on threads on an open forum.
Everyone's opinions are valid - and there are people on here who have a lot of experience to offer, even if you don't like what they're saying.

clam Sun 17-Nov-13 00:17:35

And really, if you interpret a mildly sardonic remark as venomous, and truly believe that your child is being discriminated against for being given work that is matched to her current stage of development, then I'm afraid you're going to have to toughen up a bit.

AquaCouldron Sun 17-Nov-13 01:01:18

"I'm saying, as the mum of two summer borns that there are other factors that have historically impacted upon "summer born effect" which make it unreliable to attribute difficulties wholly to month of birth."

But surely children have been starting school the September after they reach 4 for quite some time now? The pre-school effect alone must have some effect - there are children in my summer-born DC's class who attended pre-school for nearly a full academic year before my summer-born DC did - would that year's schooling have been utterly pointless for them?

mrz Sun 17-Nov-13 06:18:51

No AquaCouldron children have not been starting school the September after they reached 4 long enough for the effects to even reach the end of primary school. It's a relatively new thing in many areas of England. Summer borns were doubly disadvantaged by having up to two fewer terms in schools than their older peers and often had up to 3 terms less in nursery/pre school. Combine this by lower expectations ... "oh she's very young" ..."of course he's a summer boy" etc etc ...

EmeraldJeanie Sun 17-Nov-13 06:56:53

There may be some truth in the summer born boy thing which is why it is said so much. Bit like cliches being used as have base in truth - sort of anyway!
An anecdote about a child I know. Let's call him Tom. Tom has been a bouncy child since I have known him in Nursery. Had learning mentors involved [and probably other things I am not aware of]. Clumsy and his poor Mum fed up with being constantly called to the school re his behaviour and lack of progress. Of course loads of other things could be involved apart from age BUT now in year 4 things are improving for him. He seems to have grown up and settled and is doing well at school. May not be just age but probably not irrelevant,

mrz Sun 17-Nov-13 07:24:56

There is truth in the fact that some summer born boys are less mature, have less developed fine motor skills, etc etc etc but there are summer born boys who are very mature for their young age, have well developed motor skills, etc etc etc just as there are Autumn born boys with all of the above difficulties.
An anecdote about a child I know. We can call him Tom, Harry Richard ... I have known him since before he started nursery as I taught his older siblings. He has a late August birthday and is youngest in the family. He is lively and full of fun never still ... in nursery and reception with an appropriate curriculum he flew especially in reading and maths and by term 2 in reception he was without doubt one of, if not, the most able child in the class Y6 he achieved level 5 across the board and went on to achieve As in GCSE... (incidentally I could cite dozens of such children including my own)
the point being we shouldn't judge children by month of birth ...children are individuals.

EmeraldJeanie Sun 17-Nov-13 07:56:27

I agree mrz children are individuals. Age is one thing that cannot be changed though.
For some children who are young in the year [and many moons ago I was one of them] if handled badly by a school their confidence can be dented re learning. I got lost in lessons at school and was allowed to function in a daze. I missed the basics and no attempts were made to help me catch up. I hope these days a babyish child like I was would be treated more sensitively and not just considered rather stupid.
I did go to university and by secondary had caught up I think due to efforts on my part [apart from maths]. It made me doubt myself at school for many years. Older children having a positive start at school seemed more confident and that confidence probably set them up for education in a long term constructive way.
Ancient history.....

mrz Sun 17-Nov-13 08:19:33

Doesn't the same apply to older less confident, less mature, less physically developed ... children?

EmeraldJeanie Sun 17-Nov-13 08:29:15

Of course mrz, but think how much more disadvantaged those children would be if younger..
Anyway, going round in circles here!

mrz Sun 17-Nov-13 08:50:30

As a mum of two summer borns (one born prem) I don't see younger children as disadvantaged EmeraldJeanie.

clam Sun 17-Nov-13 08:51:13

What you're advocating, "I hope these days a babyish child like I was would be treated more sensitively and not just considered rather stupid" is what is happening in schools though. Younger children are being handled sensitively and appropriately, they are not just being considered stupid. Teachers are aware of the situation.
In any cohort that is organised by age, someone has always got to the the youngest. Obviously. So teachers manage that fact by grouping them in such a way that caters for their needs the best.

EmeraldJeanie Sun 17-Nov-13 09:00:07

I feel I was disadvantaged at school as a summer born [40 odd years ago]. It is great if times have changed and children are not now. The confidence thing is important and I hope that is an issue that is addressed now.

mrz Sun 17-Nov-13 09:19:04

I was a painfully shy autumn born child who was so quite as to be invisible in school ... disadvantaged ?

BromCavMum Sun 17-Nov-13 09:33:22

Clam, if you work in education as you claim to, then why don't you expand on what your school does to handle this issue rather than try to negate a parent's concerns?

PrimalLass Sun 17-Nov-13 09:38:34

Why they don't do the intake ages the same way it is here in Scotland, I do t know. 4 is so little.

clam Sun 17-Nov-13 09:40:26

"As I claim to?" grin 27 years at last count and I have the wrinkles to prove it.

