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Following Ed Balls webchat, thread for parents of summer born babies

(325 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 11-Sep-09 17:13:54

We said we'd start this thread, as so many of you expressed an opinion on the Ed Balls webchat thread about summer-born babies and starting school.

BTW, this is a recent thread in media requests on a linked topic.

Will nip over to webchat thread and link to this.


angelstar Sat 12-Sep-09 14:56:38

My August born ds has just started year 3 and already doesn't want to go to school and I have to drag him out of bed. I would love for him to be in year 2 again. he says the work is too hard in year 3 and they just work all day. I'm worried that he will just give up and become the class clown (his last school report said he liked to make his friends laugh)

Sari Sat 12-Sep-09 16:35:21

I have a June boy and an August boy. In ds1's case I am very glad he is summer born because he is far ahead of everyone else in his year in most areas, is very confident and often bored at school, saying he does not learn anything. I can only imagine these problems would have been exacerbated by him being almost a year older.

Ds2 has an August birthday and is in the top groups but it is very obvious that the brightest in his year are October/November children. Next to them he believes he is far less clever and as a result his confidence can be lacking. Where the age difference really shows is in his writing and, while I do believe he will catch up, it does show that he is much younger than some of the others. He would probably have been better off in the year below .

With both boys we were lucky in that they did not start in reception until January as there were two intakes. While they then had to play catch-up after having only two terms of reception I think this was better for them than starting full days at just 4. This has now been abolished and the children I see starting in reception having just turned 4 look tiny and exhausted. I think it must be very stressful for them.

DD is now nearly 4 and has an October birthday. It does actually worry me more that she will be old for her year but that is obviously another thread. At the moment I am very glad she will not be off to school for another year.

MoonlightMcKenzie Sat 12-Sep-09 17:16:49

GirlsAreLoud Can't remember the research. Came across it moons ago when doing my pyschology degree. Can't be that difficult to find though if you are inclined.

lingle Sat 12-Sep-09 20:49:49

Being "Bright" and being "Ready for School" are two different things. Sure they tend to overlap in areas of (i)memory and (ii)concentration skills, but that's it.

As is quite well known on Mumsnet, my DS2 is 4.0, born in late August and in his second nursery year. He will start reception in the Bradford LEA at 5.0 and his entire education will be offset until he is in year 13. He has a language delay but I made the choice as of right - it was offered to everyone with a child born after the end of the Easter holidays.

There is absolutely no shadow of a doubt in my mind that we have done the right thing.

GirlsAreLOud Sat 12-Sep-09 21:04:17

Just seen Piffle's contribution to this thread.


Sycamoretreeisvile Sat 12-Sep-09 21:34:31

<sticks head in sand and hides this thread>

Two August babies. First starts reception on Monday.

I don't know why. This thread has made me angry

Doobydoo Sat 12-Sep-09 22:15:15

'Statistics show that the majority of male prisoners are summer born'

Where did you get that info?

What a load of pantsangry

Doobydoo Sat 12-Sep-09 22:18:00

Don't be too smug Piffle...following on from Starlightmckenzies highly accuratehmm statistic...Children born in winter are more likely to suffer from depression.

This thread has made me cross too.

I have recently returned from Ireland where children can start school later and I think parents should have the choice .

MoonlightMcKenzie Sat 12-Sep-09 22:30:00

LOL, - seriously I used it in an essy when studying my first degree. Could be more complex than that, - might have been drug related crimes. I don't have time atm but you're all bugging me at your disbelief, so I'll definately get onto it.

mooki Sat 12-Sep-09 22:34:54

Cambridge Assessment does academic research on education issues.

This is a meta-study of published on birth-date effects.

From the executive summary:

There is robust evidence from around the world that, on average, the youngest children in their year group at school perform at a lower level than their older classmates (the ‘birthdate effect’). This is a general effect found across large groups of pupils. Specific Summer-born pupils may be progressing well, but the strength of the effect for the group as a whole is an issue of very significant concern.


The birthdate effect is evident in the relative proportions of students who undertake higher education. The percentage of GCSE students going on to take at least one A level drops from 35% in September-born students to 30.0% for August-born students. Likewise, September-born students are 20% more likely to go to university than their August-born peers.