And I think I already have expanded. Check out my posts of 08.51 today and 16.47 yesterday for a start.

mrz Sun 17-Nov-13 09:42:39

Schools do what your child's teacher is doing BromCavMum ...they give work appropriate to the child which is why your daughter is doing the reception "test" not the one intended for Y1

mrz Sun 17-Nov-13 09:44:01

PrimalLass children don't need to be in full time education until the term after their fifth birthday in England.

vkyyu Sun 17-Nov-13 09:49:03

I ve two summer babies as well. Dc1 is very sensitive dc2 is not so much. They both slow to start in infant school. They both did just about ok at Ks1 sat not brilliant. However it affected my dc1's confidence quite a lot. As she was allocated into the bottom groups for both maths and eng every day right from the start of her academic life. Children see that top means clever, middle means ok and bottom means I am no good. Even now being in year 6 dc1 still believes that she will never understand maths. She is scared to even make effort to catch up as she may disappoint herself even more. For last few months I have kept saying to her at Ks1 average 2b children are approx age 7 and a half. But she was not even seven at the time she was assessed therefore being at 2cs was where she should be. Not sure if it has helped her feel better but still lacking confidence academically.

clam Sun 17-Nov-13 09:50:32

primalLass, We did do phased intakes in England for many years. Single September intakes were brought in across the board a couple of years ago or so, partly (I believe, someone correct me if I'm wrong) in response to parental request, in an attempt to level the playing field to younger children. Of course, some of them just aren't ready for school as the August-borns (and I have 2 myself) are only just 4 at that point.

mrz Sun 17-Nov-13 10:09:14

vkyyu that's why research shows ability grouping small children is ineffective at best and harmful at worst

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 17-Nov-13 10:13:03

As others have said, any arbitrary line between cohorts on the basis of age (which is what a September to September school year is) is going to have advantages and disadvantages, particularly for those at either end. So what do we need to do to minimise the disadvantages? How about setting work appropriate for the child, not just based on their year grouping? Oh yes, that is what good teachers already do...

schmee Sun 17-Nov-13 10:15:51

I feel my Autumn born kids are at a disadvantage as they can't access the curriculum until 9 months later than the Summer borns. They don't get to "practice" for an additional 10 months as an earlier poster suggested. They just get to learn stuff later. I'm pleased that my Summer born DC will have the opportunity to access the curriculum at an earlier stage than my older DC.

simpson Sun 17-Nov-13 10:37:27

Schmee - I felt like that too to a certain extent. When DS was in nursery he then went up to reception and quite a few of his friends has to stay in nursery for another academic year (having done 2 terms to DS's 3).

But then the same could be said for DD who is a Jan birthday and in nursery her best friend was a Sept birthday. DD went to reception and the best friend had to stay in nursery for another year. Both my DC did one full academic year in nursery compared to a lot of children who did 5 terms. However it worked out in my DC case and certainly with DD she was ready for school.

vkyyu Sun 17-Nov-13 11:02:50

mrz .... now I so wish to transfer my dc2 into a small school where only has one class per year so that dc2 can be in a more true mixed class. The fact that in our school each different ability group is in a separated class room so children in the top group are not affected but children in the bottom group are most disadvantaged no matter which month their birthdays are.
Finland is too far away and different but so many people say the Scottish system is better. So why not learn more their methods. Anyway what is Scottish education system like?

schmee Sun 17-Nov-13 11:41:52

My experience of setting in KS1 is that it's done to prioritise support for the children who need more help in achieving expected levels. So I don't see why being in the bottom set is a disadvantage.

vkyyu Sun 17-Nov-13 12:09:35

In practice I agree it will make teaching easier for many teachers. Unfortunately it has a psychological effect on children. Children in top set are motivated and develop more self believe and higher expectation by teachers and parents alike. Bottom set children I am not as clever as those in middle or top. It is self believe and expectation issue. Once they have that self doubt it is very hard to motivate them to work on the subject/s or even to like school.

mrz Sun 17-Nov-13 12:15:42

which was my point regarding expecting less based purely on month of birth

spanieleyes Sun 17-Nov-13 12:16:42

Do you not think it is demotivating to be asked to complete work which in no way matches your ability? ( either because it is too easy or too hard)

mrz Sun 17-Nov-13 12:43:43

which is why you work on stages not ages

spanieleyes Sun 17-Nov-13 12:52:31

As a teacher of a mixed age class, I couldn't agree more. I have never understood how you can simply look at the age and decide on what is to be taught, you look at the CHILD and then decide!

vkyyu Sun 17-Nov-13 13:53:07

I don't have a problem with children being put at different ability tables according to the topic of a subject on the day or week. For example some may find 2d / 3d shapes easier other may be better at data or problem solving. So children get moved around. I don't believe children can simply be standardised as just being top at every topic or bottom at every topic. Even when being with friends sometimes it comes up in their conversations at playtime or outside school everyone expect that the bottom group children are not as good as their peers. However top group children developed a more can-do attitude as they believe they are the best. Therefore they are more likely to overcome challenging tasks so they get further ahead all the time.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 17-Nov-13 19:26:18

Children know themselves roughly how they stack up in comparison to their classmates. So for all the yellow / Einstein / Bronte named groups, everyone knows if that actually means top, middle or bottom.

mrz Sun 17-Nov-13 19:33:09

I don't have any groups so don't need group names although I'm now tempted to go with Einstein/Newton/Galileo/Pythagoras/Darwin and see how parents order them in ability

shebird Sun 17-Nov-13 20:06:40

Children develop at different rates and there are other factors such as emotional maturity, self confidence and social skills that also influence a child's rate of progress and not just age and academic ability. It takes some children longer than others to settle at school not to mention coping with the long school day.

IMO there should be an extra year at KS1 to allow sufficient time for children to mature and also more time to master core maths and literacy skills. This would also mean that children would leave primary slightly older and hopefully better equipped academically emotionally to deal with the big bad world of secondary school.

clam Sun 17-Nov-13 20:28:28

IME, the vast majority of Y6 kids are more than ready to leave primary school by the age of 11.
<shudders at thought of them staying an extra year being all cocky and know-it-all>

AquaCouldron Sun 17-Nov-13 20:36:11

mrz - yeah, damn those parents who give a toss about how their kids are doing in school. Pesks, the lot of them wink

mrz Sun 17-Nov-13 20:56:25

If you like AquaCouldron hmm but I was more interested in seeing how they would order the scientists by ability ... as I don't have groups my class it has nothing to do with their kids or did you miss that part of the post

clam Sun 17-Nov-13 21:44:58

You can know how your child is doing in school, but you don't need to know about other people's.

PiqueABoo Sun 17-Nov-13 21:53:01

I can't think of any other area of education research where there's so much consensus in the international research i.e. you can't wish it away with English split-starts.

IIRC it was this year's yet-another-IFS-report that reckoned it was age when tested that is the main culprit, but none of summer-born DD's teachers have ever qualified their report of a level with a mention of her age i.e. "they're level [whatever] which is [ good |middling | bad ] for their age".

AquaCouldron Sun 17-Nov-13 22:07:09

Clam - Did I say I needed to know about other people's children? confused

mrz - oh okay, I see - the hypothetical parents trying to put the hypothetical groups into order was just a hypothetical fun intellectual exercise for them. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

mrz Mon 18-Nov-13 06:45:41

No AquaCouldron you still haven't got it [sigh] the parents putting the scientists in order ...*There ...Are ... No ....Groups* to order. would you do it oldest (in terms of date) first or newest first or best known or some other criteria?

spanieleyes Mon 18-Nov-13 07:18:12

but none of summer-born DD's teachers have ever qualified their report of a level with a mention of her age i.e. "they're level [whatever] which is [ good |middling | bad ] for their age".

Perhaps because we don't think "Oh Miss PiqueABoo is 6years and 4 months so should be a Level 2B+" we think "Oh Miss PiqueABoo is a good level 2 which means she has made excellent progress this year but we still need to work on XYZ to progress further" It's the Government that expects all Year 2 children to be a Level 2B and all Year 6 children to be a Level 4b.

shebird Mon 18-Nov-13 09:19:37

Perhaps more research should be done with regards to levelling and the pros and cons of this for teachers and children. Leveling effectively labels a very young child as top, middle or bottom at a very young age and perhaps it is this that has a greater effect on their success at school than the child's age.

vkyyu Mon 18-Nov-13 09:56:07

By the way, there seems to be so many knowledgeable teachers or parents following this thread so would some of you give me some tips as how I can support my very demotivated dc1. I ve been trying to resolve her maths confident issue for the last two years. What can I do to help boost her aspirations?

goonIcantakeit Mon 18-Nov-13 10:39:20

I would see the teacher but focus in on the change in your child's attitude to learning - every good teacher will take that seriously. I would hold back on mentioning the summer-born thing until the teacher mentions it because if she shares the opinions of Mrz you won't change her mind but you don't want to alienate or annoy her because she may be a brilliant teacher and perfectly able to solve this problem. If you say "she's summer born" an opinionated teacher may read that as "this parent thinks birth month explains everything....sigh....". I think your child will need that little bit extra support for a while but I'm sure she will get there in the end. I'm sure you are very positive with your child and will keep that up. Best of luck to you.

averywoomummy Mon 18-Nov-13 12:01:51

Yes as a mother of a summer born DD who is is struggling in year 1 I do find it frustrating. What annoys me is that DD at 5 years and 4 months in Year 1 - has just gone on to red band reading and is considered behind.
..However if she had started reception at 5 with a September birthday and gone onto red band reading at the end of the first term at 5 years and 4 months wouldn't she have been considered slightly ahead or at least average? I do feel that she has now been labled low ability - based only on an arbitrary cut off date of the school year that she is in.

Therefore I feel the children should be judged on their age not left to be compared to children who are nearly a year older than them. I disagree that Autumn born children don't have access to a curriculum as the majority of nurserys and pre-schools (certainly in my area) usually start to do some basic letter/number/phonics work with the older children who are there for longer. I assume many parents of older children will also start doing some more formal work with them. Even if they don't then a 5 year old reception starter has still had a year more of brain development, of hearing language and speech, of seeing numbers, books and letters which will surely give them a better start at school.

They do very obvious streaming in our school and seem to sit on the same ability table for most of the work that they do and I definitely feel DD has been judged. The top table in her class is ALL Autumn born children and although a couple are very bright anyway I think some are just there by virtue of their age. However they are now in a virtuous circle of being told they are clever, having more expected of them and therefore achieving more etc etc. Whereas I feel that DD now feels she does the "easy" work and is not as clever - and although we bolster her up at home I do worry it will affect her confidence and how she sees her academic ability.

PiqueABoo Mon 18-Nov-13 12:18:59


What the government does with national tests and teachers do when they're educating the child throughout the year are different from what I want to know when teacher is giving me a report i.e. some context telling me where they stand relative to other children.

At these younger ages it turns out that relative to other children with the same birth-month + gender is a much better yardstick then relative to their school year. I suspect relative to something like baby vs. adult teeth ratio or hormone levels would be better still.

However, parents who aren't teachers apparently can't be trusted to consider all the cautions that come with large scale stats and shouldn't think about this stuff too much i.e. here are some levels, but don't worry about those pesky government beans because "I'm content with their progress and the way they are working". I bet most teachers who are parents want more than that and immediately consider whether another teacher's levelling is correct and where it has put their child in the scheme of things.

flowers123 Mon 18-Nov-13 12:34:27

just thought this may make you feel a little better. My daughter was born on 28th Aug and in those days they had two intakes in school, summer and xmas. She sarted school at the xmas and soon caught up. She is now a doctor so the late start never really affected her x

clam Mon 18-Nov-13 12:39:53

"I definitely feel DD has been judged." What evidence do you have for that?

"The top table in her class is ALL Autumn born children and although a couple are very bright anyway I think some are just there by virtue of their age." How on earth do you know that?

"they are now in a virtuous circle of being told they are clever" Who by? hmm

For the record, my ds is an August-born and was on the "lower" tables probably until around the end of Year 1. (He began in the January of Reception). By Year 2, he was racing ahead and achieved level 3s across the board, and then level 5s by Year 6. At GCSE he got 13 As and A*s and is on track for similar at A level.