There are competing theories regarding birthdate effects. One is the ‘length of schooling’ hypothesis - when school admissions are staggered over the year then the youngest have the least schooling. Another is the ‘relative age’ hypothesis - even with the same length of schooling, the youngest in a year group will be, on average, less mature – cognitively, socially and emotionally – than their older classmates, leading to unequal competition in all 3 domains that could impact negatively on the younger group. Although it is sometimes difficult to disentangle these two hypotheses, evidence tends to support the latter. Using a common start date does not solve the problem of this type of disadvantage.

Doobydoo Sat 12-Sep-09 22:38:05

Maybe they are all in prison because of the negative impact of being the youngest!wink

Anyway,I think it is annnother thing for us all to get worked up about.

Give parents a choice ED.

AitchwonderswhoFruitCrumbleis Sat 12-Sep-09 22:50:23

am very interested in this, we're in scotland and dd1 is right on the margin of the last intake date. because of the deferment option available to some children she could feasibly be in a class with kids a year and a bit older than her... she's a good wee cookie but emotionally i just can't see why i should do that to her.

NotanOtter Sat 12-Sep-09 23:16:54

i actively want summer born babies and i have experience of parenting - 2 summer 2 autumn and two in the middle

i think summer born can be an advantage

agree with bosch that it's no biggy

autumn born makes children lazy and 'big fish in small pond' mentality

upamountain Sat 12-Sep-09 23:53:44

I agree it is the choice that is the key.Some summer borns are ready while others are not but within the English system they are expected to catch up.

My personal view comes from the fact I also have ds2 with some language delay who will start reception at just 4 year next September.

He has only just potty trained this month,can't use scissors yet,can't peddle a trike - still pushes with his feet,still just scribbles when drawing and has lots of play/social skills he needs to gain.

I know he will struggle at school, maybe not so much in reception which is more play based and will hopefully enable him to gain the skills he would have still been learning in pre school but in Year 1 where he will be grouped according to ability and expected to sit and write.

If I had an option I would definately hold him back a year so like Lingle's son who was lucky to have an enlightened education authority he could start reception a year later (not note Year 1).

Starting straight into Year 1 really is neither here nor there as this just misses the learning through play reception stage.This suggestion on Ed Ball's reply I assume is pandering to the Rose report which deduces summer born children just need more formal education earlier and all will be well.

I cannot understand why there is no flexibility at all in the system according to whether those involved in the preschool setting and parents feel there is a need.I am sure this would save money within the education system ultimately on those children who need extra help at school that an extra year of preschool/play and development/maturity would have helped .

My ds is still a baby really and I already feel there is alot I have to do to get him school ready at 4 when he should just still be at a preschool and would be in most other countries.

The answer is to adopt the system that is in place in Scotland and lots of other countries where there is the option to allow children to start reception the year later when they have actually turned 5.This would enable some summer born children to achieve their potential without formal intervention within school.

purepurple Sun 13-Sep-09 07:40:19

Actually, I think the answer is to delay starting school for all children. Send them at 6 or 7 when they are more able to cope with
We start our children far too young in England. You only have to look at Sweden to see the results that they have with their children.

lingle Sun 13-Sep-09 09:18:07

purepurple, whilst I suspect you are right, that is perhaps too big a change to expect: but a Scottish-style degree of flexibility would be so easy to introduce.

The key report is "When you are Born Matters" by the Institute of Financial Studies. Well worth a read but pretty depressing.

It's hardly worth bothering to read Jim Rose's report which was supposed to incorporate the findings of "When you are Born Matters" as he appears to have just failed to do his job.

Your chances of ending up on the SEN register are something like 55% greater if you are an August-born girl rather than a September-born girl (can't remember the exact figure but it's in that report).

GirlsAreLOud Sun 13-Sep-09 09:40:16

I come from a family of teachers and my Mum and both her siblings all have both summer and early autumn born children. All did well at school, all went to university, no discernible differences (except where the August-borns out-performed the autumn-born siblings).

Obviously this is very anecdotal, but I don't view being summer-born as the 'disability' many seem to view it as. I'm August-born and did very well academically. If anything, I think being younger taught me the value of hard-work and tenacity. If at first you don't succeed...It's a lesson I've applied to many areas of my life since and one I'm very grateful to have learnt.