This is not to boast, but to say that, although in the early years it might SEEM as if your child is behind (although not to the teachers, who are experienced enough to know what it's all about), it all levels out by the end of Year 2. Every new teacher (for example in KS2) that takes the class on will plan according to where the children are at that point, not where they were back in Year 1. When I last taught Year 2, I agree that most of the top table were Autumn-borns - and girls too, as it happened. I then happened to teach the same class in Year 6, where the groupings had totally changed and all those little Summer-born boys had come on tremendously and were scattered amongst the more able groups.

It's a bit like complaining about some runners in a long-distance race, starting further back on the inner ring of the track, saying it's unfair. It's organised so they catch up over a period of time, and will eventually "win," or "be placed" according to their innate ability to run. Training and diet help, of course. Silly analogy probably, but you get the point?

AquaCouldron Mon 18-Nov-13 12:46:23

mrz - no I totally get that you don't do groups in your class.

I thought that your comment "I don't have any groups so don't need group names although I'm now tempted to go with Einstein/Newton/Galileo/Pythagoras/Darwin and see how parents order them in ability" was to do with (hypothetically) pretending that you did have groups with those names in order to confuse the parents, hence my comments.

I think that parents do get 'group angst' because the NC levels don't really mean much until you get used to them (by which time your child has moved past that stage anyway). Additional information like 'your DC is near the bottom of the class for reading, near the top for numeracy, and somewhere in the middle for writing' is easier to understand, however that's not usually how it's presented.

And yes I understand that every class is different and relative position will be affected by several factors. But parents aren't daft, they have often known many of the kids in the class since babyhood, and have a good idea of what the intake is like. And actually is there anything wrong with the teacher explaining things like 'this is an exceptionally bright year group, so for your summer-born DC to be in the middle means they are actually doing very well compared to national levels'.

columngollum Mon 18-Nov-13 13:23:32

If nobody told any of the children anything until they arrived in school and then left all learning up to individual children, then I'm sure the older and more able children would pick up more. But because all children are able to learn both inside and outside school that's not the case. In our class the children are mixed both in terms of ability and age. It isn't possible to tell who the most able are from their ages.

mrz Mon 18-Nov-13 19:31:51

"I don't have any groups so don't need group names although I'm now tempted to go with Einstein/Newton/Galileo/Pythagoras/Darwin and see how parents order them in ability" the ability of the scientists NOT the children AquaCouldron I wish I hadn't made a flippant remark as you seem to want to find offence where none was intended[sigh]
Groups tell you nothing because the top group in one school (or even one class in the same school) could be the bottom group in another school.
and unfortunately parents are often shocked and upset to be told their top group child is on the SEN register in their new school.

strruglingoldteach Mon 18-Nov-13 20:11:59

I do find this discussion interesting, both as a teacher and a parent of 2 summer-born DDs.

DD1 is an August birthday and is in Y1. She is doing well so far. I have no idea which group she is in, or what book band she is at- the school seem to deliberately avoid anything where parents could get competitve. However, I do know that DD1's reading is good for her age and her writing/maths at least average.

What does concern me slightly is that she doesn't have the concentration of an (average) older child. I think she is finding it hard to keep up with Y1 expectations wrt quantity of work. I know that this could be a personality thing, but I can't help feeling that if she had been in reception this year, she would be a lot more ready for formal learning at the start of Y1.

AquaCouldron Mon 18-Nov-13 22:21:00

"Groups tell you nothing because the top group in one school (or even one class in the same school) could be the bottom group in another school."

You really do seem to have a low opinion of parents' intellectual ability. Did you read my post? I made the point that I understand that every class is different and relative position will be affected by several factors.

"unfortunately parents are often shocked and upset to be told their top group child is on the SEN register in their new school"

I'm sure you're more than aware one doesn't preclude the other - I have a child on both. And when you're sitting there trying to give a potted history of your child's development to the paediatrician, yes it's helpful to be able to say things like 'well they were top of the class for maths but bottom for spelling', because your child's teacher isn't there beside you with a list of NC levels.

clam Mon 18-Nov-13 22:29:04

But surely that just bears out what mrz is saying. The paediatrician has no idea of the standards at your child's school - what's top of the class on one school might be only middling in another. An NC level (which you are given) would probably be more use to him/her.

Snowbility Mon 18-Nov-13 22:42:35

I have two summer borns, dd coped ok but my ds was pretty immature even for a 4 year old - he suffered by his inability to concentrate...his feelings of failure at being told he couldn't listen repeatedly, success was not something he experienced often in infant school. It got better after that but I believe if we had been able to delay starting for a year his experience would have been much more positive.

AquaCouldron Mon 18-Nov-13 22:43:12

Clam - yes, if they understand NC levels and you have remembered to bring that info along. And if you can give the additional information that within a comparable cohort in terms of school environment and local factors, your child excelled in one subject compared to another, that is surely also relevant information?

mrz Tue 19-Nov-13 06:27:41

Yes AquaCouldron as a SENCO and the mother of a child with HFA I know a child can be very able and have SEN but I was thinking of a child who transferred into the school where a friend works. The parents had been told he was in the top group for everything only to be told by my friend that he was struggling in every area of the curriculum and would be receiving additional support in school. They were extremely shocked. As a SENCO I've had countless similar conversations with parents who were misled by the "top group" label.
If you read MN you will find numerous posts from parents who feel similarly let down.

mrz Tue 19-Nov-13 06:35:13

Isn't it simpler and more useful to say below/slightly below /at/above national expectations for a child this age?

FamiliesShareGerms Tue 19-Nov-13 06:56:50

mrz FWIW at my son's school the science groups are:


In that order (well, no one has said that is the order, but in a small school it's not that hard to work out. Not saying that's right, or I particularly care, but it's naive to presume otherwise)

More generally, it would have been really helpful in Reception to have been told that my son's handwriting was at the bottom of the class. First child, no real comparators as to what he should be able to do, no one said that it was actually dire until he moved into Yr 1 and the teacher showed us (anonymous) examples of other children's work for comparison and we were shocked how bad his handwriting was (and still is). If we had known he needed more support on this we would have helped him much much more to improve.

mrz Tue 19-Nov-13 07:50:08

but you are ordering them based on your knowledge of pupils I'm interested in knowing how you would order them top to bottom as scientists only (forget children for a minute).

I confess when I first started teaching I had groups and they had names based on whatever topic we were studying at the time and naively didn't think parents would be trying to read something into those group names ...hmm ( my last groups about 20 years ago were lions, giraffes, monkeys, elephants but I heard myself saying will the giraffes go and wash their hands and decided no more!)

LittleMissGreen Tue 19-Nov-13 11:14:12


Ok, I'll play - I'd say
Newton - the bottom - knocked out by an apple - not very clever!
Darwin one up from the bottom - skills still evolving
Then Galileo - gets to things in a round about way.
Pythagoras - right on the ball
Einstein at the top as everybody knows he was a genius

wandymum Tue 19-Nov-13 11:52:10

BromCavMum in your OP you say your DD "turned 5 at the end of August. She started school last January". Does that mean she missed half a year compared to the rest of the class who would have started in September.

Was this a school policy for all summer born children?

My DD is August too but started in the September along with everyone else and I haven't really spotted much difference in terms of educational ability (there is a huge difference height wise but that's about it).

Churmy123 Tue 19-Nov-13 12:46:37

I find this discussion very interesting! My DD is in a fairly small primary school with only one class per year. So a mixed group. It never even entered my mind that she might struggle being a summer borm (birthday end of July). And thankfully she hasn't. She absolutely loves school, takes great pride in everything she does and generally is quite mature! Its interesting that a few posts have said the 'top' set/group/tables are autumn borns. This is quite the opposite in my DDs class (yr 2) as all the top table are summer borns...July and August birthdays. It doesn't mean this will always be the case. Others will catch up...some may start to struggle. My DD is ahead of where she should be for reading and writing but definitely struggles with numeracy. She is just about managing to keep up with the 'top' set but it doesn't come naturally to her she really tried so hard. If at any point I think this is putting too much stress on her and her motivation slips then I would mention to her teacher.

PolishThePalace Tue 19-Nov-13 14:01:08

There is an insane level of parent competiveness in my DD2's Y2 class. They've had to cover up the book boxes in the corridor to stop the mummy rubbernecking.

A toxic cocktail of pfbs, small town politics and social climbing must be driving the school nuts. The massive rush of parent observers helpers has completely dropped off to the point were they had to rush around to get the ratios for a school trip. As a bemused observer it's the parents that have typecast the other children rather than the teachers.

Luckily I have an older daughter who after a slow start but with lots of positive talk at home about the impotance of baby steps, enjoying the journey, practice, etc has strolled past and is working well at a high level.

DD2 is about to do the same, the teacher has seen past the dizzy curls and been moving her round the different maths tables to find the right fit. I know this will surprise many of the parents ranked the kids back in Y1 using book band, DH's job and the length of my roots.

MRZ is you need parent helpers announce your new groups for 'cognitive experimental writing' or some such nonsense and watch them line up to try and work it out.

EmeraldJeanie Tue 19-Nov-13 14:15:05

I think parent helpers are fine, as long as they are not allowed to support in a year group their child is in [re listening to reading I mean].
Separates those who want to offer support to the school from the 'rubber neckers'.

simpson Tue 19-Nov-13 14:41:06

I am a parent helper who helps in my DD's year group (not her class though) but this is because I have done her year group for 2years now and love yr1 the best grin

I also help out in yrs 2 and 5.

There is a lot of competitiveness in DD's year too although luckily it seems to have slacked off somewhat since reception.

intitgrand Tue 19-Nov-13 17:47:36

But OP they have to set the children work at the level they are attaining now.They are not grouping children by their IQ or their potential, they are grouping purely on current level.
Do you think your DD is the first summer born child they have ever come across, don't you think it has occurred to the teachers that they are a lot younger than the september borns and for that reason alone will be more likely to be at the back of the pack ?

This sense of discrimination is in your imaginationI think.

clam Tue 19-Nov-13 22:02:29

Careful intitgrand. I made a similar point on Saturday and was accused of being hostile and venomous and told not to post again! grin

vkyyu Wed 20-Nov-13 12:05:48

It is not about a sense of discrimination or distrusting teachers. Most parents understand the reason for grouping children by abilities. However it has a negative effects on children self confidence and expectation. Is it important to teachers? Even in MN alone you often read such such if your dcs are not in top groups or got level 4 / 5 by end of year 3/4/5 then s/he is not grammar school material etc etc. Especially if you live in gs dominated catchment area you can understand how worrying for parents knowing the top group kids are being streamed daily while middle and bottom kids are just gently getting along. I believe most parents are not competitive types however it may come across as if they are. Many parents are just worried. Especially most parents themselves are not in any teaching or educational professions it is difficult for them (us) to spot any short comings and support our dcs accordingly and appropriately. Also in this country most schools are not great at communicating with parents. Then of course it leads to another issue re private tuitions. I wish I can be relaxed about nc levels unfortunately for some there is a strict deadline for secondary school choices. Unfortunately for some it feels like it will be all or nothing by the end of year 6.

mrz Wed 20-Nov-13 18:29:43

I'm a teacher and a parent and I don't understand the reason for grouping children by ability vkyyu hmm

intitgrand Fri 22-Nov-13 09:10:37

Mrz so are you saying you don't differentiate work at all then? Or are you saying you don't seat them in ability groups?