MrsSnoops Sun 13-Sep-09 11:29:10

I read this and it makes me feel so sick and worried for my DS. He is just turned 3 at the end of August and whilst he is bright he is socially way behind his peers who will be the same school year as him. It makes me feel angry that we are not able to do something for our kids. Surely there is some thing we can do? Why should be accept that our kids are disadvantaged because the government refuses to be flexible?

unknownrebelbang Sun 13-Sep-09 11:40:55

I've got two August-born, and one born in October. All in secondary at the moment.

The 15 year old is quite academic, and coped admirably at school, although there have been some startling difference between him and his classmates, most notably in reception when his first friend was a September-born boy, and probably now he's become a teenager. How much this is down to month of birth and difference in parenting I'm not sure.

The 11 year old is also very bright. He coped less well and went through an aggressive phase during the infants. He tries to make up for his lack of maturity but becomes overbearing at times.

Both are slightly bigger than average for their ages and look older than they are (another problem DS3 had to deal with).

Our October-born (middle) child is not academic at all, and really struggles with schoolwork, and can be quite immature generally.

go figure.

unknownrebelbang Sun 13-Sep-09 11:42:04

Both me and DH are August-born too.

clam Sun 13-Sep-09 11:47:55

Sari, the Autumn-born children in the "top" groups in your DS's class are not necessarily "brighter" than he is, they're just further ahead developmentally - at the moment.

A few years ago I taught a Year 2 class and, yes, the Autumn-borns were mostly in the upper groups. When I then taught the same class again in Year 6 a few years later, the profile had changed completely, as the summer-borns had all progressed and everyone had shaken down into a pattern more to do with their ability (and attitude and home support etc...) than their age.

Also, there is a huge overlap between yeargroups, so a child in the "bottom" group in one year, would still be working at a lower level than probably the top half or two thirds of the class below. I'm speaking very generally here. And if my DS (August) had been born a week or two later I might have spent much of his primary school career wondering if he was being sufficiently challenged and would be better off in the class above. Might have. If I'd been at all bothered about it. I certainly don't think it's worth worrying yourself sick over it. They cope. It's life. Sometimes it seems unfair, but there are so many other variables that affect progress anyway.

MrsWeasley Sun 13-Sep-09 12:18:45

dd1 was an end of June baby and always been fine at school in top have of year (she is year 10 now)
DS4 was an end of october baby and is about average at school overall.

Other 2 are Jan and Feb born and one is exceptionally bright and one is struggling.

I'm not convinced when you are born makes a awful amount of difference in your ability maybe its more of an attitude thing.

The amount the child wants to do something is a major factor and you cant rule out how much a childs homelife effects their learning too.

singersgirl Sun 13-Sep-09 12:27:46

Statistically, though, it does make a difference, and those of us with academically able August-born children are just lucky - or rather, our children are lucky.

I have quoted anecdotal data about my DSs' classes all over the place on Mumsnet - DS2 still in Y3 only summer-born child in top maths group, only summer-born child in top reading group, only boy born after December in any of these groups. So it's not DS2 I'm worrying about - he appears to have lucked out in the 'able to do well at school' lottery. But what about all the other summer-born children in his class?

This year, for example, when the head of Reception reported to the governing body on writing interventions, one governor specifically asked how many summer-born children had achieved the highest level she mentioned. None of them had.

Social and emotional readiness is another matter altogether, and both my boys have seemed notably immature at times. DS1 would definitely have benefited from being amongst the oldest in the cohort.

GirlsAreLOud Sun 13-Sep-09 12:33:49

These debates often get so polarised though - September-born vs August-born. It's not like the entire class is made up on only these two groups.

Lilymaid Sun 13-Sep-09 13:08:30

The statistics certainly show that when you are born does matter. My anecdotal evidence is from my DS, born in August, who went through most of his school career not quite understanding what he was doing. We always reckoned he was about 6 months behind where he should have been, so would have absolutely fine if he had been in the next school year down. The problem is that English school years start on 1st September and, in the state sector, it is almost impossible to "go down" a year - even if you have a very premature child who was born in August instead of at his/her due date in October/November.
DS (aged 18) has just about caught up with his year group (suddenly around the age of 15/16 it was as though all the connections worked and his brain really got into action)- but it is such a pity that he spent so much of his school time in a bit of a fog of not quite understanding!

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