PrimalLass Fri 22-Nov-13 10:28:00

primalLass, We did do phased intakes in England for many years. Single September intakes were brought in across the board a couple of years ago or so, partly (I believe, someone correct me if I'm wrong) in response to parental request, in an attempt to level the playing field to younger children. Of course, some of them just aren't ready for school as the August-borns (and I have 2 myself) are only just 4 at that point.

Sorry am late to answer but I didn't mean phased intakes. Children start P1 here between 4.5 and 5.5, but all at the same time IYSWIM. And December/Jan/Feb born children who would be only 4.5 in the August can usually defer to the next year, not miss a year altogether.

So my son was in a P2/1 composite class, where one of the P2 boy's birthday was the same week as one of the P1 boys. Both 5 the same week but started school a year apart based on the parents' choice and school input.

mrz Fri 22-Nov-13 18:28:36

intitgrand of course I differentiate what I'm saying I teach children who are all individuals with different needs and not groups who may have some similar needs based on ability

chocolatecrispies Fri 22-Nov-13 18:44:21

My sister is doing a research project on summer born children for her doctorate in psychology. On average, being summer born means you achieve one grade lower at GCSE across the board as compared to autumn borns - so 9 Bs instead of 9 As.
I don't know why people endlessly give anecdotes of summer born children they know who had no problem - of course some don't, but across the board most do, and it still affects them at GCSE level and beyond.

mrz Fri 22-Nov-13 18:48:56

Is your sister investigating other factors which may contribute to these children achieving lower results ... not sure how you could exclude these

LeonardoAcropolis Fri 22-Nov-13 19:03:53

chocolatecrispies why do people "endlessly" give anecdotes of summer borns that had no problem? Because some summer borns do defy the statistic. Many do do well at school and these people who endlessly give anecdotes are just relieved their children are not, apparently, doomed! I do agree that people who post things like "well those statistics are rubbish because my Fred was born in august and got 10 a* and a phd" are missing the point.

I have a late august ds. These reports did worry me, but anecdotes that some indeed do well were a relief. Another anecdote, my DS is y1, doing brilliantly and although his class is approx 40% summer born they are, according to their foundation teacher and current teacher, a very capable class.

mrz Fri 22-Nov-13 19:46:49

I think that's the point ...these reports worry those of us with summer borns and it's helpful to hear that month of birth doesn't mean your child is doomed to failure before they even start school.

vkyyu Sat 23-Nov-13 12:21:41

I really want to know also those summer born slow/average starters who eventually caught up or level out during primary school years how much support they had received from home as comparing to those never managed. Also which curriculum subjects are mostly affected in their academic progression.

spanieleyes Sat 23-Nov-13 12:42:29

My youngest son is a summer born ( late August so he was 4 and 2 weeks when he started) He was a slow starter, didn't read at all during Reception ( he spent most of his time in the water tray!) and started Year 1 on Stage 2 ORT with a bit of pushing and shoving, but decided he liked reading in Year 1 and ended up Level 3 across the board at KS1 and Level 5's at KS2- this without extra tuition but with just general reading and homework support. He passed his 11+ and is now at university! My eldest is also summer born ( although June so not as late) and has had a similar trajectory ( although not quite as uneventful!) Summer borns can do well, but I could never understand the logic behind summer borns starting school later in the academic year, from my point of view they need the WHOLE of the Reception year to settle in, play, socialise and absorb before being ready for learning, delaying entry just seems counter productive to me.

DazzleU Mon 25-Nov-13 11:25:03

My eldest a girl late Aug birthday did very well in reception and ok in year 1.

My DS a spring boy didn't do well in reception - and we weren't really kept informed about his progress or lack of it, told it was all fine, when we asked till we got end of year report.

Same school different teachers. Different DC with very different approaches to learning.

Some of DS issues were blamed on him being a boy or being a younger one.

We got on and did dancing bears and maths factor with him at home, activities that would help his writing and he made massive progress between that reception report and end of first term in year 1. Something his year 1 teacher then picked up on.

He didn't/doesn't always like the extra 'help' at home but he finds he can do the stuff at school - he's one of these DC that won't try if he thinks he can't do it something his current teacher and we are both working on.

He's in the higher sets which seems to help his confidence though the school not big on ability sets.

I'd have prefer not to have to provide so much extra help at home but he happy and motivated at school now and able to keep up with the work.

Having DD1 being nearly the youngest in the year it hard to blame it on birth date - but seeing the huge rapid leaps with the home help does make me wonder what went so wrong at the school with him.

vkyyu Mon 25-Nov-13 12:42:43

Since my dc1 moved up set dc1 also has become more confident in maths. That extra confidence really helps her progression.

Dc2 didn't do well in yrR at all dc2 was very reluctant to say, read or write anything before yr1. Every teacher said dc2 is too quiet so the school cannot assess dc2 properly. So dc2 was on picture books for most of year R. Dc2 couldn't move up reading level because dc2 did want to talk about the pictures. So I had to tell the school to stop giving picture books as they didn't work for dc2. At home I started doing with dc2 a lot of reading, phonics and writing. By beginning of yr3 still just age 7 dc2's reading age is nearly nine and spelling 11 with very good phonic knowledge and loves writing.

I believe apart from being summer borns certain personalities can be another issue that holds a child back. In my dc2's case because of being very quiet in front of teachers dc2 was over looked and labelled as lower ability in literacy in infant school.

Madasabox Mon 25-Nov-13 20:24:54

Interestingly on these threads you don't get many parents popping up with "well my child is autumn born but is towards the bottom of his class". There don't seem many people willing to recognise that there are in some cases children who just have more or less ability regardless of birth date. I don't disagree there is a statistical summer born effect, but what I take from this thread is that a lot of that dates from the time when those born in the summer had fewer terms of schooling and that since the system changed we haven't had sufficient time to analyse what the effect is. mrz is making the point (quite patiently I think) that there are many other factors to consider ie socio-economic grouping, parental IQ, parental help, years in nursery prior to education, personality of the child, maturity etc etc and having read the statistical studies on summer born effect, it looks to be quite difficult to adjust for all of these factors, all of which have an influence. Saying "oh my child is summer born, therefore struggles more etc" seems a little defeatist to me. Recognise there is an effect, work to combat it yes, don't perpetuate the view. If a child is constantly given the impression that he will do less well than his peers because of his age, he will in all probability try less hard and accept a lower standard of attainment.

CecilyP Mon 25-Nov-13 20:56:42

that there are many other factors to consider ie socio-economic grouping, parental IQ, parental help, years in nursery prior to education, personality of the child, maturity etc etc and having read the statistical studies on summer born effect, it looks to be quite difficult to adjust for all of these factors, all of which have an influence.

The reason you do not have to adjust for any other factors is that all other factors apply in equal measure to children regardless of the month they are born. So, in fact, the only variable is the month of birth.

X2mum Mon 25-Nov-13 21:21:05

I have two summer born kids and I think that they are at a massive disadvantage! My yr3 is only catching up now but seems so little compared to her friends. My yr 1 is end of August and really struggling. His school test the whole time and he only gets 6 spellings a week rather than 12 if he doesn't get 6/6 his teacher calls me in about his work. I get called in every day about his work too and they don't seem to understand that most of his friends are turning 6 when he has just turned 5! It's a very high pressured school where one day he is at the top of the class and another day at the bottom - I call it immaturity! I really thought that the school would understand the problems sumner babies face but my school is not that interested and more interested in results which to be honest I should had realised when I sent my kids to a selective independent prep school!

Madasabox Mon 25-Nov-13 21:35:56

The reason you do not have to adjust for any other factors is that all other factors apply in equal measure to children regardless of the month they are born. So, in fact, the only variable is the month of birth.

Really in equal effect across the groups chosen? A child is identical to another except for his month of birth?? You have Tom and Harry from separate families, both born to parents with IQs of 138+, university educated, father working in high paid job, but spends lots of time with his child at weekends, mother has given up high flying career to stay at home with child. Parents have spent 5 hours per week each since Tom and Harry were two years old working on Tom and Harry's letters, numbers, problem solving, fine motor skills and attention. Tom and Harry both benefit from having an older sister whose lessons/progress they have absorbed. She is exactly 4 years older than them. They both have identical physical abilities in terms of running, climbing, dressing themselves etc. They both can concentrate on a single toy for 25 minutes at a stretch and both have had exactly 9 months of nursery pre-school at a pushy yet supportive nursery before entering Reception.


Alternatively you have the same scenario as above but swap parental IQ for 120+; or both parents work in rewarding low paid jobs; or dad never made it to university although he is clever, he succeeded through hard work and force of personality which he has passed on to his children, or mum works full time, but is massively focused on her children, or mum doesn't work, but spends all her time watching TV and ignoring her kids, or the kids don't have an older sibling, but are the eldest of 4 so get little parental time or alternatively still get lots or they lag behind physically or they have glue ear and so can't hear sounds properly although they are perfectly clever; or they were not potty trained until 3.7, or they find it difficult to focus on one toy; or they find larger groups intimidating or alternatively stimulating; or they didn't get a chance to go to pre-school as they moved into the area half way through the year when all the pre-schools were full or alternatively they have been in full time nursery since 6 months.

The studies really adjust for all of those factors absolutely perfectly? The impact of all of those factors have been the subject of other extensive studies about how important they are for a child's attainment?

CecilyP Mon 25-Nov-13 22:37:54

Madasabox, obviously individual children are not all the same except for their month of birth. However, I am assuming a large enough sample size to encompass all varieties of other experiences, (as one would expect from a research project for a PhD in psychology) and therefore they do not have to adjust for other factors.

redundant Tue 26-Nov-13 11:38:01

Yes, my understanding is as per CecilyP - not that I'm a statistician, but that would be my common sense view of it.

This is pertinent to me as my end of July 2 year old (born by CS, possibly a month before he would have appeared naturally) is physically very immature (2nd centile height) and emotionally, plus has a speech delay. I am very worried how he will cope, but am preparing to do the best I can to support him within the confines of the imperfect system, as I think delaying entry till he is 5 will have its own issues. I have an older child at the school already, and he does therefore have some advantages under his belt, in that the environment is familiar etc. I might feel differently if he was my first born.

My view is coloured as well by the very negative experiences both my brothers (end of July and August birthdays) had at school. Both very bright - one extremely so - but both absolutely failed to thrive and it very much had an affect on them all the way into their adult lives.

vkyyu Tue 26-Nov-13 14:23:16

IME with two summer borns I accept to work extra hard to support them and encourage them to work hard to combat or make up for being younger. That s life. Everyone has some forms of personal issues one thing or another. However what I really disagree is that the school/s conveniently pigeonholed children into low, middle, top abilities right from the start of their academic journeys. Common sense tells how damage that is to develop a little voice in one's mind everyday "you, ..lower ability child!" repetitively every day from the age of 5 or 7 or 9. Everyone else around you is also aware of that “you re a lower ability child!”. Isn’t it a form of child abuse? I even know of some parents encourage their dcs only to associate with children who intend to take 11+ or in the top or middle sets.
IMO what blocks curriculum accesses is not being summer borns or slow/average starts regardless of birth months but the low expectations of the lower ability groups or classes.
Another issue I have is the setting targets for pupils. If a child obtained ks1 2c then his/er target will 4c in yr6. I thought all the tests are used to measure where a child is so we know how much s/he has to work to reach the national target. Never did I know the school would use the result to set target for yr6. If the national average is 4b then every child’s target should be 4b or above. If a gcse pass is c then no child should be expected have a target that is less than c.

Huitre Tue 26-Nov-13 20:06:48

If the national average is 4b then every child’s target should be 4b or above.

But that's nuts. The very nature of an average is that some people will fall below it.

stillenacht Tue 26-Nov-13 20:38:05

My DS (14) is late August born. It was a problem for him all the way through primary. So much so that we remortgaged our house and have put him into private secondary, in the year below. He is currently in year 9, still not top of the year group (there are many other reasons for this-dyslexia and his DB's disability have all impacted on him) but he is a far more confident boy now. I wish we could have done this in the state system.

Snowbility Tue 26-Nov-13 21:09:56

I thought the level 4b was no longer thought of as average but rather as minimum attainment required.

Snowbility Tue 26-Nov-13 21:17:47

I think had I known the struggles we faced with a summer boy, who had issues too, mostly around being incredibly immature, we'd have gone private and delayed primary by a year.
I knew at the time that he was not ready for school but wasn't aware that we could delay by going private.

Yes we supported him and did extra work with him but that was hard on him, being socially immature was hard on him, not being able to listen and concentrate and the teacher getting frustrated with him, was hard on him. Being labelled as a dolly day dreamer by the teacher was hard on him.

He's catching up now (year 6) and I can see him gaining confidence and maturity but he would have enjoyed school so much more, fitted in so much easier had he just been a year older.

redundant Tue 26-Nov-13 21:49:34

oh god Snowmobility that sort of story just fills me with dread. So sad and wrong that children have to have their confidence knocked in this way.

I suppose the only positive is that publicity has shoved it to the fore as An Issue nowadays, so hopefully teachers and schools are more aware and able to handle it better. Maybe.

Reassuringly our primary seems refreshingly un-pushy and un-focused on academic learning so far, but maybe that's because my daughter who is currently there is very mature and winter-born so no pushing required.

stillenacht Tue 26-Nov-13 23:02:47

My DS was 3b/c in yr 6... Despite lovely village primary, very affluent area, teachers as parents. Had he been in yr 5 and got 3b/c it wouldn't have been that much of a worry.

vkyyu Wed 27-Nov-13 10:08:13

If the national average is 4b then every child’s target should be 4b or above.

"But that's nuts. The very nature of an average is that some people will fall below it."

If you give a lower target to start with then there will be more a chance to fall even further below!?

Huitre Wed 27-Nov-13 11:00:02

Why will there be more chance to fall further below? Do you think an unrealistic target is likely to make people work harder? I don't think a target that is unachievable seems like a good idea at all. If your target is unachievable no matter what you do, there is no reason to work hard.

tumbletumble Wed 27-Nov-13 11:10:01

The target should be high IMO (to prevent writing off late developing children at an early age), but should be known to the teacher only, not the child or parents, to prevent them feeling like a failure. And the teacher should not get into trouble if some children miss their targets - not all children are going to reach the average level, however well taught.

It's a very tricky balance!

vkyyu Wed 27-Nov-13 12:05:12

Not ridiculously and unrealistically high but just may be one grade higher. A pupil's predicted grade may be a ks2 4c or gcse c if s/he progress according to his/her current behaviour. But set a target at ks2 4b or gcse b. There is a difference between "target" and "prediction" based on our current state. If you want them to achieve higher result you need to encourage them to aim higher.

Huitre Wed 27-Nov-13 12:39:08

That's not at all the same as "If the national average is 4b then every child’s target should be 4b or above."

For some children, a 4b IS ridiculously and unrealistically high. Not every child can get a GCSE C grade in every subject (if they could, those grades would essentially be worthless).

vkyyu Wed 27-Nov-13 13:02:55

I hold a believe (faith) that every normal average child or person has the capability to reach at least an average standard in everything they want to do if they have the will to achieve. Though it may take one person more time or more setbacks than others.

Huitre Wed 27-Nov-13 13:13:15

It is perfectly possible to be 'normal' and below average academically.

averywoomummy Wed 27-Nov-13 13:42:39

I agree with vkyyu that most people would be able to achieve a C with support and hard work. Unfortunately the teachers often don't seem to believe this so it is often up to a parent have that faith and to fill in the gaps.

What I find so unfair for Summerborns is that it is as though they are being set up to fail from the start. Correct me if I'm wrong but as I see it even your EYFS profile is used to judge your ability and predict where you will be in the future i.e. EYFS sets targets for KS1 which sets targets for KS2 which then sets GSSE targets.

It seems ridiculous that a child of 16's ability is thought to be predicted from such a young age. In my DCs class 2/3 of the class are Autumn/Winter birthdays and as a summer born she is really struggling to keep up. This is not because she is slow or not as bright as them but simply because she is more immature and hasn't had an extra year to practice writing and reading. And yet she will be judged by exactly the same criteria as them. How can that be right??

Huitre Wed 27-Nov-13 15:06:21

Most people do get Cs or above. Something like 70% nationally get C or above, I think, in a subject like English. That's most people. However, if you are really suggesting that the lower half or two-thirds of the 30% who don't get those C grades could just work a bit harder and get a C, then you are really really optimistic (and that's being polite, I can think of other ways to describe it)!

stillenacht Wed 27-Nov-13 15:56:21

Unattainable, unrealistic targets continue through to secondaryhmm

redundant Wed 27-Nov-13 17:39:57

i hate all this academic pushiness and grading. I really could not give a stuff about what level my child achieves, but the system seems determined to make me care, because of the huge impact that has on how others treat them. I wish we could just value learning but i am obviously a little idealistic and naive!

vkyyu Wed 27-Nov-13 18:38:36

Many continue their studies in FE or take the subject/s again in adulthood and many managed to pass in the end.

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